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A. Thoughts: Many of us who enjoy making and drinking beer may never have the opportunity to travel to Munich to enjoy the Oktoberfest. Are you making an Oktoberfest in this month of March? While the Oktoberfest in Germany was really about Märzens, Festbiers appear to have taken the main stage at Munich's yearly festival. I can honestly say this is my grand finale of blog entries. I've collected tons of data about aromas and tastes that are the signature clues to the grain, hops and yeast of these beers. Call me a Bavarian beer detective, but I'm going to take a shot at what is in six of the Oktoberfest beers from 6 breweries that are allowed to make this beer. The Germans may say we can't make it anywhere else, but we can take the clues to duplicate it in our homes. Take some notes as you may learn quite a bit from this blog entry. I've researched this for almost 2 years now. I've used taste reviews from www.beeradvocate.com and www.ratebeer.com to find the clues from beer tasters about a previous year's Oktoberfest beers.
B. Oktoberfest Beers Solved Clues - to the best of my ability, I've tried to determine the beers that were actually served at Oktoberfest in Munich. Descriptors came from different reviewers so some repeats of the same words occurred. Sorry in advance, for any errors I may have made with my research. While some breweries may have their own house yeast, I give you some alternate yeasts to try to get the same effect. These are only starting points to try and Randy Mosher's book below recommends appropriate percentages of ingredients in his books. I list my analysis after the reviewer's clues listed:
1. Augustiner-Bräu Oktoberfestbier - grassy, earthy, bread dough, crisp, spicy, touch of sulfur, citrus bitterness, honey notes. Touch of sulfur denotes Oktoberfest Lager Blend 2633 or Munich Lager 2308. Make sure you lager for at least 5 weeks to decrease the sulfur in these 2 yeasts. Citrus bitterness is Mittelfruh hops. Honey notes could come from Brumalt. Crispness can be from Pilsner malts.
2. Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu Märzen 5.8% - dark and light malt, hallertau herbal hops, their own house yeast has caramel, rich, toasted, biscuit, nuts. Hallertau Mittelfruh hops is already given away. Nuts are a clue of pale ale malts. Caraamber may give it the biscuit taste. This house yeast may be copied by using a Bavarian Lager 2206 Oktoberfest/Marzen WLP 820 yeast to get that rich malty taste. Munich malts can be toasty. Vienna, Munich and 15 to 30 L Caramel can create a caramel taste.
3. Löwenbräu 'meadow' Oktoberfestbier 6.1% - herbal hops, sweet cakey malts, bread crust, honey, toast, bread, straw. Tettnang or Spalt hops used for taste or aroma hops additions only should bring out the herbal. No bitterness here. Light or Dark Munich or even Melanoidin can give it a cookie or cake taste. Munich will also bring out the toasty taste. Bready could be unmalted barley in the mash. Honey can be the addition of Brumalt to the mix.
4. Paulaner Oktoberfestbier 5.8% - dark amber with caramel, raisins, creamy, foamy, nutty, light roast, rich malty, sweet caramel, tart, biscuit, bread, smooth toasted, floral aroma. Follow their website and you can see Paulaner adds darker Munich malts to the mix. Mittelfruh hops here for floral aroma. German Wheat 3333 yeast should bring out the tart-like Sherry taste. Light roast comes from Carafa. Raisins are the use of medium Caramel 50-60 L malts. Munich malts can be toasty. Creamy texture can come from Melanoidin malts, pale or 10 to 20 caramel malts, Carapils or unmalted barley. Lots of foam can come from Pilsner-like water rather than Munich water. I've learned from my previous experiments that smoothness can be enhanced from multi-step rests, with a lower yeast pitching rate. Vienna, Munich and 15 to 30 L Caramel can create a caramel taste.
5. Spatenbräu Oktoberfestbier 5.7% - dark/light malts, brewery origin of Anton Dreher's Vienna malt and lagers, sweet bread, floral hops, creamy, floral aroma. Floral denotes Mittelfruh hops here. Creamy texture can come from Melanoidin malts, pale or 10 to 20 L Caramel malts, Carapils or unmalted barley. This was the origin of the Vienna malts and suspect it may still be in this one.
6. Staatliches Hofbräu-München Oktoberfestbier 6.3% - light caramel malt, sweet, citrus hops, dry toasted, spicy cracker, full-bodied, grassy doughy. Citrus and spicy should be a Mittelfruh hops. Earthy, spicy and full body comes from Bohemian Lager yeast 2206. Pale ale malts will make it dry and toasty. 2-row Pilsner can make it cracker like. Bready or doughy can come from unmalted barely in the mash. Munich malts can be toasty. Vienna, Munich and 15 to 30 L Caramel can create a caramel taste.
C. Hops Findings - consider only noble hops for these German beers, there are discrepancies with some websites on hops. I may have missed naming a few above, but you can finish it with some of this info about hops oils:
1. Humulene Oil is found in Mittelfruh, Tettnang and Spalt hops. Spiciness comes from long boils as a bittering hop. Herbal taste comes from late addtions.
2. Myrcene Oil is present mainly in Mittelfruh hops. It has grapes, wine, orange or citrus aroma if added in the final minutes of the boil
3. Caryophyllene Oil - dry, woody earthy fragrance found in Mittelfruh, Tettnang and Spalt hops.
4. Farsene Oil is best to add to the boil late to get apple or pear tastes or aroma. It is found mainly in Spalt hops.
D. Additional beer clues to keep in mind
Pale ale malts are nutty, dry and toasty. Beer that is over 75% Pilsner malt can give a more malty taste. Vienna or Light caramel malts can give a rich, clean caramel taste. Munich or medium caramel malts can be toasty and caramel in taste. I've listed my conversion charts website link at the bottom of this page too. There are a number of yeasts that you can try from Wyeast or White Labs that may create the tastes you are looking for. (Check the yeast charts links listed below.)
E. Multi-Step Infusion Mash rests can add some complexity and try to test for 10 to 30 minutes in these ranges
1. Beta Gluconase rest for Munich malts 93-113 degrees F
2. Proteinase rest for extra body 122 F
3. Feruloyl Esterase for clovy phenolic aroma 104 - 113 F
4. Beta rest 140 -149 F for dry beers
5. Alpha rest 162 - 167 F for rich dextrins
6. Limit dextrinase rest 133 - 140 F for more fermentable, very attenuated beer.
F. Words About Cloning, Persistence and Thoughtless Comments of Others
After this month, I won't discuss the Weisn on the internet. What is in a word? I noticed that many want to argue a point on the web, but can't be creative in coming up with some solutions. While many people in social media may have a college education and in the top of their class, they provide little contribution to homebrewing other than a snide comment - those are the ones that are likely to boast about their own academic achievements. Online is great for debating things with others to no avail. Homebrewing is great, but a lot of people are not so great! What is important is to persist in finding your own clone, but don't try to tell others about it. If I've noted apple esters or clove phenols and other beer reviewers have noted the same I don't need to convince others of the truth. If you want to clone your favorite beer follow your gut instinct. Don't let others discourage you as many of those will do nothing but hang out in social media circles in the next month. For those that want to test things for themselves, try to test a variety of temperatures in the recommended fermentation ranges, try to start with the proper density of your style of beer and see if lagering 5 weeks up to 2 months will make a difference. You may need to test several times to see what works best. Also, consider yeast pitching rates as making a difference. You'll notice that I tried testing 4 separate levels of yeast in 4 quart sized bottles in a past blog entry. You may actually discover that your beer tastes better than what the big commercial breweries can make.
G. Final Comments
This is the last of 3 blog entries I will produce for the month of March. I have some personal issues with home and family to contend with and I find my mind is elsewhere. When time is available I will continue to brew beer, read other beer blogs and websites, work on my homemade corn ales and test my new cold brewed (non-cooked) beer. I will be going on hiatus from this blog for awhile and may not return until I can focus on writing again. I've enjoyed producing this blog as it helps to organize my thoughts and come to a conclusion. My thanks to all the authors of my beer books, beer blogs, websites and readers. All my sources really helped me to find out the truth about making good beer. We may not always be able to clone a beer, but we do eventually come dead on to making some damn good, fine tasting beer!
G. References and Further Reading
Mastering Homebrew: The Complete Guide to Brewing Delicious Beer by Randy Mosher