Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Gather your stuff it's time for Ooompah! German festbier!

haben sie gehort das deutsches band?
Ok,  so believe it or not, it is time to start getting ready for fall.  And fall means bigger bolder beers.  Fall means darker heavier beers, and fall means... Oktoberfest right?   Well yes, and in truth.... No.  The Germans don't really serve Maibock at Oktoberfest anymore.  Well they serve it, but it isn't the main beer they serve.  And I have it on good authority if you want a Mass of Oktoberfest, you have to get up from your picnic table and walk over to the bar where they are pouring other beers. And who wants to leave the picnic table in the meadow tent and do that?  The main beer they serve is called Festbier.  Festbier literally means Festival beer. It is the deep golden (but not amber) colored low alcohol beer you see in the pictures of the beer tents.  Festbier has a malty malty taste, a medium body, balanced hops, and a clean finish. There was an excellent article on Festbier in the Jan/Feb 2016 edition of BYO by Gordon Strong.   I am assuming you all know who Gordon Strong is... no? ok...

All Hail Gordon Strong.
Well then, let's back up a minute.  Gordon Strong is BYO's (brew your own) style columnist.  He is also the president of the BJCP, an award winning brewer, and the highest ranking beer judge in the world.  He won the Ninkasi award 3 freaking years in a row. In his books he teaches and talks about realistic techniques for brewing better beer at home.  The fundamental idea, is that styles are generated by the people who brew.  10 years ago American Strong Ale was not a style.  But people kept making it and the BJCP studied it and added it. Gordon Strong is a realist, he is the ultimate beer geek. He is our king, you owe him your allegiance.  His style columns are meant to inform you about a type of beer you may want to experience.  So check out his books and columns, they're truly great.   And in the January / February issue of BYO he uncorks one hell of a recipe, and of course he makes it easy.

Believe it or not, these frauleins are holding beers.
I can't quite make out the beers, but I have been assured
that they are in the photo somewhere.
In fact, he makes it too easy.   But have no fear our somewhat regular and loyal readers.  We'll fix that with our usual dose of complicated absurdity. We'll be influenced by Gordon's recipe but we'll be changing the grain bill slightly and doing a triple decoction mash. Our goals; have fun, add richness, add mouthfeel, and obtain the almost tawny golden color you see in the photo of the frauleins at the left side of the page  We're posting the recipe early and the ingredients and equipment you will need in hopes that many of you will join us in our quest to make this great fall beer. We will be doing a no sparge, triple decoction.  And of course we'll be using the fast lager method because...well why the heck wouldn't you?  If you want to lager it for months be our guest. There is nothing wrong with that practice. Does the beer improve with extra cold storage?   Yes, probably. maybe... in truth we have no idea, we drink it before it ages.  But by using a fast lager fermentation you can still lager part of the batch in your keg, or in bottles.  And you can start drinking some of the beer sooner.

Yes, sports fans she is also holding
beers, I know it is hard to see them.
But with the trained eye, you can
make them out.  I think these might
be traditional Marzen!
6 gallons (5.5 to ferment, 5 to package)
1.054 OG
1.012 FG
5.5% ABV

7.6 lbs of Pilsner
4.4 lbs of Vienna (no munich? nope, were doing a decoction)
.25 lbs of Flaked Barley - for head retention, it works, try it.
0.5 oz  of Magnum at 60 minutes  14,7% AA,  7.35 AAUs
0.8 oz  of Hallertauer Mittlefruh  2.2% AA, 1,76 AAUs
1 Package of Fermentis 34/70
1 tsp of yeast nutrient at 15 minutes
1 tsp of irish moss at 15 minutes
1 tsp of unflavored gelatin - for fining the beer.

Decoction schedule - 

  • Enzyme Wash - 132 F - Calculate your needed strike water temperature
  • 1st Decoction- 146-148 F - Pull a thick 2/3rds decoction, rest at 150 F for 10 M, then boil for 10 M Return to raise the wort to 146 to 148 F.  Hold for 1 minute, stir, then pull 2nd decotion
  • 2nd Decoction - 156-158 F - Pull a thick 2/3rds decoction, boil for 10 M Return to raise the wort to 156 to 158 F.  Hold for 1 minute, stir, then pull 3rd decotion - Schluss Decoction (Schluss means conclusion or final)
  • Schluss Decoction - Pull enough grain free wort from your mash to raise the temperature of the mash to 168 F.   You'll have to do the math on brew day.  I use brewers friend calculator for infusion step mashing.   
  • Vourlauff - We vourlauff the entire volume almost like a fly sparge, it gets all the chunkies out. And we use an extra brew bag... so do please stay tuned for our brewday videos and post, you're gonna love it!  
Boil - Described above, but boil hard

Fermentation schedule - 

  • 7 days at 52 F We may also add fermaid K at day 3 of fermentation to ensure the beer finishes clean and crisp.
  • 3 days at 68 F
  • 1 day at 50 F (add Gelatin)
  • 10 days at 34 F
  • Package, and store the beer cold.  It does get even better with time, but it's pretty damned good, how it is.

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