Hödekin’s Märzen

Pre-brewing considerations-

Stiegl in the castle in Salzburg

Stiegl in the castle in Salzburg. Those “sticks” are my favorite beer glasses.

As a general rule, I shy away from brewing lagers because I don’t have the fridge space. Regardless, the few lagers I’ve attempted have turned out well enough, so it’s time to try what will likely be my one lager for the year, an Oktoberfest.

Adding to my desire to brew this style, I was in Salzburg, Austria last summer, and I really enjoyed their everyday drinker, which is a Märzen style beer. Those beers were pale though, not nearly as amber colored as what I have come to expect from an Oktoberfest.  This will be an attempt at somewhere between that pale everyday Märzen that I had in Salzburg and a full-blown American, i.e. overdone, Oktoberfest.

I found this page helpful from the BeerSmith.

The grain bill could be 100% Vienna, but most recipes, including my previous attempts at this beer, have at least 50% pilsner malt. I’ll likely add some crystal or other high-kilned malt for a little body, color and/or texture. I’ll go with Hallertau hops or any of the other Noble hops.

February 18, 2012

Märzen grains

All pics of brewing day are thanks to Chuklz. View his gallery of this brewing session at Brew Day Feb.25, 2011.

Grain Bill

  • 5 pounds pilsner malt (1.8 L)
  • 3.5 pounds Vienna malt  (3-4 L)
  • 1 pound Munich malt (8-11 L)
  • 8 ounces crystal malt (60 L)

Hop Bill

  • 2 ounces Hallertau (4.1% alpha) 60 minutes

Yeast

A trip to the brew store yielded the above. I used Beer Calculus to tweak the measurements so that the result should be in range for the BJCP guidlines for an Oktoberfest and the following stats:

  • Original Gravity- 1.055 (1.049 to 1.058)
  • Final Gravity- 1.014 (1.012 to 1.015)
  • Color- 8° SRM (Gold to Copper)
  • Bitterness- 27.0 IBU
  • Alcohol- 5.5% ABV
  • 181 calories per 12 oz.

Yeast starter-

Broke the yeast smack pack one week prior to brewing. Pitched yeast in 3-4 pints of malt extract with gravity aprox. 1.050. Solid bubble by Sunday morning. Moved starter to cellar at temp of 54 F.

Thursday (5 days after pitching yeast starter) the yeast settled to a very slow bubble. Temps have been consistently in the 50’s. I made another 3 pints of malt extract, racked off the starter beer and poured in the fresh wort. Friday morning had another strong bubble.

Sam wags his tail as we crack the grains

Sam wags his tail as we crack the grains.

Mash Schedule-

For mash schedule, we’ll shoot towards the lower temp readings during each rest. Estimated mash time: 5 hours.

    • 13 quarts water (1.3 quarts per pound)
    • Mash in: Strike temp = 102 F
    • Glucanase rest: Temp = 95 F hold for 20’ (will also lower pH of mash)
    • Protein rest: Raise to 127 F (122-127); hold 30‘
    • Decoction 1: Remove 40% of thickest part of mash into second kettle
      • Raise second kettle to 158 F (158-162); hold saccharification for 20’
      • Keep rest mash 122 F (122-127)
      • Bring second kettle to boil; boil 15-30’
    • Beta amylase rest: Recombine with rest mash; raise temp to 148 F (145- 153F) & hold for 15-30’
    • Decoction 2: Remove 1/4 mash into second kettle, slowly raise to boil for 15’
    • Alpha amylase Rest: Recombine with rest mash; raise temp to 158-162F; hold for 1 hour
    • Mash out: Raise to 170 F (168-171) and hold for 10’

Brewing Day- February 25, 2012; Ash Moon 4. Charlie, Kyle, and Jimmy

Charlie mashes in

Charlie mashes in

8:45- Mash in

  • Strike temp= 112 F
  • Mash temp= 106 F, rest 15′
  • Raise temp to 127 F, 9:11 AM, hold for 30′
  • 9:41 AM Decoction 1: pull 40 % into second kettle, raise temp to 158 F hold 20′
  • 10:11 bring kettle 2 at 10:20 to boil hold 20′
  • Recombine with rest mash and add heat to bring temp to 148 F (11:00 AM). Hold 30′
  • 11:30- decoction 2
  • 11:55- recombine, raise to 158 F hold 1 hour
  • raise to 170 F, mash out 10′
Kyle keeps kettle 2 from scorching

Kyle keeps the decocted kettle from scorching.

Sparge

  • 4 1/2 gallons water treated with acid
  • Had a stuck mash for the first time in forever, but it was my fault. I let the wort level get too low before starting the sparge water. Hödekin quickly fixed it; we were only down about 5 minutes.

Boil

  • 3 PM start of boil 6+ gallons of wort
  • 4:10 cold break
  • starting gravity= 1.062

Pitched yeast before 5 PM. Had a strong rolling bubble before bed. Sample is a beautiful dark gold with good aroma and flavor. Has the potential at this point to be a really good beer.

Ferment

One week later, primary has gone well. Temps in the makeshift cooler in the basement have been steady in the 50’s. The bubble in the airlock, which was furious for days, has slowed to a quiet occasional bubble.

Secondary

Racked beer March 4. Gravity at 1.019. Color good. Sample tasted great, good enough to want more.

A few days later it is slowly bubbling (once every few minutes). Everything looks good.

March 10- A week after racking, the beer continues to slowly ferment. Temps continue in the 50’s.

March 31- I’ve been disappointed with the warm temps in the cellar, 60F+, for the last couple of weeks. I racked today. Gravity 1.013! Surprisingly low for such a high starting point. I’m liking what the week head start the yeast accomplished. The sample is dry, good, a bit of an off flavor in the middle but an excellent finish. The beer is clear and a great golden color. I’ve racked it into another carboy and will rack it into a keg next to take to the farm to chill for the summer.

September- I tapped the keg only to find the beer flat. WTF? That shouldn’t be and with this beer my only explanation is that someone must have messed with the keg and released the pressure at some point during the summer. The flavor is fantastic, if I can only pressurize the beer. I’ve hooked up the CO2 tank and am leaving it on until the keg is empty.

Perfect color and flavor. More head please.

October- The beer improves as the bubbles find their way into solution. However, it seems like it is taking way too long to pressurize. I don’t get it. It is now mid October. The beer is has carbonation, but it still could be more. The good news is that it is arguabley the best Oktoberfest I’ve tasted even without all the bubbles. I’ve now had Schlafly’s, Urban Chestnut’s, 6 Row’s and others and mine is better, frankly, and I think others would concur if I could only keep a decent head on this beer.

Winter 2012/13- This beer just got better and better all winter. It was great to have the keg available to me all winter long at the farm. It was past its prime by January but was still better than most. Time to do another one.

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3 thoughts on “Hödekin’s Märzen

  1. What an exhausting day. By time we got to Scottish Arms I was a zombie. I was on the lookout for the Zombie Squad. Luckily they did not find me and we enjoyed the always amazingly good fish and chips and a few choice brews. What a great place to celebrate a successful brew day.

    • Chuk-
      When Irish Mike brewed his Two bears Märzen, he and I talked about what a long day of brewing a double decoction is and how it wore us out. Mike had a similar experience. Brewing in general is a project, but that doube decoction is a work out. Glad you were there.

  2. Any left? I love this style of beer and would like to put it up against Urban Chestnuts Octoberfest which is currently my favorite St. Louis beer.

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