Twisted Spire Alt (Surefire Extract Recipe)


A copper-colored, moderate-bodied, bitter, malty ale.

This is the second beer in the second series of Surefire Extract Beers. The first series presented five homebrew recipes that played to the strengths of malt extract and stovetop brewing methods. The second series continues this idea, and started with an English best bitter.

Altbiers are brown ales (and sometimes lagers), often with a fair amount of bitterness. Outside of Düsseldorf, Germany, most have a hint of sweetness and a moderate level of bitterness. Düsseldorf altbiers tend to be a bit drier and more bitter. Twisted Spire Alt is an altbier made in the Düsseldorf style — plenty of hop bitterness, backed up by Munich malt. (This recipe uses both light and dark Munich malt, and a tiny amount of aromatic or melanoidin malt.)

The key to brewing this beer well is to ferment on the cool side of the ale fermentation range (65 °F/18 °C), and cold-condition the beer for a few weeks before serving. If you want your alt to be as traditional as possible, use Spalt hops instead of the Tettnanger hops specified in the recipe. (However, if you’ve never tasted Spalt hops before, be aware that they have a unique flavor that’s not to everyone’s liking.) Likewise, if you want to stick closer to tradition, cut the amounts of late hops and dry hops in half and lower the carbonation a bit.

The name Twisted Spire refers to the spire on the St. Lambertus church in Düsseldorf, which is twisted. Legend has it that, around the time the spire was finished, a virgin was married in the church. As she was leaving the wedding ceremony, the spire turned around to get a better view of her, since that sort of thing didn’t happen often. When another virgin gets married there, the spire will untwist itself. Locals have been waiting for this to happen since 1384. (Interestingly, many of the twisted spires in Europe have similar legends attached to them.) In the case of St. Lambertus, the truth is a bit more prosaic — architects think the carpenters used untreated wood to build the spire and it twisted when the wood absorbed moisture.)

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