Oktoberfest 2014

Here’s my recipe for this year’s Oktoberfest party. I based this off of last year’s recipe, decreasing the Caramunich from 10% to 5%, and adding 5% aromatic malt to really bring out and enhance the malt flavors. I also split the yeast with two different lager strains.

  • 13 lb Pilsner malt
  • 5 lb Dark Munich malt
  • 1 lb Caramunich III malt
  • 1 lb Aromatic malt
  • 2 oz hallertau @ 75 min
  • 2 oz hallertau @ 10 min
  • Wyeast Munich Lager
  • Wyeast Oktoberfest Blend

// Mashin 1.5 qt/lb at 152 for 60 min. Raise to 168, sparge to collect 13 gal 1.044 wort. Boil 90 min. Chill to 70, pitch starters, then transfer to fermentor at 50F . Brewed 8/10/14. //

UPDATE (8/17/14): Krausen formed about 6 hrs after pitching, with a nice 1/2 inch layer left after a week. Both carboys are at 1.022 and very cloudy/yeasty, so there’s still much work left to do. Oktoberfest yeast producing way more sulfur than the Munich. Turned the temp up to 52 to help it finish out. Too much yeast character left in the beer to make any flavor/aroma assessments, but it’s on its way there.

UPDATE (8/22/14): On 8/19 I started ramping up the temp slowly up to 62 until fermention seemed to stop. On 8/22 gravities were at 1018, and still very sweet/estery, so i took it back down to 52F and gave both carboys a good swirl to kick up fermentation. Patience, patience.

UPDATE (8/27/14): Gravities are down to around 1015, and still quite fruity in the nose of the beer. The body is much more appropriate – medium with a slight dry finish. The taste is satisfying – light caramel and toasted notes – but still with some very evident yeast flavors; not my ideal Oktoberfest by any means. This really needs to ferment out a little more, and clean up significantly before it has any shot at coming close. Gave both carboys a good swirl again, which released a good bit of CO2 into the airlocks. Hopefully by Sunday (going on 3 weeks in primary) we’ll be ready to rack and lager.

UPDATE (9/1/14): Gravity is down to 1012! And, the taste is improving. Some of the ester-y qualities are fading, and the malts are coming through more. It’s lacking that deep bread flavor, but it’s close; still a little too much caramel flavor which I’m going to attribute to the overall presence of Caramunich III. I thought that decreasing it to 5% (from the 10% in last year’s recipe) of the grist would help, but the flavor just does sit well with me. I’d really like this in a Belgian style beer – it has kind of a biscuity caramel flavor that I enjoy, just not in this beer. Clarity is still somewhat hazy in the Oktoberfest yeast, but much more clear in the Munich. Racked both beers to secondaries and slowly decreased the temperature to 32F over two days.

THE VERDICT

No pictures, unfortunately, because all 10 gallons were kicked within just a few hours of the party! It was well-received by all. The beer critics also throughly enjoyed, but did point out that the sweetness was a slightly high for an Oktoberfest though not off-putting. I agreed, and I think I have a good idea on how to alter this recipe. Bump up the dark munich by a few pounds, and use some caravienna to add just a touch of sweetness without all the caramel character of caramunich. The aromatic malt wasn’t really discernible. Also, I think the hallertau addition might be more appropriate at 30 minutes (and probably just 1 oz) to add a little bitterness without too much hop flavor.  In terms of the yeast, the only real difference I could detect between the strains was the amount of hop flavor that came through. The Munich lager seemed to present more hop flavor, while the Oktoberfest lager yeast left the beer fairly malt forward. Very similar otherwise, but I actually preferred the Munich as the more balanced beer in this batch.

The lagering phase really helped to clean-up and clarify the beer in the end, but the haphazard primary fermentation really showed its side-effects through the lifecycle and did leave just a slight ester-y profile. Next time, I really need to chill both carboys down to the right temp (50F or so) before pitching – i think that has a lot to do with it.

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Filed under All-grain, Amber, German, Maerzen

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