Day 1 of 2017 Summer European Vacation – Munich

We had the opportunity to take a vacation to Europe this summer.  I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to write about some of the different beer that I would drink while on vacation.

My oldest daughter played a big role in the planning of our vacation – partly because we had to leave her in Budapest in the middle of July so she could participate in a three week research project in Szeged, and partly because she had the time and enthusiasm to assist in planning after her college graduation.  Between the two of us, we developed an extensive list of places we wanted to see.  Part of my research included different places where I could drink beer.  Part of her research was finding places to stay on either AirBnB or HomeAway.

To start our vacation, we flew into Munich, Germany at the end of June.  We took the train to the place we reserved on HomeAway and dropped off our bags.  Our lodging was located northwest of central Munich near the Westfriedhof U-Bahn (subway) station. This was the first of many good choices we had made in our lodging. It was a beautiful place that comfortably housed the four of us – much nicer than any chain motel would be.  It was also quiet, away from all the tourist traffic, but because we were close to the Westfriedhof U-Bahn station, we could get down to the center of Munich in about 15 minutes.

We took the U-Bahn to Sendlinger Tor, and walked up Sendlinger Strasse towards the Marienplatz, taking in a number of sites along the way.  Since it was around lunch time locally, and since we were all hungry from our flight, we went to the restaurant we have visited the most on my three visits to Munich – Wirsthaus Ayingers.  It is near the Hofbräuhaus München, but across the Platzl from that horrific tourist trap.  The Wirsthaus food is great, and Ayinger beer is always great!

There are a few Ayinger beers that I can get where I live, so I opted for the beer I can’t get at home.

Ayinger Kellerbier at the Wirsthaus am Platzl

While I would have liked to stay and have a few other beers that were on offer at the Wirsthaus, our tourist plans required seeing other sights, so off we went.

That evening we went to a restaurant near our lodging.  Since restaurants in Europe are generally affiliated with the breweries whose beer they serve, while others such as this one was an Augustiner tied-house. This restaurant had a range of Augustiner beers available.  I chose to sample the draft versions (“vom fass” means “from the barrel”) of Augustiner beer that are available back home, and those that are not.

Posted in Augustiner, Augustiner Dunkel, Augustiner Lagerbier Hell vom Fass, Augustiner Pils vom Fass, Ayinger, Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel, Ayinger Kellerbier, Beer, German Helles Lager, German Pilsner, Germany, Kellerbier, Munich, Munich Dunkel Lager, Vacation Beer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Batch 136 – Majestic Walrus Porter (all-grain)

Just before Christmas 2016, I was determined to make a quick turnaround beer that would befit the holiday season and the coming winter months.  I didn’t have enough time before Christmas to put together my Weihnachtsbier, so I opted to revisit my porter.

The recipe consisted of the following:

  • 8.0 pounds of Pale Malt (2.1°L)
  • 12.0 ounces of Crystal Malt (60ºL)
  • 6.0 ounces of Black Patent Malt (470ºL)
  • 2.0 ounces Kent Goldings Hops (5.8% alpha acid)

Once again, I had to adjust to the local homebrew store not having the yeast I had used on the previous batches (White Labs British Ale Yeast WLP 005).  I had to purchase a yeast that was in stock (White Labs Dry English Ale Yeast WLP 007) for this batch.  Annoying, but I figured it would be close enough for my purposes.

Batch 136 Ingredients

Majestic Walrus Porter (Batch 136) Ingredients

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

  • Original Gravity:  1.058
  • Final Gravity:  1.017
  • 5.4% ABV
  • 32ºL
  • 31 IBU

I give the homebrew store owner a list of the grains I want and he weighs them out and mills them for me.  I never double check the total weight of the grains.  Maybe he made a mistake when he weighed the grains.  Who knows?  For whatever reason, I didn’t hit my target gravity.  I ended up at 1.042 with about 5½ gallons of wort going into the fermenter.

After ten days in primary, I transferred this to secondary for about five days.  After that,  it became the first beer I kegged and carbonated in 2017.

The final beer came out to 3.7% ABV, but it turned out really well – and it certainly met my needs to make something that would go from brewpot to keg in a short time!

Majestic Walrus Porter

2017 Majestic Walrus Porter!

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Homebrewing, Porter | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Batch 135 – Dunkelweizen / Schwarzeweizen (all-grain)

This batch was something I looked forward to with anticipation and trepidation based on how the previous version of this beer came out.  What I wanted to get was something similar to this

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Wonderful, delicious Hacker-Pschorr Dunkle Weisse

which is part of this YouTube review of the Hacker-Pschorr Dunkle Weisse that I was aiming for.  The last time I made this batch, I ended up with a 8.0 percent beer that looked something like this:

2015_11_25_iPhone 211

8.0 percent Schwarze Weizenbock

While the beer ended up being excellent, my conclusion at the time was that the homebrew store owner had made a unrepeatable error in putting together the grain bill I had given him.  This batch was an experiment to determine if the batch could be repeated or if it was actually my recipe that needs to be tweaked.

As last time, the recipe contained:

  • 5.0 pounds of Pilsner Malt
  • 5.0 pounds Wheat Malt
  • 1.0 pound Rice Hulls
  • 0.5 pounds Munich (10°)
  • 0.5 pounds CaraMunich (45°)
  • 1.5 ounces Chocolate Malt (350°)
  • 1.5 ounces Hallertau Hops (3.8%)

Since I wasn’t using the remaining yeast from a hefewizen (on the way via a dunkelweizen to a weizenbock as I had done in previous years), I used fresh yeast.  Unfortunately, the local homebrew store did not have any of my preferred White Labs 351 Bavarian Weizen yeast, so I had to substitute White Labs 380 Hefeweizen IV yeast instead.

My targets, as last time, were based on Brew Pal:

  • Original Gravity:  1060
  • Final Gravity:  1015
  • ABV:  5.8%
  • 18 IBU
  • 10° Lovibond

My starting gravity was a little low at 1058 (instead of 1072 last time!), but I hit the final gravity exactly.

Since I made this batch over Labor Day weekend, I multi-tasked by firing up my smoker while I was brewing.

Batch 135 multi-tasking

Mmmm. Ribs.

Batch 135 - Ribs!!

Look at that glorious smoke ring!

The dunkel/schwarzeweizen fermented for four weeks when I kegged and carbonated it.  Here’s the end result:

Batch 135 - First draft

First draft of the dunkelweizen from Batch 135.

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Dunkelweizen, Homebrewing, Schwarzeweizenbock | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Batch 134 – Barke Munich Dunkel Lager (all-grain)

This beer was a departure from the previous Dunkel Lager I had made.  Instead of using a combination of Pilsner, Munich, Crystal, CaraMunich and Chocolate malts, I exclusively used Weyermann Barke Munich malt.  I had never made a beer with 100 percent Munich Malt before, but I liked the idea of using the Barke Malt for my first effort.

The ingredients include:

  • 11.0 pounds of Barke Munich Malt
  • 2.0 ounces Hallertau Hops (2.7%)
  • SafLager W34/70 Yeast remaining in Märzen fermenting bucket
Batch 134 Ingredients

Batch 134 Ingredients

I bought the ingredients from Northern Brewer, largely because they had the Barke Munich malt that I wanted.  I ordered it and paid extra for two day shipping, which would have let me brew the upcoming weekend.

Except I didn’t get the two day shipping I paid for.

Northern Brewer, to their credit, did a good job of making this up to me.  They not only refunded the two-day shipping, but also ended up refunding my whole order cost.  A very nice gesture that somewhat made up for upending my brewing plans.

But definitely a strike against them…they bought themselves a second chance.  Time will tell what the future holds…

I was very pleased with the runnings – looked great!

Batch 134 - runnings before the sparge

Batch 134 – clear runnings before the sparge!

When it came time to cool this batch, I put my new wort chiller into action!  My original wort chiller was suitable for extract and grain batches where I seldom had to cool more than three gallons of wort at the end of the boil.  But it was undersized for cooling five plus gallons of near boiling wort.  So I decided to go with a bigger chiller with larger diameter copper pipe and a longer run of coils.

New wort chiller

Behold! The new, bigger, better wort chiller!!

The brew pot under the chiller was the five gallon pot I used for extract and grain batches.  You can see how much bigger this cooler is!  Works great, too – even with the warmer tap water in the summer, it gets the temperature down quickly.

I filtered this immediately following filtering the Märzen, and again was disappointed by the lack of performance of the cartridge filter.

Cloudy Dunkel Lager

Cloudy Dunkel Lager at the Oktoberfest gathering

And  just like with the Märzen, this cleared up nicely after a month in the keg.

Dunkel Lager - one month on

Dunkel Lager – one month on! Why can’t it be this clear out of the cartridge filter?

By the time I pulled the last draft of the keg at Christmas, it was really clear, and still really delicious!

The last of Batch 134

The last of Batch 134 – and no, that’s not me to the right!


Posted in All-grain Brewing, Dunkel Lager, Homebrewing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Batch 133 – Oktoberfest Märzen (all-grain)

Batch 133 Marzen Ingredients

This batch was started about five months later than I would have liked (and tradition dictates) – in the beginning of August.  But time and work commitments have drastically limited my brewing time and batches have to be fit in when they can.

This batch followed the recipe of the Marzen I brewed last year with an adjustment made to the amount of hops used due to some changes in alpha acid.  Additionally, the beer was fermented on the yeast from the Festbier after it was transferred to secondary fermentation.

The 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%)
  • 1.0 ounces Tettnang Hops (2.6% alpha acid)
  • SafLager W34/70 Yeast remaining in Festbier fermenting bucket
Batch 133 - Marzen Ingredients

Batch 133 Marzen Ingredients

The color of the beer was pretty nice on first runnings:

Batch 133 - first runnings

Batch 133 – first runnings

Primary fermentation lasted three weeks.  I transferred to secondary and lagered it for two months.  I filtered it using my cartridge filter and a spun cartridge before kegging and force carbonating.


Filtering with the cartridge filter.

As is usually the case with the cartridge filter, I didn’t really seen anything actually filtered.  The filter was wet, but that was about it!  So I had my doubts about how clear the beer would pour – I was sure it would be less than bright!


As I suspected – not very bright!!

About a month after being in the keg, it cleared up more.  But that defeats the whole point of going through the time, effort and expense of filtering it in the first place.  IT SHOULD BE CLEAR ON THE FIRST DRAFT!!

Give it a month and it cleared up nice…

I haven’t been happy with the performance of the cartridge filter.  It is more convenient to set up than the plate filter, but the results are just horrible.  It doesn’t do the job.

So on to the next batch – keeping a look out for a better way to filter my beer!


Posted in All-grain Brewing, Homebrewing, Marzen, Märzen, Oktoberfest | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Batch 132: Festbier (all-grain)

In preparation for a small Oktoberfest gathering, I embarked on the annual preparation of the Oktoberfest beer.  The first up was the Festbier, which I had previously made as an all-grain batch, and twice as extract and grain batches.

The recipe was the same as the previous all-grain batch, with the exception of my substituting Weyermann Barke Pilsner malt for the usual pilsner malt I would use as a base grain and substituting Hallettau Mittelfruh hops for the usual Hallertau hops I would use.  I mail ordered the ingredients, except for the yeast, which was reused from the previous batch that I made two weeks prior and transferred to secondary on this brew day.

The ingredients 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 (2.6% alpha acid)
Festbier ingredients

Festbier Ingredients ready to go

I had a mid-July brew day that was largely uneventful. Collecting the wort was a little worrisome because again I’m pulling small pieces of crushed grain through the false bottom and into the brew pot (despite trying to maintain a run off rate of one quart per minute).

Festbier runnings

Wee bits of crushed grain sneaking through the grain bed and the false bottom.

Had some good cold break during the wort chilling, too.

Cold break

Cold break after wort chilling

The beer was transferred to secondary fermentation three weeks after the brew day and lagered from three months, after which it was filtered, kegged and carbonated.

Festbier Filtering

Filtering the Festbier in the cartridge filter.

I used the spun filters for this batch.  I’m never quite as satisfied with how clear the beer initially is after carbonation after using this filter.

First Festbier Draft

Festbier is still pretty hazy. Not at all clear on the first drafts.

And this beer never really cleared satisfactorily up until the last draft.

Last of the Festbier

Still not very clear. Getting tired of it and starting to wonder why it is happening.

I will have a future post concerning what I’m becoming convinced is a flaw in the cartridge housing.  The cartridge filter just doesn’t perform at all well, regardless of the size filter I use or even the permanent stainless steel filter I bought after this.

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Fest Bier, Homebrewing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Batch 131: Kellerbier (all-grain)

Holiday weekends are usually convenient times to brew.  Fourth of July weekend of 2016 was no difference.  For this batch, I decided to make an all-grain version of the Kellerbier I had previously made.  Perfect for summer, it would be ready to drink relatively quickly after a short lagering period and without needing to filter it prior to kegging.

The recipe included the following ingredients purchased at the local homebrew store:

  • 8.0 pounds of Pilsner malt
  • 1.0 pounds Muncih Malt (light)
  • 4 ounces Aromatic Malt
  • 2.0 ounces of Saaz hops (3.0% alpha acid)
  • 2.0 ounces of Hallertau hops (2.5% alpha acid)
  • 2 packets SafLager W-34/70 yeast

The brewing ingredients:

Kellerbier ingredients

Kellerbier ingredients

My targets, based on Brew Pal, are:

  • Original Gravity:  1.048
  • Final Gravity:  1.011
  • ABV:  4.9%
  • 33 IBU
  • 5.4 Lovibond

I was very pleased with the mash, but again, disappointed that the homebrew store owner crushed the grain too fine.  I’d prefer to have fewer pieces pulled through the false bottom in the mash tun into my brew pot.

First Runnings

But the color was nice!

For Father’s Day, my wife and daughters demanded I buy myself a smoker.  So this was the first weekend I put it though its paces.  Since I have a tendency to foolishly over-extend myself multi-tasking, I decided to smoke a small pork shoulder (prior to doing several slabs of ribs for July 4th) while I boiled my wort.

Smoking and Brewing

Beer in the front, smoker in the back.

The pork shoulder came out awesome by the way.


Not bad for a first attempt!

I nailed my targets, with a starting gravity of 1.048.  When I transferred the beer to secondary two weeks after the brew date, the gravity was at 1.012.  The final gravity was 1.010 when I kegged the beer two weeks after that.


First draft of the Kellerbier

This was also, conveniently, about the time that Weihenstephan had released 1516, so I had a very good example to compare my beer against.  The 1516 was spectacular.  Mine was merely extremely good to excellent.  But I was pleased with how it compared!

Weihenstephaner 1516

Weihenstephaner 1516

There was also a local brewery that served their Kellerbier at a local Oktoberfest event.  It was very good – but I liked mine better!

Bierkeller Columbia Kellerbier

Bierkeller Columbia Kellerbier

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Homebrewing, Kegging, Kellerbier | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment