10 Beers for 10 Years continues with District ChopHouse collaboration

DCBeer.com's Decade Dunkel
DCBeer.com’s Decade Dunkel: Malty, smoky, and hoppy

In an effort to make more of the beer we’d like to drink, we asked Barrett Lauer, Head Brewer at District ChopHouse to brew a Dunkel, a German-style dark lager, with us. The catch? We wanted it dry-hopped and we wanted to use just a touch of smoked malt. But if you know anything about DC’s oldest brewery, it is that Barret Lauer doesn’t make anything imbalanced.

Using Pilsner, Munich, CaraMunich, Black, and just a touch of smoked malt, our dark lager came to life. The outline for this 2019 Dunkel came from DeGroen’s Dunkel, last brewed at the Baltimore Brewing Company, which closed in 2005. Lauer once worked for Baltimore Brewing and made DeGroen’s Dunkel there, but for this batch, he tweaked the recipe by adding smoked malt and Spalter hops and, of course, dry-hopping.

10 Beers for 10 Years continues with the District ChopHouse collaboration DCBeer.com's Decade Dunkel.
Barrett Lauer and Jacob Berg enjoy DCBeer.com’s Decade Dunkel

The result, DCBeer.com’s Decade Dunkel, has a brilliantly clear dark mahogany color with aromas of roasting chestnuts and earthy dark caramel. The flavor starts with some malty sweetness followed by nuances of baker’s chocolate and then toasted wheat bread. With a lighter body than the flavors suggest, it finishes dry on the palate with mild hop bitterness and minerality that encourages another tasting.

Decade Dunkel a very complex beer given its reasonable alcohol content of 5.6 % abv. The beer is beautifully light on the palate for its color, which is just a shade darker than the ChopHouse’s legendary Nut Brown Ale and has mild German hop character.

Compared to a pale lager, however, there is a malty depth typically found in beers like Ayinger’s Altbairisch Dunkel, which is manufactured with five malts. Ayinger’s Dunkel (5% abv), occasionally available at specialty retailers like Craft Beer Cellar, is the most malt-forward of our favorite Dunkels. The Hofbräu Dunkel (5.5% abv), which was once available on draft at Pizzeria Paradiso, is slightly less malty and was worlds better on draft than anything available in bottles. The Warsteiner Dunkel (4.8% abv) is the most light-bodied of the three. Available from time to time Cafe Berlin, it’s a different beer than the Hoffbrau or Ayinger.

The German classics were the inspiration for our Dunkel, which picks up where the old Munich versions leave off. None of these popular Dunkels possess the hoppy bite we wanted to impart to our Dunkel, and the best part of our beer is that we brewed it mere yards from where you can drink it. No importer necessary, and no competition for freshness compared to the German article.

We urge you to get to District ChopHouse and try the DCBeer.com’s Decade Dunkel. It’s available for Happy Hour Monday through Fridays for as long as the batch lasts.

Learn more about Barrett Lauer on The DC Beer Show or our interviews with his former apprentices.