Best of the 'Fest (Oktober, that is...)

Discussion in 'Recipes for Feedback' started by J A, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I have a lot of session summer ales stocked up for the next couple of months so I can tie up my fermenter and chest freezer for a while with a lager. It's high time to start thinking Oktoberfest.
    I haven't done a lager yet, but I think I have a handle on things well enough to pull it off. I'd really rather do an all-grain, but I'm open to PM. I'm doing BIAB with relatively small kettles, but I should be able to handle just about any single-step infusion mash.
    Point me to your favorite recipe.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I'll provide you a link to mine, then tell you it doesn't matter all that much. What matters is sanitation and fermentation management - controlling your temperatures to a narrow range. Oktoberfest yeasts perform best between 50 and 55 degrees F. I control my temperature to within +/1 1 degree F and get good results. Here's the recipe:

    http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/r ... 16-maerzen

    Understanding that by varying yeast and temperature, this could just as easily become an altbier, something Belgiany, a Dunkelweizen or an American amber!

    No decoctions, relatively simple grain bill, Noble hops, to me those are key to a good beer without a lot of additional work.
     
  3. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Excellent! Thanks...
    Regarding the yeast, I've been wondering about Saflager W/34-70. I've had great luck so far with the Fermentis dry stuff. Given that the yeast should be pretty invisible, I wonder if there'd be a big improvement in using the Wyeast.
     
  4. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    I use 34/70 in many of my lagers. I also use S-23. I think I'm copying the yeast from the extract kits. I don't know why I choose the yeast I do. They both make fine lagers. Yeast is yeast, right? (He says, standing back wincing.)
     
  5. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    I have found that for best results for new brewers, stick with dry yeast, less chance of error and on that note even though im advance I still prefer dry, and wake it up by the tried and true method for bread making, warm water, teaspoon of sugar shake it up and let it chew... look at the foam and if over 1/2" pitch
     
  6. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    There's another thing I do wrong. I just sprinkle the packet right into my wort. Let the little buggers get out of bed when they want to!
     
  7. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I've been dry-pitching mostly, with some batches being rinsed trub from earlier batches. I'm not sure I've seen a big difference between the two. I will say that I pitched a 4 1/2 gallon batch with a half-package of US-05 (been splitting packets for 2 1/2 gallon batches and the half-packet was all I had). I dry-pitched into a carboy and that doesn't work very well (duh... :roll: ). It seemed a little wimpy getting started so I pitched a quarter packet hydrated and kicked with a pinch of sugar. It took off in a matter of hours from there and fermented really vigorously.
    I pitched the next 4 1/2 gallon batch with 3/4 packet of US-05, but hydrated so I could pour it into the carboy (again, duh... :roll: ). It took off in no time and looked to be going perfectly. Then all hell broke loose and it blew through the airlock and foamed up half the inside of the chest-freezer. I cleaned it up and put in a blow-off and it still foamed like crazy for a day and a half. It's finally calmed down and ready for secondary (day 6 of fermentation).
    I guess the moral of the story is that dry works really well, at least in a bucket, but hydrated and especially hydrated and fed will give a quicker more robust fermentation. I'm not sure whether the finished beer will know the difference, but the little yeasties are definitely hittin' the floor runnin'. ;)
     
  8. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    The reason I dry pitch is because the extract kits I used to buy said specifically not to rehydrate. The included yeast packet had rehydration instructions on it, but the recipe said in bold print not to. So, one less thing to do, and I didn't. It's always worked well for me, so I continue to do it. And yes, it is fun sprinkling the packet into a carboy.
     
  9. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    More like stand back chuckling! You know better. The Octoberfest Blend 2633 in Noseybear's is a strain specificly for this beer. It leaves a good malt backbone yet cleans up well after itself. My recipe is similar but more Light Munich and Carafa II instead of I. I use the same grain as the Northern Brewer Oktoberfest Kit but change the hops and add a protein rest. The dry yeasts discussed would work just fine I'm sure (I think 34/70 is an option if you buy their kit) but the way I have looked at it through the five years I that I brewed it is, why go to the trouble of obtaining German malts, conditioning for months, then throw in a generic yeast that's good enough?
     
  10. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    It might be bad to transform this thread to yeast talk, but I just go for cheap yeast. (I'm not into saving yeast.) The only liquid yeast I buy is Kolsch yeast. And that's only because I can't find it dry. I've been happy with the yeast I use. I know it's similar to the argument a guy at work gives me: "How do you know you wouldn't be happier with a Mac if you've only owned PCs?"
     
  11. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Yeast is a really important part of most European beers, I guess, so it seems appropriate to focus on it to some extent. Coming up with a good grain bill and mashing really carefully to really show it off would be a little bit of a waste if the yeast was totally off and changing the flavor. I like keeping it simple (and, sure...cheap) but the notion of going with a proven strain designed just for the type of beer makes sense, especially on a seasonal lager.

    That being said, I am hoping to get some input on grain bill. Some recipes seem to focus on the Vienna malt, some tend toward fairly equal amounts of Pilsner, Vienna and Munich.

    Regarding your Kolsch comment, I've used Safale K-97 for a couple of Kolsch batches and it seems to work really well. I haven't quite nailed down the grain bill and I'm working on getting it to be a little maltier and finish a little drier, but the yeast flavor contribution seems to be pretty spot on.
     
  12. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    A good tasting dry beer is hard to make, everything has to be working perfectly but not impossible
     
  13. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Just a note on sprinkling dry yeast directly into wort: You're underpitching. That process kills off about half the yeast cells. But since a packet of dried yeast contains about the same number of cells as two vials, you're doing okay for low-gravity beers by sprinkling. If you go above about 1.050, rehydrate or use two packs of dried yeast.
     
  14. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Good advice. Thanks!
     
  15. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Relatively cool mash temps, tight temperature control during fermentation, adequate yeast pitch, mineral balance toward sulfate over chloride, adequate hopping.... What's so hard about that? :)
     

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