Oktoberfest Brew

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Oktoberfest Brew

Postby GuitarLord5000 » Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:33 am

My favorite thing about fall is Oktoberfest beer. Seriously, my brother and I wait all year long for Oktoberfest to hit the shelves, and then we buy copious amounts. Yep, even Kevin at Marcello's was impressed with last year's haul. "Oh! Good for you!" is what he said to us, if I recall.
Last year was my first attempt at brewing a true blue (lager) Oktoberfest. It turned out....eh...not so great. It wasn't a bad beer per se, but it wasn't great. It didn't have that wonderful O-Fest taste that I've come to enjoy. The grist was largely Munich Malt, and ended up being cloyingly sweet. It wasn't a beer that I could drink large amounts of. And I want to be able to drink large amounts of beer, dammit!
This year, I've toned down the Munich Malt quite a bit, and brought in a large portion of Vienna Malt. This is, I believe, the malt that is responsible for the wonderful taste of Marzenbier. I'll be dropping the main saccharification rest temp from 156 to 150 degrees. Also, last year's O-Fest used Cry Havoc lager yeast. This year I decided to use a more authentic strain in WLP838 (thanks Yeastmeister).
This year, I'm hoping for a beer somewhere between Leinie O-Fest and Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen.

And without further ado:

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item
9.00 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)
2.00 lb Best Malz Dark Munich (12 SRM)
2.00 oz Styrian Goldings [2.60 %] (60 min) (18.5 IBU)
1.00 items Oxygen (Primary 1.5 min)
1.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 5.0 min)
1 Pkgs WLP838 Southern German Lager 4L Starter

Triple Decoction Mash
Step Time Name Description
60 min Beta Glucan 104.0 F
50 min Decoction 1 150.0 F
30 min Decoction 2 162.0 F
10 min Decoction 3 172.0 F

Ferment:
14 days @ 45 degrees
56 days @ 32 degrees

Constructive criticism is welcome. I really have my hopes up pretty high on this one.
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Postby aleguy » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:43 am

I believe the reason your beer was too sweet was the high infusion temp. Dropping your mash down to 150 degrees will dry it out considerably. You may need to mash for 120 minutes or more to achieve full conversion at that temperature, however.
Redtail and I brewed a Cascadian Dark Ale on the Fourth and mashed at 148. It took 150 minute mash and we still had a small amount of conversion going on, but we decided that little extra bit wasn't worth the time and mashed out. The point of this little tale is that you need to check your conversion during your mash to ensure you don't end up wasting a lot of grain or getting too much starch into your beer. refractometers are fairly cheap if you look around, Just don't buy the SG one from morebeer. the SG scale is way out of whack. They say their going to fix the problem, but I'm still waiting on that.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:54 pm

aleguy wrote:I believe the reason your beer was too sweet was the high infusion temp. Dropping your mash down to 150 degrees will dry it out considerably.
I couldn't agree more. O-Fests are deceptive in that what I perceived as a sweetness is more likely just a very well defined malt profile. At 156 F, the beer lost it's drinkability. I believe that the lower mash temp should remedy that, while the triple decoction mash will enhance the malt profile.

You may need to mash for 120 minutes or more to achieve full conversion at that temperature, however.
Redtail and I brewed a Cascadian Dark Ale on the Fourth and mashed at 148. It took 150 minute mash and we still had a small amount of conversion going on, but we decided that little extra bit wasn't worth the time and mashed out. The point of this little tale is that you need to check your conversion during your mash to ensure you don't end up wasting a lot of grain or getting too much starch into your beer.
Truthfully, I've never bothered checking starch conversion. And except for the occasional overnight mash my single infusion mashes have never mashed longer than 75 minutes. My beers don't typically have problems with starch haze, and my efficiency is high enough that I wouldn't consider doubling my mash times just for a few extra points of extract. I've always been keen to try starch testing my beers, and one day I'll probably pick up some chalk and iodine to do so. As is, an 80 minute mash is going to have to suffice for this beer unless someone can convince me that longer mash times will significantly improve the flavor of the beer.

refractometers are fairly cheap if you look around, Just don't buy the SG one from morebeer. the SG scale is way out of whack. They say their going to fix the problem, but I'm still waiting on that.
I've been using hydrometers for over a decade now (long before I started brewing beer), and as such I'm not really familiar with refractometers. Are you suggesting that they are in some way useful for checking for starch conversion? I was under the impression that they were really only useful for measure the original gravity of wine and beer?
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Postby aleguy » Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:01 am

The refractometer is useful for measuring sugar content.The idea here is that you can put a drop of wort from your mash tun about every 10 minutes and see when the sugar content stops going up or significantly up. In the 2 1/2 hour mash, we were gaining approximately 16 gravity points every ten minutes right up to the longer the conversion process takes. I know at 152 it takes 90 minutes. at 148 it takes 150 minutes. you're mashing at 150, so I would expect it to take about 130 minutes. so relax, don't worry, have a home brew, and use the mash time to grill up some burgers or something. Clean your carboys and/or kegs, weigh out the grain for your next batch, etc.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:10 pm

Ok, I get what you're saying now.
Have you ever tried to check your refractometer observations against an iodine starch test? I'm curious at what point during that mash you would have achieved a negative iodine reaction. My guess is that it would have been much earlier than the 150 minute mark. Next time you brew your CDA, would you be at all interested in testing that? Before I brew my O-Fest, I'm sure I can find some chalk and a bit of iodine to test my results. I think that your results would be a bit more enlightening though, as you can test the iodine reaction versus the refractometer results.
I have found that if I leave a mash overnight, I get a 4 or 5 percent efficiency increase to extraction, all other things being equal. I'm quite positive that had I tested the mash at 1 or 2 hours, I would have achieved a negative iodine reaction and my beer would have been just fine (no starch haze). However, there is no doubt in my mind that there is some gelatinizing and conversion of starch going on past that point. I guess it's more a matter of time mashing versus extract obtained. At what point is the extract increase no longer worth the investment of mash time to procure it?
Like I said, though. I would be very interested in seeing the results you get from your refractometer versus iodine test.
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Postby jimmiec » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:50 pm

Why your not hitting your calculated OG # based on system efficiency?

Also could try and do a forced fermentation to see if you are getting the attenuation you think you should be getting.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:59 am

No. My mash efficiency pretty much stays in the 78-83% range. I've got my little cooler mash tun system nailed down pretty good. What we're talking about here is just the conversion of starch.
Aleguy's experience with his refractometer suggests that there is still a substantial amount of conversion going on after the typical mash time of 60-75 minutes. My position is that an iodine starch test would probably come back negative at the 60-75 minute range, and a beer at this point could be considered fully converted. However, I believe that there is still an amount of starches being gelatinized and converted after this time period, which would fall in line both with Aleguy's refractometer results and my higher extraction from overnight mashing. But since I've never performed an iodine starch test, my position is only theoretical and based on the observation that my beers using shorter mash times (sometimes as short as 45 minutes) don't typically contain starch haze.
Of course, cold condition any beer long enough, and it'll probably eventually drop clear...
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Postby aleguy » Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:43 pm

The only haze I've ever gotten in beer was chill haze which is caused by proteins, not starch. As I said we were gaining 16 gravity points every 10 minutes. We mashed out when that stopped and dropped to zero. According to beersmith, we achieved 90% efficiency with that batch. I have no interest in testing the refractometer against an Iodine test. My point was just to inform you that the lower your mash temperature, the slower the conversion.
The whole reason we started testing in the first place was because a couple of years ago, someone who used to be well respected in the home brew community started claiming that conversion only took 15 minutes. Naturally we all cried Male Bovine Fecal Matter, and started checking our mash with refractometers. My suggestions are based on our findings. your mileage may vary, but so far, everyone's system appears to generate the same basic time frames.
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Postby jimmiec » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:54 pm

Charlie Papazian never said 15 minutes? He claims 2 hours for alpha to deactivate at 153F and 1 hour for beta to deactivate at 149F. According to Charlie, the converted starch to sugar are unfermentable sugars after the first hour of a 149F mash. However, I still do a 90 minute mash with a 60 minute fly sparge (long and slow).

I would be interested in the grain bill, OG, and FG. However, would need to repeat more than once.

Not sure what John Palmer says since I don't have "How to Homebrew", waiting for a signed copy and ePub.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:43 am

aleguy wrote:I have no interest in testing the refractometer against an Iodine test. My point was just to inform you that the lower your mash temperature, the slower the conversion.


Oh. Well then, thanks for the lesson Obi-Wan Beernobi.

My point was, I think that there might be something more interesting gleaned from the iodine versus refractometer test. Something beyond "this works for me".
I get that lower temperature equals slower conversion. I also get that the results taken from your refractometer are only one side of the starch versus sugar equation. I want to know the other side of that equation. It's cool if you don't share that interest. I'll find another refractometer owning club member who is interested, or purchase one for myself and run the test on my own.

jimmiec wrote:According to Charlie, the converted starch to sugar are unfermentable sugars after the first hour of a 149F mash. However, I still do a 90 minute mash with a 60 minute fly sparge (long and slow).


Wow, I've never heard this before. This is because the beta amylase has been deactivated after the first hour? Wouldn't the alpha amylase still produce at least some fermetables (albeit less fermentable than what beta produces)?
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Postby aleguy » Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:39 am

I'm not going to say WHO it was, but I will say it wasn't Uncle Charlie. I am pretty sure he's wrong about the time scale for the various amylase enzymes. At least as far as the high-gravity thick mashes that many of us prefer. I just don't want to buy iodine for the test, since I would only use it a few times. I'm not really sure where the chalk comes in. Everything I read just said to put the wort on a white plate and add the iodine.
While I'm sure the iodine test is reasonably accurate, I believe the refractometer is far more precise. Remember, brewers used to use their thumbs to check temperature before they invented thermometers too. :wink:
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Postby Imakewort » Sat Jul 09, 2011 6:41 pm

i use my refractometer all the time i do not think it is a accurate as my hydrometer but close enough, i have my system already dialed in and only use it to check the pre boil gravity and post boil gravity to make sure i had hit my marks. I used to use the iodine check but now just do a 60 or 90 min mash depending on the type and amounts of grains as some are more fermentable than others . And if i am high or low i just make adjustments on the next batch.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Sun Jul 10, 2011 6:10 pm

When you were doing your iodine checks, what was a typical time range for you to get a negative reaction in an all barley malt mash?

aleguy wrote:I'm not really sure where the chalk comes in.


Having never done an iodine test before, I figured I'd follow this wiki:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Iodine_test
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Postby jimmiec » Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:04 pm

Maybe we should have created a brewing philosophy thread and not hijacked guitarlord5000s octoberfest beer page. I started to read brewing better beers by Gordon strong and liking it. So far i have found a couple things to try differently with just mashing. I wish I was brewing this weekend.

Btw, I think the Vienna malt sounds like a good idea too.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:46 pm

This one's been lagering for about 8 weeks now, and today I hooked up the CO2 and pulled a sample. It still needs to get fully carbonated, but I am extremely happy with the end result! I'd put this one up against any commercially available O-Fest on the market. The bitterness is subdued and just enough to balance against the malt sweetness. The malt flavor is extremely well defined. Even the wife loved it! When she tasted it, she said "That's an AWESOME Oktoberfest!"
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