Brew Day: Aletoberfest

My long hiatus is finally over. A move into a new city and busy work schedule has kept me away from the brew pot, but I finally was able to find a weekend to get back at it. Just in time for my last homebrew batch to run dry, and just in time for Octoberfest.

Well not really Octoberfest, since those are traditionally brewed in March, but for an ale version at least. An aletoberfest if you will. Rather than waiting months to lager a beer and worry about reaching extremely low cellar temperatures without temperature controlled environment, I can have a delicious beer in just a couple weeks.

Here’s a snapshot of the recipe.

I also had some help this time. A couple of friends, who helped me make the original Three Wise Men stout back when I was doing extract brewing, were in town to lend a hand.

Unlike my typical brew days, we lit the burner in the afternoon. Mash in was a little high, but we stirred the grains until the temperature dropped a bit and set the timer for an hour. The temperature dropped a decent amount over the course of the mash since I did not preheat the mash tun this time, but instead electing to heat the strike water a bit warmer.

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The boil got off to a strong start today, but I was worried I would run out of propane, as it had been awhile since I last topped it off. Luckily there was enough in the tank to last the full hour boil.

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This was the first time I used “Noble hops” in a beer, aka traditional hops used in classic European brews. Although I couldn’t find the exact alpha strength of Tettnang at my local homebrew shop, it actually worked out in my favor since I would’ve been just outside the bitterness range of this style if I stuck with the original recipe.

We also tried something a little different with the cooling this time. I busted out the old immersion chiller for the first time in nearly a year for a modified no-chill strategy. I decided to put the end of the tubing into my mash tun and run the water until it filled up. I would use that heated water to clean all my equipment rather than have to waste energy and time running off more from the sink.

The wort didn’t cool down too much, but I didn’t take a temperature reading to confirm how much it dropped. Next time I’ll have to see. We racked off the wort into the cube for it to cool overnight as usual, then pitched the yeast the following day.

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A day later we had a healthy fermentation going. The krausen was massive compared to other batches because I didn’t add fermcap, which usually keeps things calmer so it doesn’t blow out the airlock. It’s more personal preference though since there is plenty of headspace in the fermenter.

My original gravity came in five points low, so I lost some efficiency somewhere along the line, possibly in the mash. I think I may need to switch to a finer crushed grain to get more sugar out of the mash.

It all worked out in the end though. The yeast did a lot of work to get the beer to 6% alcohol, just 0.1% lower than the expected ABV. Currently, the beer is bottle conditioning, building up carbonation and should be ready to drink in a little over a week.

Cheers,

TJ

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