Oktoberfest Lager (all-grain)

DSC_0715Ah, Oktoberfest. All malts are Weyermann. Anticipated OG 1.057, 21 IBU, 11 SRM, 5.6% abv.

  • 6 lb Pilsner malt
  • 3 lb Vienna malt
  • 2 lb Munich dark (10L)
  • 1 lb Caramunich III
  • 1 oz Hallertau hops (German) 60 min 4.1%aa
  • 0.5 oz Hallertau, 20 min
  • 0.5 oz Hallertau, 5 min
  • 2 packs WYeast 2306 Munich Lager

// Mash in 2 qt/lb at 146-148 for 30 min, 158-160 for 30 min, and 168-170 for 10 min. Sparge to collect 7.5 gal 1.041 wort. Boil 90 minutes, collect 5.5 gal 1.057 wort. Chill to 70, pitched yeast and put in fridge at 48F. //

I actually waited about 3 hours after pitching before transferring to the fridge. For some reason, I remember someone saying it’s OK to leave it warm until you see the first signs of activity, then begin to take it down to ~50F. So that’s what I did. Fermentation was fairly active, and, since I didn’t have enough space in the carboy, it overflowed. But not in the normal way. It created this yeast growth thing on top of the carboy because of the cold temperature.

It’s hard to say what temperature primary fermentation occurred at; I was shooting for 50F, but my fridge only goes up to about 42F on the highest temperature setting without shutting it off completely.

UPDATE (9/10/13): After 10 days in the primary, the gravity read 1.02. Tastes nice so far but definitely too sweet and not finished. Took it out of the fridge to do a diacetyl rest for about 2 days, to clean up the beer and get it down to a reasonable gravity. At this point I had to leave for a 2-week vacation, and the beer only got down to about 1.018 in those 2 days. Back in the fridge at around 45. Gravity got down to 1.015 after two more weeks. Tastes great at this point – big, bold caramel aroma flavors with a good amount of bitterness. Not much hop aroma or taste. and it’s nice and clear – most of the yeast dropped out and I think it actually started to lager in the primary. Racked to a secondary and turned down the fridge as low as I could to about 38F.

THE VERDICT

Overall, a solid recipe for an Oktoberfest. My lagering processes still aren’t great, so there was a little fruitiness, but overall very nice crisp lager taste. It could use a hair more Munich malt (less vienna), or maybe even some aromatic to really beef up the malt aroma. The beer does have good body, but comes more from the mouthfeel and less the malt flavor. The caramel sweetness is a little much, so I’d definitely scale the caramunich back to just 1/2 pound. The hops really didn’t come through at all, which I think would have helped to round out the beer a little more, so next time I’ll probably increase the flavor and aroma hops to 1oz each.

After listening to Gordon Strong’s podcast on Oktoberfest beers, I realized that mine didn’t finish crisp and dry enough to be considered “sessionable” (which is what an Oktoberfest should be!); there was really too much sweetness in the beer to leave you with that crisp lager feeling and desire to have another. Next time I’ll increase the mash time at 146 and decrease at the time 158 to give the yeast some more fermentable sugars.

UPDATE 11/29/13: I entered this in a BJCP competition, so I copied the “Overall Impression” notes below. I think they pretty much sum up all of my feelings about this beer, too, so I’m happy to see that my personal evaluations are in line with those of the trained judges!

“A good example and overall drinkable beer. Fermentation character is evident – lagers should be very clean – ensure full fermentation before racking to secondary.” 29/50

“A nice beer with a good malt profile that could benefit from some additional carbonation.” 33/50

“A very pleasing beer. Needs more malt aroma and less caramel to be closer to style. Ferment several degrees cooler.” 35/50

DSC_0714

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Filed under All-grain, German, Lager, Maerzen, Malty

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