Make Your Best…
It’s one thing to follow a beer recipe, but it’s an entirely different beast to know the whys and hows and everything in between for the type of beer you’re brewing.
Kellerbier merges the best of British cask ale with German malts and hops in a unique lager style. It has an atypical flavor profile that, depending on your finishing steps, can represent itself as a kind of German ESB or a Continental IPA.
Style: Strictly speaking, Kellerbiers are cold-fermented and are generally served young and unfiltered. Many are also served with low levels of residual CO2, having been matured in vented casks. Kellerbier is essentially an amber lager that differs from Oktoberfest in the relative intensity of its bittering, flavor, and aroma hops character. It is also unique in that a touch of acetaldehyde and other “green” beer flavors are not necessarily considered a fault.
Ingredients: There’s a trick to this style in that you want a rich, obvious malt-forward character and a nice amber color, but you don’t want any caramel or roasty flavors. To get a nice, bready, non-caramel malt character, I use Vienna and Pilsner as a base, in a 2:1 ratio. To deepen the color (without adding roast) and the flavor (without adding caramel) I add trace amounts of Carafa II and Melanoidin malt.
In hopping, the goal is about 35 IBUS and medium-high levels of hops flavor and aroma. To get there, I use a 1:1 blend of Hallertau (for a healthy dose of floral hops flavor) and Northern Brewer (for a wild, dry-bark note).
For yeast, I like a true lager strain to avoid the impression of sweetness that esters can impart.
Process: Mash and boil as usual. Pay particular attention to your late-hops timing— you want to ensure a noticeable level of hops flavor and aroma, so if you’ll be doing a whirlpool, be sure to factor that time in. You want 30 minutes of contact time on the flavor hops and 10 on the aroma hops.
Pitch the yeast and hold at 50°F (10°C) for the first five days, then start increasing the temperature. Once you reach terminal gravity, package it up! For Kellerbier you want that bit of yeasty breadiness, “young” flavor, and maybe a hint of that “green” beer flavor.
I serve this beer at just less than one volume of CO2. The result should be an eminently drinkable amber lager that has a soft, rounded mouthfeel and a ton of light-malt flavor, accentuated by floral-spicy hops flavor and aroma. It’s a unique beer, and I highly recommend trying it this way at least once!