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October 12, 2017
Last updated

Brewing Beer: Oktoberfest / Mirzen / Festbier

Owner of Clawhammer Supply

While not everyone has traveled all the way from the United States to Germany for Oktoberfest, most of us have at least heard of the country's annual fall beer festival. If a beer vacation to Germany isn't in the cards for you, why not do the second best thing and buy or make some Oktoberfest style beer and drink it in your homeland!? That was what we were thinking when we dug up and brewed this Oktoberfest brew recipe.

What is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest is held in Munich, Germany and begins every year in mid September, ending the first weekend in October. Legend has it that the origin of the festival is tied to a royal wedding that concluded with a horse race. The following year the horse race was held again and it also included an agricultural festival (to promote Bavarian culture). The event was held again and again, with addition of new attractions every year. One such addition was a beer vendor, which was, of course, quite popular. And the following year, perhaps two beer vendors at separate beer stands. And today, 7.5 million liters (1.9 million gallons) of beer!

Oktoberfest Recipe Notes

We sourced this recipe from the American Homebrewers Association. The beer won a gold medal at the 2009 national homebrew competition. However, there are a few small differences between our recipe and theirs. First, they used a mix of light and dark Munich malt. We used all light Munich malt because that's all the homebrew supply shop in our neighborhood had. Second, we didn't buy enough hops to meet the IBU target because the alpha acid % of the hops we bought was a bit lower than we thought. So we added a bit centennial at the beginning of the boil.

Here are some detailed stats:

  • Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 5.7%. 
  • International Bittering Units (IBUs): 12.5
  • Standard Reference Method (SRM) (color): 10.2

Oktoberfest Brew Day Video

Here's a video of the brew day. Please note: full recipe details are below! So scroll down for all the details after you finish watching the video.

 

Oktoberfest vs. Mocktoberfest Experiment

Because we totally dropped the ball on getting an Oktoberfest beer ready BEFORE the actual festival began, we decided to split this batch into two, pitching a (traditional) lager yeast in one half and an ale yeast in the other (a "mock" Oktoberfest). The reason we did this is because ale yeast ferments much faster than lager yeast does. We wanted to have at least one Oktoberfest beer on tap before the festival ended. Also, we thought it would be fun to compare the results of a single wort fermented with two different yeasts.

Oktoberfest Recipe Ingredients and Procedure

Water

Beginning water volume: 8.13 gallons (30.7 liters). We did adjust chemistry.

Malts

Pilsner (2 row) Ger (2.0 SRM)

Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)

Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)

Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM)

mashing in

Mashing in during the brew day

Mashing

We mashed at 152.1F (66.7C) for 75 minutes, then raised the temperature to 168F (75.5C) and did a mash out for 10 minutes.

recirculating during the mash

Recirculating using a spray valve during the mash

The Boil

1 oz (28.3 grams) Hallertau at beginning of 60-minute boil.

plus 0.25 oz (7.1 grams) Centennial at beginning of 60-minute boil.

1 oz (28.3 grams) Hallertau at 15-minutes left of the boil.

inserting hop silo

Inserting our hop silo into the kettle - this is what we put all of our hops into

Fermentation

We are going to use White Labs WLP 820 Oktoberfest Marzen Lager Yeast for half of this batch (2.5 gallons - 9.5 liters), and we will use White Labs WLP 036 Dusseldorf Alt Ale Yeast for the second batch (2.5 gallons - 9.5 liters). 

We're going to ferment the Lager yeast at 52 degrees F (11.1 C) for 30 days, and the Ale yeast at 66 degrees F (18.9 C) for 10-14 days.  

transferring wort to fermentation vessels

Transferring our wort into two separate fermentation vessels

Benchmarks

Pre-boil gravity

Specific gravity 1.047  

Pre-boil water volume

6.4 gallons (24.2 liters)

Post boil volume

5.4 gallons (20.4 liters)

Post-boil gravity

1.053

Kyle Brown is the owner of Clawhammer Supply, a small scale distillation and brewing equipment company which he founded in 2009. His passion is teaching people about the many uses of distillation equipment as well as how to make beer at home. When he isn't brewing beer or writing about it, you can find him at his local gym or on the running trail.

  • What was the weight of the grain bill

    Posted by DExter on January 31, 2020
  • How its the diference finally?

    Posted by Mariza on October 14, 2019
  • Where’s the follow up?

    Posted by Bob on August 28, 2019
  • I was hoping to hear how the two different yeasts reacted.

    Posted by Tom on August 13, 2019
  • how did the marzen with ale yeast turn out? NO idea why its all caps.

    Posted by Brad on February 17, 2018

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