Wednesday December 15, 2010 @ 19:53 PM
Last Saturday some beer luminaries joined us at DBBC to brew a collaborative Tmave, or dark Czech-style lager. Local beer blogger, home brewer, and ex-Czech resident Alastair Reece of C-Ville joined us as well as beer writer, beer blogger, and DC home brewer Nathan Zeender. Also along for the brew was Lyle Brown, Master Beer Judge, long time home brewer, and Head Brewer of Battlefield Brewing Co of Fredericksburg, VA. The three joined myself and DBBC's Aaron Reilly at 9:00 am to mash-in this rare style of beer.
The grist bill of this beer largely came from Alistair's research. We chose to use Weyermann Malting Companies Czech Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt as the base with Weyermann's Cara-Bohemian and Cara-fa 2 Spezial Malts to provide the majority of color and malt flavor. A touch of Franco-Belge Dark Munich Malt was also used. To keep with traditional techniques we employed a double decoction mashing regime to fully maximize melanoidin production and enhance the dark malt character of this brew.
Tmave translates to something like dark or black in Czech. Like many beer styles it has a long history with several influences. Before the mid-19th century it is reported that these were top fermented beers (ales). With the advent of lager brewing and modern technology they became lagers. While I have only had imported versions of dark Czech lager, they do differ from each other as well as their German neighbors dark lagers. Some Tmave's can be as black as a Porter, Stout and Schwartzbier. Others can be brown like a German Dunkle. The strength varies but we created ours to be on the higher end of the scale. Our Tmave is a 14 plato beer with 23-24 IBU's coming from 100% Czech Saaz Hops. The alcohol should be around 5.8% abv. Our Tmave will have the rich malty body of a German Dunkle, with some roasted notes of a Schwartzbier and yet be it's own beer entirely. This style of dark lager is rarely brewed in this country, especially using the traditional techniques of decoction mashing and natural carbonation that we employ.
Being a cheerful Scot, Alastair came up with the name "Morana" which is a goddess of Death & Winter. The full beers name will be "Morana Dark Lager", and should help to keep winters real darkness at bay by providing a nice smooth malty beer during these cold months. Expect to see "Morana Dark Lager" on tap in early February.
I want to thank Alastair, Nathan, and Lyle for visiting us here at DBBC and helping brew what is a rare style of beer in the USA. With the continued onslaught of extreme beers I am proud to have the ability to create some more traditionally minded brews, especially the rarer ones. This project was a lot of fun and I can hardly wait to try it when it's done maturing.