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Oktoberfest

August 6, 2011

Bob and I have collaborated on beers before, and he’s become a go to resource for me to bounce brewing related ideas off, so over a few weeks in July we worked on a recipe for an Oktoberfest/Marzen.  Traditionally, this style is brewed at the very beginning of March (Marzen is German for March) and stored in caves at lager temperatures throughout the summer.  We’re not in Germany, we don’t have a cave, and it’s not March, but just about everything else about this beer fits within the BJCP style guidelines for a 3B. Oktoberfest/Marzen.

Vital stats for the style:

IBUs: 20-28 SRM: 7-14 OG: 1.050-1.056 FG: 1.012-1.016 ABV: 4.8-5.7

We actually decided to brew an 8 gallon batch and split it in half.  Bob took 4 gallons home and pitched an Oktoberfest yeast blend of his own, and I pitched two smack packs of Wyeast 2566 (Oktoberfest Blend).  I’m looking forward to seeing the differences.

  • Vienna – 8 lbs
  • Munich 10L – 2.4 lbs
  • Pilsen – 2.4 lbs
  • CaraMunich – .8 lbs
  • Crystal 60L – .8 lbs
  • Clear Candi Sugar – .8 lbs
  • Tettnanger – .8 oz – 60 mins
  • Hellertauer – .8 oz – 60 mins
  • Hellertauer – .8 oz – 30 mins
  • Hellertauer – .8 oz – 15 mins
  • Step Mash with 30 min rests at 145F and 155F
  • Mash out at 170F
  • OG:  1.053
  • SRM:  12.2 L
  • IBUs:  24
Here’s a few pictures of the process we used to brew on July 30, 2011.

I don't have a grain mill, so the guys at Keystone Hombrew Supply crushed them for me.

We went to Keystone Homebrew Supply in Montgomeryville, PA a few days before the brew.  They always add a valuable perspective.  The picture to the left is all the grains, which they crushed for us and put into a grain bag.
     Here’s a picture of us mashing in at 145F.  We had debated on doing a decoction mash but ultimately decided that an 8 hour brew day at +100F heat was not worth it.  At 145F, we planned to convert the starches to highly fermentable sugars, and then at 155F, we sucked out the unfermentables that would contribute to the body of the finished beer.
We boiled for 60 minutes.  It was ridiculously hot out.  The picture to the left is of my 10 gallon brewpot.  The bottom is clad with stainless steel and does a fine job and distributing the heat evenly.  Since I purchased it, I haven’t scorched a single beer, so I’m satisfied with it.
It’s worth noting that for any beer, but especially a Munich style Oktoberfest, a big rolling boil for the full 60 minutes is essentially.  This drives off DMS and also helps to optimize the beta amylase in wort from modified malts, which contributes to increased maltose levels.

A decoction mash increases the maltose levels, which is why many german beers have such a great malt profile.  Ultimately, that’s what we were shooting for here with the powerful boil (which is a short cut), and we don’t expect any noticeable difference (at least not to my palate).
Here’s a pretty terrible picture of the wort cooling, but it serves to show the 50 foot immersion chiller that I have been using.  Great Christmas present.  I would normally do this outside, but it was so hot out that the ambient temperatures would have made it even more difficult to cool the wort.  In about 30 mins, the temperature dropped to 80F.
The Wyeast 2566 thrives around 50F, so I [reluctantly] untapped 2 kegs from the keezer and put the fermentor inside.  Once it cooled, I pitched the yeast and aerated and am now waiting patiently.
Notes:
8/7/2011 – Gravity of 1.045.  Moving along slowly.  I’ll let it sit in the primary fermentor for two more weeks before opening the lid again.  From the research I’ve done, fermentation may have started slowly because I pitched room temperature  (72F) yeast into cold (50F) wort.  Yeast need to adjust to their environment, and this would have shocked them.  In the future, I’ll pitch the yeast at the fermentation temperature.
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