Batch 143 – Oktoberfest Märzen (all-grain)

A month after brewing the latest batch of Festbier, it was well past time to brew my Oktoberfest Märzen for Oktoberwe’en .  Just like the previous batch, this recipe included the following ingredients purchased at the local homebrew store:

  • 9.5 pounds of Munich Malt (10°)
  • 0.5 pound Cara-Pils Malt
  • 0.5 pound Cara-Munich Malt
  • 2 ounces Aromatic Malt
  • 2 ounces Biscuit Malt
  • 1.0 ounces Hallertau Hops (3.8%)
  • 0.5 ounces Tettnang Hops (6.1% alpha acid)
  • WLP 820 Oktobefest Märzen yeast

I was surprised by two things when purchasing the ingredients:  the high alpha acid content on the Tettnang hops, and the fact my homebrew store had the liquid yeast in stock!

Batch 143 Ingredients from the local homebrew store.

I was disappointed that despite my request the homebrew store owner ground my grains too fine for my liking.

First runnings had lots of fine grain pieces.

Despite carefully working to compact my grain bed, the grain pieces were still too small and were easily pulled through the false bottom in my mash tun.  This is probably the most grain pieces I have ever had in my brew pot.

Too many small pieces of grain in the brew kettle

The predicted specs for this beer (using BrewPal) were as follows:

  • Original Gravity:  1.055
  • Final Gravity:  1.017 (BeerSmith had the final gravity at 1.019)
  • 5.0% ABV
  • 14ºL
  • 23 IBU

Brew day was at the end of August 2018.  I was just a bit below the target original gravity…

I hit pretty close to my targeted starting gravity

…but I pretty much nailed the final gravity.

I also pretty much hit my targeted final gravity.

The primary fermentation lasted about a month.  Due to the late brew day, I had only limited time for the secondary fermentation and lagering – about three weeks – before I had to filter, keg and carbonate the beer in time for our party.

Still, it came out great!

First draft of the Oktoberfest beer!!

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Posted in All-grain Brewing, Homebrewing, Marzen, Märzen, Oktoberfest | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Batch 142 – Festbier (all-grain)

After our return from vacation in Europe, it was time to turn my attention back to brewing for our upcoming Oktoberwe-en party.  I went with the tried and true recipes for Festbier that I have made the last few years.

The ingredients, which – except for the Honey Malt – were purchased from Rebel Brewer, include:

  • 9.5 pounds of Barke Pilsner Malt
  • 1.0 pound Cara-Pils Malt
  • 1.0 pound Munich Malt (10°)
  • 0.5 pounds Honey Malt
  • 2.0 ounces Mittelfruh Hops (3.8%)
  • 1.0 ounce Saaz Hops (3.2% alpha acid)
  • 2 pack SafLager 34/70 Dry Lager Yeast
Festbier Ingredients

Festbier Ingredients, including Honey Malt from inventory

 

The brew day was uneventful aside from a small boilover a the start of the boil.  The beer spend about a month in primary before being transferred to secondary.  I did a color check when transferring to secondary – it seems to have come out a little lighter his time around.

Batch 142 - Festbier

Color of Festbier during transfer to secondary

I lagered the beer for six weeks before filtering, kegging, and force carbonating at 25 psi for 2:30.

 

Festbier in time for the Oktoberwe'en Party

Festbier after one day in the keg

 

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Batch 141 – Czech Pilsner with Kazbek Hops (all-grain)

In anticipation of our vacation to Europe, which would take us to Munich, Pilsen Prague,  and Budapest in June and July 2017, I ordered ingredients from Home Brew Supply to make a Czech Pilsner.  I had decided I wanted to use Kazbek hops, which are described as having been bred from a crossing of Saaz hops and a wild variety of hops from the Caucasus mountains.  The other ingredients included:

  • 9.0 pounds of Weyermann Pilsner Malt
  • 8.0 ounces of Weyermann Light Munich Malt
  • 8.0 ounces of Weyermann Carafoam Malt
  • 2.0 ounces of Dingemans Aromatic Malt
  • 4.0 ounces Kazbek Hops
  • 2 packs White Labs WLP800 Pilsner Lager Yeast
Batch 141 - Czech Kazbek Pilsner

Ingredients for the Czech Kazbek Pilsner

I really liked Homebrew Supply – I ordered from them for this batch and for the Dortmunder I had made a few weeks earlier.  It is unfortunate that since both of those orders, whenever I have checked out their site prior to ordering ingredients there is much that they no longer carry or are out of stock.  For example, on the grain bill for this batch, the only grain they have in stock as I am writing this (mid February 2018) is the Aromatic malt – but it doesn’t appear to be Dingemans Aromatic malt.

The predicted specs for this beer (using BrewPal) were as follows:

  • Original Gravity:  1.053
  • Final Gravity:  1.013
  • 5.2% ABV
  • 4.2ºL
  • 38 IBU

Brew day was in the beginning of May 2017.  It went pretty smoothly and I came pretty close to hitting the target original gravity…

Original Gravity Reading - Batch 141

Hitting the target original gravity

…but after two weeks in primary, the beer seemed stuck at 1.026 and was not near the final gravity of 1.013.

Some progress after two weeks

1.026 two weeks into primary fermentation

I left it in primary for three more weeks, and it seemed to finish up a little better than my target final gravity.

1.010 Final Gravity

1.010 final gravity when transferring to secondary/lagering

I was really pleased with how it finished.  It was definitely much lighter in color than any other beer I have made.  I transferred the beer to secondary fermentation a few weeks before we left for vacation, figuring that when we got back in mid-July, it would be a good time to keg the beer.

It turned out that filtering and kegging didn’t take place for a couple more months .  It was early September before I packaged the beer in a brand new keg I had purchased from Adventures in Homebrewing for $69.99 at the end of July.

By the beginning of September the beer had not budged from the previous final gravity.

Final Gravity at kegging

Final gravity measurement (1.010) at kegging

As I mentioned, was extremely light in color and had settled very clear – almost to the point where I almost decided to not filter it.

Czech Kazbek Pilsner sampe

Light color and beautiful clarity!

The first draft was pulled on Labor Day weekend of 2017, and the keg hung around until just after Christmas.

Czech Kazbek Pilsner

First draft of the Czech Kazbek Pilsner

It turned out great, and I’m looking forward to maybe brewing it again this spring.

 

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Czech Pilsner, Czech Pilsner, Homebrewing, Light Beer is for Lightweights and Women | Leave a comment

Day 3 of European Vacation

Day three of our vacation found us taking a day trip from Munich to Nuremberg.  The weather was chilly, overcast and damp.  I wasn’t feeling very well having had a rough night trying to sleep.  While we enjoyed the many sights, I was not enjoying the day as much as I hoped I might.

After visiting the Imperial Castle, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant near the St Sebaldus church.  The beer they had on tap were three varieties of Neumarkter Lammsbrau:  Edelpils, Urstoff, and Helles Weissbier.  I ordered the Edelhell, hoping I’d feel better after lunch to try to the Urstoff next.

Though I would like to think that I didn’t enjoy this much because I was feeling under the weather, I thought it was below average, and that the hop finish tasted a little stale.  So I decided to pass on having any other Lammsbrau.

We continued wandering Nuremberg, all of us very tired, and we decided to head back to the train station to see if we could catch an earlier train back to Munich.  One place we walked through was the Handwerkerhof area.  Very neat, but also with touristy things for sale.  That’s where I found this:

Tucher bier – What the fuck is this?

It was a shame, really, that the trip to Nuremberg wasn’t longer or that I didn’t feel better when I was there.  There were several beer venues I wanted to visit and beer I wanted to try, including the Barfüßer Brewpub, and the Hausbrauerei Altstadthof, among other places.

We caught an earlier train back, after catching some friendly grief from the lady working the counter at the Nuremberg train station, and had dinner at another one of the restaurants near where we were staying.

Schlossberg Dachau Helles Naturtrüb

The Schlossberg Dachau beer is a kellerbier.  It is brewed by Spaten-Franziskaner and not in Dachau, which was a little disappointing.  It was also served in a stoneware mug, so I didn’t include that in the picture.  I thought it was below average.  This article describes how it is a brand that was “commissioned” in Dachau, but isn’t brewed there.  There is no mention of the beer to be found on the Spaten website either.

I haven’t quite been able to figure out the point of this beer.  The website doesn’t really explain what makes this different from other Franziskaner weizens – the most I can find about it is that it is a special recipe that changes annually, but the most recent version I can find online is for the second Royal version from 2012 – which it appears they have kept the same in the intervening five years.

In any case, it was average and not very interesting.

Posted in Franziskaner Royal Jahrgangsweissbier, German Helles Lager, Germany, Hefeweizen, Kellerbier, Munich, Nuremburg, Schlossberg Dachau Helles Naturtrüb, Vacation Beer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Batch 140 – Dortmunder Export (all-grain)

Next up in Spring 2017 brewing was a re-make of my fifth solo all-grain batch – my Dortmunder Export.  This recipe was revised somewhat from the last batch, and I tried another online retailer to compare the alternatives to my local homebrew store.

The revised recipe consisted of:

  • 8.5 pounds of Weyermann Barke Pilsner Malt (2.0°L)
  • 1.0 pound of Weyermann Light Munich Malt (10ºL)
  • 8.0 ounces of Weyermann Carafoam Malt
  • 4.0 ounces of Dingemans Aromatic Malt
  • 2.0 ounces of Honey Malt
  • 5.0 ounces Saaz Hops
  • 2 packs Saflager W-34/70  Yeast

You will notice the alpha acid for the Saaz hops are missing from the ingredient list.  I ordered 3 ounces of hop pellets, and once again received substantially lower alpha acid content (2 percent) than the range listed on the website (3.0 – 6.0 percent).  I ended up cobbling together 3.5 ounces of 2.0 percent Saaz hops and 1.5 ounces of 3.2 percent Saaz hops (a total of 11.8 AAU) to get approximately close to the 12 AAU used (4 ounces of 3.0 percent Saaz hops) in the previous batch.

Batch 140 - Dortmunder Ingredients

Batch 140 – Dortmunder Ingredients

The predicted specs for this beer (using BrewPal) were as follows:

  • Original Gravity:  1.063
  • Final Gravity:  1.014
  • 6.4% ABV
  • 5.9ºL
  • 22 IBU

My mash seems to be a little thicker than normal, and I noticed a lot of grain pieces getting pulled from the mash tun into the brew kettle, similar to the results I get from the grain crushed by my homebrew store, whose settings are too fine for my liking.

I did manage to hit a sparge rate of about one quart per minute, which made me happy!

I was a little under (1.060) my target original gravity (1.063), but also was a little lower (1.012) than my target final gravity (1.014).

After two weeks of primary fermentation at 55°, I transferred the beer to secondary fermentation and lagered at 35° for 11 weeks (I had too much other beer to drink before I wanted to keg this!).

Three months after the brew day, I filtered the beer with my plate filter, kegged and force carbonated by rolling the keg for 2½ minutes with the gas set to 25 psi.

Batch 140 - First Draft

Good carbonation, very clear, and delicious!!

I ran out of this within two months of kegging.  Looking forward to making it again this spring!

 

 

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Dortmunder Export, Homebrewing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Batch 139 – Konfrontational Kölsch (all grain)

As Spring 2017 approached, I decided to make another batch of a beer that came out very well last year – my Konfrontational Kölsch!

I followed the same recipe, once again using mail order all the ingredients, which consisted of:

  • 7.0 pounds of Schill Kölsch Malt (4.5° L)
  • 3 .0 pounds of Pilsner Malt (2.2° L)
  • 2.0 ounces Spalt Hops (3.2%)
  • Wyeast 2565 (Kölsch Yeast)

As I have previously mentioned, what I consider the biggest drawback to mail ordering brewing ingredients is not knowing definitively about the alpha acid contents of the hops.  These were no excpetion.  The morebeer.com website I ordered from shows the Spalt hops have an alpha acid range of 2.5 to 5.5 percent.  That’s a pretty big spread.

For example, my recipe may call for the equivalent of one ounce of five percent alpha acid hops.  If I order one ounce, assuming I will receive five percent alpha acid hops, but I receive a single ounce of 2.5 percent alpha acid hops, I won’t attain the desired bitterness/aroma.

Lately I have been hedging my bets when I order hops, increasing the amount I purchase.  In theory, I will end up with sufficient hops that I can use in my kettle, usually having some left over (which generally go to waste).

In this instance, I purchased a one ounce and a two ounce quantity of hops (three ounces total) for a recipe that is based on two ounces of 3.2 percent alpha acid hops to achieve 6.4 Alpha Acid Units (AAU).  What I received was one ounce of 2.4 percent alpha acid hops, and two ounces of 1.7 percent alpha acid hops.  Combined, these hops totaled 5.8 AAU, which still left me short of my target of 6.4 AAU!

I ended up going to the local homebrew store, hoping they still had Spalt hops in stock like they did last year.  I was able to pick up two ounces of 3.1 percent alpha acid hops (which is the same alpha acid content of the hops I purchased in April 2016.  This leads to more questions about my homebrew store and their stock:  are their hops fresh and are their labels accurate?  I have noticed on other batches that the hop alpha acid content is remarkably consistent, even if I there has been several years between making batches requiring specific hops.

Batch 139 Ingredients

Batch 139 – Konfrontational Kolsch ingredients

My targets, based on Brew Pal, are:

  • Original Gravity:  1.053
  • Final Gravity:  1.012
  • ABV:  5.4%
  • 22 IBU
  • 5.9° Lovibond

I was a little low on the original gravity, coming in at 1.050.  My final gravity was pretty close (1.013).  The beer spent two weeks in primary fermentation at about 56°.  I transferred it to secondary and lagered it in the mid-30’s for about seven weeks.

When it came time to filter, keg, and carbonate the beer, I decided to give the Clarifier one more try.  But since past experience showed that I couldn’t trust it to do its job, and since I wanted my Kölsch to be sparkling clear, I hooked it up in series with my plate filter.

Clarifier and Plate Filter

Using the Clarifier and Plate Filter in Series

I started filtering at 5:40 PM, setting the gas pressure to push the beer out of the keg at 3 psi. As before, the problem I immediately had was that I would push liquid out of the delivery keg to the “in” side of the cartridge filter, but would get foam on the “out” side of the filter.

The Clarifier...

Beer into the clarifier…

...it really sucks!

…foam out of the Clarifier.

With foam leaving the Clarifier, it would somewhat re-liquify in the tubing prior to entering the plate filter, but would exit the plate filter and enter the receiving keg as partly/mostly foam.

By 7:00 PM, I had the pressure up to 15 psi.  By 7:30 PM, the pressure was up to 30 psi.

I finished pushing five gallons of beer through the filters at about 9:00 PM.  That is about 3-1/2 hours of filtering!  It also consumed a crap ton of CO2 gas.  There wasn’t much that appeared to be caught by the Clarifier, though the plate filter did its usual good job.

Fuck the Clarifier!!

I carbonated the beer by rolling the keg for three minutes with the gas set to 25 psi.

I can’t really complain with how clear the beer turned out though!

That's a clear beer!

That is a clear beer!!

Simply Beautiful!

Like I said, that is a clear beer!!

I did a comparison of my Kölsch to Reissdorf’s Kölsch.

Comparison of Reissdorf Kolsch and Konfrontational Kolsch

Kölsch Komparison – Konfrontational Kölsch is on the right

Overall, I was very pleased with how this came out.  I had emptied the keg within a month of carbonating!

 

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Day 2 of European Vacation

Day 2 of our vacation found us looking at other sights in Munich.  Most of these were in and around the Marienplatz and the Munich Residenz palace.

For lunch , we stopped at Spatenhaus an der Oper, where we went to dinner our first night in Munich ten years ago.  I had more popular beers that were on the menu.

Spaten Pils vom Fass!

Franziskaner Dunkelweizen

After a day of heavy tourist activities that included seeing paintings by DaVinci and Raphael at the Alte Pinakothek and lots and lots of walking (10.2 miles!), I went to a beer store near where we were staying where I picked up a bunch of beer that I can’t find in my part of the United States.  Most of these were Kellerbier/Zwickl beers.

I also could not resist picking up his Rothaus beer that I see advertised during certain Bundesliga soccer matches (I think it is for Freiburg home matches).

Another authentic kellerbier.

We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant near where we were staying – we had a taste for pizza – and I had the Franziskaner Kellerbier.  My check in on Untappd indicated I didn’t like it as much as the other kellerbiers I had that day!

Posted in Franziskaner Dunkelweizen, German Pilsner, Germany, Kellerbier, Munich, Naturtrubes Kellerbier, Pils vom Fass, Vacation Beer | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment