How to Brew Oktoberfest Beer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for beer. Oktoberfest. This lager is known for being malty yer crisp. A little bit on the strong side and we will show you how to make it.

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival held every year in Munich, Germany. It takes place over the last few weeks in September. The energy is extremely positive. Everyone is there just having a good time with great beer and great food. For the most part, there are two types of beer served. Marzen an amber and more malty lager. And Fest Bier has a lighter body and paler lager. Marzen is German for March and it’s named that because typically this beer is brewed in March and it’s stored in a cold cellar or lagered for 6 months until the festival. were going to brew a somewhat hybrid and use a few techniques to help speed up that process by about 5 and a half months.

To learn more about the history of the Oktoberfest beer check our History of the Marzen – Oktoberfest beer.

A mug of Oktoberfest beer with three soft pretzels.
Credit: https://www.tastingtable.com/drinks/national/oktoberfest-beer-munich-marzen

The Grain Bill

For this recipe, we’re making a 5-gallon batch using the brew in a bag method. Start by heating up 6.7 gallons of water to 161 F. Once the water is heated up we add the brew bag and then the grains. For the grain bill were using:

  • 71% Munich Malt
  • 21% Pilsner Malt
  • 8% Vienna Malt

We plan to mash it at 152 F for 45 minutes. After that, we pull out the grains and bring the wort to a boil for 30 minutes. At the 25 minute mark, we add 0.5 oz of Magnum hops. Then at the 15-minute mark, we add 1 oz of Tattnanger which is a hop native to southwest Germany and commonly found in beers from the area. It has floral and herbal notes with a touch of spice.

Two beer mugs of Oktoberfest beer on a wooden stool next to a barrel.
Credit: https://www.oktoberfest.de/en/magazine/eat-and-drink/the-six-munich-breweries-at-oktoberfest

Fermenting a lager

At 15 minute mark, we add a wort chiller and a whirlflock tablet. Lagers are known for being very clear so it will help with clarity. At the end of the boil, we turn on the wort chiller and coll it down to 65 F at which point we can start the transfer to our fermenter.

For yeast, we add 2 packets of SafLager 34/70. For a long time, it was standard practice that if you cant ferment your lagers at temperatures below 40 F you could not make a lager. the higher fermentation temperatures would create undesirable off-flavors and with lagers already being so light in flavor, there’s not much room to hide mistakes. There have been more studies and experiments that show you that you can actually ferment lagers closer to ale temperatures around 67 F without any noticeable difference of off-flavors.

The added benefit of fermenting lagers slightly warmer is that the beer ferments faster. Instead of having to brew this back in March, we are able to have this fermented completely in one week. After five days the airlock activity started to slow down. So we raised the temperature for a diacetyl rest.

We transferred the finished beer into a keg and applied desired pressure. The malt of this beer shines through. we got a strong, bready, biscuity flavor and a nice balance of body and crispness. The color of this beer is a beautiful gold with a slight amber hue. We have really enjoyed each step of making it. Cheers.

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