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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > First-Timer Marzen/Oktoberfest
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Old 01-28-2011, 09:02 AM   #1
B0rnFrustr8ed
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Default First-Timer Marzen/Oktoberfest

Yeah, I'm crazy doing a lager for my first brew, but here's the rundown:

I'm a big fan of beer. Probably like most of you, I started in the college macro-swill world of beer, began experimenting with different styles and bolder flavors, and never looked back. In general, this leads into the realm of ales, and I LOVE me some ale, but--being from the Cleveland area--the beer that originally captured my attention is Great Lakes Eliot Ness (a Vienna-style amber lager). This lead me toward Marzen and Oktoberfestbier: I nearly lost my mind when I first drank Spaten Oktoberfest (draught). Long story short, this family of German ambers occupies a special place in my heart.

Anyway, after years of talking about it, I finally bought home-brewing gear (the bucket, carboy, bottle-condition way) and a "German Oktoberfest" kit that includes malt, LME, DME, yeast, etc.

I'm currently in secondary fermentation (in a carboy), but a few questions have arisen:

1. The included yeast could work at lager or ale temperatures. I have chosen to ferment as a lager. This is the best way to stay true to the style, correct?

2. The instructions were to primary ferment for 10-14 days before moving to secondary/lagering. After 14 days, I moved from the bucket to the carboy. However, when I tested the gravity, it was 1.025 (from the OG 1.056). The recommended FG is closer to 1.015. I had read that keeping the beer with the dead yeast for too long can cause off flavors to leach into the beer, so I freaked and pulled the trigger. Did I mess it up by transferring?

3. I kept the carboy at about 50 degrees for a couple more days because I was afraid to go to lagering without reaching the FG, but I wanted to follow the directions, so I ended up cooling it soon after. I didn't test the gravity before I started cooling it (to about 33). Did I jump the gun again?

4. It's been lagering for over a month now, and I guess it's time for bottle-conditioning (if the batch isn't ruined). There is priming sugar to add for this, but what I'm wondering is that if I haven't reached FG, is there enough sugar in there already to carbonate? Or should I still add all/some of the sugar?

5. It says to bottle-condition for 2-3 weeks. How long should I REALLY condition?

6. Considering my current situation, what do you think is my BEST course of action to make the best beer possible? I'm worried that my impatience could have ruined the batch.

Thanks for any help.

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Old 01-28-2011, 12:40 PM   #2
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It would have been better to let it ferment another week or 2. Lagers really take their time. That being said it's still beer and may just be a little sweet. It's best to let it lager for a few months. Kit instructions often rush you thru the process. Faster you brew and drink it the quicker you are to buy another kit. I made an Oktoberfest as my second batch. I let it ferment for 3 weeks and it has been lagering in my garage at 36 degrees for the last 2 months. It definitely took a lot of patience and was a tough choice for so early in my brewing experience. My best advice would be to leave it another month and start making another batch or 2 while waiting for this lager. I would be a little concerned about priming and bottling your Oktoberfest. There is most likely a bit of sugar left in the soution, since it was most likely still fermenting when you transferred and lagered it. If you add priming sugar and there is already a lot of sugar left in the beer you may have some bottle bombs. Why don't you take hydrometer reading. Let the sample warm to 60 degrees before reading it so you get a more accurate reading. Let us know what the reading is...

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Old 01-28-2011, 05:42 PM   #3
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It won't ruin the beer to warm it back to primary temperatures for a while?

Should I transfer it back to the bucket?

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Old 01-28-2011, 05:54 PM   #4
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Take a sample at your temp now, let it warm to 60. Nice to know what the gravity is

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Old 01-28-2011, 06:03 PM   #5
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Just to be 100% clear - take a small sample of the beer, and allow that to reach 60 degrees, then test it. Definitely leave the carboy and all its contents (except that sample) exactly where they are now.

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Old 01-28-2011, 06:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stratslinger
Just to be 100% clear - take a small sample of the beer, and allow that to reach 60 degrees, then test it. Definitely leave the carboy and all its contents (except that sample) exactly where they are now.
Cant give you any advice until I know the gravity. The small sample needs to warm up to 60-68 degrees to get an accurate reading.

I would just leave it in the carboy for another month. I'm just worried about bottle bombs when you bottle and warm
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Old 01-28-2011, 06:52 PM   #7
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I just brewed a batch of Brewer's Best Eurpoean Bock, which is sort of similar in make up. It also recommended to keep in the primary for 10-14 days, and then transfer to secondary for at least 3 weeks. My OG was 1.068, and my SG when transferring after 11 days was 1.032 (corrected). Temp was 54 degrees constant. I think I'm in the same boat as you - could have possibly left it in primary longer, but I think with a lager, it will continue to ferment a little bit and hopefully my FG can be around 1.020 (recommend FG is 1.018). The only downside is a sweeter, slightly less alcoholic beer, so it's not like it will be undrinkable.

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Old 01-28-2011, 09:20 PM   #8
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At 58 degrees, I'm getting a reading of 1.022.

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Old 01-28-2011, 09:33 PM   #9
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I guess I would just leave it at lagering temps for another month and then bottle. There is a chance that it was done fermenting anyway. Extract kits often stop right around 1.020. There is still the chance that you have some fermentable sugars in there. I would not use all 5 oz of priming sugar. Maybe use around 3 oz and leave them in a 70 degree room for 3 weeks to condition. May take longer with a lager. Make sure to keep them covered, so if they exploded, you'll have less splatter everywhere. Anybody else have different advice for this guy?

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Old 01-28-2011, 09:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwheel
I just brewed a batch of Brewer's Best Eurpoean Bock, which is sort of similar in make up. It also recommended to keep in the primary for 10-14 days, and then transfer to secondary for at least 3 weeks. My OG was 1.068, and my SG when transferring after 11 days was 1.032 (corrected). Temp was 54 degrees constant. I think I'm in the same boat as you - could have possibly left it in primary longer, but I think with a lager, it will continue to ferment a little bit and hopefully my FG can be around 1.020 (recommend FG is 1.018). The only downside is a sweeter, slightly less alcoholic beer, so it's not like it will be undrinkable.
Once you move this to colder temps it's not going to ferment much more. Your basically putting the yeasties to sleep and slowly dropping them out of suspension. That is a pretty high FG to being bottling at
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