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jwitt 08-14-2012 07:15 PM

"Oktoberfest" style ale, mash temp & yeast advice needed
Recipe: Wittlichfest Oktober Ale
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 6.22 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.72 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.25 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.15 gal
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 10.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 25.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.4 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt Name Type %/IBU
4 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 42.4 %
2 lbs 4.0 oz Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 21.2 %
2 lbs 4.0 oz Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 21.2 %
12.0 oz CaraBrown Malt (65.0 SRM) Grain 7.1 %
8.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 4.7 %
6.0 oz Melanoiden Malt (20.0 SRM) Grain 3.5 %
0.50 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 8.5 IBUs
1.00 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 13.1 IBUs
1.00 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining -
0.50 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] - Boil 15.0 min Hop 4.2 IBUs
1.00 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] - Boil 0.0 min Hop 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) Yeast -

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 10 lbs 10.0 oz
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 13.28 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F 60 min

Created with BeerSmith 2 - http://www.beersmith.com


I want good malty flavor, but I chose US-05 because I like my beers a little lighter than, for example, Spaten Oktoberfest. I think that yeast will give me the attenuation I'm looking for, while my malt bill will still provide enough unfermentable good stuff to make the final product quite oktoberfesty. I'm also mashing at a fairly low temp compared to a target of 156ºF I'd use if I wanted a fuller beer.

Opinions? Suggestions? Am I on the right track?

bobbrews 08-14-2012 07:52 PM

I like Ayinger's O-fest (for easy to get bottles in the US). I think they use the Wyeast 2633 strain. Read up on the traits of that yeast and try to compare it with an ale yeast. It's quite apple forward and highlights the malt well.

The problem with US-05 is you don't get that same character. It is very clean. Also, the biggest disadvantage is that you'd be brewing more of an ale if you use ale yeast and ferment at ale temps, which can often add fruity esters when using yeasts that are more suited for American Ales. Better to go with a British yeast.

Personally, I'd rather have the lower mash temp vs. that 156-158 range. So you're good.

jwitt 08-14-2012 08:47 PM

I wasn't clear- I'm not mashing at 156, I'm mashing at 152. I commented on 156 "I'd use if I wanted a fuller beer." I have a couple buddies who would probably prefer the higher temps, but, well, they need to get some carboys and a mash tun!

I have not had Ayinger Oktoberfest. My town has a decent street festival on an O-fest weekend, and a few good beers on tap. A local pub also has a great selection I've never been able to make my way through. The Ayinger O-fest tasting notes sound like exactly what I'm after! Sounds like we have similar tastes in these beers. Spaten is too cloying malty for me from a bottle, but I think it's better on tap.

One issue I currently face is fermentation temp. I maintain 70º ambient, no lower. (I'm moving soon, and the new location's basement is very cellar-like!!!)

I've brewed some American Brown Ale with US-05 at 70-72 and gotten good results. Minimal ester production- just a tiny touch that gave the ale more character IMO than it would have otherwise had. Not the full interesting profile of, say, Wyeast British Ale II which I used on a very similar brew at the same temp.

Since I'm stuck with my temp, my initial thought was that a clean fermenting yeast is my best option. I do have a new Oxygen rig to test out though, and I hear that a 1 minute shot before pitching should minimize ester production in the growth phase.

StoneHands 08-14-2012 09:04 PM

Just my opinion, I'd drop the 0 min addition of tett., swap the pilsner and munich amounts (use more munich). I wouldn't use more than a half pound of cara malts, probably just stick to one variety too (or maybe 8 oz C60 and 4 oz melanoiden). Maybe use S-04, and use a swamp cooler to get lower temperatures (you probably have everything you need for this already), upper 60's tops. Mash at 152 or so like you say.
Pitch cooler than 70's, but the key for this is to get lower fermentation temps. Use a swamp cooler. You'll only need to swap out ice bottles for a few days, it's worth it.

jwitt 08-14-2012 10:20 PM

I guess the swamp cooler would be a good idea. I'll have to check the freezer to see if I can even fit a couple bottles in (sharing a house for another month or so). I'll poke around HBT for some temp change rates, bottle sizes, etc. I guess if I could get the temp on the strip thermometer to 66 for a few days, I'd be home free. Hopefully the basement will continue slowly cooling off too- the heat wave is over, although I'm sure summer is not finished punishing us in the St Louis area.

Thanks for the recipe suggestions. I'll make a copy of the recipe in beersmith and do some tinkering. I do plan on using CaraBrown- the LHBS just got some and I'd like a subtle addition to the base Oktoberfest malts. I'm not sure how much "cara" is really in CaraBrown. I don't remember it being sugar-sticky when milled like caramel/crystal malts are. I think you're right- I could drop the Dextrin and keep the Melanoidin for a hint of whatever malliard type chemical is supposedly highly concentrated in that stuff. I should have plenty of body, etc from the munich. I just kind of made it a habit to throw a little carapils in each batch, but most of my beers are thinner than this and appreciate the dextrin.

SouthBay 08-15-2012 02:18 AM

fwiw, if you have a big cooler like i do, you might be able to fill it partway with water, put in the fermenter, and rotate a bottle of frozen water in and out every day or so. I was able to do that in 80 degree ambient temps and maintained a constant 60 degrees, +/- 1 degree. I played around with the bottles ahead of time to figure out how often i needed to rotate them to maintain temps. works well in the summer, with minimal effort.

SpeedYellow 08-15-2012 02:16 PM

My thoughts after brewing many O'fest ales and lagers:

1. Hop schedule is overly complicated. This is not a hop-forward style, so one hop addition at 60 min is plenty. 25 IBUs is good.
2. I've never used carabrown, but I'd eliminate it. I assume it adds malty flavor, mouthfeel, and sweetness.
3. Carapils/Dextrine - use no more than 0.25 lb. Or none.
4. Melanoidin malt - not sure why you want this malt, but I'd eliminate it too.
5. With an ale yeast, you'll definitely want to ferment as cool as possible, like low 60s. Personally, I would try to keep the beer dry if using an ale yeast because a sweet fruity estery O'fest doesn't make much sense. So I'd ditch those crystal/sweet malts and mash below 150F.

Hope that helps. :)

StoneHands 08-15-2012 03:16 PM

To chime in further, I don't really disagree with much SpeedYellow says. Ofest isn't hop forward at all, although a little hop flavor isn't out of place as long as you are using noble hops (I think your 60 and 30 minute additions are fine, but a single 60 min addition would be fine too). Ofest isn't supposed to be sweet, just malty, that's why I said to not go overboard on the cara malts, in reality they're probably inappropriate to be a true Ofest, but I think us folks here in the US expect a little sweetness and caramel malt taste. Melanoidin malt is supposed to emulate a decoction, but it really doesn't, it won't be inappropriate I don't think to keep it in if you choose. Ofest is malty, and on the dry side, but still kind of rich - hard to explain. I stress again, keep the fermentation cool.

rshortt 08-16-2012 04:08 PM

I'd certainly keep the melanoiden malt, I've used it at 5% of the grain bill and it's great even at that amount.

Since you're using light minuch you could get away with using a little more and could reduce the pils if you wanted. I would also get rid of the carabrown but if you've used it before and like it then it's obviously your preference.


jwitt 08-20-2012 06:09 PM

First, thanks for all this great input! It's really interesting to read people's take on a beer like this. I simplified my recipe a bit, but kept other concepts from my original. I'm going to put a different version down in 2 weeks and compare the results.

1) I stayed with US-05 because I've had luck at warmer temperatures with that yeast. In the past, I've had no esters and good attenuation. And after all, this is an "O-fest style ale" so we don't need to be too particular.

2) Since we're not making a true-to-style beer, I kept the CaraBrown. It's a great malt- it's really more "brown" than "cara" in my opinion. Sweetness, yes, but IMO its main contributions are smooth biscuit and toasty flavors. I believe those notes will come through the complex malt flavor without taking over.

From Briess product info sheet:


• 5-10% Subtle sweet malty, lightly toasted flavors and light brown/orange color contributions
• 10-15% Smooth, more accentuated toasted, biscuity, nutty, graham cracker flavors and slightly dry finish
3) I simplified my hop schedule. The one I posted was goofy- I have Beersmith at work and at home, and I kept forgetting to get my recipe over onto my work computer. The actual hops, below, are more appropriate I think. My IBU in beersmith fell in the middle of the Oktoberfest style, so I should be good. I don't think Heersbrucker will overpower.

4) Melanoidin. I should brew identical beers with and without to get a feel for its actual flavor contributions. But hey, it has a cool name and is supposedly really interesting. Hard to pass up since this is essentially the only "German-style" beer I've made.

5) I was afraid to take the advice to switch Munich and Pilsner malts because I don't want to go crazy with the Munich flavor- I preferred to keep a base malt doing its job for a large part of the fermentables. Likewise, I could have rolled Vienna into the Munich addition, but I figured I'd use some of each to perhaps gain their slightly different flavor contributions.

4 lbs 8 oz Pilsner
3 lbs Munich
1 lbs 4 oz Vienna
1 lbs Carabrown
8oz Dextrine malt
7oz Melanoidin
1oz Tettnang 60min
.5oz Heersbrucker 30min
.5oz Heersbrucker 10min


1) Hydrometer test jar broke while cooling a sample, hydrometer was safe though. I'm getting a refractometer for lautering, so the next batch will be properly monitored.

2) I really screwed up on making my equipment profile. My strike water was too hot, and I mashed at 155ºF. Live and learn...or this beer may come out perfect?!? Anyway, the new 10 gallon mash tun is great, and it will be pretty close to dialed in next time.

3) "Why hasn't this stuff converted?" I asked myself and my apprentice helper as we dropped iodine onto samples. :cross:

4) The yeast really took off! I oxygenated with a little O2 tank and an aquarium bubbler. 12 hours later I had a huge colony on top of the beer. 48 hours after pitching, I have a nice krausen and wonderful smells coming out of the airlock. It hit 75º on the outside of the carboy at 24 hours, and it's rolling at 73º now. I wasn't able to use any sort of cooling solution, but the weather's nice at night and I'm ventilating the basement and dropping it back to proper temps. No smells but sweet malty goodness out of the airlock- we'll see how it tastes though. I'm sure it will be drinkable/decent, but perhaps US-05 will be nice and keep the esters down.

So, all-in-all, I'd rather have done things in ideal conditions, so that just means I'll brew another batch this weekend or next weekend. Life is hard! :)

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