A Dortmunder Adambier is malt dominated strong ale from
Northern Germany. No one can be certain on the origin. Dortmund
was one of the cities in the 14th Century Hanseatic League
(along with Einbeck -- the home of Bock); the city was best
known for beer and brewing. In the 19th Century, King Frederick
William IV of Prussia was known as a hard drinking man. He
visited Dortmund and some Adambier put him under the table for
more than a whole day! With the development of lagers, this
style fell out of favor among German beer drinkers, and now is
very difficult to find. Even the BJCP (sadly) abandoned the style
when they revised the guidelines in 1998.
My first exposure to Dortmunder Adambier was when I was
judging European Ales in the mid 1990s. There was this wonderful
strong beer that tasted like a cross between an English Barley
wine and a dopplebock. I later found out that Bruce Brode and
Brian Vessa were the brewers and have since brewed several
myself. The only commercial example of an Adambier I know of
is Hair of the Dogís Adam. Brewer Alan Sprints goes to great
trouble with this flagship beer. Each batch is numbered, and the
carbonation comes from krausening, where Hair of the Dog adds
some new fermenting Adam to some that is ready to be bottled.
One can tell, Adam will last many years if kept cold, and the
head is as intense and rocky as any beer Iíve ever seen. Alan adds
some smoked malt as well -- peat if you can believe it. If you
havenít tried Adam, do yourself a favor and get some. Stuffed
Sandwich has many aged magnums going back a number of
What should you look for in an Adambier? Malt, malt, and more
malt. Just as a big Belgians will showcase esters and yeast complexity,
and a double IPA displays the hops, an Adambier defines
complex maltiness. The esters from the German ale yeast
and the hard, Dortmund-style water serve only to accentuate the
malty flavors even more. The malt is caramelized and roasty, but
those flavors come with a long boil and fermentation, not with
the use of roast or caramel malts. In my opinion, most of your
grain bill should involve Munich malt. Munich will give you rich
malty flavors and melenoidins you canít get with pale malt. I
wouldnít dream of not decocting this beer as well. Just use your
melenoidins you canít get with pale malt. I wouldnít dream of
not decocting this beer as well. Just use your H.E.R.M.S. system
for sparging this time. The minimum is a single decoction including
a 20-minute boil of the grains. A double or triple is better.
The other key flavor characteristic is pleasant oxidation. This
big beer will give you sherry-like vanilla or oaky notes as it ages
that only add to the malt complexity. In a hurry? Forget it. An
Adambier really isnít ready for a year and it doesnít reach its
peak for 3 or even 4 years, and doesnít start to fade until after 5.
Iíd use a fairly carbonate water source, or doctor yours up. After
all, the Dortmunder Export really is mineral laden, and even if
you donít want to dry the beer out, the minerals will give a little
edge. Same with hops. It is an ale, 30-40 IBUís are fine and the
finishing hops will fade anyway. Try and use a noble hop like
Tettnanger or Hallertauer. Use a German ale yeast and ferment
cool. I start at 50 and gradually raise the temperature to 60 over a
six-week primary fermentation. Use a huge starter and oxygenate
frequently. One warning, this beer will have a massive head;
even in the fermenter. Leave lots of headspace, youíll need it.
Rack into secondary after 6 weeks, keep it in the 30ís and 40ís
for a few months, then bottle or keg. If you bottle condition, add
new yeast. Age for at least a year -- if you can resist the temptation.
Since it is all about malt, I saved the most important part
until last. Try for an OG of about 1.090.
|Light Munich|| ||65% - 75%|
|German Pale|| ||20% - 30%|
|Special B|| ||3%|
|Melenoidin Malt|| ||3%|
All I ask is if you brew some, find me and let me try it.