Best lager yeast for an Oktoberfest?

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homebrewdad

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I'm prepping to brew my first ever lager. Initially, my plan was to brew a Munich Dunkel with WLP833 (I have a friend who brews a jaw dropping Dunkel, and he was kind enough to give me his recipe)... and it still may be my first.

However, I have been bitten with the "Can I brew the perfect Oktoberfest?" bug. With the help of Beersmith and Designing Great Beers, I've been playing with recipe ideas.

Let me be upfront - I am well aware that there is a school of thought that says you should pick one lager yeast and use it for everything. Being an ale guy who brews some fairly differing styles (English and Belgian ales are among my favorites), this just doesn't feel right to me. I'm accustomed to picking the yeast that best fits the recipe, not just one that will do a good job.

Compounding this is the fact that I don't wash or harvest yeast. I only brew every couple of months, and I'm fine with spending $7 on a new vial of yeast.

Finally note that I'm not scared off by sluggish yeasts. I'm patient; my ales normally site in primary for four weeks minimum, so a long lager fermentation or long lagering process is not a problem for me.

Now, on to the yeast. I'd be very interested in opinions from those who have actually brewed an Oktoberfest with any of these yeasts.

WLP830 (German lager) - the description specifically mentions Oktoberfest/marzen, but in the chart, it's only a 2 on the scale of 0-4 for the style. I've read that this yeast may be a bit more difficult to use than some, but that's seems odd to me. It is the driest of the yeasts I'm looking at, which doesn't sound like a perfect Oktoberfest to me.

WLP833 (German bock lager) - the description also specifically mentions Oktoberfest/marzen, and the chart lists it as a 4 for the style.

WLP820 (Oktoberfest/Marzen) - hard to not consider this one, since the style I'm after is what this one is named for. However, I see that it doesn't finish as well. I've seen some shining reviews about this yeast, and some absolutely horrible reviews.

WLP838 (Southern German lager) - description doesn't mention it, but that chart also calls this one a 4 for Oktoberfest.


Thoughts? Suggestions? Experiences? Your help is appreciated.
 

Hex23

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I just did an experiment where I brewed 1 gallon batches from 820, 833, 838, 860 and Wy2633 - same wort split 5 ways. I was doing this to compare which I thought would make the best o-fest, which I am brewing 5.5 gallons of now.

My favorite was Wy2633, followed very closely by 820. The only reason I picked 2633 over 820 is that the 820 had some diacetyl at tasting time. All batches other than the 2633 had noticeable diacetyl and I had to take some extra effort to get rid of it. 833 and 838 will probably still make a decent o-fest, but neither of these were as malt accentuating as the 820 or Wy2633. I got some grapey vinous tones from 833 and 838 had very noticeable diacetyl and a little sulfur. I am actually still lagering all 5 batches independently now. The 4 other than Wy2633 got some additional primary time at d-rest temps. So after about 3 weeks all those had lost their diacetly and the 838 had also lost its sulfur. I'll probably taste them all again, before I blend them into 5 gallon keg. 860 would make a good helles, but not the best o-fest

IMO 830 is not appropriate. I've never used it, but I have used W34/70 and Wy2124 which are all supposedly the same. That strain is much more appropriate for a pilsner where a drier finish is more appropriate.
 
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homebrewdad

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Hex23, your post is a godsend. Having someone with some experience with every strain I'm looking at is superb!

So you didn't feel that 820 was too sweet? My recipe (which is admittedly not finalized) has an OG of 1.057. With 820 selected, Beersmith predicts an OG of 1.020. With 830, it predicts 1.015. Now, to be fair, it would appear that the program is assuming the lowest attenuation number per strain... but 1.020 seems way too high for an Oktoberfest.
 
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homebrewdad

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I've used the 820 in my ofest lager with very good results. Can't comment in the other strains as I haven't tried them as if yet.
Thanks much. This was really the one I was looking the most at, but the final gravity number was worrying me a bit.
 

Yooper

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I'm prepping to brew my first ever lager. Initially, my plan was to brew a Munich Dunkel with WLP833 (I have a friend who brews a jaw dropping Dunkel, and he was kind enough to give me his recipe)... and it still may be my first.

However, I have been bitten with the "Can I brew the perfect Oktoberfest?" bug. With the help of Beersmith and Designing Great Beers, I've been playing with recipe ideas.

Let me be upfront - I am well aware that there is a school of thought that says you should pick one lager yeast and use it for everything. Being an ale guy who brews some fairly differing styles (English and Belgian ales are among my favorites), this just doesn't feel right to me. I'm accustomed to picking the yeast that best fits the recipe, not just one that will do a good job.

Compounding this is the fact that I don't wash or harvest yeast. I only brew every couple of months, and I'm fine with spending $7 on a new vial of yeast.

Finally note that I'm not scared off by sluggish yeasts. I'm patient; my ales normally site in primary for four weeks minimum, so a long lager fermentation or long lagering process is not a problem for me.

Now, on to the yeast. I'd be very interested in opinions from those who have actually brewed an Oktoberfest with any of these yeasts.

WLP830 (German lager) - the description specifically mentions Oktoberfest/marzen, but in the chart, it's only a 2 on the scale of 0-4 for the style. I've read that this yeast may be a bit more difficult to use than some, but that's seems odd to me. It is the driest of the yeasts I'm looking at, which doesn't sound like a perfect Oktoberfest to me.

WLP833 (German bock lager) - the description also specifically mentions Oktoberfest/marzen, and the chart lists it as a 4 for the style.

WLP820 (Oktoberfest/Marzen) - hard to not consider this one, since the style I'm after is what this one is named for. However, I see that it doesn't finish as well. I've seen some shining reviews about this yeast, and some absolutely horrible reviews.

WLP838 (Southern German lager) - description doesn't mention it, but that chart also calls this one a 4 for Oktoberfest.


Thoughts? Suggestions? Experiences? Your help is appreciated.
I LOVE the WLP833 for maibocks, and that's my favorite yeast for a maibock. For Oktoberfests, it would do just fine and give a rich full mouthfeel.

My favorite Oktoberfest yeast is wlp820, though. It leaves a malty, but quaffable, clear beer behind with great flavor. The hops are not muted, and it's very "clean". The bock yeast seems to have a fuller mouthfeel and finish, so it's not quite the same quaffable sessionable Oktoberfest with it, if that makes sense.
 

Hex23

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Hex23, your post is a godsend. Having someone with some experience with every strain I'm looking at is superb!

So you didn't feel that 820 was too sweet? My recipe (which is admittedly not finalized) has an OG of 1.057. With 820 selected, Beersmith predicts an OG of 1.020. With 830, it predicts 1.015. Now, to be fair, it would appear that the program is assuming the lowest attenuation number per strain... but 1.020 seems way too high for an Oktoberfest.
Ya, I thought it was a pretty funny coincidence.

One thing I've learned is not to try to equate FG with sweetness. Of course there is some relation, but there is something going on with all these malt-accentuating strains that also seems to affect perception of residual sweetness. I forgot to measure FG on the 820, but the Wy2633 went from 1.064 to 1.015 (75%AA). I realize 1.064 is pretty high for an o-fest. But that yeast had no problem attenuating. I've had 1.020 FG beers with similar grain/hop profile that didn't have as much residual sweetness as this beer did. Even though I don't know where the 820 finished, it was very slightly less sweet tasting than the 2633. I'd have to guess that the 820 finished similar to the 2633. I'd also guess that what attentuation you get out of 820 will depend on aeration, yeast health and ferment profile. If you treat it right I don't think it will be overly sweet.
 
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homebrewdad

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I LOVE the WLP833 for maibocks, and that's my favorite yeast for a maibock. For Oktoberfests, it would do just fine and give a rich full mouthfeel.

My favorite Oktoberfest yeast is wlp820, though. It leaves a malty, but quaffable, clear beer behind with great flavor. The hops are not muted, and it's very "clean". The bock yeast seems to have a fuller mouthfeel and finish, so it's not quite the same quaffable sessionable Oktoberfest with it, if that makes sense.
That does make sense, and I really appreciate you sharing your experience, Yooper.


Ya, I thought it was a pretty funny coincidence.

One thing I've learned is not to try to equate FG with sweetness. Of course there is some relation, but there is something going on with all these malt-accentuating strains that also seems to affect perception of residual sweetness. I forgot to measure FG on the 820, but the Wy2633 went from 1.064 to 1.015 (75%AA). I realize 1.064 is pretty high for an o-fest. But that yeast had no problem attenuating. I've had 1.020 FG beers with similar grain/hop profile that didn't have as much residual sweetness as this beer did. Even though I don't know where the 820 finished, it was very slightly less sweet tasting than the 2633. I'd have to guess that the 820 finished similar to the 2633. I'd also guess that what attentuation you get out of 820 will depend on aeration, yeast health and ferment profile. If you treat it right I don't think it will be overly sweet.
Good advice, thanks.

Historically, Oktoberfests were a little stronger than they are today, so to me, 1.064 isn't unreasonable at all. I'm toying with the idea of bumping mine up to similar territory.

And yeah, I agree - yeast health and environment will certainly have a lot to do with how it does, attenuation wise.
 

shelly_belly

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I used WLP802 Czech Budejovice Lager Yeast cake from a Prima Pils clone. Mashed @ 155F. OG 1.054, FG 1.012. Single infusion of KingBrianI's recipe. It was the best beer I made in 2011. I'm about to make it again but this time I'll split 10 gals using WLP800 and WLP830 from pilsners that are currently fermenting.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f59/worlds-best-oktoberfest-123493/
 
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homebrewdad

homebrewdad

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I used WLP802 Czech Budejovice Lager Yeast cake from a Prima Pils clone. Mashed @ 155F. OG 1.054, FG 1.012. Single infusion of KingBrianI's recipe. It was the best beer I made in 2011. I'm about to make it again but this time I'll split 10 gals using WLP800 and WLP830 from pilsners that are currently fermenting.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f59/worlds-best-oktoberfest-123493/
Thanks for the recipe link.

Rabbit Town, Bama? I'm close to Birmingham. Halfway between it and Tuscaloosa, actually.
 

shelly_belly

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I'm actually in Jacksonville, Rabbittown is where I'd like to be (there's nothing there). Work gets me out Tuscaloosa way at least once a week and Birmingham 3-4 times a week. Just found Hop City the other day. Picked up a 6-pack of Sculpin IPA. Beer selection is definitely improving.
 

ntalkers

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I've tried the 830, 838, and 833. 838 was my favorite and it got me 2nd place in 2nd round 2013 NHC.
 

kombat

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I've got 2 batches of Oktoberfest lagering now (brewed them in April!) waiting for September. I brewed them with the WL820 and so far have had good results. I chose the WL820 because I wanted to re-use the yeast for a Rauchbier (which I did), and that style uses the same yeast.
 

ntalkers

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The 838 doesn't attenuate quite as much as the 830 or 833, leaving a bit of residual sweetness. I basically created my recipe from the data in Designing Great Beer and experimented with a few different yeasts. Here is my recipe:

OG: 1.055
FG: 1.013

50% Pilsen
24% Munich
17% Vienna
8% Caramunich
1% Carapils

Hallertauer @ 60 = 23 IBU
Hallertauer @ 20 = 3 IBU

WLP838 So. German Lager Yeast
Mash at 152 for 1 hour
90 Minute Boil

Nick
 

gbarron

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I have used the Southern German Lager for an Oktoberfest, the German Bock for a Maibock, and the German Lager for a Munich Helles. Each performed very well and I did not notice a huge difference. They all produce some sulfur. The German Lager was the highest attenuating. Diacetyl was fairly low with all of them and will be controlled with good temperature control and a rest.
 

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