Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Überfrau Beer & Remembering an Überfrau

My incredibly kind brother-in-law, Andrew, recently brewed up some love for my late Oma.  Andrew and his friend Robbie make beer in DC with their budding home brew, Broken Propeller brewing. Andrew decided to toast our Oma with a toasted hazelnut beer — as she was Bavarian and crazy for hazelnuts. (The last thing I actually baked with my Oma was hazelnut cookies.) 

Last night my sister Julie, Andrew, my mom and I tried the beer for the first time.  Andrew and Robbie think it was their best yet. The beer is labeled Überfrau because when Andrew, Julie, my aunt and I were on our way to the hospital after Oma's stroke, the car in front of us had a personalized license plate "UBRFRAU" with a myriad of German bumper stickers. We smiled because we were on our way to see our own Überfrau, or Wonder Woman. 

 Andrew, in honor of Oma, volunteered to share his recipe today. 


Broken Propeller's Uberfrau beer, in honor of my Oma. My brother-in-law Andrew brewed the beer and made the label.

Überfrau, According to Andrew ... 

"I’ll be honest: one of my favorite parts of joining the family was co-opting their German heritage.  Since I travelled to the 2006 World Cup in Germany (coincidentally the LSU study abroad location that summer), I’ve been enthralled with German culture.  Besides the fact that there’s something almost Louisianian about Bavaria in particular, with its many food- and drink-centered festivals, the national matter-of-course tradition of beer brewing took hold of me.  The Reinheitsgebot basically says “live free & party, but there’s a right way to do it.”

That was exactly the feeling I got that first Christmas with Julie, Caroline, the family, and Oma especially.  We had a feast that has been amply documentedon this blog, along with a wide selection of delicious German beers.  To honor the memory of my surrogate German grandmother, Oma, I convinced my beer brewing partner Robbie to indulge in a bit of adventurous beermaking.  (Granted, at our level of experience, pretty much everything we make is a risk. But, the worst-case scenario is bad, but still alcoholic, and drinkable, beer.) 

Being the good German grandmother she was, Oma always had a chilled 6-pack of my favorite dark German beer for me at every gift-giving occasion.  Since spring is approaching, I decided to start this project with a style that captured both of these things: a German Dunkelweizen, literally ‘Dark Wheat’.
Wheat beers are associated with the warmer months, since they have brighter, fruity notes like banana and citrus, and also because the higher level of carbonation makes them more refreshing on hot days.  Dark wheat beers carry similar flavor profiles, but are made using malts that have been roasted longer to impart a bolder, warmer taste more amenable to the addition of our special ingredient: Hazelnuts.
Oma loved hazelnuts, and could sometimes be caught spiking her afternoon coffee with a nip of hazelnut liquor or arak (ooh, another beer idea.) 
We began the brew with a traditional dunkelweizen recipe, and made a few easy modifications ..."

6.6 lb Wheat Liquid Malt Extract (LME)
1 lb Maltodextrin
Milled Grains: (along with a mesh bag for steeping)
8 oz. Munich Malt
8 oz. Chocolate Malt
Hops (pellet):
0.5 oz. Hersbrucker
0.5 oz. Hallertau
Special Ingredients:
0.5 lb raw hazelnuts
150 mL Torani hazelnut syrup (not sugar free!)
One sachet of brewer’s yeast

Andrew brewing the Uberfrau

There’s a bit more to brewing here than I’ll go over, but there are tons of resources online and in print.  A synopsis, from the gold standard reference book How to Brew by John Palmer, is as follows:

- Malted grains are soaked in hot water to release the malt sugars.
- The malt sugar solution is boiled with Hops for seasoning.
- The solution is cooled and yeast is added to begin fermentation.
- The yeast ferments the sugars, releasing CO2 and ethyl alcohol.
- When the main fermentation is complete, the beer is bottled with a little bit of added sugar to provide the carbonation.
Andrew and Robbie bottling the beer. 
We toasted the hazelnuts on the stovetop and rolled them under paper towels to remove the charred skins.  After a rough chop, we added the nuts during the final 20 minutes of the boil. We then chilled the beer to around room temperature before transferring everything, trub (sediment) and all, to our fermentation vessel and pitching the yeast.

After two weeks of fermentation, we decided the beer could use a bit more hazelnut oomph.  So, in the place of the standard dry priming corn sugar, we calculated that there was the same amount (about 95 g) of corn sugar in one 150mL bottle of Torani Hazelnut Syrup.  Into the beer it went, and we bottled, capped, and cleaned up.

Another two weeks later, we had something that Oma would have loved: a roasty, toasty, hazelnut-infused beer that’s perfect for enjoying during this up and down lingering winter-spring we’ve been having.  I was inspired to make a label that summed up the whole idea and our muse, someone who always knew how to create a good time that blended tradition with something new.  I proudly present the Toasted Hazelnut Dunkelweiß, Überfrau.

Ubefrau beer!

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