From my tower…

Today I broke in my new false bottom and sparging arm, upgrading not only the look of my mashing set-up (stainless steel trumps plastic anytime!) but also my efficiency. The new gear seemed easier to assemble and I definitely lautered and sparged more quickly than I can remember in a long time.

I won’t repeat the description and details of just what a Dortmund Export lager is (see last year’s brew…). I will only say that I was trying to do basically the same beer from a similar recipe (based on Greg Noonan’s recipe in our Seven Barrel Brewery Brewer’s Handbook). The yeast and hops are slightly different from last year’s and I used some toasted cara-foam malt this time instead of the usual cara-pils, to get a little more of a “fresh-bread” aroma.

The Dort

5 gallons, all-grain


  • 8.5 lbs. Bohemian Pilsner malt
  • .5 lbs. toasted (15 minutes at 300°F) cara-foam malt
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 oz. Perle hop pellets (@8% aa)
  • 3/4 oz. Northern Brewer hop pellets (@12.3% aa)
  • White Labs Southern German Lager Yeast (WLP838)
  • 2/3 cup corn sugar (for priming)


Crush grains. Heat 14 quarts water to 161°F, add salt. Dough in and hold at 150°F for 75 minutes. Heat 14 quarts more water to 168°F. Begin runoff and sparge, collect 26 quarts sweet wort. Bring to boil, add 1/4 oz. Perle hops. Boil 15 minutes, add Northern Brewer hops. Boil 15 more minutes, add 1/2 oz. Perle hops. Boil another 15 minutes, add remaining 1/4 oz. Perle hops. Remove from heat after another 15 minutes (60 total), chill to 70°F. Take a hydrometer reading, pitch yeast, seal and ferment at 55 – 60°F for seven to ten days. Rack to secondary, age cold (40°F) for three to five weeks. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and store cold (40°F) for eight weeks.

OG: 1053

IBU’s: 57.5

Old Dog, New Tricks

[This beer was brewed on 2/8]

I tell people that I never brew the same beer twice; indeed, that in the 20 odd years I’ve been brewing, I have never repeated a recipe. I have brewed the same styles many times over, tweaking one ingredient or another, one part of the process, etc. That’s part of the fun of the hobby, for me, comparing the results when you change up something.

Last winter, I found my lager stride at last – after years of not really understanding how, or having the patience, to make good clean true lagers, I had a run of successes, mainly due to a household re-purposing – a former bedroom at the back of the house became my “man-cave” and I opted to keep it closed off and unheated for the winter, giving me a perfect consistent 40°F storage room. I made quite satisfying lagers – a Munich Helles, a Dunkel, a Vienna, a Schwarz, a Bohemian Pilsner, a couple Bocks, and a Dortmund Export. If you look back at that post from a year ago, you see that I used a standard German Lager yeast. It was a very nice beer, but I wanted to try it again with a different twist.

Even though I am “the Guru” to many, I feel it’s always possible, and important, to learn from others. Sometimes other brewers’ questions lead me to research and investigate. Sometimes another brewer’s experiences or their own research help me. When I am planning a lager of any kind, I almost always run the recipe by my Austrian friend Walter, he just seems to have an innate sense of what will work and what won’t. In the case of this year’s Dortmund, Walter and I hit on the idea of trying White Labs’ newly released Belgian Lager yeast (WLP815). Guessing that it is probably from someone like Stella Artois, I am hoping for a nice clean fermentation with few esters and an emphasis on the slightly diacetyl flavor that I love in malty golden lagers…

Salzburg-Dortmund-Antwerp Export Lager

5 gallons, all grain


  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 9 lbs. Weyermann Bohemian Pilsner malt
  • 1/2 lb. cara-pils malt
  • 2 oz. Hallertauer hop pellets
  • 1/2 oz. Perle hop pellets
  • White Labs Belgian Lager yeast (WLP815)
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar (for priming)

Procedure: Crush grains. Heat 14 quarts water with kosher salt to 162°F. Mash in crushed grains and hold 75 minutes at 150°F. Heat another 15 quarts water to 170°F. Begin runoff and sparge, collecting 26 quarts sweet wort. Bring to boil, add 1/4 oz. Hallertauer hops, boil 30 minutes. Add the Perle hops, boil another 30 minutes. Add 3/4 oz. Hallertauer hops, boil 15 minutes. Add remaining 1 oz. Hallertauer hops, remove from heat. Chill to 80°F and take a hydrometer reading. Pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment at 55°F for ten days. Rack to secondary, lager in bulk at 38 – 40°F for six weeks. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and condition cold (35 – 38°F) for six to eight weeks.

OG: 1064

IBU’s: 28

Notes on recipe: this is slightly bigger and fuller than your average Dortmund which should have an OG of something like 1055. Interestingly, the only addition I made to the brew from last January was another 1/2 lb. pilsner malt. I must have been more efficient this time! That’s OK, I like full bodied beers.

Notes on ingredients: Next time I will probably use a German Pilsner malt instead of the Bohemian, just to be different!

An Ironic Brew – Dortmund Export Lager

Michael Jackson describes the Dortmund Export style, in his “Beer Companion”, as a working class beer for an industrial region. A light golden lager, fuller and less hoppy than a Pilsner but dryer and hoppier than a Munich Hell, the name is ironic because the remaining breweries in Dortmund, Westphalia, don’t really export the beer anymore. Apparently, prior to German unification in the 1870’s, Dortmund was an important trading crossroad between the Netherlands and Scandinavia, and thus the local beer was in fact exported with regularity. The city was heavily damaged in WWII and rebuilt quickly, and somehow the Export style fell out of fashion. In the US, Gordon Biersch and Stoudt’s Brewing make reasonable facsimiles of the style, but it is increasingly hard to find the real thing – Dortmunder Actien Brauerei (DAB), Dortmunder Kronen and Dortmunder Union Brauerei (DUB) are still in business, and Jackson holds up Kronen Export as the best of the lot. Good luck tracking one down!

So, it takes a beer geek (or a Home Brew Guru) to appreciate the style and to try to make one with very limited experience tasting the style. Here goes!


  • 1 tsp water crystals
  • 8-3/4 lbs. lager malt
  • 1/2 lb. cara-pils malt
  • 1-1/2 oz. Hallertau hop pellets (@3.0% aa)
  • 1/2 oz. Perle hop pellets (@6% aa)
  • White Labs German Lager yeast (WLP830)
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar (for priming)

The night before brewing, crush grain. On brew day, add water crystals to 13 quarts water, heat to 162°F. Mash in crushed grain, aiming for a strike temperature of 150 – 152°. Hold 75 minutes, begin runoff and sparge with 15 quarts water at 170°F, collecting approximately 6 gallons sweet wort. Bring wort to boiling, add 1/4 oz. Hallertau hops. Boil 15 minutes, add 1/2 oz. Perle hops. Boil another 15 minutes (30 so far), add 3/4 oz. Hallertau hops. Boil another 15 minutes (45 to this point), add 1/2 oz. Hallertau hops. Boil another 15 minutes (60 total), remove from heat. Chill down to 80-85°F as quickly as possible, pour into primary fermenter. Take a hydrometer reading, pitch the German Lager yeast, seal up and ferment at 60 – 65°F for about ten days. Transfer to secondary, age cold (35 – 40° if possible) for three to four weeks. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and set at room temperature (65 – 70°F) for three days, then condition cold (35 – 38°F if possible) for four to five weeks.

OG: 1056
IBU’s: 22.5

Brewing notes:
Dortmund breweries use the local water, of course, from the Dort River watershed. This water is very high in Calcium Carbonate and Calcium Sulfate. Accordingly, it is wise to add these salts to your brewing water, unless you know that your water already contains them in abundance. The high mineral content actually brings out the malty flavor, as opposed to the water in, say, Plzen or Budejovice, whose softer water buoys up the hop flavor.
Typical Export lagers have a fuller body and richer mouthfeel than other light lagers, in part because of the mashing procedure. A shorter mash time, a slightly higher temperature of 150 – 152°F, and a thicker mash all enable the creation of dextrines, or unfermentable sugars.