Oktoberfest seems to be one of the beer styles that every homebrewer wants to make when they start out. It drives a lot of people to start making lagers for the first time and, like in the case of this beer, it drives a lot of people to improvise ale versions of classic lager beers.
My recipe is not very authentic to the style, but it is a hard style to replicate with extract brewing. I normally always tried to start with light extract and get my color and flavor from steeping grains. In the case of Oktoberfest, though this doesn’t really work. These beers usually get most of their malt character by using Munich or Vienna as base malts. There are Amber or Munich extracts, but I don’t think they really do the malt justice.
I did use some Amber DME and steeped some Munich Malt, but I also supplemented them with some Chocolate Malt and light Crystal. This beer was a bit dark, but when the light shined through in the biergarten, it looked about right.
I fermented with Nottingham, my go to ale yeast at the time. This was a double edged sword in this case. It ferments clean, about as close to a lager as most ale yeast will get, but it also ferments dry. Oktoberfests need a lot more body than this yeast leaves.
For hops, I used all whole flower German Tettnang hops that I won in a contest from Victory Brewing. I will write about that contest tomorrow. This was my first time using whole flower hops. I threw them right into the kettle and was happy with the result.
I liked this beer a lot. I don’t think it was very true to the Oktoberfest style, but it was an enjoyably malty, slightly roasty amber ale with a nice German edge. My recipe is below.
Style: 3B. Octoberfest/Marzen (only an ale)
Brew Date: August 2012
Serve Date: September 2012
.5 lb Munich Malt
.25 lb Chocolate Malt
.25 lb Crystal 10L Malt
1 lb Amber DME
7 lb Light LME
1 oz Tettnang @ 60 min
.75 oz Tettnang @ 40 min
.25 oz Tettnang @ 0 min
Danstar Nottingham Yea