A typical brew day (mash phase) in the Tiny House Kitchen.

Brew Day: Munich Dunkel

We had a SMASH style (Vienna/Perle – brewed with our friend from Gingerbeards Brewing) fermenting in the fridge, so in (loosely) keeping with the Euro theme, we opted to brew a Munich Dunkel.

Brew days start like this at Tiny House:

Mashing in the Tiny House Kitchen.

Mashing in the Tiny House Kitchen.

Starting with Austin city water, we treated with Campden and Gypsum. Our grain bill is primarily Munich malt, with some 2-row, and a small amount of Carafa III and Melanoidin. With this batch we tried a simple decoction mash for the first time, based on the description from Radical Brewing. I don’t really know if it will make much difference, but it made the mash hour go by a little more quickly since it involved additional steps and constant stirring.
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Next, we transfer the operation out to the Tiny House Garage. Now, it may look like a big health code violation, but we’re actually pretty careful about the sanitization of everything we use. Since we still don’t have a brew kettle with strain and drain apparatus, we use a good ol’ fashioned pot and strainer. I can’t give you calculations about sparging efficiency, but we’ve done a few batches like this and they’ve always turned out fine.
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Once the boil gets going, we disperse the spent grains. Some goes to our garden. Some goes to our dogs. And the rest goes on the compost pile. I’m still trying different spent grain recipes/uses. The one for chocolate chip cookies was good, but it was a little “husky.”
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For this recipe, we just had one early hop addition (2oz Hallertau), then left it alone. After the boil, we begin the wort chilling. We use the water output on our gardens and to clean up some of the equipment. We probably need to look into an upgrade for this part of the process soon because Texas water out of the hose during summer is not the most efficient way to cool something down.
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At this point, we filled the fermenter and stuck it in the garage fridge. We didn’t pitch the yeast (WLP838) right away, because 1) the wort was still pretty warm, and 2) I decided at the last minute to try a yeast starter. Normally, we just pitch it in directly, especially when we use the Wyeast with the activator, but I had some DME in the brew box and thought I’d give the starter a try.

Made a gallon of starter and pitched the yeast while it was still a bit warm, then put it in the fridge. After a day or so, I didn’t see much activity, so I pulled it out of the fridge until I saw some signs of life. After giving it between 24-48 hours of increased activity, I pitched it into the 5 gal fermenter sitting in our outside fridge at around 50 degrees.
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It’s been a week and a half and it’s still going, so we’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.

More photos of the brew day:


{Bottling update}

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After 23 days in the fermenter, we bottled the Munich Dunkel. FG was still a little high, but we rarely hit the style guidelines spot on when it comes to OG and FG. We used a packet of priming sugar (for 5 gal batch) and a tablespoon of Grade B maple syrup.

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Cleaning carboys…my least favorite part of the process.

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Matt likes to grab the camera when I leave the room and take lots of artsy photos. I’m not even sure what beer he’s drinking.

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All bottled up.

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They’ll sit here for a week or two, depending on how long it takes us to remember there’s beer sitting in our spare room. Hopefully they carb well.

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{Labeling Update}
We are still working on a labeling solution for our homebrew that is cost effective, yet still allows us to be creative and have some fun with labels. GrogTag was great and easy to use for our wedding brews, but just a little expensive for everyday homebrew batches. For the Munich Dunkel, I tried out the Avery 6464 removable labels. The good news is they are easy to take off when you’re finished with a beer. The bad news is they are still paper and prone to ink smearing when the bottle starts to sweat. I might try some clear coat next time and see if that helps prevent the ink running a bit.

The label design stems from the dunkel being a “brown beer” and my dog’s name, Bertha Brown. When in doubt, look to your dog for ideas, right? So I settled on Big Bertha. Matty, being the fan of history that he is, asked if I was naming the beer after the howitzer. I stared at him blankly and he told me to look it up. So through a fast and loose collaborative process fueled by Wikipedia and Google Images, the Big Bertha Munich Dunkel label ended up looking like this:

Big Bertha Munich Dunkel label

Big Bertha Munich Dunkel label

All that’s left to do now is drink it!