Munich Dunkel and How to Brew It

Munich Dunkel

Overview

I couldn’t think of a more fitting beer style to discuss first than the Munich Dunkel, as it was the first beer I ever developed by myself. The Munich Dunkel is a beautiful dark lager with a delicious balance between the malt sweetness and the hop character. The 2021 guidelines for this style of beer are below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.048 – 1.056
  • Final Gravity: 1.014 – 1.018
  • Alcohol by Volume: 4.8% – 5.3%
  • Bitterness: 16-25 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 15-17

Munich Dunkel Ingredients

Malt

Traditionally, the malts used for a Munich Dunkel are described in the name – Munich malts. If you are limited to your malt selection you could make a SMaSH (single malt and single hop) Munich Dunkel with Munich malt and any German noble hop, and while it would be a little light in color, it would still be delicious. Many brewers mix light and dark Munich malt for the majority of the grain bill with a very small amount of dark roast malt, such as Carafa, to finish off the color.

Hops

The hops used in a traditional Munich Dunkel are German noble hops. These include Hallertauer Mittelfruh, Saaz, Spalt, and Tettnang. If you are unable to get ahold of any of these, you can also use Fuggles, Liberty, or Mount Hood. For this style, the purpose of the hops is to balance the sweetness of the malt. The hop aroma and flavor are very low to low, so I would caution against large amounts of flavor and aroma hop additions if your goal it to be traditional.

Yeast

As with all lagers, yeast is of utmost importance for the Dunkel. Some of the best options you can choose include:

  • German Bock Lager Yeast – WLP833 (White Labs)
  • German Lager Yeast – WLP830 (White Labs)
  • Munich Lager -2308 (Wyeast)
  • Augustiner Lager (BSI)

The fermentation schedule varies from brewer to brewer, but most use similar ranges. All of the yeast strains above perform best between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water

Last but not least, the water. For all beers we brew, we use a reverse osmosis filtration system and build up our water profile from scratch. Our water profile looked like this:

  • Calcium: 50 ppm
  • Sodium: 27 ppm
  • Sulfates: 70 ppm
  • Chloride: 55 ppm

Munich Dunkel Recipe

The following is a 5-gallon version of the first Munich Dunkel I brewed. Traditionally, the Dunkel is brewed with the decoction mash technique. I was unable to perform a decoction mash due to the system I was working on, so I used a step mash instead. The time and temperatures are included. The numbers for this beer are included below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.050
  • Final Gravity: 1.014 – 1.018
  • Alcohol by Volume: 5.0%
  • Bitterness: 20.8 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 19

Grain Bill

  • Munich Malt – 6 lbs 8 oz (66.7%)
  • Dark Munich – 1 lb 12 oz (17.9%)
  • Victory – 12 oz (7.7%)
  • Special X – 12 oz (7.7%)

I personally love the extra toasty/biscuity flavor that the Victory malt adds, so I included it to enhance the mouthfeel and malty flavor that is added from the Munich malt. I did not have Carafa, so I decided to use Special X instead. It is a very unique dark caramel malt that is only roasted for a short time, so it does not introduce harsh flavors as most roasted malts do. It has an SRM of 175, so it bumps the color of the wort while adding chocolate and nut flavors.

Hops

1.5 oz Hallertauer Mittelfruh at 60 minutes (20.8 IBU)

Yeast

German Lager Yeast – WLP830 (2 homebrew packs)

Mash

Munich Dunkels are traditionally brewed using step mashes. If following a step mash, add your salts and acids, if needed, and heat your strike water of 3 gallons to 132 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature should drop to 122 degrees Fahrenheit and hold there for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes at 122 degrees, raise the temperature to 148 degrees and hold for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes at 148 degrees, heat the mash up to 156 degrees and hold for 30 minutes. Finally, after 30 minutes at 156 degrees, heat the mash up to 168 degrees to mash out and begin to transfer to the boil kettle. Sparge with 5 gallons, or until you reach a pre-boil gravity of 1.044.

You can do a single infusion mash, but it may not have quite the same malt depth you are expecting. If doing a single infusion mash, add your salts and pH adjustment, if needed, and fill your mash tun to the required volume and temperature for your mash to drop to 152 degrees Fahrenheit. For me, the strike water was 3 gallons at 163 degrees Fahrenheit. After 60 minutes, raise your mash temperature to 168 degrees for mash out. After mashing out, begin to sparge the same as above.

Boil

Boil the wort for 90 minutes. Add the hops in at 60 minutes. At 10 minutes, I added yeast nutrients and at 5 minutes I added whirlfloc tablets as my clarifying agent. Once the boil is complete, whirlpool the wort for 10 minutes and then let it wind down for 10 minutes.

Fermentation

Knock the wort out in your heat exchanger so that the pitching temperature is 48 degrees and then measure the gravity and pitch the yeast. My initial gravity was 1.050. I let this free rise to 54 degrees as fermentation starts and kept it here for about a week. Once the primary fermentation was complete, I pulled off the yeast and let the temperature free rise up to 68 degrees. I held it at this temperature for 2 weeks to ensure that fermentation had completed. After the two-week mark, I lowered the temperature by 4 degrees a day until it reached 33 degrees. Once it reached 33 degrees, I transferred it to the brite tank and carbonated it to 2.8 vols. After 3 days in the brite tank, I kegged it and let it lager for 12 weeks. Once the lagering is complete, tap it and enjoy!

If you decide to try this recipe, or another Dunkel recipe, feel free to send us a comment and let us know how it went! And if you want to see more recipes like this, sign up for our newsletter below to be notified when a new post is released. Cheers!

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