For my sixteenth homebrew, I tried to take my kölsch, Sorry Karl, and see what a partial mash version would look like. (Spoiler: it looked and tasted great.)
When I first sat down to brew the second batch of Sorry Karl, my first thought was Didn’t I tell myself I wasn’t going to make this one again? Except that I was apparently lying to myself there; I said all along that I would, but that I’d dial back the Carapils. So starting from that frame of reference, I got my notes together:
- Going partial mash meant getting a bunch of the fermentable sugar from the grains; and reading about the style pointed me at Pilsen 2-row as my base malt.
- That I needed to dial back the Carapils had me looking at percentages; so I went from about 23% down to about 6%.1
- Hops? I liked the flavors imparted by those German noble hops, but I wanted to take the bitterness down a few notches.
- As for yeast… US-05 served me well last time, but… 2565 for something a little truer to the style?
With the details of the recipe worked out, I gathered my ingredients and set to the task. I got my yeast to spinning, and three days later it was time to brew. Seeing as how this was my fourth partial mash,2 I was starting to get used to the planning and waiting that went into the mashing step. I followed along diligently with the instructions that BeerSmith spat out for me. And needless to say, I was delighted when my starting gravity worked out to be 1.051 — a point over the target.
The fermenter sat in the basement for about two weeks, letting the yeast do their thing. Then at +16 days, I racked over to the 5 gallon carboy for conditioning. And here was the surprise… It was way cloudier than I expected it to be.
Just… Milky and practically opaque. It wasn’t that I was disgusted as much as I was simply… Shocked. While most of my brews at this stage were not winning any awards for clarity, they’d had most of the junk come out of suspension. Don’t worry — I told myself — relax and have a homebrew… it’ll all fall out of suspension if we keep it in a sufficiently cool space for long enough. And boy did that ever happen.
Fast forward four weeks:
…and it’s one of the clearest beers I’ve brewed to date. Get that into bottles (44 × 12 oz.) and fast forward another two weeks…
Yes, turned out fantastic. Aroma has a mild spiciness from the noble hops. But those hops really open up on the palate. Bitterness is present but mellow. Malt backbone without making it a malty or sweet beer. Slight pucker as it finishes, but not “lemony” or sour. Mouthfeel is soft. Color is pale, leaning to the golden side of straw.
Successful brew. Aligns well with the style. Looks good, tastes great. And I’m really starting to see the benefits of the partial mash approach.3
The partial mash recipe for Sorry Karl (Mk. II) is as follows.
- 5⅝ lb. Pilsen 2-Row
- 8 oz. Carapils
- 1 lb. light DME
- 1 lb. light DME (20 min. late addition)
- 1 oz. Spalt (60 min.)
- 1 oz. Tettnang (60 min.)
- 1 oz. Tettnang (flame-out)
- Wyeast 2565
Prepare a 700 milliliter starter 2-3 days before brew day.
- Collect 12.15 qt. (approx. 3 gal.) water and heat to 167.7°F. Add 5⅝ lb. Pilsen 2-Row and 8 oz. Carapils to filter bag and add to water. Hold at 152.1°F for 75 minutes.
- Mash out. Heat to 168°F over 7 minutes; hold for 10 minutes.
- Remove filter bag from water. Squeeze filter bag to extract as much liquid as possible for wort.
- Top off to approx. 2.59 gal.
- Add 1 lb. light DME, and bring mini-mash to a boil. Add 1 oz. Spalt and 1 oz. Tettnang hops.
- With 20 minutes remaining in the boil, add 1 lb. light DME.
- At flame-out, add 1 oz. Willamette hops.
- Cool to 70°F as rapidly as possible and top off the fermenter to reach 5 gal.
- Aerate wort and pitch Wyeast 2565 yeast from starter.
Beyond Brew Day
- After fermentation completes, rack to a carboy.
- Allow beer to condition for at least 2-4 weeks.
- Use corn sugar to carbonate on bottling day. Rack beer into bottling bucket and bottle.
- Allow at least 2 weeks to carbonate.
Sorry Karl (Mk. II), an original kölsch-style ale by Tilde Gravitywerks
|Original Gravity||1.051 (12.1%Br)|
|Final Gravity||1.012 (5.6%Br)|
- This is fudging it a little bit? Last time around I wasn’t mashing the grains, but rather steeping them. I’m not 100% certain yet what the implications are there for how that figures in the percentages… but I went with what BeerSmith told me. [↩]
- Flaming Hessian being the first, followed by Acer Square, and most recently Honestatis (Mk. III). [↩]
- I’m an all-grain ticking time bomb. [↩]