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

Oktoberfest 2016

O’ zapft is!

Wish I could be there!!

Posted in Oktoberfest | Tagged | Leave a comment

Upcoming Posts

I have brewed quite a bit more than I have written about.  Upcoming posts include the following:

  • Completed Batches
    • Batch 131 – Kellerbier (All-Grain)
  • Batches In-Progress
    • Batch 132 – Festbier (All-Grain)
    • Batch 133 – Oktoberfest Märzen (All-Grain)
    • Batch 134 – Dunkel Lager (All-Grain)
  • Comparison of online ordering
  • Homebrewing Label Art
  • Future Batches
    • Tmavý Lezák (Czech Dark lager)
    • Dampfbier (possibly)
    • Rauchbier



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Batch 130: Hefeweizen (All-Grain) – Redo!

I brewed this Hefeweizen a month after the previous batch.  I wasn’t thrilled with how Batch 129 came out, so I decided to mail order the grains, hops, and my preferred Hefeweizen yeast (White Labs 351).

Here are the ingredients:


Batch 130 – Hefeweizen Ingredients

One thing that bugs me about ordering hops online is that most web sites don’t give a precise alpha acid for the hops.  I’m used to the Halleterau hops that I use in my Hefeweizen being about 3.8% alpha acid when I previously purchased them at the local homebrew store.  These hops arrived and were 2.4% alpha acid!  Granted, I ordered the more authentic Hallertau Mittelfruh hops, but I was lucky I held back an ounce from the previous batch of Hefeweizen.

So this batch included the following:

  • 5.0 pounds of Pilsner Malt
  • 5.0 pounds Wheat Malt
  • 1.0 pound Rice Hulls
  • 1.0 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh Hops (2.4%)
  • 0.5 ounces Hallertau Hops (3.8%)
  • White Labs 351 (Bavarian Weizen Ale yeast)

I decided to cut out the half-pound of Munich Light malt that I had previously used since I could only order in one pound increments and I wasn’t sure when I would next have use of the remaining half pound of malt.

My targets, based on Brew Pal, are:

  • Original Gravity:  1.054
  • Final Gravity:  1.013
  • ABV:  5.3%
  • 8 IBU
  • 3.5 Lovibond

I was happier with the color of the first runnings during the vorlauf than I was with the previous batch.


Batch 130 – first runnings

I was once more under my targeted original gravity.  I was at 1.051 instead of 1.054.  But final gravity (1.009) was a bit below the targeted final gravity (1.013), so the beer came out a little higher in alcohol content (5.6%) than the targeted ABV (5.3%).


First draft of Batch 130

Overall, I preferred this batch over the previous batch.  In fact, I finished the last of the keg of this beer tonight before I started writing this.

I am embarking on another experiment.  I harvested the yeast from the bottom of the fermenter from this beer.  I didn’t go through extravagant sterilization techniques though.  I dropped a mason jar and a pot scraper into my usual sanitizing fluid and stirred things up with enough cold (ha!) tap water to get the yeast in suspension.  I crimped some foil around the mouth of the jar and set it in my beer fridge.  Two months on, I still haven’t used it, but I’m thinking I’ll through together a Dunkelweizen batch this weekend (and see if the home brew store owner can get the grain bill I give him straight!) and pitch this holdover yeast.

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Hefeweizen, Homebrewing, Style | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Batch 129 – Hefeweizen (All-Grain)

With some trepidation, I embarked on making this year’s batch of Hefeweizen.  The last batch I made, my first all-grain Hefeweizen, was a bit of a disappointment.  It was almost too hoppy, and didn’t have the flavor/aroma profile I prefer (even though I used White Labs 351 Bavarian Weizen yeast).

I was also on the fence about doing my annual weizen experiment for the fourth straight year.  I usually brew a Hefeweizen, followed by a Dunkelweizen, followed by a Weizenbock – all fermented on the previous batches yeast.

I also have been less than pleased with the grain I had been getting from my local home brew store.  This was heightened when the owner told me he had a new Pilsen malt in stock that he was going to give me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t care to ask more about what he had – I just knew it put me on my guard.

A slight change in ingredients since the last batch:

  • 5.0 pounds of Pilsner Malt
  • 5.0 pounds Wheat Malt
  • 1.0 pound Rice Hulls
  • 0.5 pounds Munich (10°)
  • 1.0 ounces Hallertau Hops (3.8%) – reduced by 0.5 ounces because the last batch was too hoppy
  • White Labs 300 (Hefeweizen Ale yeast) – instead of White Labs 351, which the store didn’t carry any more!!
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Batch 129 ingredients

First running were the right color…

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First runnings Batch 129

…but the final runnings were a bit…gray.

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I blame the Pilsner malt.

My targets, based on Brew Pal, are:

  • Original Gravity:  1.056
  • Final Gravity:  1.014
  • ABV:  5.5%
  • 12 IBU
  • 4.2 Lovibond

I hit 1.054 on the original gravity, but it didn’t ferment down to the target of 1.014 (I hit 1.018) which left me roughly at around 4.7 percent ABV.

It had a pretty vigorous fermentation, with quite a bit of foam through the airlock.

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Maybe I need a bigger bucket…

The beer was kegged and carbonated.  The first draft looked like this:

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First draft from Batch 129 – Hefeweizen

I was a little disappointed in how weak this came out.  So I did something I had never done before:  I decided to make the same batch again immediately.  This time, I decided I was going to try a different mail order supply chain instead of the one I used for the All-grain Kölsch.  This would allow me to try the same grain bill from a different source, as well as allow me to compare the crush of the grain and how the two mail order sources compare.

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Beer, Hefeweizen, Hefeweizen, Homebrewing, Style | Tagged , , | 1 Comment