Variation On A Theme

There was a time, early on in my brewing career, when I used to make up beer recipes based on a name or an image. Instead of following a style, a traditional recipe, etc., I would get a name in my head, a great name, and then try to match a beer to it. I used to dream like this about great names for bands too, thus proving some kind of serious geek-hood…

Anyway, once in a while it worked out. I once looked at a calendar and noted that, right around my birthday, Germanic Pagans celebrated the feast of Mjollnir, Thor’s Hammer. This seemed so cool to me that I had to come up with a beer. It had to be strong, of Norse inspiration, bright golden in color… I brewed what I guess must have been sort of strong Kölsch (nowadays it would probably be labeled “Imperial”…), and it was amazing. I lost the original recipe, which was a partial-mash & extract beer, and never really revisited it until last fall. I attempted to re-brew it from memory, with great success, this time as an all-grain recipe. Several people tried it, and almost unanimously declared it one of the best beers they had ever tasted. All modesty aside, I kinda liked it too…

So with my recent run of really good lagers, the thought bubbled up from somewhere that Mjollnir the Ale could have a twin brother, Mjollnir the Lager. And that is what I brewed today, and coincidentally it should be ready in time for the Feast of Mjollnir in May. Using exactly the same grain bill and hops, same mash time and temp, same boil schedule, changing only the yeast, I hope for similar excellent results.

Mjollnir, Strong Scandinavian Lager
5 gallons, all-grain


  • 6 lbs. lager malt
  • 3 lbs. light Munich malt
  • 1/2 lb. cara-Hell malt
  • 1 lb. carapils malt
  • 8.3 AAU’s Perle hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • 5.1 AAU’s Tettnang hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • 3 AAU’s Hallertau hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • White Labs Copenhagen Lager yeast (WLP850)
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar (for priming)

Crush grains. Heat 14 quarts water to 160°F. Mash in crushed grains, hold at 150 – 152°F for 90 minutes. Heat 15 quarts water to 170°F. Begin runoff, sparge, collecting 27 quarts sweet wort. Bring to a boil, add Perle pellets. Boil 30 minutes, add Tettnang pellets. Boil another 15 minutes, add Hallertau pellets. Boil 15 more minutes (60 total), remove from heat and chill to 80°F. Take a hydrometer reading, pour wort into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment at 60 – 65°F for ten days or until fermentation slows down to a bubble per minute or thereabouts. Rack to secondary, age cool to cold (38 – 45°F) for three weeks. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and condition three to four weeks.

OG: 1062
IBU’s: 52

Note on style: There’s no real style to which to compare this – I made it up. No, really.

Note on glassware: Among my hundreds of beer glasses, I have a glass horn (like the one in the old Carlsberg commercials) which will be my glass of choice for this beer. I also have an old steer’s horn that I cut and cleaned, from which I will occasionally drink my mead. I acquired a really ugly faux-pewter horn-shaped mug at a flea market, but it’s not much fun to drink from…  I also have a reproduction of an ancient mead cup – it’s made without feet or a flat bottom, just a rounded semi-conical shape that can’t be set down when full – the idea being that your enemy can’t poison your mead if you never set it down anywhere. The only thing wrong with the cup is that it’s is made from recycled electrical transformer glass – so it’s a bright cobalt blue…

2 Replies to “Variation On A Theme”

  1. Heather, I was gifted that cup by a local “artisan” who was trying to get them placed for sale in shops – he gave me one, I bought a dozen for the store and sold…. maybe 3? Don’t know what happened to the rest of them. That was 20 years ago now…

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