24 March, 2013 AD
Getting to the end of March and I had to get my Marzen brewed. I named it in honor of the lamb that March is supposed to go out like, who does not seem to be showing his face this year. Looks more like a fucking lion to me. Or a snow leopard.
I used a traditional Vienna style recipe similar to what I used a few years back that turned out well, with the variation that I used Cara Red instead of Cara Amber out of curiosity to see if I could get a deep red color to celebrate the fall.
- 5 pounds Weyerman Bohemian Pilsner
- 5 pounds Weyerman Pilsner
- 0.5 pound Cara Hell
- 0.5 pound Cara Red
- 4 oz English caramel (60L)
The caramel I got was really a bit darker than I was looking for, so I cut my previous addition from the past version in half. I want the color to come from the red, and the caramel to just add a little mouth feel and body.
- 2 ounce Hallertau (4.1% alpha) 45, 30 minutes
- White labs German Lager yeast
Although there are specific Oktoberfest/Marzen yeasts out there, I have really been stuck in the last few years with the fact that most Marzens I taste seem overly sweet. The lager yeast should finish cleaner and drier than the Marzen version, which is what I am going for.
I made a starter 2 days beforehand, and it was bubbling on brew day, though not vigorously.
- 15 quarts water
- Mash in: Strike temp = 104 F – got away from me a bit
- Glucanase rest: Temp = 100 F hold for 20’
- Protein rest: Raise to 125 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 10’
- Beta amylase rest: Recombine with rest mash. Came up a little cold, so put on fire to raise to 148 F (145- 153F) & hold for 30’
- Decoction 2: Remove 1/3 mash into second kettle, slowly raise to boil for 12’
- Alpha amylase Rest: Recombine with rest mash; short again. Raise temp to 160 (158-162)F; hold for 1.5 hour (had to make a trip to store)
- Mash out: Raise to 170 F (168-171) and hold for 10’
The mash went well, but I kept coming up a little short on temp on the decoctions.
- 4.5 gallons to account for the overkill I had on the Groundhog Bock
The gravity at the start of the boil, just after sparge, was 1.054! Already in the proper range for the style. But I had to get the hops boiled, so I shot for a very short boil.
- Total boil 45 minutes
- 4.1 AAUs added at start of boil (boil time 45 minutes)
- 4.1 AAUs added 15 minutes in (boil time 30 minutes)
No action in the carboy in the morning, but fermentation had started by the time I got home the next day, less than 24 hours.
Beer settled into a steady rhythm. Though the 6 gallon carboy was filled to very near the top, there has never been a blow off. It just settled into a steady, calm, very German rhythm.
Thoughts on the storage:
Tradition for the style is cold storage through the summer til Oktober rolls around. In the book (Fix and Fix), it says that if this is the intent, then the beer should be transferred into the keg before the primary fermentation is over, when the gravity has dropped to 1.018 or so. But this assumes that the beer will be carbonated with CO2 later, so that the carbonation levels can be adjusted. I do not force carbonate, so I am considering the proper strategy. I think transferring it without priming would be too unpredictable, especially given that I will not know the result for six months. I don’t want to open it in Oktober to find it dead flat.
I may let it ferment all the way out, then prime it and add a bit of fresh yeast. Of course, there is the issue of the keg blowing over the summer. But I think if it is in cold storage, this should not be an issue. I intend to store it in the cooler at my father’s restaurant over the summer.
I am considering buying a 5 gallon pin for it and serving it up straight from the cask in true fest style.