Homebrewing a German Alt

Having been a homebrewer for a while now I often times struggle with what to brew next and generally when that happens I end up picking a style I’ve never attempted before. This time was no different as I decided to check German Altbier off my list.

Recipe Source: Northern Brewer

Beer Specifications

Beer Name:German Alt
Beer Style:German AltBier
Recipe Type:All Grain
Pre-Boil Volume:6.5 gallons / 24.6 litres
Batch Size:5.5 gallons / 20.8 litres
Estimated SRM:10.4°
Estimated IBU:75
Estimated OG:1.052
Estimated FG:1.013
Estimated ABV:5.12%

Grain Bill/Fermentables

4German Munich
2German Dark Munich
3.5German Pilsner
Weyermann Caramunich II


60 minGerman Perle
130 minGerman Perle
115 minHersbrucker


1Safale K-97

Fermentation Schedule

14 daysPrimary
7-14 daysCold Secondary
14 daysBottle Conditioning


Mash Temperature:151°F / 66.1°C
Mash Time:60 min
Boil Duration:60 min

In addition to being a new style of beer to brew, this recipe also contained a few ingredients that I haven’t played around with before. The first new thing were the hops. I know Perle is actually quite popular these days but I’ve never personally tried them out before, and I had also certainly never tried Hersbrucker before so that was kind of neat.

The other new ingredient for me was the Safale K-97 yeast. This yeast wasn’t part of the original recipe but was recommended to me as some sort of miracle strain. A kolsh yeast that apparently fermented so clean it could be a swap in replacement for both standard ale yeasts like US-05 and for lager yeasts where you don’t have good temperature control. For this much promise I had to give it a go!

Brew day action shot!

Brew day was a standard affair which left me with an almost dead on original gravity (OG) of 1.051. I then fermented with the K-97 yeast which was actually quite interesting.

24 hours after pitching there was a crazy amount of trub and yeast already in the carboy.

24 hours after pitching

What was really interesting though was that it seemed to go through almost a re-fermentation of sorts once that initial work was complete. When this happened there was a lot of krausen built up near the top of the carboy, something that was absent from the first 24 hours. This remained for quite a while before eventually dropping out. I’d say it took about a week longer than US-05 to fully clear up during fermentation.

The krausen stuck around for a really long time

When I finally went to bottle, my final gravity (FG) was recorded as 1.005. This was quite a bit lower than the target and so the beer ended up with an ABV of approximately 6.04%.

She’s a pretty beer ain’t she?

Tasting Notes

SmellVery interesting smell with a lot going on. A roasty nose but with almost a hint of sweet grass at the end.
AppearanceVery nice amber colour with a prominent head that doesn’t stick around forever. Carbonation seems about right for the style.
TasteThis one was different… It has a very complex taste with a substantial mouthfeel, like that of a red ale, but with loads of intertwining hop flavours on top. It’s also somewhat sweet, which is odd given the FG, but overall it’s somehow still quite a balanced beer.

As for the yeast, I think it works quite well. From what I can tell it definitely lived up to its name for being a clean fermenting strain.

After the initial taste, the after taste opens up into more of a roasty flavour which matches the initial smell.

It’s definitely one of those beers that you’re not quite sure how you feel about it initially but it still quickly grows on you.

If you’re looking for something different to try out I’d recommend giving this recipe a shot. I’m not sure the hop combo is exactly to my liking but it’s definitely a unique taste that is worth experiencing for yourself.

P.S. – We called this brew “Zee Germans”.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeremiah Tyson says:

    Altbier is my favorite style of all bar none. It’s medium body and malty backbone always surprise when you see just how drinkable it is! When I make my Alt, I do the traditional schedule involving a protein rest at 120 for 20 min, infuse or use decoction to hit 148 for 40 min, then infuse or use decoction to hit 158 for 20 min. I always use WLP036 or Wyeast 1007 yeast, but must admit I’ve never tried K97.

    My grain bill is comprised of 75% Munich (dark and light), 22% pils, and about 2 to 3% German debittered black for color. Finishes about 14 SRM. I will alter my Munich/ debittered black schedule depending on whether I’m using decoction or infusion.

    I typically use Magnum, Spalt hops and Mittelfrüh. I’ll ferment for 12 days at 64, 3 days at 70, then 3 to 4 weeks at 40 degrees prior to kegging. Finishing stats (1.050 OG, 1.012 FG, 5% ABV, medium body, 2.3 vol CO2, 42 IBU, 14 SRM, off white head with a little staying power, malt sweetness with a semi bitter finish and crystal clear!) Glad your alt turned out well!! Hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed the style!

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