Munich Dunkel Lager
Let's start by breaking down this beer styles name, Munich Dunkel Lager. Munich is not only the German city that made this beer famous, but is also a type of malt. Dunkel is the German word for dark, which correlates with the dark brown color of this beer. Lager of course refers to the bottom fermenting lager yeast used to produce this Munich Dunkel.
At one point in history, all beers would have been dark and murky due to an incomplete understanding of the beer making process and primitive kilning technology. Ale or lager was once highly dependent on the time of year, since the role of yeast in fermentation was a complete mystery. Beer wort was typically left open to the air and inoculated with whatever beer was in season, which was most commonly top fermenting ale yeast. It was only in the colder months that a beer might catch the bottom fermenting lager yeast.
The wild Munich Dunkel Lager fermentation left much to be desired in the finished product, especially in summer when bacteria would find its way into the wort along with the ale yeast. The Dunkels were rounded out with a cool fermentation and ling cold conditioning period typical of lagers, lending a smooth soft character without the brusque edge typically found in many dark beers.
Munich malt is the darkest of them all and differs the most from original pale malts, which were later used to make Munich Helles. The dark malts match with the smoothness of the lager. Many Munich Dunkel Lager recipes consist only of Munich malt, however some add in caramel malt, or are softened by adding Pilsner malt. Nonetheless, the grain bill is primarily Munich malt. The malt helps to create a fuller bodied beer with intense malty flavors and aromas.
The Munich Dunkel style dominated by malty notes of bread, nuts, and chocolate is not widely known to have any prominent hop characteristics, but it still makes use of them. A Munich Dunkel Lager style beer typically uses German Noble hop varieties such as Tettnanger and Hallertau, to balance out any extra sweetness with bitterness.
The Munich style Dunkel is a rare gem, combining depth and simplicity. Smooth, rich, and complex, the dark beer boasts a brilliant ruby hue and a creamy head, all without being excessively heavy and finishing with a quenching crispness. This 4-6% ABV Lager is best served in a Pilsner glass, alongside heart and spicy foods, including: roasted meats, barbecue, and sausages.
We offer a number of Munich Dunkel Lagers in our monthly beer club subscription. Enjoy!
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