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Style of the Week: Oktoberfest!

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September 25, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Here we see a traditional Oktoberfest beer served in a typical Maßkrug mug.

Here we see a traditional Oktoberfest beer served in a typical Maßkrug mug.

Well, it’s getting to be that time of year again when we think about tubas, accordions, soft giant pretzels, and girls in dirndls hefting large liter sized mugs of amber colored beer. Oktoberfest, the celebration of the harvest time, originally a royal wedding, now more of a true beer fest than anything else kicks off the beer fests of Autumn. All that can be said about the beers though is that they are generally speaking slightly stronger than your typical German style beers at around 6% ABV, malt and hop balanced at about 20~25 IBU’s, and filled with bright melanoidin flavors derived mostly from higher temperature dried malts like Vienna and Munich. Recipes vary between breweries to the point of being completely different beers to the point of just being dark amber colored with lots of malt flavor and a mild hop bitter to cover the residual extract. These are not sweet beers however, they simply quite malty in their initial presentation. They can vary from the sweeter hoppier versions to the drier more balanced ones. I prefer the later as I can not only drink more of them, but I can also get more flavor and aroma out of them. Below is a recipe of mine that makes a nice dry balanced malt and hop profiled amber colored beer which can be brewed as either a lager, or as an ale. If brewed as an ale, be sure to use a clean fermenting yeast that promotes the clean malty flavors that these beers possess. So without much oompah, let’s get down into this great style of seasonal beer!

Extract:

  • 7 lbs. Munich LME
  • 2 lbs. Extra Light DME
  • 1 oz. Hallertau or Liberty hops (Bittering)
  • ¼ oz. Calcium Chloride in the boil
  • Wyeast 2633 or White labs WLP820 or Saflager W-34/70 Dry Yeast

Instructions:

  • Heat ¾ gallons of water to 155°F.
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to heat, bring to boil for 10 min. then add 1 oz. bittering hops. (Hallertau or Liberty, 60 min).
  • At 15 minutes remaining in the boil, add a Whirfloc tablet.
  • After boil has finished, turn off heat and cool wort by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. (0 min)
  • Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using non-distilled bottled water or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 50° F until completed (about a week).
  • Allow to age an additional three to four weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain:

  • 3 lbs. Munich malt
  • 3 lbs. Vienna malt
  • 3 lbs. Pilsner malt
  • 1 oz. Hallertau or Liberty hops (Bittering)
  • ¼ oz. Calcium Chloride in the mash, ¼ oz. Calcium Chloride in the boil
  • Wyeast 2633 or White labs WLP820 or Saflager W-34/70 Dry Yeast

Procedure:

Infusion mash at 154°F for 1 hour. Sparge to 6.5 gallons of wort, and bring to a roiling boil. Add the bittering hops 10 minutes into the boil. Continue boiling for 40 more min. then add Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss. At the end of the boil, cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller. Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well). Pitch yeast and ferment at 50°F. Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 110 gms. corn sugar (approx. ¾ cup), or kegged to 20 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 50°~55°F in a Maßkrug mug, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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