Roggenbier Brew Day

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When I decided to brew a Roggenbier, I thought I understood the style pretty well. From what I knew, a Roggenbier was basically a Hefeweizen with rye in place of the wheat. Something close to a 50/50 blend of rye and Pilsner malt, about 15 IBUs from noble hops at the start of the boil and a weizen yeast strain to take the beer between four and six percent ABV.

I decided to check into it, though. I’m not sure where I got my idea from, but it felt right. Apparently, Roggenbiers are normally much darker, though. On the homebrew side, a lot of people seemed to be using chocolate malt and various roasted wheat malts. On the commercial side, a lot of the information I found said that most examples contained wheat as well. A lot of it. Some claim that most Roggenbiers have as much wheat as they do rye. I don’t know if this is accurate, but I don’t like it.

One of the big reasons I wanted to brew this beer was show some friends how little of the traditional “wheat beer” flavor comes from the actual wheat. Hefeweizens are mostly about the yeast. I want to use the yeast and no wheat and see what I get. Since I’m going for the wheat beer fans, I also wanted to skip the darker malts. I wanted this to be approachable for Hefeweizen drinkers.

The general consensus was that Roggenbier should be maltier than Hefeweizen. What kind of maltiness was up for debate, so I decided to skip the Pilsner and instead use Munich. Then, to kick up even further, I added some Melanoidin Malt. This German specialty malt is used, in my experience, usually to replicate the added mouth feel from a decoction mash without having to spend the time on that arduous process.

My hop and yeast choices seemed to work with my original idea, the ideas found in my research and my new adaptation and compromise between the two. Then, at the last minute, I was thinking about my last experiment in the importance of yeast. Table Cat is one my favorite beers that I’ve made recently (it’s almost gone, dang it). Why not scale this down to session size? I haven’t posted about them yet, but the next several things I’m planning to brew are all very big beers.

So I scaled back the malts, but kept the proportions and I was able to work on my BIAB system. My efficiency was not as good as last time, so this is even more sessionable. I’m not worried. The advantage of doing BIAB is that I avoided the common lautering problems associated with the huskless, gummy mess of a mash with high percentages of rye malt. I lost a lot more heat than expected on my Berliner Weisse BIAB a few weeks ago, so I started warmer today, planning for that fact. I’m pretty sure the reason for the low efficiency is that I didn’t let the grains drain long enough. I need to figure out a better system for this. I’ve tried using a strainer, but my kettle is too big and it fell in. I’ve tried balancing the grain bag on my mash paddle but can never get that to work. Today I just held it. That got old quick and I decided it would be good enough. It will be, but I’d like to get more out of my grains in the future. I’m looking forward to drinking this beer by the official start of Summer. My full recipe is below.

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Roggenbier
Style: 15D. Roggenbier (German Rye Beer)
Brew Date: 5/13/2014
Serve Date: 6/17/2014
OG: 1.035
Expected FG: 1.011
Approximate ABV: 3.2
IBUs: 15

Fermentables:
50% Rye Malt
42% German Munich Malt
8% Melanoidin Malt

Hops:
60 min German Hallertauer to 15 IBU

Yeast:
White Labs 0300 – Hefeweizen

Process:
BIAB Mash.
7 gallons of water at 162º to achieve 154º mash temp.
Mash temp fell to 147º over one hour.
Drain grain bag, discard and begin boil.
60 minute boil with one hop addition at the start.
Cool wort and pitch yeast.
Ferment warm.
When visual activity stops, wait another five days to a week and then bottle, no secondary.

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