Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ayinger - Altbairisch Dunkel

Another sampling from the Ayinger brewery that I got to try recently and really enjoyed was their Altbairisch Dunkel. The words Altbairisch Dunkel can be translated to mean "Old Bavarian dark Beer" and the style is a Munich Dunkel which is one of the original styles of dark lager beer brewed in Munich, Bavaria. This is a malt focused beer with just enough hops to overcome the sweetness of the malt with very little or no hop aroma or flavor detectable. Lager brewing is believed to began in Bavaria and this style evolved from years of brewing in that region. The water in this area has moderate alkalinity and bicarbonate content, which means it's somewhat hard, especially compared with the water to the northeast of this area in Bohemia. Harder water is better suited to brewing dark beers because of how the darker malts effect the water chemistry in the mash, so it is no surprise that this beer evolved in this area. The Ayinger version of this classic style is considered one of the best examples of a Munich Dunkel which is another reason that I wanted to try it. The beer is deep reddish brown color and although dark it is very clear. I've read that in Germany some breweries have an unfiltered version and the combination of malt and suspended yeast tastes like liquid bread! This one has a great malty flavor, but is not too sweet. The beer is not as thick as you might imagine because of the color and is easy to drink, definitely not a Bock, but a nice beer that would go well with a meal and you could drink a few of at a time. The Ayinger brewery is really moving up on my list of favorites and the Munich Dunkel style is now on my "to brew" list for the upcoming year!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oktoberfest/Märzen 2009

The Story

Well, I finally got around to brewing a traditional Oktoberfest beer today in hopes to have it ready for an Oktoberfest party this coming autumn. Traditionally, Oktoberfests are a Vienna/Märzen style lager, which means they are brewed in March and have a very long lagering period (6 months) before being ceremoniously tapped for the Oktoberfest celebtration in late September. These beers were originally stored in caves, which were cool, to keep them from warming and give them a long time to mature. The word lager can loosley be translated to "cold storage" in English and lager beers are fermented cold(45-50F) and stored cold(30-40F) for a period to allow the beer to "mature" or loose some of the off flavors that can develop in the young beer from fermentation. This removal of flavors developed by the yeast is why the malty and hoppy flavors are so noticable in lager beers, and why they are sometimes described as tasting clean. A 2-4 week lagering period is common for most pale lagers, while some Bock beers are lagered for several months to a year traditionally. The higher the alcohol content the longer a lagering period is required to rid the beer of off flavors generated by the yeast due to the greater strain on the yeast in a higher alcohol beer, which causes them to produce esters(flavor compounds). I'm not sure an Oktoberfest style really needs the long lagering period, but it is the tradition and I would like to try it out so we'll see how it goes. It will be hard not to sample this beer through the summer, but I'll have to be good and leave it alone until first cool days of next fall!

The Recipe

I devloped this recipe myself after reading up on the style from various sources. I like to keep things simple if possible and the more I read and hear from other brewers the more I think this is really the way to go. Some recipes seem to call for a little bit if everything with many ingredients in quantities so small that you could barely taste it or be able to discern it from the other ingredients. So I've been keeping my recipes as simple as possible lately and have been happy with the results. I was originally going to use Pilsner malt as the base, but afer reading some comments on the style I decided to go with Vienna as the base which makes sense since this style eveolved from the Vienna/Marzen style of lager. The Vienna Malt was about 85% of the grain bill and it will be nice to really get a taste for that malt in the finished product which should give it a biscuty flavor and an orange color. German Dark Munich Malt was used for the remainder of the barley which will give it some more maltiness and darken it into the proper color range. German Hallertau hops were added to the first wort to add flavor and bitterness. Hopefully just enougth to balance the sweetness of the malt and come through a bit in the beers taste. Czech Saaz hops were added in the final minute to give the beer a little bit of a spicy hop aroma, but hopfully just enough, with malt being the dominant aroma. Bavarian Lager Yeast (WY2206) was used to ferment the batch which was built up with a 2 liter starter. Basically, the barley malt, hops and yeast are all of German origin, or Czech for the Saaz hops to give this beer the most authentic taste possible. The water used was a 50/50 mix of my harder Dry Wolf spring water with soft Reverse Osmosis Culligan water to get the water into the proper "moderate" hardness/alkalinity range required for this style. The hydrometer sample in the picture below shows the original gravity at about 1.054 with the color right where I wanted! The full recipe is found below the picture.


3-B Oktoberfest/Märzen
Author: Bob Hoenisch
Date: 3/15/2009

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic

Size: 5.55 gal
Efficiency: 83.38%
Attenuation: 77.8%
Calories: 178.9 kcal per 12.0 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.054 (1.050 - 1.057)

Terminal Gravity: 1.012 (1.012 - 1.016)

Color: 10.73 (7.0 - 14.0)

Alcohol: 5.51% (4.8% - 5.7%)

Bitterness: 21.8 (20.0 - 28.0)


9.0 lb Vienna Malt
1.5 lb German Dark Munich
47.0 g Hallertau Tradition (3.9%) - added first wort, boiled 60 min
1.0 oz Czech Saaz (2.5%) - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min


Ambient Air: 45.0 °F
Source Water: 55.0 °F
Elevation: 3500.0 ft

00:03:00 Mash in - Liquor: 3.49 gal; Strike: 162.97 °F; Target: 150.1 °F
01:03:00 Saccrification rest - Rest: 60.0 min; Final: 145.6 °F
02:03:00 Sparge - Sparge Volume: 6.25 gal; Sparge Temperature: 180.0 °F; Runoff: 6.65 gal
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.2

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dry Wolf IPA pt2

Well, the Dry Wolf IPA got racked to the secondary fermenter today after about 2 weeks of strong fermentation. The fermentation was so active on day 2 &3 that the krausen(foamy head that forms during fermentation) blew though the airlock and down the sides and I had to add a blow off tube. Here's a picture while siphoning the beer off the old yeast so it can settle out and clear for another week or two before kegging. It's on the cloudy side which is not a problem and to be expected as the the yeast strain used is not very flocculant.
A gravity reading taken showed 1.011, which means the calculated Alcohol by Volume (ABV) is at 7.82%. Once again a little higher than expected efficiency and better than expected attenuation by the yeast(pitched 2 packs of Safale US-05). A little higher than anticipated but not too much out of style. Actually this would put it into the lower end of the double IPA or Imperial IPA style so not really a problem.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ayinger Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest has always been one of my favorite styles. Just the name and the history behind the style is enticing. Autumn is already my favorite time of year as I'm usually tired of summer by its end and looking forward to the cooler days...fall colors and of course hunting season and spending time outdoors. Having a festival to celebrate this alone seems like a great idea to me!

From what I hear, the Oktoberfest celebration in Germany is really something to see and is an experience and that is one of the things that I absolutely must do in my lifetime. The beer, the food(pretzels and wurst!) and the atmosphere must really be something. Originally it was a multi day festival celebrating the marriage of a mad king(yes the one that built the castle that Disney is modeled after). But back to the beer...

Oktoberfest beer is a Vienna/Märzen style lager. This is an amber colored lager originally brewed in Vienna, Austria and adapted later by the brewers in Munich, Bavaria in Germany. The darker malts go well with the more alkaline/less soft water of southern Germany and Austria compared to the Pilsners of Bohemia. Märzen refers to the fact that this beer is traditionally brewed in March for release in the fall. Actually, alot of brewing was historically done in March in Germany because it was as late as they could reliable use the colder temperatures for lager brewing with warmer temperature ales...such as Hefeweizen being brewed in the summer months.

So, I'm planning to brew an Oktoberfest this month and give it the full 6 month fermentation/storage period for tapping at an Oktoberfest party this fall at our house. In researching the style I always like to try as many examples as I can and came across the Ayinger Oktoberfest at out local beer store. The Ayinger brewery is a private brewery in a small town (Aying) in Bavaria. I have liked the other Ayinger beers that I've tried so was looking forward to trying this one. The color was classic orange/copper color typical of Vienna/Marzen Lagers with a nice level of foam on the top. The taste is malty but balanced nicely with hops. The malt flavor is very bready or biscutlike most likely due to the use of Vienna malt. The hops are noticeable but not very upfront. This is a very easy drinking beer, which is a must since it comes by the liter stein at Oktoberfest celebrations. Actually, from what I've read and heard from folks who have been to Oktoberfest in Munich, over the past several years the beer that is served has become lighter in color and is now closer to a blend of Munich Helles and Maibock than the original Oktoberfest style. This is a shame since this is such a great style of beer. Hopefully mine will come out similar and true to style.