This one was a big brew day for White Pointer…my first lager! And what better way to pop the lager cherry than an Oktoberfest. Though I’m definitely a hop head, Oktoberfest are still one of my favorite styles. I figured I could go two ways with this recipe. Something like a true German fest beer with bready malt qualities, or more like the caramel malty Americanized versions. For those unaware, if you go to THE Oktoberfest in Munich and order a liter of beer, the beer you’ll get is going to be like a more robust Munich Helles. You won’t find the amber colored Marzen beer that most think of when they think Oktoberfest. Both takes on the style certainly have their merits, but I opted for the drinkability and bready biscuit malt flavors of a more German style festbeer over the darker American versions. This beer was brewed on July 19th. It was a fun brew day, and I had a bunch of family members over. I brewed out on the deck in my new house for the first time, which was great. We had a beautiful day for it. The brew day went really smoothly. I was tempted to do a traditional step mash, but with the family over I wanted to keep things a bit simpler so I just mashed for an hour at 150. I boiled for 90 minutes since I was using a lot of pilsner malt. I chilled down to 60 degrees then pitched my yeast. I used a 2L starter with three vials of WLP 838 Southern German Lager yeast, which still may be underpitching, but my fermentation seemed to go well. I should have chilled down to 50, but I got impatient. My og came in a bit high at 1.062. I added another quart of water and that brought me to 1.058, right about what I was shooting for. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe Specifications -------------------------- Batch Size (fermenter): 5.75 gal Estimated OG: 1.059 SG Estimated FG: 1.014 Estimated Color: 6.8 SRM Estimated IBU: 22.5 IBUs Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 % Boil Time: 90 Minutes Ingredients: ------------ Amt Name Type # %/IBU 6 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 48.0 % 4 lbs Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 2 32.0 % 2 lbs Munich 10L (Briess) (10.0 SRM) Grain 3 16.0 % 4.0 oz Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.0 % 4.0 oz Melanoidin (Weyermann) (30.0 SRM) Grain 5 2.0 % 1.25 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 20.1 IBUs 0.25 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] - Boil 20.0 min Hop 7 2.4 IBUs Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 8 - 3.0 pkg Southern German Lager (White Labs #WLP83 Yeast 9 - Mash In Add 15.63 qt of water at 161.4 F 150.0 F 60 min
I fermented at 50 degrees for about 10 days, then brought it to room temp for two days for a D rest. I checked the gravity and the beer finished out at 1.012. The sample already tasted very nice, great malt flavors were already evident. I put the beer back in the fridge and dropped the temp five degrees per day until I got down to 35, where it will sit for about 6 weeks. Ideally, I’d lager it for longer, but I want it bottled for my friend’s Oktoberfest party on the official first day of Oktoberfest, September 20th.
Bottling Update 09/09/14: Bottled this beer tonight, the gravity was still steady at 1.012. The beer was a deep golden color in the hydrometer, and it was crystal clear. The flavor seemed nice and malty, but still crisp. I couldn’t detect any off flavors. I’m really looking forward to pouring a bottle of this beer into a stein to drink! I’ll post a tasting update in a week or so after the beer carbs!
Tasting on 10/02/14:
Appearance: Poured into a half litter stein as pictured at the top of the page. This beer has a light copper to deep golden color to it. It poured really clear, probably the clearest beer I’ve ever brewed. The beer had a nice foamy head that left lacing down the side of the stein.
Smell: Not much going on here, a bit of crackery malt aroma, but that’s to be expected as this isn’t a very aromatic style compared to the hoppy stuff.
Taste: This turned out pretty damn tasty. The beer has a decent amount of sweetness, but not a cloying caramel type of sweetness that bring some other Oktoberfests down. It had a nice cracker and baked bread flavor. No real hop flavor contribution other than the bitterness to balance the beer. Tasted similar to good German examples of the style. The only criticism I can think of was it may have been just a touch too sweet, but its close. Not much I’d change, I’d maybe bump the hops up a bit, but I’m not sure.
Mouthfeel: Somewhat high carbonation, smooth mouthfeel. Pretty easy drinking, but it could have been just a bit dryer. This one took about 3 to 3 and a half weeks to carb up. It got to the level I wanted, but I may add yeast at bottling next time I brew a lager to speed the process up a bit.
Overall: This was a pretty damn good first lager for my brewery. Like I said above, it was MAYBE just a touch sweet. I need to have a few more to be sure, but I’d maybe up the hops just a bit next time, or just go a bit lighter on the malt bill. I’m not detecting any off flavors, and that was my biggest focus with this being a lager since any mistakes would stand out. This beer was definitely a success, I just need to remember to brew it a bit earlier next year! It’ll be interesting to leave a couple untouched in the fridge to see how it lager for another couple months, I expect it will get even better.