On page 203 of V, two fellows named Godolphin and Mantissa who I will not pretend to have any memory of meet in a German beer hall in Florence. The place serves, of course, krugs of genuine Munich beer. That delight I will save for a later date. Twenty-five pages later, the good stuff is gone and we’re back in New York at the Rusty Spoon, drinking “an abominable imitation of Munich beer” with Kurt Mondaugen (p. 228).
During the course of this project, I have become a homebrewer of mixed abominableness. Was definitely more abominable three or four years ago when I wrote about/drank homebrew in Against the Day and V. But am still capable of significant abomination. Plus, I’ve never before attempted a lager, so some minimum level of awfulness is more or less guaranteed.
My favourite real Munich beer is Weihenstephaner Original, a Munich Helles. So I have attempted to clone that. Here’s the recipe I came up with, to make twelve litres:
Abominable Munich Helles
German Pilsner Malt – 2.5 kg
Munich Malt – 0.15 kg
Light Melanoidin Malt – 0.06 kg
Saaz – boil 90 minutes – 22 IBUs.
Ferment with Wyeast 2308 Munich Lager around 9°C.
The melanoidin is intended to mimic the effects of a traditional decoction mash. I pitched a big yeast starter, kept the fermenting beer cold for a week or so, then turned off the fridge and let it warm up a bit while I was in Kyrgyzstan before kegging it after about a month.
It is okay. I get sweet white bread, floral hops, and a touch of green apple on the nose. Drinking, a nice interplay of light sweet malt and floral hop flavour with mild bitterness. A bit more of that green apple in the background — it’s acetaldehyde, a classic homebrewing fault. Likely I didn’t let it get warm enough before kegging, or kegged too soon. Despite that flaw though, it’s pretty drinkable. Abominable compared to Weihenstephaner. But not so very awful. I’d say Mondaugen would down it without a second thought.