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Altbier: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes (Classic Beer Style Series, 12) Paperback – April 1, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Who says there's no such thing as a German ale? Eat your lederhosen! If you think the German beer land is just a lager land, think again, jawohl!"--from the preface

Brewed centuries ago by monks and nuns, this copper-colored, full-bodied ale has a proud and unbroken brewing tradition dating back to the beginning of civilization. Horst Dornbusch sheds light on the practices of commercial altbier makers, how the equipment and ingredients used affect its flavor, and how this full-bodied brew became one of Germany's most beloved beer styles. Recipes are included!

Brewers Publications Classic Beer Style Series is devoted to offering in-depth information on world-class beer styles by exploring their history, flavor profiles, brewing methods, recipes, and ingredients.

About the Author

Horst Dornbusch lives in Massachusetts where he writes and is a professional brewer. He holds a Master's degree from Brandeis University and is author of three books.
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Product Details

  • Series: Classic Beer Style Series, 12 (Book 12)
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Brewers Publications (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0937381624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0937381625
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Being a homebrewer for 4 years, I have found that Brewers Publications' Classic Beer Styles Series is an excellent resource for discovering and making numerous quality brews. In Altbier, Horst Dornbusch tackles a style that few people may have ever had. His approach is practical and to the point. The history section is thorough without being long-winded, as is sometimes the case with other books in the series. Mr. Dornbusch has done an excellent job applying his own brewing knowledge in explaining the ins and outs of altbier brewing. I have followed some of the recipes in the book, and I am extremely pleased with the results so far. The only downside to this book is that the section on style profile could have been more thorough and descriptive. However, this book is well worth the investment.
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This guide purports to tell you how to brew an authentic Altbier ("Old Beer"). The vast majority of beers brewed in Germany are Lagers. Altbier is one of the few German ales that still exists, but is only brewed in a small area in and around Dusseldorf. The style is pretty rare. I don't think you can get authentic German Altbier in the United States, so you have to brew it. I am a home brewer and have brewed this beer.

The book gives an interesting history of Altbier, description of the style, ingredients, equipment and methods of brewing. Altbier is an ale that is mashed using a 3 to as much as 5 step temperature mash, fermented at moderately low temperature (60-62F), and conditioned at lagering temperatures.

With most homebrewing books you can skip right to the recipes. Unfortunately, the recipes here are not fully developed. Instead of complete recipes the author calls them "guidelines". They are basically just ingredients and specifications. You must refer back to the text for specifics on mash schedule, boil time, hops addition timing, fermentation procedure, and conditioning instructions, as these are not included in the recipes. The author could have made it lot easier for the reader by simply including these in each recipe as most home brewing books do.

There are some inconsistencies in the book. For instance, under mashing the author states that "Total mash times for alt vary from a low of 150 to a high of 170 minutes." However, when he details the mash procedure, the mash times total no higher than 100 minutes, and the specific procedure he recommends for the home brewer is only 60 minutes total.

The biggest flaw is that most of the recipes include ingredients that would NOT be included in an authentic Altbier.
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I'm going to be brewing an alt and I got a recipe on line, and also have a couple of how-to-brew-beer books, BUT I had too many unanswered questions. This is relatively small, very concise, clearly written book on alts, by a man who hails from that part of Germany and learned how to brew them himself. Because it's a book specifically about altbier it covers territory that other brew books don't. An example: "If you prime your beer, avoid sugar, which can contribute a slightly sour aftertaste to the brew. Always use light dried malt extract (DME) istead." That statement, of course, refers to altbiers. He covers commercial, homebrew all-grain, and homebrew extract methods of brewing. This isn't a book for the first time brewer, however I've only got two batches under my belt and this book has clarified enough for me to proceed with confidence. Another bit of handy information included in the book: for those of us who have a regular old fridge, he points out that the temperature range of most of them falls between 40- 60 degrees fahrenheit. 60 degrees can be used for primary fermentation and 40 degrees is at the upper limit of the alt lagering temperature. Therefore, an unmodified refridgerator can be used for altbier making. Thanks Horst. Recipes in the back for one barrel, 5 gallons all-grain and 5 gallons extract.
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I have had this book for a while and just got around to reading it last weekend. I enjoyed the read. The author is obviously a subject matter expert. While I'm fairly technical regarding many things, this book was not written in such a manner that it was difficult to understand.

I am an experienced homebrewer who has been doing all-grain mashes for a few years. Other than the info about Altbier specifically, much of this information was not new to me. However, hearing the same info from different sources, in a slightly different way works for me. It serves to reinforce what I already know. The appendices in the back provide good reference material. I would buy this book again.
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A homebrewer who evolved into a professional brewer and renowned beer writer, Horst Dornbusch grew up in Dusseldorf, Germany. This book focuses on Altbier, the classic beer of his hometown. Like other books in the series, this book covers the history of Altbier, describes the profile, discusses the ingredients, and explains the brewing methods. He includes a chapter discussing making Altbier equipment for the homebrewer and a brief chapter of recipes and guidelines. There are seven appendices on issues relating to Altbier. Three appendices on water hardness, beer color and bittering hops are useful for the homebrewer. Like other books of this series it is heavy on history and method which should appeal to the fan of alt but some brewers may find it thin on actual recipes.
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