Impress your friends…with brewing a Fall lager!

English: Ayinger Oktoberfest

English: Ayinger Oktoberfest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fall is coming soon. That means good fall beers. When I think of “Fall” I think of the Oktoberfest beer. Nice easy drinking,malty, lagers. They are not very difficult to make either, you just have to watch you primary fermentation temps. My batch is already in the fermentation chamber and chugging along at 50 degrees F. I perfectedI love using that word in this case… an excellent Oktoberfest recipe. It has taken me two years…(actually I’ve only brewed it 3 times) ,to get it right but now its perfect. The key to making it great is simple…the right malt, the right yeast and a cool fermentation temp.

My recipe is fairly traditional in the fact that all of my ingredients, with the exception of the water…I’m not going to import German water…are German.The hops are German Hallertauer from the region in Bavaria and all the malts are German also. Even the yeast is Bavarian and apparently from one of my favorite breweries, Ayinger which is in Bavaria. Ayinger makes the best Marzen/Oktoberfest beer I have ever had! If you can find it, give it a shot,you wont be disappointed!

I like my Oktoberfest, (technically called Marzenbier) traditional. Call me old-fashioned but that’s how I think it should be. Its been said that in 1872 this style was brewed like a strong Vienna style lager which is amber normally due to the Vienna malt. Keeping that in mind, to keep it traditional, I incorporated a good portion of German Vienna malt into the recipe. Its divided up equally in my recipe:

33% Dark Munich Malt (German)

33% Vienna Malt (German)

33% German Pilsner Malt (you guessed it)

9oz of Caramunich (German) – This is just a carmel malt mostly for color.

White Labs 833 German Bock Lager yeast

I skipped the decoction mash, which is used in this style traditionally, and used a single infusion mash. Mashing a little high will add to the body of the final beer.  The biggest single thing that I have found influences this recipe the most is the yeast strain. The 833 is an excellent strain for this style. It accentuates the malt character in the best way possible. I can’t possible say enough positive things about this strain when it comes to the southern German style lagers. If the Ayinger Brewery uses this strain, then its good enough for me! An extended boil was used, a 90min boil to be exact. This way the wort is in contact with the hot kettle for longer and will contribute to the “kettle carmelization” that are usually evident in an Oktoberfest. I won three ribbons last year with this recipe, (which is all relative considering I didn’t brew it to win competitions). I just wanted to make the best Fest beer possible. I was inspired to brew this great beer because of the brew gods that run the Ayinger Brewery and thier wonderfully crafted beers. If you ever come across thier stuff, I urge you to try one! However, fall is around the corner and the best seasonal beers of the year are too. Lagers take a while to peak with flavor, so now is the time to start getting my fall lagers ready. I may add  a little smoked malt to this recipe next time and enjoy a nice Rauchbier. A smoked, malty Oktoberfest…sounds good!

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