Sunday, May 1, 2011

Recipe 55 - Oktoberfest/Marzen Lager All Grain

This is my latest all grain Oktoberfest/Marzen lager recipe. I decided to brew a lager beer this time because of how well received my past lagers have been. Plus I've been looking at my empty fermentation chamber for the past few months and figured it was time to get some use out of it. The ingredients were bought at Princeton Homebrew, where I get all my brewing supplies. I sent Joe Bair, the owner of Princeton Homebrew, an email with the list of items I needed and he had them ready for me to pick up a few hours later.

CaraMunich, Melanoidin, Munich, Pilsener, Hallertauer And Saflager 23
Since brewing my original recipe this past January I've developed a new process for mashing my grains and have been using it for several months now. It involves calculating the recipe using 2 times the normal Mr. Beer size which for me is 2.13 gallons. I setup qBrew to use 4.25 gallons, instead of 2.13 gallons, then add my grain bill and hop schedules until I get the recipe close to the ABV, IBU and SRM range I'm targeting.

qBrew Grain Bill For 4.25 Gallon Batch Size
Since mashing takes an hour to an hour and a half I figured why not just double up on the grain bill and mash it all at once. This definitely shaves at least an hour off my brewing time while still giving me the same end results, two Mr. Beer fermenters filled with wort. My Screwy Mash Tun can hold 11 pounds of grains using a mash thickness of 1.25 to 1.5 and produces 4.25 gallons of 7% ABV beers with no issues.

qBrew Hop Schedule For 4.25 Gallon Size
For a 4.25 gallon batch I mash as usual and then lauter into 2 boil pots, alternating the filling frequently so that both pots get an equal share of the sugar rich wort as it leaves the mash tun. I lauter for 30 minutes and moving the fill tube between both pots gives me something to do while waiting for them to fill up.

Lauter And Alternating The Fill Between Both Pots
The hops schedule is then split into 2 so that each of the boil pots get the right amount. For example the qBrew recipe calls for 1.5 ounces boiled for 60 minutes, so I divided that by 2 and added .750 ounce to each boil pot. After mashing and filling the boil pots equally we can look at the rest of the boil as if we were doing 2 batches again.

Hop Additions Divided In Half To Add To 2 Boil Pots
I used qBrew's default 'Oktoberfest/Marzen' style guidelines as the basis for crunching this recipe's numbers. You can download the latest qBrew database below and use it to upgrade your current ingredient database. This latest ingredient database includes more yeast, fruits, extracts and other helpful entries then ever before.

 Click to download Screwy's latest qBrew database   

Click to download this recipe file for qBrew 
Size 4.25 gallons: Estimated IBU=34, SRM=13, OG=1.072, FG=1.018, ABV= 6.9%

1/2 pound CaraMunich
1/2 pound Melanoidin
5.0 pounds Munich (German)
5.0 pounds Pilsener (German)

1.5 ounce Hallertauer (Germany) pellet hops boiled for 60 minutes
0.75 ounce Hallertauer (Germany) pellet hops boiled for 30 minutes
1/8 tab WhirlFloc boiled for 9 minutes
0.75 ounce Hallertauer (Germany) pellet hops boiled for 7 minutes

** Infusion mash at 156F for 60 minutes **

Soak mash tun in 12 quarts of 160F water for 20 minutes then dump to pre heat tun
Heat 20 quarts of filtered water to 170F
Pour 14 quarts of 170F water into mash tun
Mix in 11 pounds of crushed grain mix at 60F
Pour the remainder of the 170F water into mash tun filling to 4.5 gallon mark
Stir water and grain mixture and adjust to 156F and mash for 60 minutes
Sparge with 170F strike water to set mash bed to 168F
Lauter for 30 minutes adding 11.5 quarts of sweet wort to each boil pot

(Using 2 boil pots)
Boil for 60 minutes (8.5 quarts remaining for fermenter)
Add 3/4 ounce bittering hops at 60 minutes to flameout
Add 3/8 ounce flavoring hops at 30 minutes to flameout
Add 1/8 tab WhirlFloc at 9 minutes to flameout
Add 3/8 ounce aroma hops at 7 minutes to flameout
Pitched at 65F and fermented at 54F for 25 days
Raise to 60F over days 26 to 28 then rack to secondary fermenter
Cold lager for 4-6 weeks at 34F

Two 12 Quart Boil Pots And A Smaller Pot To Hold Extra Wort
 I keep an extra pot of wort boiling on a back burner and use it to replace wort lost in the boil pots during the 60 minute boil. I want to make sure I have at least 8.5 quarts of wort to put in each Mr. Beer fermenter before pitching my yeast. The extra wort ensures a full wort boil using the smaller 12 quart pots on the stovetop.

Nice Layer Of Krausen 12 Hours Later At 54F
This is my first time using Saflager 23 for this recipe so I expect it will behave a bit differently than the Saflager 34/70 I've used several times before. I'll look in on the fermentation every few days to see how it's progressing and I may have to make some adjustments to the fermentation times.

Here is a view inside the fermentation chamber on day 2 where the krausen has continued to thicken over the past 2 days. The temperature probe attached to the side of the fermenter wall is reading around 50F right now and I will adjust it upward to 52F where it will remain for the rest of the fermentation.

Day Two Fermentation At 50F
On May 28, after a 2 day diacetyl rest, I racked the lagers into clean secondaries and cold crashed them in the refrigerator at 36F where they''ll stay until I'm ready to keg them in time for the 4th of July weekend.

Oktoberfest Bottling Sample @ 38F
  On June 10th I bottled up the Oktoberfest Lager beer in 1 liter and some 12 ounce longnecks. The samples I tasted were spot on as for what I had expected. I plan on drinking these around the last week of June so they should have at least 14 days to carbonate in the bottles.

Condensation Formed On Bottles Filled With 40F Beer

The bottles have been carbing for about 7 full days and the 1 liter PET bottles are hard to squeeze now, a sure sign that the carbonation is taking place and working. Since it's only possible to check the carbonation level in glass bottles by actually popping one open I like bottling a least 1 PET bottles to use as a firmness gauge.

I brewed this recipe and allowed 4 weeks for primary fermentation at 54F, 3-4 more weeks for cold lagering at 36F and 3 more weeks at 62F for natural carbonation and conditioning. I'll let this brew fully carb up before chilling down and starting to drink them. I'll snap a few more pictures of the finished lager in a glass and provide my feedback trying my best to describe the taste.


  1. Hey screwey. Have you ever put (or is it even possible to fit) 2.5 gal of wort in a sized keg? It seems like a pain to calculate the 2.13 or there 8.5 Quart mark. Everyone puts there recipes in 5 gal batches. To cut that directly in half would be so much easier for me. There is always a lot of extra room in that keg after doing a batch. Just wondering. Also, have you ever carbonated using gyle? Again, just wondering.

  2. I would say round it to 2.125/4.250 gallons instead, that's about the limit for a MB keg and still have enough headroom for fermentation. qBrew makes changing the batch size really easy, then adjust the grain/hop bill until you get the same profile.
    I am carbonating a 2 gallon parti-gyle batch I made from my ESB recipe right now. The PET bottles are already rock hard after only 3 weeks.

  3. Did you say part gyle? like you used gyle and another priming sugar to carbonate? or just gyle? im wondering how much gyle should b removed from the original wort and added during bottling with a sized batch? If you happen to know.

  4. Part gyle? like part gyle and part other fermentable sugars? Would you happen to know how much gyle (only gyle)is needed to carbonate a sized batch? Also, when you use gyle, do you just remove sum of the wort and add it back when bottling (essentially)? or do you need to make a seperate, small batch of wort to add to the recipe when bottling?

  5. I've only bottle primed with pure cane sugar, and have always had good results, I've never used corn sugar, DME or anything else.

  6. I have also only used cane sugar. Do you get a large amount of sediment in your bottles? I was thinking maybe using gyle as the source of fermentable sugars to produce co2 would reduce the amount of sediment. I havent used any clarifiers either, but am planning on making a batch of gose, which calls for irish moss. have you ever used clarifiers?

  7. Yes I've been using WhirlFloc and a wort cooler to drop out a lot of solids before they go into the fermenter. For fermentations that produced a lot of trub I've been racking them to a secondary and cold crashing at 34F for 3-5 days before kegging or bottling, it really helps.