Amerikanisch Dunkel

Amerikanisch Dunkel is an all-grain malt forward Munich Dunkel homebrew recipe, showcasing Bohemian Dark Malt and brewed with American lager yeast. We’ve previously posted How To Successfully Clone A Homebrew Recipe to help you adjust it for your brewing equipment and technique.

The Recipe

10 lbs 4.0 oz Bohemian Dark Malt (Weyermann)
6.0 oz Midnight Wheat (Briess)
0.35 oz Magnum [13.20 %] – Boil 60.0 min 20.7 IBUs
0.50 oz Tettnang [3.50 %] – Boil 20.0 min 2.6 IBUs
2.0 pkg American Lager Yeast

Amerikanisch Dunkel BeerSmith

Malt

This dunkel recipe is all about the Bohemian Dark Malt. It’s fairly amazing how a single malt can impart so much complexity and velvety richness. Big bready and toasty notes leap out of the glass. Just make sure that the fermentation finishes completely. With so much richness, too much residual sugar will make the final beer come off as cloyingly sweet.

The Midnight Wheat is purpose chosen to darken the beer while having the least impact on flavor. At 3.5% of the grist, just about every dark malt, even the de-husked varieties, will add some level of chocolate or roast character. Midnight Wheat definitely keeps both to a minimum. While not strictly necessary, the darker color seems to match the flavor and aroma of the beer, making it a better overall presentation and drinking experience.

Hops

Any neutral hop can be used for the bittering addition. Even though it’s a 90 minute boil, the Magnum goes in at the 60 minute mark. The only adjustment I make to the hops before each batch is adjusting the bittering hop quantity, which is based on the Alpha Acid level. Keep it in the 20-22 IBU range. I don’t adjust the 20 minute addition of Tettnang no matter the Alpha Acid %. They have a minimal affect on the bitterness of the final beer. When the beer comes out of the fermenter the hop character and bitterness will seem high and out of balance with the malt. The hops will mellow after several weeks of aging.

Yeast

WLP840 American Lager Yeast certainly isn’t a traditional choice for a dunkel, but it works wonderfully for this recipe. It accentuates the maltiness while attenuating enough to crisp up the beer. As a bonus, the strain seems to ferment and lager at much quicker pace than more traditional strains.

Be sure to use enough yeast. Make a low gravity (mid/high 1.030’s) starter 40-48 hours before brewing. If using a stir plate 2 liters will be plenty. If not, go up to 3 liters. Add 2 packs of the yeast and set it at room temperature (yes, room temperatures is fine for lager starters). The yeast is usually done fermenting after 18-24 hours. The extra time allows for settling. That way you can decant most of the starter liquid off before pitching the yeast.

Brewing Technique

Carefully calculate your water volumes. Mashing at the mid-range of the saccrification range is best for this recipe. Despite its dark color, it should be a light/medium bodied beer. A well made example of a dunkel should always be refreshing. I target 150°-152°F. With such a (relatively) highly kilned base malt, I doubt that a full 90 minute boil is necessary to drive off DMS precursors, but I do it anyways. Chill all the way to fermentation temp (50°F) before pitching the yeast. For a more detailed look at how I brew, check out Indoor Homebrewing Brew Day Step By Step.

Ferment for 3-4 days at 50°F. When the krausen drops by half, raise the temperature to 55°F for a diacetyl rest. After a few days, slowly drop it to fridge temperature and rack to keg. If bottling, don’t drop the temperature and bottle as usual. Allow the beer to condition for 2-3 weeks before serving.

I hope you give this recipe a shot and let me know how it turns out.

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