Brewday 13: Oktoberfest Ale

Brewed on 23/08/2013

“The lost Brewday”

Keen-eyed readers will have noticed that I missed out Brewday 13 in my write-ups. This wasn’t intentionally avoiding the bad luck omens however in hindsight that may well have been a good idea as this was the first of my Brews to suffer from an infection!

The idea behind this brew was to take part in the Brewdoo Homebrew Club’s ‘Oktoberfest 2013’ festival we were holding in November. Traditionally this German style is brewed in April and left to condition for 6 months until it is cracked open ready for the festival, but in my wisdom I’d chosen to attempt this in just 2 months!

The recipe I used was:

Oktoberfest Ale:

  • 2.8kg Vienna Malt
  • 1.7kg Munich Malt
  • 1.4kg Golden Promise Malt
  • 50g Hallertauer Hersbruker @ 60mins
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
  • 1 Wyeast 2633 Oktoberfest Lager Blend yeast

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately under the circumstances) I have no photos of this brewday anymore but it all went to plan until it came to fermentation. OG was almost on target at 1.054 meaning efficiency of 76% and a target ABV of 5.11%.

Then it all took a turn for the worse! The yeast seemed to be a very slow starter and 5 days into fermentation I noticed a four or five 2mm spots of what looked like white furry mould in amongst the yeast cake. I scooped these out with a sanitised ladle and crossed my fingers hoping that if it was an infection I caught it in time and the beer wasn’t ruined!

After two weeks, fermentation was complete, there were no other ‘spots’ in the beer or other symptoms so it was promptly bottled and set aside to condition for 5 weeks.

The day before ‘Oktoberfest’ I opened one of the bottles for testing purposes… The beer was still very hazy and had a definite sour taste, not pleasant at all! Needless to say, this wasn’t going anywhere for a while! I figured that as I was trying to make a 6 month beer in 2 months that it couldn’t hurt to leave it another 4 months to fully condition so back into the box it went and to the bottom of the pile.

Fast forward to February 2014 and the next test bottle was opened. This time the beer was clear and formed an excellent tight head but the sour taste was still there. Not overpowering but not very pleasant either! Unfortunately the damage done in the fermenter wasn’t prevented in time and this batch was destined to for the drain. I’d have to be extra vigilant with my cleaning and sanitation in the future.