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Oktoberfest or Marzen Ale

I recently posted this extract Oktoberfest recipe in one of the great online forums (BKB).  If you want to brew up an Oktoberfest or Marzen but you don’t have the extra fridge space for a true lager version, sometimes you can get away with a really clean Ale yeast fermented at the cooler end of the recommended range.  Ale yeasts like German Alt yeast, or Amercian Ale yeast can give you that clean character. You can also try using the Steam Beer Lager yeast that stays clean at low ale yeast temps.

In researching this post I discovered that this may be a great beer to try using Charlie Papazian’s yeast strain, Cry Havoc.

Regardless, the key to trying to so a “fusion” lager/ale style is to really pay attention to the fermentation procedure.  Pitch big, aerate well and be patient.  The lower temps on an ale slows things down abit.

Here is an old recipe from my brewing notebooks that I used to brew.
Give it a try and tell us what you thought.

“Oktoberfest” Ale

3.3lb Amber LME
3.3lb Light LME
0.5lb Crystal 80L (or 60L if you can’t get 80L)
0.5lb Munich (8L)
0.5lb Pale Malt (standard 2-row)
0.25lb Chocolate Malt (350L)
1oz Hallertau pellets -60min
1oz Hallertau pellets -15min
0.5oz Halertau pellets -2min
2tsp Irish Moss
Yeast= German Alt yeast or American Ale yeast (see below)

Crush grains and put in large grain bag.  Steep grain bag in one gallon of water at 150F for 30-40minutes.  Remove bag and rinse or let drain into kettle.  Bring grain tea to boil.  Add extracts.  Once boil is reachieved start 75min boil.  With 60min remaining add first 1oz hop addition, 15min remaining add second 1oz hop addition and Irish Moss, add 0.5oz addition just before the flame is killed (2 minutes).

Fermentation:  Be prepared to ferment on the cool side.  Use a good clean neutral flavored yeast that can ferment well at 65F.  Pitch a larger start than normal or use two vials of yeast, better pitched onto some yeast cake from a previous brew.  Be patient with fermentation at cooler temps (60-65F).  Rouse yeast after 5 days of fermenatation to be sure yeast stays in suspension.  This will help drive the beer to the final gravity.  Leave beer in primary ferment for 3 weeks, secondary ferment for 3 weeks to clear, then bottle as normal.

This is one of the few times I’d recommend a secondary.  Mainly because the beer does better with some age on it.
You could always brew this beer now and call it a Marzen (Ale).


Special B Malt


Yeast Stir Plate for Homebrewing


  1. hiikeeba

    I did the same thing. I brewed Charlie Papazian’s Winky Dink Marzen using Cry Havoc, and it came out fantastic. So I tried a Peppercorn Rye-Bock using Cry Havoc, and it came out great.

    I used to use Cal Ale yeast, but now, Cry Havoc is my standard yeast.

    Glad I’m not the only one trying Oktoberfest ales.

  2. I had been wondering what I could brew to experiment with that Cry Havoc yeast.
    Writing this post made me think this would be a great way to experiment.

  3. I brewed this about 3 weeks ago, it just went to secondary. It’s still surprisingly sweet tasting, so I figure it has a while to go in the secondary, but the smell and flavor are very nice, I can’t wait for it to be done. I just wish that I could do something about the clarity, it’s very hazy.

  4. Just stumbled upon this post in a google search… Trying to do the Marzen-esqu ale thing this weekend…

    Details here: http://blog.homebrewbeer.net/2008/08/oktoberfest-inspired-ale-homebrew.html

    But I have no real climate control in my basement, so I’ll be a slave to the mid 60s low 70s the room I ferment in stays at… Am I doomed? What say you?

  5. Kevin

    I was thinking about starting this brew up this weekend, any comments on the final product? Any changes you’d suggest making? Thanks!

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