Brew Dudes

Homebrewing Blog and Resource

Märzen Style Octoberfest Recipe & Tasting Notes

We decided that October was for lagers. Traditionally, they are brewed in the spring and then lagered all summer for drinking in the fall. These Brew Dudes took a shorter route. We brew ours in August. Maybe next year we’ll plan better. Here’s Mike’s take on an Märzen-style Octoberfest. Check out the video for all the details:

Have a liter.

The Märzen Recipe

The Upfront Details:

Batch Size: 6.5 US gallons post boil
Original Gravity: 1.053
Final Gravity: 1.014
5.25% ABV

Ingredients:

7 pounds / 3.175 kg Pilsner Malt
5 pounds / 2.26 kg Vienna Malt
1 pound /454 g CaraMunich II (63° L)
2 ounces / 56 g Midnight Wheat (550° L)
1.5 ounces / 42 g Hallertau Mittelfrüh 4.2% AA at 60 minutes
1.5 ounces/ 42 g Hallertau Mittelfrüh 4.2% AA at 10 minutes

WLP830 German Lager (seemed dead, non active)
S-189 SafLager

12 US gallons of Poland Springs water treated with 1ml Lactic acid to pH 5.5
4g CaCl, 3g gypsum, 1g MgSO4 in Mash
4g CaCl, 4g gypsum in boil

Instructions:

Step Mash:
145° F 45 minutes
156° F 20 minutes
168° F 10 minutes Mashout

Fermented for 10 days at 50° F (10° C)
Diacetyl rest for 5 days at 68° F (20° C)
Keg conditioned 2-weeks at time of tasting at 45° F (7° C)

The Märzen Notes

The color was pretty close to where Mike wanted it. It may have been a little darker than what he was going for. To adjust next time, he would remove the Midnight Wheat.

The clarity was pretty good for no finings. You can see from the photo that the ruby notes were shining in the light.

The malty flavor was on point. It shown through in the aroma too. I found the hops flavor could have been a little more refined. It probably needs a little more time lagering.

Another epic lager – be mindful of your yeast health and you’ll be ok.

BREW ON!

Festbier All Recipe Kit

Festbier All Grain Recipe Kit Review

October is for lagers, at least that’s what we say. To fill our fridge without much thought, I bought a kit from boomchugalug.com. This video is about their Roll Out the Barrel Oktoberfest Lager recipe kit. It has the qualities of a Festbier and we really enjoyed it.

Recipe Details With My Alterations

The kit provided me with the grain bill that I wanted but I made adjustments to the hops, yeast, mash time, and boil time. If you buy this kit, you’ll see the differences. This following recipe is for a US 5 gallon batch.

Ingredients

4.7 pounds (2.1 kg) Pilsner Malt (47% of grain bill)
3.2 pounds (3.2 kg) Vienna Malt (32% of grain bill)
1.6 pounds (.73 kg) of Light Munich Malt (16% of grain bill)
.5 pounds (227 g) of CaraHell Malt (5% of grain mill)

.25 ounce (7 g) of Polaris hops (21.8% AA) – 60 minutes left to go in the boil
1 ounce (28 g) of Hallertaur hops (3.2% AA)- 20 minutes left to go in the boil
1 ounce (28 g) of US Tettnang hops (5.7% AA) – Added at Flame out

2 packets of Lallemand German Diamond Lager Yeast

Instructions

Used 9 US gallons of spring water I bought from the store and treated it with 4 grams of CaCl. Mashed for 90 minutes with 4 gallons of water at 150° F (66° C). Sparged with 5 gallons to collect 7 gallons of wort in the kettle.

Boiled for 90 minutes. Chilled to 54° F (12° C) and pitched yeast straight from the packets. Fermented for three weeks at 54° F (12° C) then gradually chilled to near freezing temperatures. Transferred to keg and forced carbonated. Added Lagering is happening right now in the keg!

Festbier Tasting Notes

Mike and I really liked this beer. It fermented nicely, which led to a super drinkable beer. The color was gold with a nice lacey white head.

It finished dry and was very refreshing. If I learned something from this beer, it was importance of good bittering. The small amount of Polaris hops boiled for 60 minutes is what my German Pils needed.

I was glad I picked up this kit. It turned out really well and I would gladly brew this beer again.

BREW ON!

German Pils Clarity

A Better German Pils Through Water Chemistry

In pursuit of homebrewing a better German Pils, Brew Dude John focused on his water chemistry among other elements of his brewing process. We have learned over the years that our tap water is not great for brewing excellent beers. Good beers? Sure. Excellent beers? Not so much.

Watch this video to learn what went into setting up his water profile, what went into his grain bill, and what the outcome was.

German Pils Recipe and Process

For a 5 gallon batch in the keg

Ingredients

10 pounds (4.5 kg) of German Pilsner malt (95% of grain bill)
.5 pounds (227 g) of Acidulated malt ( 5% of grain bill)
1.25 ounces (35 g) US Tettnanger hops – 60 minutes to go in the boil
1 ounce (28 g) German Hallertaur hops – 20 minutes to go in the boil
1 ounce (28 g) German Hallertaur hops – 1 minute to go in the boil
2 packets of Mangrove Jack’s M84 Bohemian Lager Yeast

Water profile

2 grams of Calcium Chloride added to mash
2 grams of Calcium Sulfate added to mash
2 grams of Calcium Chloride added to sparge
2 grams of Calcium Sulfate added to sparge

I mashed with 4 US gallons (15.1 Liters) of distilled water. I held the mash at 150° F for 90 minutes. I ran off the wort from the mash and then sparged with 5 gallons (18.9 Liters) of distilled water.

The boil was for 90 minutes and added hops to it based on the schedule above. I added a Whirlfloc tablet with 15 minutes to go in the boil to help with clarity. After the boil, the wort was chilled to 54°F (12° C).

I hit the wort with 2 minutes of pure oxygen and pitched the yeast. The beer was left to ferment for 5 weeks.

I did move the fermentor out of my fridge for a couple of days while I was moving kegs around. You could consider that time a diacetyl rest, I guess.

I then cold crashed the beer for a couple of days and then racked it to a purged with CO2 keg.

Original Gravity: 1.054
Final Gravity: 1.014

Brewing Plan and Tasting Notes

So, I am now a little obsessed with brewing a better pilsner. I have tried before and I felt it missed the mark. Collecting tips from others, this brewing plan brought together some of the adjustments I have picked up.

  1. Use distilled water and build up your water profile with brewing salts
  2. Bring a little acid to your mash
  3. Pitch a lot of yeast in oxygenated wort
  4. Be patient with your fermentation

With that plan, I felt like I was going to brew an excellent example of the style.

I got close.

The fermentation was clean. The body of the beer was where I wanted it to be. The brightness of the beer hit the mark.

The knocks we would give this beer are the lack of hop bitterness and a certain acidity to the aftertaste.

The things I would adjust for next time include using a high alpha acid bittering hop variety – Hello, Magnum and know my pH for the mash with an actual meter. Using other recipes to guide my acid malt addition to my grain bill was a good start, but I need data to dial it in.

BREW ON.

Simple Water Chemistry

Simple Water Chemistry For Cream Ale

Mike brewed a cream ale as it is one of his favorite beer styles. As a beginner homebrewer, he enjoyed the ability to make a light colored beer at ale fermentation temperatures. He’s been homebrewing beers for 23 years and he’s still tweaking recipes. This time, he experimented with his brewing water and simplified his water chemistry for this American Cream Ale. Watch this video for more details:

Cream Ale Recipe #12A

I am not sure of the number but thought it’s gotta be in that range.

Ingredients:

10 pounds (4.54 kg) of Pilsner malt
2 pounds (0.91 kg) of Flaked Maize
2 ounces of Tettnang hops boiled for 60 minutes (2.2% AA)
2 packets of US-05 yeast

Water: Added acid to brewing water to adjust pH to 5.5 and added small amounts of Calcium Chloride to the water.

Instructions:

Fermented at 58° F (14° C) for 10 days. Brought it to room temperature for 4 days.

Tasting Notes For This Cream Ale

If Mike’s objective was to knock out the flabbiness of his cream ale, then mission accomplished. This beer presented itself as a crisp lager with nice finish. Not as dry as a lager, but close.

His water chemistry procedure hit the mark properly. Also, his choice of yeast didn’t let him down. It fermented nicely at the lower temperature and presented like a lager.

The only knock on this cream ale was the lack of hop presence. Even with the amount of Tettnang hops he used, it wasn’t enough to compete with the flaked maize. It would have been nice to have an herbal/spicy hop note to balance out this beer.

Can’t wait for the iterance of Cream Ale!

Brew ON.


Wild Hops SMaSH Beer

SMaSH Beer Brewed With Wild Hops

Maybe if you live long enough or you’re just lucky, you will encounter a hops bine growing on its own in the woods or on the side of the road. From that encounter, maybe you’ll dig that plant up and place it in your own yard to take care of it properly. In a year or two, the wild hops plant may produce cones and you’ll think to yourself, “Hey, let’s brew a SMaSH beer.”

If all of the above has happened to you, then the content of this video will seem familiar. If not, click the play button and learn more about brewing a SMaSH beer with wild hops.

The Wild Hops SMaSH Beer Story

Down the street from where my brother and I grew up, there was a hops bine. We didn’t know it at the time. We just noticed a climbing plan on the telephone pole every summer.

Of course, as we got older, we were able to identify what it was. Flashforward to last year, road construction threaten the life of this bine. My brother worked out a plan with the work crew to save the plant and bring it to his own hops yard.

Although it’s fun to have wild hops, it would be good to know more about them. We wanted to get them tested by a lab to gather some data. This harvest produced not enough cones (by weight -dried) for a test, so we did the next best thing.

We brewed a 1 US gallon batch using an ounce of the wild hops. The malt selection was 2 pounds of Great Western Pale Malt. Along with the hops and malt, two gallons of filter tap water was used and 1/3 of a packet of US-05 yeast.

SMaSH Beer Tasting Notes

This SMaSH beer got high marks for clarity. Most of the ones I brewed are pretty hazy. There were no dry hops added to this beer so I wonder if that had an effect. Mike said it could be that these new flavor forward hop varieties could have more haze producing compounds.

The aroma had vegetal/sulfur components to it. Mike sense a bit of the old ‘trash heap’ in there. The beer’s flavor had more spicy notes to it. I thought the beer came off a macro lager knockoff. Mike had thoughts of a blonde ale.

After tasting it, we tried to pinpoint what variety these hops could be. Based on the description, they could be Cluster or maybe a Galena. Who knows. Sometimes, it’s best to leave the mystery be.

Maybe next year, we’ll have enough of a hop cone yield to test them properly. Until then, brew on.

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