12 Gallon Indoor Brewday Festbier

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Feb 19, 2012
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Hey! I am looking to brew a 12 gallon batch of Festbier inside of my small apartment. It should be quite a challenge, but where is the fun without a bit if ingenuity?

Lets go through some of my equipment first:

1, 40qt mash tun
1, ~7.5 Gallon Kettle
2, ~ 2.5 Gallon Pots
Various Food Grade Buckets
1, 20 Gallon Tub for holding ice baths for cooling
1, Fermentation Freezer
1, 15 gallon fermentation vat

Now for the recipe for a single 6 gallon batch:

9 lbs 8.0 oz----Pilsen (BestMälz)-----------(1.8 SRM)----70.4 %
2 lbs------------Vienna (BestMälz)----------(4.1 SRM)----14.8 %
1 lbs------------Munich (BestMälz)----------(7.6 SRM)----7.4 %
1 lbs------------Munich Dark (BestMälz)----(12.7 SRM)---7.4 %

1.50 oz---------Saaz [3.80 %]----Boil 60.0 min 18.5 IBUs
0.38 oz---------Saaz [3.80 %]----Boil 25.0 min 3.2 IBUs
0.38 oz---------Saaz [3.80 %]----Boil 15.0 min 2.3 IBUs

1.0 pkg---------German Bock Lager---------(White Labs #WLP833) ( I did a two step starter, stir plate->2.5 gallon)

So there are two methods that can be valid as I see it, either I can do 2, 6 gallon batches back to back, mash one batch while the other is boiling, etc.

The other method is the one that I am actually thinking of, mash it all together in one batch using a Schmit Process or a Triple Decoction since the mash tun will be very full with 27lbs of grain at 1.15 qts/lb mash thickness.

The question is, what should I do after the mash? I could collect my first 6 gallons inside of my kettle and start boiling it while continuing to collect wort inside of my buckets and other pots, and once the first boil is done, I could begin to boil the other wort inside of my other pots. Then let it all cool down and get to business as usual.

I might be able to boil 6 gallon in one kettle, and around 4.5 gallons in the two small kettles on the same stove, but I really don't like running all four of the gas burners full tilt for that long.

So that is where I am starting to wonder what I should do. I am a fan of the idea of mashing it all together in a single batch since that will cut down on cleaning out the mash tun twice, and I can get the benefits of doing a decoration mash on all of the grain.

I think you might be getting a little ambitious given the goal and equipment. Have you confirmed your stove as being capable of bringing that first 6 gallons up to a boil? Mine couldn't. Mine had enough trouble getting 7 gallons to boil in a pot big enough to span 2 elements. I even had to do a split boil to achieve 5 gallons in the fermenter, and that was a long tedious process.

Personally I'd recommend sticking with a 6 gallon batch. If you love this recipe you can do the boils one right after the other and add it all to the same fermenter. I did that once, and once was enough to give up on it. Not trying to sound like a quitter here but at that point I'd prefer to do different hopped first and second runnings and have some variety.

You can do any method mentioned. I've done them all without a huge success in any particular method used. Giant mash and boil first and second runnings individually - do yourself a favour only hop the second. 2 small mashes and hop each, put into the same fermenter. Giant mash and drain it all so it won't be a 4 hour mash for the second boil. Only one I didn't try was doing it all on the stovetop at once because I ran out of pots to make that happen. It all makes beer.

Shameless plug for my apartment friendly electric kettle brew system. It was the answer to both my slow boil and large batch woes.
Thanks for your feedback zepth, I think I will go for a large mash and do two separate boils and only hop one of them. What is interesting is that I can indeed bring my big kettle to a boil on my stove, it's gas :)
So, I did end up mashing 27lbs of malt inside of 10 gallon cooler using a triple decoction mash. It was not an easy path, but my mash efficiency still hit around 70% even though I only mashed with about 1.15 qts/lb and the cooler was about as full as full would get.

I ended up with around 13-14 gallons of wort at 1.052, I pitched my starter and airated with an aquarium air pump with a stainless steel stone, before I walked to work and when I got home, there was already a full Krousen and the wort was at 49 degrees. I am very optimistic right now!
I tasted a sample after racking into secondary and it is quite promising. Very nice balance between hops and malt, I might even call it delicate even, it comes across as a super drinkable dark gold colored beer. IIR, it is sitting at 1.010 right now.

So right now, I have 2 6 gallons carboys that have been lagering since February 22nd. I will give them 5-6 weeks of lagering time to make sure this beer has all the time it needs.
All right, time for an update! It looks like it will be time to bottle the beer next weekend, I added gelatin to both carboys about 2 weeks ago, so they should be nice and clear for a good racking.

So, it looks like Febuary 22 - May 9 for laggering, or 10 weeks and 6 days!
Alright! So I have returned to Knoxville from my hiatus in Kansas City, home brew is back on my mind!


The beer was a little cold so there was some haze and condensation, plus the picture is a tad dark... sorry.

The smell is of light honey like malt with a subtle touch of minty/woody saaz. Not much else, it's not a super smelly beer.

The taste, it is very balanced I would say. It is lighter than what I wanted, but it is balanced if nothing else. The malt flavor is not super complex, but it might be hard to discern since it does come across as being pretty light. It is definitely refreshing. The flavor is light honey like malt flavors up front that follows through at the end with some saaz flavor. The hop flavor and bitterness is also light so it balances out quite well.

It have fed it to college students who have never had home brew before inside of a glass so they didn't see what bottle it came out of and they wanted to know what band it was and were they could buy it. Needless to say, they were impressed to find out that I made it and wanted to know how they could too. It's also popular at football games.

The point I am trying to make is that it has an appeal to people who are used to commercial beer. The beer did not turn out to bea vienna lager or oktober fest like I had wanted, it is far to light for that, but I feel that my lager making mechanics are down pretty well considering that even though it is light, it taste like it was meant to be that way.

The best comparison in flavor I could think of, would be something like a lighter version of Hofbräuhaus.

I am sending it in to a competition to see how it does. I am looking forward to feedback, my last competition really helped me center on things to improve.
So I entered this beer into the Oregon Brew Crew Fall Classic as a Munich Helles. It did not place, but I got some feed back which might be helpful for anyone who wants to learn from the advice I got.

Overall Score: 30.5


BJCP Reference:
Pleasantly grainy-sweet, clean Pils malt aroma dominates. Low to moderately-low spicy noble hop aroma, and a low background note of DMS (from Pils malt). No esters or diacetyl.

Judge 1:
Low Grainy malt with sweet corn DMA scent. Honey malt character develops, No Hops or diactyle detected.

Judge 2:
Muted grain with some slight sweetness, some slight hint of DMS (as appropriate)

Judge 3:
Cracker and bread crust malt aroma with floral hops.

Judge 4:
Clean malt forward medium intense honey biscuit, light almond. Low hops, slight peppery. Low esters of pear. Very Pleasant.

BJCP Reference:
Medium yellow to pale gold, clear, with a creamy white head.

Judge 1:
Golden straw in color and quite clear. Nice head formation with white bubbles.

Judge 2:
Dull clarity of a golden color with creamy white head that dissipates quickly leaving a few bubbles along the edges.

Judge 3:
Gold color with good clarity. Creamy white head that persists at edges.

Judge 4:
Clear medium intense amber color, a bit dull with mixed sized head fade quickly. Large internal bubbles.

BJCP Reference:
Slightly sweet, malty profile. Grain and Pils malt flavors dominate, with a low to medium-low hop bitterness that supports the malty palate. Low to moderately-low spicy noble hop flavor. Finish and aftertaste remain malty. Clean, no fruity esters, no diacetyl.

Judge 1:
Grainy sweet malt flavor dominates, with a soft floral hop character pulling through in the end. No esters- a very clean fermentation. Hops with the balance, but don't overpower.

Judge 2:
Slightly sweet with some very mild bitterness and lot of grain/malt flavor.

Judge 3:
Malty sweetness (bread crust) with herbal hop flavor. Balanced towards sweetness but hop bite helps to dry out the finish.

Judge 4:
Sweet honeyed malt biscuit up front carries sweetness to finish. Mild white pepper form hops minimed low bitterness. Clean low pear ester form ferm. Malt King almost to much. Finish sweet and very malty.

BJCP Reference:
Medium body, medium carbonation, smooth maltiness with no trace of astringency.

Judge 1:
Light-body, medium carbonation. Slight creaminess from the alcohol. Also, slight warmth.

Judge 2:
Highly carbonated, expands quickly in the mouth leaving with a lot of gas to work through.

Judge 3:
Medium bodied with medium creamy carbonation.

Judge 4:
Medium bodied, medium carbonation. medium warmth to high not astringent.

Overall Impression:
BJCP Reference:
Malty but fully attenuated Pils malt showcase.

Judge 1:
This is a very nice balanced Helles. The soft character of the hops is showcased throughout. Refreshing, but intricate. Hops could be slightly more spicy, but it still goes well with the style. A little too sweet.

Judge 2:
Good beer with some issues in the clarity and the carbonating. The overall flavor was pleasant but seemed lacking some depth and spicy flavor.

Judge 3:
Good beer, that with some tweaking could be great. Hop flavor is a bit high for style, and higher attenuation level and dryness would make it much more drinkable.

Judge 4:
A very drinkable beer with a solid malt bill for the style. However, it needs a longer fermentation to provide more dryness and lightness. Too heavy, too alcoholic for style. Needs full attenuation.

Judge 1: 32/50 (Recognized Judge)
Judge 2: 28/50 (No given bjcp rank)
Judge 3: 33/50 (No given bjcp rank)
Judge 4: 29/50 (Certified Judge)

So looking at this feed back, and knowing my grain and hop load. I wonder what I should change next time? I got the comment about not being fully attenuated, my OG was 1.052 and my FG was 1.010. Munich Helles is supposed to sit finish between 1.008 and 1.012. Wonder if my calcium additions made it seem sweeter than what it might normally? Or perhaps the triple decoction mash left it very malty giving it a sweet perception? In any case, I think I am done with Saaz hops, I want something that is a little less herbal and floral and something that is bit more peppery I think.