Munich Dunkel and the fearsome 833



Coming directly from a “early in the season” maibock/double helles, is the my favorite yeast in the lager category. The White Labs 833 – German Bock Lager. My brew bretheren….bow ye heads to this yeast, for it the lager yeast to end all!! This is the yeast that netted me two ribbons in 2010 in the Octoberfest/Marzen category , wowed every brewer that tasted it, and went on to score highly in a competition as a stand in for an ale yeast for my IPA, err…IPL! All this was accomplished AFTER it had been re-pitched several times. It still remained clean and attenuative.  This is the yeast that keeps killing it every time! Now this reputation continues to be true: after 3 months in primary and underneath a 7.5% helles bock this yeast is back for more. The reputed great Munich Dunkel lager.

I made a very modest 1.040 starter this evening to wake up this beast. I said that if the yeast wakes up tonight and looks viable enough, that we shall brew tomorrow!  As i type this sentence the foam is thick inside the gallon jug that houses the monster lager yeast which wont die nor mutate. Everything defined as the “rules” to yeast collecting and re-pitching, this yeast has broken. It has been said that you should not pitch over 5-7 times, don’t try to reuse a yeast on lower gravity beer after fermenting a higher gravity beer, don’t leave your beer in primary too long for fear of autolysis…all been done with this yeast with no ill effects. It is clear to me that some strains of brewers yeast are resilient and some ain’t. But enough about this yeast for now….on to its next mission and the beer at hand.

  • Munich Dunkel
Munich Malt: Brewing a dunkel is more simple than most would believe. It’s no different from the normal, run of the mill, lagers. It’s a very simple recipe, traditionally.  I have seen MANY recipes on the web claiming to be a dunkel. Most of them have a laundry list of ingredients , and most were based on pilsner malt and a metric-ton of specialty grains. When will brewers realize….you are over thinking it! Keep it simple! Dunkel’s basically were intended to “show-off” the flavorful Munich Malt, using it as 100% of the malt bill more often than not. But that’s the point. Period. It is a malty beer that uses a very traditionally “malty”…malt. I cant think of a better malt to show off than munich, yet my recipe has some pilsner malt in the bill….but I get to that.
Decoction. I know how most brewers love that word. Sure you could get a decent dunkel with a single infusion and a mix-match of specialty malts, but with a Decoction mash, you are extracting more than just the sugars contained in the malt. There are other flavors to be had by the use of this process. Consider that you are boiling the grains in a hot kettle. You are essentially creating the very maillard reactions that many fail to bring out solely with specialized malts. This flavor can be mimicked but cannot be substituted.  The idea here is to extract as much flavor as you can out of the malt. The only way to do this is a decoction boil. This still only my opinion, but consider that the world’s best Munich Dunkel’s are brewed this way. The brewers obviously use this process for a reason!
  • Keys to a great Dunkel
So… you have:
  1. Use a good German lager yeast: for me its the German lager yeast WLP833(accept no substitute)
  2. Use a decoction mash schedule to get the most traditional, old-world flavors. Melanoiden malt will get you close but isn’t the same!
  3. Use 100% German Munich Malt for the malt bill…..
Wait a minute….I’m not using 100%!  I am actually using nearly 89% percent munich and about a pound of pilsner malt for a little extra enzymes to ensure full conversion. This is just some”extra insurance” for my mash. After all my site is named: “Traditional Brewing: Reinvented” not just “Traditional Brewing”. However, I’m not reinventing anything by any means, this will just result in a more attenuating beer…or so it should…
  • Recipe
Some notes for the recipe below:

Again, the recipe shown is NOT a traditional recipe.  As was stated above the traditional way is 100% munich malt with a good German lager and a solid decoction mash process. I feel the type of hops do not matter as long as they don’t completely overtake the brew, (hence the Warrior hops). I chose the Warrior because they are a very clean bittering hop. If that bothers you and you want to remain traditional, than you can swap them out for a “noble” variety, just match the IBU’s with your hops of choice. The carafa III is solely for color and should not add any flavor. I have heard some people say they can taste it, but at 2% of the recipe I seriously doubt it can be picked up by any BJCP  judge. I do not plan on entering this brew as a competition entry but it should fit the full guidelines of the BJCP category if you decide so. If you do use the recipe below: note that I included my Brewhouse Efficiency at 84.00 %. Unless your efficiency is the same than only pay attention to the percentages!  The percentages will remain the same no matter what your extraction percentage is. If you have never had a true german dunkel and you like that good malty-lager type stuff…by all means…try one!  Start with the list here :  When you are ready to brew a great, malty dark lager…try the one below. Cheers and  CABREW on!

Uncracked german malted goodness

So here is the recipe as traditionally as i care to make it:
Brewer: Beaconhills Brewhouse

Style: Munich Dunkel

TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications


Batch Size: 6.50 gal

Boil Size: 9.00 gal

Estimated OG: 1.055 SG

Estimated Color: 16.9 SRM

Estimated IBU: 24.3 IBU

Brewhouse Efficiency: 84.00 %

Boil Time: 90 Minutes



Amount        Item                                      Type                                      % or IBU

10 lbs        Munich II (Weyermann) (9.0 SRM)           Grain        88.89 %  

1 lbs         Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM)                       Grain           8.89 % 

4.0 oz        Carafa III (Weyermann) (525.0 SRM)       Grain          2.22 %

0.60 oz       Warrior [13.00 %]  (90 min)                        Hops           24.3 IBU

1 Pkgs        German Bock Lager (White Labs #WLP833)    Yeast-Lager

Mash Schedule: Decoction Mash, Double


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