Northern German Altbier Recipe

Discover the rich heritage of German brewing with our Northern German Altbier recipe. This brew is a fine example of a traditional altbier, known for its clean, dark brown appearance, balanced bitterness, and delightful caramelly maltiness. Immerse yourself in the flavors of Germany with this time-honored recipe that pays homage to the classic altbier style.

Northern German Altbier

This is a fine example of a typical altbier, or "old beer" from Germany. It is a clean, dark brown, relatively bitter beer with a caramelly maltiness.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
To Ferment28 days
Course: Beer
Cuisine: Mixed Styles
Keyword: Northern German Altbier
Servings: 40 Pints
Calories: 150kcal
Author: Dan Smullen


  • 1 Mash tun or large pot
  • 1 Brew kettle or large pot
  • 1 Fermenter (e.g. glass carboy or plastic bucket)
  • 1 Airlock
  • 1 Immersion chiller or other cooling method
  • 1 Brewing thermometer
  • 1 Brewing spoon or paddle
  • 1 Hydrometer or refractometer
  • 1 Brewing scale
  • 1 Brewing pH meter (optional)
  • 1 Fermentation temperature control system (optional)
  • 1 Racking cane or siphon
  • 1 Bottling bucket or kegging system
  • 1 Bottles or kegs
  • 1 Bottle capper or kegging equipment
  • 1 Brewing sanitizer
  • 1 Brewing cleaner
  • 1 Airlock brush
  • 1 Funnel
  • 1 Measuring cups and spoons
  • 1 Muslin or nylon bags for hops and grains
  • 1 A brewer's log or notebook (for recording details of your brewing process)


For the Mash – Liquor 13 Litres (23 Pints) – Mash Time 1 hr – Temperature 65°c/149 °F

  • lb Pilsner malt Quantity 2kg
  • lb Pale malt Quantity 2kg
  • 1.2 lb Caramunich III Quantity 500g
  • 10½ oz Carapils Quantity 300g
  • 2 oz Carafa special III Quantity 60g

For the Boil – 27 Litres (47½ Pints) – Boil Time 1 hr – 10 mins

  • 1 oz (Hops) Magnum 11% When to add – At start of boil (IBU 34.7)
  • tsp  Protofloc   Other – When to add – For last 15 mins of boil

To Ferment – 12°C (54°F) – Conditioning 7 weeks at 3°C (37°F)

  • 1 Wyeast 1007 German Ale


Mash Preparation:

  • In a large pot or mash tun, heat 13 liters (23 pints) of water to a temperature of 65°C (149°F).
  • Add the following ingredients to the heated water:
  • 4½ lb Pilsner malt (2kg)
  • 4½ lb Pale malt (2kg)
  • 1.2 lb Caramunich III (500g)
  • 10½ oz Carapils (300g)
  • 2 oz Carafa special III (60g)
  • Stir the mixture thoroughly to ensure all the grains are well combined.
  • Allow the mash to rest for 1 hour at a temperature of 65°C (149°F) to extract flavors and sugars from the grains.


  • After the mash rest, transfer the mash liquid (wort) to a brew kettle or large pot capable of holding at least 27 liters (47½ pints) of liquid.
  • Bring the wort to a boil and maintain a rolling boil for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • At the start of the boil, add 1 oz (28g) of Magnum hops, known for their high alpha acid content (11%). This addition contributes to the beer's bitterness (IBU 34.7).
  • For the last 15 minutes of the boil, add 1 teaspoon of Protofloc or any other clarifying agent to help clear the beer.

Cooling and Fermentation:

  • After boiling, cool the wort as quickly as possible to a temperature of 12°C (54°F). You can use an immersion chiller or a combination of ice baths and stirring to expedite the cooling process.
  • Once the wort has reached the desired temperature, transfer it to a sanitized fermenter, leaving behind any sediment or hop debris.
  • Pitch the yeast into the fermenter. In this case, use Wyeast 1007 German Ale yeast. Follow the yeast's instructions for proper activation and pitching.
  • Seal the fermenter with an airlock to allow carbon dioxide to escape while preventing outside air from entering.

Fermentation and Conditioning:

  • Place the fermenter in a cool area with a consistent temperature of 12°C (54°F).
  • Allow the beer to ferment for approximately 28 days. During this time, the yeast will convert sugars into alcohol and the flavors will develop.
  • After primary fermentation is complete, transfer the beer to a secondary fermenter or a keg for conditioning.
  • Condition the beer for 7 weeks at a temperature of 3°C (37°F). This extended period helps clarify the beer and develop further flavors.

Carbonation and Enjoyment:

  • After the conditioning period, your Northern German Altbier is ready to be carbonated and enjoyed.
  • Depending on your preference, you can carbonate the beer naturally by priming with sugar or force-carbonate it using a kegging system.
  • Bottle the beer or pour it into pints, and allow it to carbonate for a couple of weeks if using the natural priming method.
  • Finally, chill the beer to your desired serving temperature and savor the flavors of your homemade Northern German Altbier!
Makes 🍻Ready to Drink 🍺Estimated ABVBitterness RatingColor Rating
23 Litres (40 Pints)8 Weeks4.8%34.9 IBU26.5 EBC

Authentic Altbeer Experience

Experience the true essence of a classic altbier, known as the “old beer” of Germany. This recipe stays true to the traditional style, delivering a clean, dark brown beer with a well-balanced bitterness and a delightful caramelly maltiness.

Heritage and Tradition

Brewing the Northern German Altbier allows you to connect with the rich brewing heritage of Germany. Explore the time-honored techniques and flavors that have made German beer famous worldwide.

Perfect Balance of Ingredients

Crafted with precision, this recipe combines carefully selected Pilsner and Pale malts, along with Caramunich III and Carapils, to achieve a harmonious malt profile. The addition of Carafa special III adds depth, while Magnum hops contribute a floral character and just the right amount of bitterness.

Brewing Mastery

By tackling this recipe, you’ll enhance your brewing skills and expand your knowledge of different beer styles. It’s a rewarding opportunity to refine your techniques and create a high-quality, homemade brew.

So, grab your brewing equipment, embrace the German brewing tradition, and embark on a journey to create an exceptional Northern German Altbier that will impress your taste buds and brewing enthusiasts alike. Prost!

FAQ on Making this Northern German Altbier Recipe

What is the purpose of using Carafa special III in the mash?

Carafa special III is added to contribute depth and color to the beer, resulting in a darker hue and additional roasted flavors.

How long should the mash rest for this recipe?

The mash should rest for 1 hour at a temperature of 65°C (149°F) to extract flavors and sugars from the grains.

At what temperature should the wort be cooled before fermentation?

The wort should be cooled as quickly as possible to a temperature of 12°C (54°F) to ensure proper yeast fermentation and avoid off-flavors.

What is the recommended fermentation temperature for this beer?

The recommended fermentation temperature for this beer is 12°C (54°F) to maintain the desired flavors and characteristics of the Northern German Altbier style.

How long should the beer ferment before moving to the conditioning phase?

Allow the beer to ferment for approximately 28 days, ensuring that fermentation is complete before proceeding to the conditioning phase.

What type of yeast is recommended for brewing this Northern German Altbier?

Wyeast 1007 German Ale yeast is recommended for this recipe to achieve the authentic flavors and aromas of the Northern German Altbier style.

What is the estimated ABV (alcohol by volume) of this beer?

The estimated ABV of this Northern German Altbier recipe is approximately 4.8%, providing a moderate alcohol content.

How bitter is this beer, according to its IBU (International Bitterness Units) rating?

The beer has an IBU rating of 34.9, indicating a relatively balanced bitterness level for this style of altbier.

What is the estimated color rating of this Northern German Altbier?

The estimated color rating of this beer is 26.5 EBC, resulting in a dark brown appearance with rich hues.

Can I use a different type of malt in place of Caramunich III?

Substituting Caramunich III with a similar caramel malt, such as Caramunich I or II, can still provide similar flavor and color contributions to the beer.

What is the purpose of adding Protofloc during the boil?

Protofloc, added during the last 15 minutes of the boil, acts as a clarifying agent to help remove unwanted particles and improve the beer’s clarity.

How should I sanitize the fermenter before transferring the wort?

Thoroughly clean the fermenter and sanitize it with a brewing sanitizer, following the manufacturer’s instructions, to ensure a clean and sterile environment for the yeast to ferment the beer.

Can I carbonate the beer using a different method instead of priming with sugar?

Yes, if you prefer an alternative carbonation method, you can use a kegging system and force-carbonate the beer with CO2 according to the desired level of carbonation.

Is it necessary to use a secondary fermenter for this beer?

Using a secondary fermenter is optional for this recipe. You can choose to ferment and condition the beer in a single vessel, such as a glass carboy or plastic bucket.

Can I adjust the bitterness level by modifying the hop additions?

Yes, you can experiment with different hop varieties or adjust the hop quantities to achieve your desired bitterness level. However, be mindful of maintaining the overall balance of the beer.

How should I store the beer during the 7-week conditioning period?

Store the beer in a cool location, ideally at a temperature of 3°C (37°F), to allow for proper conditioning and flavor development during the recommended 7-week period.

Can I age this beer for a longer period for enhanced flavor development?

Yes, aging the beer for an extended period, such as several months, can contribute to further flavor maturation and complexity. However, be sure to monitor the conditions to prevent any potential off-flavors or oxidation.

What food pairings would complement the flavors of this Northern German Altbier?

This Northern German Altbier pairs well with hearty dishes such as grilled sausages, roasted meats, German-style pretzels, and flavorful cheeses like Gouda or Emmental. Its maltiness and balanced bitterness also make it a great companion to savory stews or rich chocolate desserts.

Dan Smullen Beer is my life profile

Hi, I'm Dan, founder of BeerIsMyLife. I've been an avid homebrewer for over ten years, and beer is my true passion. I've traveled all over the world, visiting breweries, tasting beer, as well as making my own batches. I set up this blog to share that experience with you.

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating