Latest Brew – Maerzen/Oktoberfest

There’s something I like about brewing in April for consumption in September.  I imagine brewers scurrying around trying to fill their barrels before the weather got too warm, workers stuffing alpine caves with glacial ice to keep the beer cold then, in September when it is starting to get cool in Bavaria, people scurrying about to empty the barrels to be refilled with fresh beer.  That is the abridged version of the story of Oktoberfest Lager, a beer brewed in March (Maerzen is German for March) to be consumed before September (Oktober in the old calendar).  I brewed mine last Sunday.

I was in Helga’s German Deli last Saturday enjoying their beer sampler.  Their beer sampler comes with two Bavarian-style pretzels and six 12-ounce pours of beers from Warsteiner and Hofbrau.  We added a Kostrizer Schwarzbier to it.  The sampler contains both the Warsteiner and the Hofbrau Oktoberfest beers.  I really prefer the Kloster Weltenberger Anno 1050 Maerzen-style beer, it’s thicker and sweeter than the others so I’ve been trying to emulate it in my Maerzens.  The Weltenberger is sweeter, thicker, maltier than the mass-market Munich Oktoberfest.  So my Anno 2015 is modeled on the Franconian version.

The mash was a three-step infusion mash with a batch sparge.  Temps were 122 degrees, 145 degrees, 156 degrees and 170 degrees for great conversion, about 80% efficiency.  Here’s the wort running into the kettle, demonstrating my new-found method for keeping crumbs from running into the kettle, a cheap knee-high stocking from Walmart:

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I also learned another little trick this time, using smaller containers to recirculate.  I was using a one-gallon pitcher, then having to pour it back, stirring up the grain bed and making my wort cloudy.  This time I used two quart measuring cups and avoided cloudy wort.

The beer is perking away at 50 degrees in the refrigerator downstairs.  Once it’s done with primary, it gets lagered for as long as I can keep the fridge cold.  In retrospect, I might have added an ounce or two of melanoidin malt to simulate decoction.  Maybe next time.  Part of the fun is learning and it seems I learn something from each brew.

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