Saturday 3 March 2012

Tasting/Recipe : Groundskeeper Marzen

To the beer-uneducated, lagers get a bad rap. The first thing that comes to mind is a pale yellow, fizzy, bland-tasting light beer... ok when you're looking for a lawnmower-beer, but otherwise nothing to usually get excited about. But once you do a little reading, you realize just how many different styles of lagers are available, bready and bitter Dortmunder Exports to malty, rich Bocks.

Out of all the lagers, Oktoberfests (aka Marzens) are my favorite. The best ones are brewed to have a rich, malty aroma and flavor, but finish dry with a moderate hop bitterness. While a lot of authentic German Oktoberfests are a dark golden color, a lot of the ones brewed in North America that you see taken on more of an orange-red/copper hue. Usually not overly high in alcohol (averages in the 5% region), Oktoberfests are easy-drinking beers that I could have several of, and not tire of them at all.

I still have a few bottles left of my first (and only) Oktoberfest that I brewed last May. The recipe is basically directly out of Brewing Classic Styles, and I was very happy with how it turned out. I feel that I hit all the important points of the style, and even after over 6 months bottled, it's still tasting really good. Definitely a beer that I will brew again, and I don't think there's anything in the recipe that I would change a bit.

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-sized, off-white, creamy-looking head that has great lasting power, finally fading to a full-finger. Body is dark amber/reddish-copper, and extremely clear.

Aroma: Strong malt aroma; slight toffee, very bready... the Munich and Vienna malt come through really well. No real hop aroma noticed. No flaws.

Taste: Starts off slightly sweet, but it's definitely not cloying. More bready than anything else. Nicely balanced by a medium bitterness in the finish. Fairly dry. No hop flavor detected. Very clean.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, moderate carbonation. Smooth.

Overall: Very easy-drinking Marzen. Probably one of my favorite beers that I've brewed so far.

Recipe: (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency): OG 1.051, FG 1.013, IBU 24, SRM 9.8

1.75 kg Bohemian Pilsner
1.41 kg Munich malt
1.09 kg Vienna malt
454 g Caramunich II (45 L)

Hallertau - 42 g (3.9% AA) @ 60 min
Hallertau - 14 g @ 20 min

1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min
1/2 tab Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager (PD Apr 19/11) (with a 1.75 L and 2 L starter)

- Brewed May 17th, 2011, by myself. 60 minute mash with 16.56 L of strike water, mashed in at 153 F. Sparged with ~5.25 gallons of 175 F water for final volume of 7.25 gallons in the kettle. 90 minute boil.

- Chilled down to 50 F with immersion chiller. Poured into Better Bottle. Pitched decanted yeast starter, aerating by shaking for several minutes before and after. Set BB in fermentation chamber with temp set at 50 F. After 10 days or so of fermentation, raised temp in chamber to high 50s for diacetyl rest for a couple of days.

- Racked to secondary and began slowly decreasing fermentation chamber temperature to final lagering temp of 38 F. Lagered for several months before bottling with 111 g table sugar, aiming for 2.5 vol C02 for 5 gallons.

- 15/4/12 - Won a gold medal in the European Amber Lager category in the ALES Open. Next stop, the final round of the NHC in June!

- 7/8/12 - NHC Final Round results...

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