Bad Karma Schwarzbier: Delicious and Nutritious

A Recipe To Try

Bad Karma Schwarzbier

Target OG: 1.052, TARGET IBU: 28

Shopping List


•             5 lbs German Munich malt (e.g., Weyermann, Schill, etc.)

•             4 lbs German Pilsner malt

•             8 oz Weyermann CaraFa Spezial® III

•             4 oz Weyermann CaraAroma


•             2 oz Hallertau Mittelfruh


•             A Bavarian-style lager strain of your choice—I’m going to use Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager.

Key Points For Key Pints

•             Go German. To shine, this recipe needs some dehusked roast malt. Weyermann CaraFa Spezial® is readily available and authentic, and it comes in three different roast levels of increasing darkness. This recipe calls for CaraFa III, the darkest.

•             Think Bavarian. To me, a hallmark of the beers of southern Germany is superb balance. They tend towards malty but are still drinkable and delicious. The hopping is judicious rather than exuberant but it’s still there. If we spring for the imported ingredients, mind our mash and fermentation temps, and treat our yeast well, we’ll be rewarded with a full-bodied lager that’s still gluggable by the half-liter and tastes like more.

•             A yeast starter is your friend. Good lager requires lots of healthy yeast. Culture up a yeast starter prior to brew day to maximize yeast health and increase pitch rate. Shameless plug alert: for detailed info on pitch rates and making yeast starters, see the article by your author in the September 2013 issue of Brew Your Own magazine.

•             Ale yeast workaround: If you don’t feel like going full monty with a lager yeast, try a neutral or malty ale strain, such as 1007 German Ale or 1056 American Ale, and keep fermentation cool—as close to 60°F as you can manage. A yeast starter is still a good idea.

To The Homebrewery

Note: these steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process. Refer to the instructions for your brew system, and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.


1.            Make a yeast starter prior to brew day.

2.            On brew day, collect strike water (I use 1.3 quarts per pound, YMMV) and heat to approximately 165°F.

3.            Mill the grains, or have it done for you at the shop.

Mash & Sparge

1.            Add all grains to strike water and mix to achieve a uniform temperature of 152–154°F. Rest the mash at this temperature for 60–90 minutes.
While the mash rests, collect, and heat sparge water.

2.            When the mash rest is complete, heat it to 170°F for mashout.

3.            Sparge and collect the wort in the boil kettle.


1.            Bring the wort to a boil and open a Köstritzer. Add 1.25 oz Hallertau Mittelfruh hops when the wort begins to boil, and boil for 60 minutes.

2.            Add 0.25 oz of Hallertau Mittelfruh 15 minutes before the end of the boil.

3.            Cool it!

Fermentation and beyond

1.            Transfer the cooled wort to a sanitized fermenter, aerate well, and pitch yeast.

2.            Depending on the yeast strain being used, aim for a maximum fermentation temperature in the low to mid 50s°F. When fermentation activity begins to slow, allow the fermenter to warm up to approximately 60°F for a 2–3 day diacetyl rest. Depending on yeast and temp, this step should be completed in about 10–14 days.

3.            Rack to a secondary fermenter and cool to lagering temps—roughly 34–38°F. Lager for 3–4 weeks.

4.            Package when clarity and flavor suit you. This Schwarzbier will be ready to drink as soon as it’s carbonated and will keep well for several months in a cool, dark place.

Until next time: Drink it like you brewed it!

Like this recipe? You can find it and 63 other witty and detailed homebrew recipes in Michael Dawson’s book, “Mashmaker: A Citizen-Brewer’s Guide to Making Great Beer at Home.” In each recipe, Dawson includes suggestions on how to modify and customize each beer, along with all-new essays on Malt, Hops, Yeast, and Water, giving readers critical insight into the building blocks of every successful brew. On sale now for $24.95 at

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