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Check out these 10 bottle shops around the country that go above and beyond for beer geeks.
Consistently ranked among the world’s best bottle shops, the tiny Bruisin’ Ales (66 Broadway St., Suite 1) impresses with a monstrous selection — always kept up-to-date on the shop’s Web site — that leans Belgian but also spotlights regional gems from Catawba Valley and Highland. Customers can create mixed sixers, sample from a handful of taps and browse the well-edited stock of beer gear.
Hop City (1000 Marietta St. #302) makes up for the region’s relatively dry beer landscape with more than 1,700 worldly beers, homebrewing supplies, available craft kegs and a small staff that seriously knows its stuff.
A virtual treasure trove for Michigan-made brews from Short’s, Kuhnhenn, Bell’s and beyond, Beer Baron (19610 Middlebelt) in the suburb of Livonia has a nice selection of single bottles for mixing, and a friendly staff that happily accepts special requests. Bonus: a solid whiskey selection, including drams from New Holland Brewing’s distillery.
New York City
Though we’re partial to the service and selection at Bierkraft (191 5th Ave. #1) in Brooklyn, there’s finally a solid bottle shop for geeks who don’t feel like crossing the bridge: Good Beer (422 E. 9th St.) stocks nearly 1,000 craft beers, growlers to go and pints (including local pours like Fire Island Lighthouse Ale) to sip with the hot dogs on offer.
Though still one of the younger spots on Philly’s bottle-shop scene, the bright, clean Craft Beer Outlet (9910 Frankford Ave.) sells a selection of singles and sixers beyond its years. Local brewers from outfits such as Yards and newcomer Neshaminy Creek pop in regularly with special tastings in tow, and six taps in the back fill growlers to go and pints for the geeks parked in the leather club chairs.
You’re as likely to find your favorite Oregon hop bomb at Belmont Station (4500 SE Stark St.) as you are the kettlemaster who brewed it. The shop curates more than 1,200 beers and hosts regular tasting events to show off its incredible tap list packed with the likes of Barley Brown’s Turmoil CDA and Ninkasi Collaboration 2011.
San Diego, Calif.
Inside downtown’s no-frills Super Jr. Market lies the Best Damn Beer Shop (1036 7th Ave.), which ought to brag about its mind-numbing array of Cali brews, though it lets the bottles from Telegraph, Kern River and local newcomer Manzanita Brewing speak for themselves. The not entirely huge but very wise selection also includes pleasant Euro surprises like Spain’s Ca L’Arenys Guineu Riner; combine that with occasional special tastings, and grocery shopping just got interesting.
Locals head to City Beer Store (1168 Folsom St.) to sip off the handful of intriguing taps, mix a sixer from among 300 beers and talk shop with delightful owners Beth and Craig Wathen. Ten minutes east, Dave Hauslein serves the city with a larger selection of craft staples and Belgians at Healthy Spirits (2299 15th St.).
The Emerald City isn’t short on stellar bottle shops, but there’s no topping the sheer selection and undeniable expertise at Bottleworks (1710 N. 45th St.). Run by the guys behind venerable beer bar Brouwer’s Café, the shop stocks almost a thousand domestic crafts, imports, limited-release house beers and properly aged gems. Ten taps pour liquid gold from visiting brewers and locals like Fremont Brewing for guests to sip there or take home in growlers.
Twin Cities, Minn.
In Minneapolis, head to The Four Firkins (8009 Minnetonka Blvd.) and corner Aussie owner Jason Alvey for his latest favorite; he’s more like an in-the-know beer buddy than a snobby shopkeeper. In St. Paul, let the experts at The Ale Jail (1787 St. Clair Ave.) (inside vino spot The Wine Thief) guide you through hundreds of single bottles, pairings and Tuesday tastings.
Tip: Most bottle shops will special-order beers they don’t already carry on request. But Bruisin’ Ales owner Jason Atallah says state laws (such as ABV caps) and brewery distribution may prohibit what a bottle shop can acquire; he suggests checking the brewer’s Web site first to see if your beer seller is within the brewery’s coverage area. “We welcome any and all special requests, and there’s no wrong way to ask,” he says. “But we’re certainly limited as to what brands and specific products we can get.”
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10 Best Home Brewing Books For Aspiring Beer Brewers
Looking for the best home brewing books? You’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll cover the best beer brewing books for brewing at home.
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to making your own beer, from fermentation to equipment that’s needed to different beer recipes like the ginger beer recipe.
Continue below for the top books on brewing at home.
Best Homebrewing Books:
The Best Beer Shops - Recipes
An affordable and compact canning machine for homebrewers and small production breweries The Cannular is a manual can seamer that is easy to use, reliable, and beautifully simple Runs off of 24v DC power
Homebrew Canning Machine SL1 - Oktober Can Seamers
Oktober Can Seamers SL1 Homebrewer Can Seamer Seams aluminum beverage cans with size 202 ends (tops) with the B64 style profile SL1 Homebrew canner comes standard with adapters for 16oz and 12oz cans Can optionally be set up for CDL and SuperEnd (360 end) profile ends (excluding size 200 ends) Optional can sizes like 500ml, 8oz "stubby", etc. Option for 230V 50Hz power requirements (export model)
All American Personal Beer Can Seamer Homebrew Canner for 12 & 16 oz Cans with FLYWHEEL
Affordable canning machine for homebrewers! Use manual flywheel to seal cans individually Seal 12 oz or 16 oz beer cans right at home Fill them with homebrew or your favorite beverage, then set it onto the stage and give it a few cranks to perfectly seal You can also remove the hand Crank and hook up to a drill or motor for a more automated setup
Robobrew V3 All Grain Brewing System with Pump - 35L/9.25G
Stainless steel construction 9 gallon total capacity with a finished beer output of 5-6 gallons Digital temperature controller 110v power and plug Dual heating elements for total control (1000 watts and 500 watts) Stainless steel 1/2 inch ball valve for draining (dont have to use the pump) Immersion wort chiller included Stainless steel malt pipe/basket Stamped in volume markers Glass lid Magnetic drive pump for recirculation Recirculation arm Temperature reads in F or C (press and hold temp button for several seconds to adjust) 32.75 in H (with recirculation arm) x 12.5 in D Recommended max. grain bill - 18 lbs Recommended min. grain bill - 8 lbs
There you have it. The best home brewing books for beer lovers.
Check out the best home brewing magazines here.
Do you know any good home brewing books that are not on this list? let us know below and we’ll add it to the list.
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I'm Murphy, been obsessed with beer and brewing since I was old enough to pronounce "more beer" correctly. Hope you guys enjoy the content and hope it helps you.
10 Great Beers You Will Never Taste
While newly-minted bourbon "connoisseurs" line up at liquor stores, enter lotteries, or troll the black market hoping to get their hands on that sweet, sweet Pappy Van Winkle, beer geeks only wish they had it so easy. According to most reports, somewhere around 20,000-25,000 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle are released to stores and bars across the U.S. every single year. (And I'm not even counting those desperate folks who insist on labeling both the Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year and the 12 Year Old Special Reserve as "Pappy." Sorry, they're not.) Go to the absolute best whiskey bar in whatever town you live in, and it's almost a certainty you can buy a finger or two of one of the Pappys for less than a day's pay. But for some of the best and most coveted beers in the world, there are miniscule bottle counts in the low hundreds that aren't even distributed to every state in the union. Some aren't even released every single year. Forget those uninformed writers that'll tell you about the uber-rarity of Heady Topper, KBS, or even most Cantillons&mdashyou'll get to try those one day, I guarantee it&mdashbut these on the other hand.
1. Toppling Goliath Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout
The absolute hottest beer of the moment may very well be a barrel-aged coffee stout from little Decorah, Iowa. Kentucky Brand Brunch Stout has so far been released about once a year, about 300 to 400 bottles each time, always straight from the brewery. Beer geeks have gone bonkers for this brew and by the end of the year it looks poised to become the No.1 rated beer in the entire world on BeerAdvocate.com. In fact, so coveted is it, that it inspired a counterfeiting scandal last year!
2. Side Project Fuzzy
Beer fans go nuts for sour ales and St. Louis's Side Project is currently making some of the most adventurous in the business. Their award-winning Fuzzy is aged in Chardonnay barrels with Missouri-grown white peaches eventually added. More importantly, it's only been released once, in tiny 375 mL bottles, and, of course, it sold out immediately. Shockingly, beer geeks even behaved themselves waiting for it&mdashthough many clearly didn't drink the one bottle they were allowed to purchase as it currently sells well on the secondary market.
3. Hill Farmstead Ann
Vermont's Hill Farmstead is probably the most acclaimed beermaker in the world at the moment and, indeed, if you live outside of The Green Mountain State it can be a little tricky to try many of their offerings. But travel to this beautiful state and a lot of Hill Farmstead beers flow fairly freely at the major beers bars in Burlington, Waterbury, and Montpelier. Not Ann, though, which so far has only been released twice in bottles. The recent 2015 release of this barrel-aged honey saison saw a Byzantine lottery system that made most Pappy releases look quaint in comparison.
4. Cantillon Blåbær Lambik
Though you might not believe it, as I said above, you will get to drink something from the ballyhooed Brasserie Cantillon one day. Yes, they are hard to get and you may never taste one in America, but fly to any major city in western Europe and you'll be able to find a good deal of Cantillon's flagship offerings in various bottle shops. Fly to Belgium at the right time, and you'll be able to find most all of their yearly offerings. One noted "Loon" will be a struggle, though, and that's their almost yearly (since 2005) release of their celebrated blueberry lambic. Made in partnership with the Ølbutikken bottle shop in Copenhagen, that's the only place where it's ever sold (though I did happen to luck into one at Brooklyn's Tørst in 2013). The 2014 vintage only saw 100 bottles sold for "takeaway." By my count, there's now 7.3 billion people on earth and, oh, about half of them currently self-identify as "beer snobs." Shit.
5. 3 Floyds Bourbon Vanilla Dark Lord
Just like your average Cantillon&mdashwhatever "average" means&mdashDark Lord is not that hard to land. Released every year at "Dark Lord Day" to the tune of 25,000 bottles or so, if you know a guy with a beard, a belly, and an arcane brewery shirt, he probably knows a guy who can find you a bottle or two. (The dirty secret is, the snootiest of beer geeks flat out mock the beer nowadays.) What they refuse to mock, however, and hypocritically go bananas for, are any of the Dark Lord variants, released in significantly smaller numbers via a scratch-off "Golden Ticket" lottery system. Bourbon Vanilla Dark Lord&mdashor BVDL as the code-talking geeks call it&mdashcomes out most years at the festival, usually at a bottle count of around 500 to 700.
6. Sante Adairius West Ashley
Sante Adairius Rustic Ales is perhaps California's brewery of the moment, rocking some serious saisons out of a small industrial park in Capitola, right near Highway 1. SARA&mdashas they are popularly known&mdashbeers can barely be found in most of central coast California, much less anywhere close to where you might live. That's one reason their most famed beer, the Pinot Noir-barreled apricot sour saison West Ashley, is so damn tough to get your hands on. Released sporadically&mdashthey're now on Batch 8 by my count&mdashthey are also snatched up immediately.
7. FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Masterpiece
If you think Pappy is hard to get as a mere bourbon, try getting your hands on a Pappy Van Winkle beer. Late last year, California's FiftyFifty Brewing released a mere 400 bottles of their noted Eclipse imperial stout that had been aged for eighteen months in former Pappy barrels. The brewery inexplicably didn't have any sort of per person bottle limit, so many opportunists loaded up and the beer sold out in under an hour. The next day, FiftyFifty's owner offered an apology.
8. TAPS Remy's Pappy
Besides FiftyFifty's, there's actually several other Pappy Van Winkle barrel-aged beers that have come out over the past few years. All of them make finding a real Pappy (the bourbon) seem as easy as going to your corner store for a Coke Zero. Pennsylvania's Voodoo Brewing released the Pappy Van Winkle-aged THE K13, a barleywine, in 2013 to the tune of 258 bottles. California's Port Brewing Pappy-fied their Board Meeting, a brown ale, late last year and released around 250 wax-sealed bottles. Remy's Pappy is perhaps the most acclaimed of the few Pappy beers, first released by California's TAPS Fish House & Brewery (try the tuna!) in 2013. Earlier this week, TAPS opened another Fish House in Irvine and to celebrate, offered a new batch of Remy's Pappy. A mere 60 bottles at $60 per bottle. Ouch.
9. BrewDog The End of History
It's actually more difficult than you'd think to figure out what is literally the rarest beer ever made. Even your local brewery has probably brewed a single sixtel keg's worth of a beer, never to make it again. But no one cares about that beer. Perhaps the rarest beer ever bottled is the publicity stunting The End of History. Only eleven total bottles of this 55% ABV beer were ever released&mdashand when I say bottles I'm being a little inaccurate. The beer came in an effing taxidermied squirrel. For a mere $750 you could nab this Scottish beaut, the world's most alcoholic beer at the time. I have no idea if any bottles still exist on planet earth, though someone reviewed in on Untappd as recently as last week. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that, just because something is rare, doesn't mean it's good. Although, the few people to have tried this beer do actually give it a fairly great rating.
10. The Bruery Barrel-Aged Partridge in a Pear Tree
Finally, and perhaps most navel-gazingly, I wanted to list a beer that I'm starting to wonder if I will ever taste. In 2009, The Bruery began a program to release a special beer each year for Christmas for twelve years. Twelve years later, you would, in theory, drink all twelve beers in a grandiose celebration of patient alcoholism. These beers aren't particularly rare, though I do find them fun to collect. I bought Partridge in a Pear tree that first year and I've managed to keep up each subsequent year (we're now up to 7 Swans a Swimming). In many years, The Bruery has released more limited barrel-aged versions as well, but the one I've never been able to sniff is this first one, Partridge in a Pear tree. A mere 290 bottles were released seven years ago, but who knows how many still remained un-drunk. I'm lucky to have actually tasted most of the beers in this listicle&mdashhey yo media "samples"&mdashbut I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever land this sucker. I've got five more years left to try.
Brewer's Best ® Classic Recipes
All kits conform to the BJCP Style Guidelines and include all the ingredients with proven recipes to produce prize-winning brews. Each kit makes 5 gallons of beer (approx. 53-12 oz. glasses).
An ale version of the American lager style. Clean, light and simple to brew. Faint malt notes with a hint of corn-like presence. An easy drinker.
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Perhaps the most widely brewed American style ale. Moderately strong hop aroma and bitterness. Pale ale malt base provides deep gold, almost amber, color and medium-bodied mouthfeel.
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Amber malt combined with medium caramel malt creates a rich, copper color. Bitterness is balanced to match the malt character. Smooth clean finish with moderate carbonation level.
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This recipe uses the traditional combination of pilsner malt, rice and corn adjuncts. It is light-bodied, refreshing and thirst quenching. A very easy recipe to brew and an excellent entry to craft brewing.
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This is an easy drinking ale blending the styles of pale ale and wheat beer. The malt bill is based on wheat extract and flaked red wheat and will provide a light copper color and ample head retention. This beer is very drinkable and is most enjoyable fresh, just after bottle conditioning.
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One of the world’s classic beer styles, this recipe is best enjoyed when lagered. Pilsner malt extract produces a straw color. A dry beer that finishes with ample hop bitterness. This kit includes a lager yeast that will also perform well if fermented at ale temperatures.
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This medium-bodied brew has a malty character surrounded by a nutty aroma. Crystal malts with a touch of chocolate malt create the brown color balanced by a subdued hop flavor.
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A light bodied, effervescent ale with warm malty flavors and a slight orange hue from the steeping grains. Golden Candi Syrup lends a faint caramel sweetness and a hint of fresh plums. The included Belgian style yeast strain completes this farmhouse style ale by contributing a spicy and peppery background.
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Munich and chocolate malts combine to create a darker, maltier version of its lighter counterpart, Weizenbier. Amber-brown in color yet medium-bodied with a slightly sweet, bready flavor. A specialty wheat yeast produces the characteristic phenols found in traditional Weizens.
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A classic English style that yields medium-high bitterness above a foundation of caramel maltiness. Hop character is derived from a heavy bittering addition. This is a well-balanced, drinkable Special Bitter.
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This Ale is the perfect choice for those looking for a Gluten free beer. The wort is crafted from White Sorghum and Belgian Style syrup and then complemented with an addition of orange and lemon peel. Lightly bitter with undertones of floral and citrus from the hops, this ale is smooth and refreshing. At last, a Gluten free ingredient kit that can be enjoyed by all!
Belgian Wit Recipes – White Beer Styles
Belgian Wit is a wonderful light, refreshing beer that narrowly avoided extinction to become a popular hit here in the United States. This week we’ll take a look at the history, brewing and recipes for Belgian Wit and White Beer.
Belgian Wit goes by many names, all variations of the term “White Beer”. In French it is called “Biere Blance”, while the Flemish name is Wit or Witbier which is pronounced “Wit” or “Wet) [Ref: BT] While the style was likely derived from the Belgian Monastary tradition, it reached widespread popularity in the 18th and 19th century in the towns east of Brussels. The two beers “Biere Blanche de Louvain” and “Blanche de Hougerde” were brewed in Louvain and Hoegaarden respectively. The Louvain version was more popular.
After the lager revolution in the 1800’s and into the 1900’s, Wit gradually declined in popularity and in fact disappeared when the last Belgian brewery went out of business in 1957. Nearly 10 years later Pierre Celis raised money from family members to open a brewery called De Kluis and began brewing a traditional Wit called appropriately “Hoegaarden”.
In 1985, the De Klius brewery burned to the ground, again threatening Witbier with extinction. Pierre Celis was able to raise money from commercial sources to rebuild the brewery, but by 1987 these larger brewers essentially took control from Pierre Celis and altered the recipe to appeal to a broader audience. Pierre Celis, disappointed, moved to Austin Texas where he opened a new brewery making “Celis White” based on the original Hoegaarden recipe.
Brewing The Wit Beer Style
Belgian Wit is a light, wheat based beer with light to medium body, slight sweetness and a zesty orange-fruity finish. It has a clean crisp profile, low hop bitterness and high carbonation with a large white head. Traditional Wit is slightly cloudy due to the use of unmalted wheat, and pale to light gold in color.
Original gravity is in the 1.044-1.052 range, bitterness in the 10-20 IBU range and color in the 2-5 SRM range. Carbonation is high.
Belgian Wit is made from a base of around 50% pale malt, and 50% unmalted wheat. Often 5-10% rolled or flaked oats are added to enhance body and flavor.
Unmalted wheat presents some challenges for the single infusion homebrewer. Pure unmalted wheat will not convert well with a single infusion mash. This can be rectified by using a multi-step infusion or multi-step decoction mash, but simpler solutions exist. If you substitute flaked or torrified wheat, you can perform a single infusion mash easily, while still preserving the distinctive flavor of unmalted wheat.
If you are brewing from extract, wheat extract might be an acceptable option, but all grain brewers should avoid using malted wheat as it will not result in the authentic wit flavor. Rolled oats are best if you are brewing all-grain as these two will work well in a single infusion mash. Where possible, high diastic pale colored malt should be used as the pale base.
Hops are typically chosen to minimize the hop profile. Low alpha hops such as BC Goldings, Hallertauer, Fuggles or Saaz with just enough hops to balance the sweetness of the malt. Late hop additions are inappropriate, as hop aroma is not a feature of the style. I personally prefer about 1 oz of BC Goldings boiled for 60 minutes in a 5 gallon batch. Dry hopping and large late hop additions are not really appropriate for this style.
Spices play an important role in Wit. Traditionally, Coriander and Bitter (Curaco) orange peel are used in small amounts at the end of the boil to add a bit of spice. In some cases, small amounts of sweet (traditional) orange peel are also added, though sweet orange peel should not be a dominant flavor.
The coriander should be cracked, but not crushed, whole seeds. I run my coriander seeds through the grain mill to crack them in half. Bitter Curaco orange peel is not the type you find in the supermarket, but is available from most major brewing supply shops. I recommend about 3/4 ounce of bitter orange peel and 3/4 ounce of coriander for a 5 gallon batch added 5 minutes before the end of the boil.
Belgian Wit Recipes
Here is a collection of Wit and White beer recipes from our recipe site:
And here is a link to my personal Wit Recipe:
We also have more BeerSmith recipes on our recipe page. I hope you enjoyed this week’s article on Belgian Wit. It is one of my personal favorites, and it appeals to the guest as well. Thanks again for supporting the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Keep your comments and BrewPoll votes coming.
Sharing and Rating Recipes in the BeerSmith Cloud
Over 95,000 BeerSmith brewers use the BeerSmith cloud to store their recipes and move them between their desktops, laptops, phones and tablets. But did you know you can also easily share them with friends and fellow brewers in the community?
You can even rate and comment on other people’s recipes to help build the community. Highly rated recipes can be found by fellow brewers and imported directly into BeerSmith. You can follow other brewers or accounts and be notified when others post new brews.
Many brewing clubs, for instance, have BeerSmithRecipes.com accounts so they can post popular recipes for their members.
Understanding the BeerSmith Cloud
At the technical level, the cloud is really a large dedicated web server that stores and indexes recipes. When you copy a recipe to your Cloud folder either from your desktop or mobile device, that recipe gets put on the server so you can access it from your other devices.
By default a recipe is always added as private – since most brewers don’t want their “work in progress” shared with the world. However you can choose to mark any recipe as “shared” so other brewers can find it, review it or download a copy for their personal use.
To share a recipe on the desktop all you need to do is go to your Cloud folder, select the recipe and then pick the large “Shared/Private” icon on the ribbon (it looks like a big lock). It will toggle your recipe between shared/private. Shared recipes will be marked as “shared” in the privacy column in Cloud view.
Similarly you can go to the cloud folder on your mobile device, open a recipe for viewing and mark it shared or private using the “Mark Recipe Shared” or “Mark Recipe Private” button just below the block containing the recipe name. Marking it shared will make it public.
Using the BeerSmithRecipes.com Web Site to Rate Recipes
A lot of people are not aware that in addition to the mobile and desktop apps, you can view your recipes from the web. Go to BeerSmithRecipes.com and log into your account there. You can view or delete your own cloud recipes there and you can also find new recipes and make private copies of them (which go to your Cloud folder) for future use.
If you are logged in, you can also use the site to rate other people’s recipes. So if you’ve found a great recipe, go ahead and leave a comment for the author of the recipe. Ratings really help other people “sort through the weeds” to find the best recipes to brew.
Another cool feature is the ability to follow another account. You can click on the user name for a recipe you’ve found and look at other recipes they have shared or follow them. By following them you will get notifications when they post a new recipe. As I mentioned above this is a great feature for clubs, as members can follow a club account and get notified when new recipes are posted to the account.
Upgrading Your BeerSmithRecipes.com Account
Basic, free accounts on BeerSmithRecipes.com have a limit of 15 recipes, in part to manage the load on the server. You can upgrade your account to get additional space as well as features by going to the upgrade page at BeerSmithRecipes.com or by purchasing a Gold or Platinum bundle with BeerSmith desktop. As I mentioned many commercial shops and clubs have upgraded accounts set up to share their shop or club recipes.
So those are some basic features for sharing and rating recipes on the BeerSmith Cloud. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing. Also check out the How to Brew Video series I shot with John Palmer if you want to learn more about all grain brewing.
Make Your Best Oktoberfest
Start now for an Oktoberfest that’s ready come fall. A few simple tips (and a deceptively simple recipe) are all you need.
I know, I know—it’s May and September seems a long way off, but believe it or not we’re already behind schedule producing this fall’s Oktoberfest! Historically, this amber German lager (though the family of Viennese co-inventor Anton Dreher would probably want me to say “Austro-German lager”) was brewed starting in March because beers brewed in warmer weather tended to be less desirable. When these beers were broken out of the caves where they’d spent the hot summer months and drunk in the fall, they were clean, bright, and exhibited a well-rounded malt flavor.
While we now know why the warm-weather versions failed and can make adjustments (thank you, temp controller and lager yeast), there’s still value in following the aging regimen of our German (Austrian!) forebears. A few simple tips and a deceptively simple recipe are all you need to produce beer worthy of Crown Prince Ludwig and his bride. You’ll be hosting your own Oktoberfest commemoration before you know it…if you’re willing to wait for it.
Oktoberfest beers exhibit one character above all else: malt. Hops play a supporting role and should never poke their heads around the stage curtain. Oktoberfest is a low- to-medium strength lager at 5–6 percent ABV, usually amber in color (though paler and darker versions exist) with a complex array of malt flavors on display.
Having said that, there are two important caveats: one, it should not be “caramel-y”—this is not an excuse to let your diacetyl run wild—and two, despite its malty nature, it should not be sweet. This beer is designed to be consumed in substantial quantities, and that will never be possible if it doesn’t finish nice and dry! American examples tend toward the more-toasty, which makes them perfect for those cool fall evenings. Hopping is for balance only, and bitterness should be moderate with no (or very little) hops flavor and aroma. And given their extended aging, lagers should be beautiful, brilliantly clear, jewel-tone beers. How do we get there?
“Complex” doesn’t have to mean “complicated,” and you can achieve malt complexity in this beer without a grist bill as long as your alpenhorn. Oktoberfest was the first lager I ever made, and I was sure that I’d gone too simple with it. I was wrong. All you need are two base malts and one specialty malt. Your base malts will be Munich and…not Pilsner. I mean, you can use Pils (most do), but I frankly find that it lends a sweetness to the flavor that you’re always working against. Instead, I use a 50/50 blend of Munich and Maris Otter. And for the specialty malt, about 8 percent of the total grist is a good British Medium Crystal (45–50L). The Maris Otter adds a great complementary bready/biscuit note to the beer and meshes with the higher-kilned Munich malt beautifully. The “middle crystal” adds a slightly deeper brown sugar aroma without adding noticeable sweetness.
If you go the Pils malt route, you might find that it’s necessary to drop in plenty of lighter character malts and crystals (Victory, Crystal 10, Crystal 40, Crystal 60) to build complexity. However, those end up adding to the sweetness problem inherent in the Pilsner malt, which then needs more bitterness to counteract. For me, simpler is always better.
Hops? Nothing to it—25 IBUs of any hops added at the start of the boil. If you want to be authentic, feel free to use a German variety, but not much (if any) of the flavor will persist. I use Nugget, for what it’s worth.
Yeast selection does matter, though. I find that the Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager strain preserves the full malty flavor, while also attenuating fully—so long as you take care to manage your fermentation effectively! White Labs WLP820 Oktoberfest Lager Yeast should give you comparable results. Which brings us to…
Producing good lager is challenging—say whatever you want about the folks at the macro breweries, many of them know how to drive a clean fermentation in those low-taste lagers. You’ll obviously want to start with a healthy pitch rate and over time you can work out just how far back you can cut it, but for the first few attempts, err on the side of “more yeast.”
Beyond that, producing a good Oktoberfest is all fermentation control. Start cool at about 50°F (10°C), and hold there for the first forty-eight hours. For every day thereafter, increase your temperature by 1°F (about 0.5°C) for ten days. After it’s been in the fermentor for twelve days, it should be at a steady 60°F (15.5°C). Activity in the airlock should be low (but not absent). At that point, I let that sucker free rise to the warmest temperature I can find in my brewery. Why? To ensure that my yeast goes back and does a healthy diacetyl cleanup and scrounges up all remaining fermentable sugars. I give the beer an additional nine days (now we’re at three weeks in the fermentor), then cold-crash to near-freezing to begin the clearing process. What remains should be a fully attenuated, malt-complex, fairly bitter, drinkable dry beer. All it needs now is carbonation and time.
Whether you bottle condition or keg, there’s no need to leave this beer in the fermentor while it conditions. Package as you usually would (if you’re bottle conditioning, raise the temperature after bottling back to room temperature to encourage appropriate bottle fermentation), then place it in a dark, cold corner for at least six weeks.
I find that Oktoberfest hits its stride at about twelve weeks, and if you’ve produced a nice, clean (non-contaminated) beer, you can count on the flavor being stable for more than six months. Since hops play a supporting role, the malty nature only becomes more complex and pronounced as it ages. As you approach a year (why do you still have any left?), you’ll start to notice a more toffee-like flavor, rather than bready/toasty, and at that point it’s time to brew a fresh batch!
This is a great style and a great “first lager” if you’ve never done one before. I now brew it every June, and Jungfrau Oktoberfest is a popular option at our late-summer and early-fall parties. As for the British malts…well, I won’t tell if you don’t! Good luck, manage that fermentation, and Prost!
The Best Beer Books
The Brewing Cloud: A Book of Short Stories
For the Fiction-lover: Our very own Hop Culture founder Kenny Gould published his first book! You might not be used to beer fiction, but that’s because Gould is pioneering the genre.
High on the Brewing Cloud, a fictional floating city where everyone is involved in some aspect of the beer industry, stories are brewing. A jaded beer drinker looks for a hidden brewery. A farmer finds a buried beer bottle that grants good luck. A barley and hop plant talk about the nature of love.
These are just a few of the stories from one of beer’s creative voices. Welcome to the Brewing Cloud!
Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book: 52 Seasonal Recipes for Small Batches
For the homebrewer: Brooklyn Brew Shop has long been best at making homebrewing as simple as possible. Their Everyday IPA Kit is one of our favorite beginner craft beer making sets. That’s a loaded statement because — quite frankly — homebrewing can be quite difficult.
But, if you’re up for a challenge and are in the mood for some seasonal brews, this book is for you. It’s a recipe guide for those who like to drink seasonally and a perfect companion to John Palmer’s How To Brew.
The Craft Beer Cookbook: From IPAs and Bocks to Pilsners and Porters
For the Chef: Beer always goes well with food — just check out our guide to pairing IPA with food, or this specialty guide to pairing IPA with steak. But sometimes, it goes best in food.
Learn how to incorporate beer into all of your favorite dishes with 100 recipes from Jackie Dodd and even your dankest IPA can find its way into your dinner. Keep up with Jackie on her beautiful beer Instagram, TheBeerOness.
The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks
For the Cicerone-to-be: If there’s one modern beer journalist to know, it’s Josh Bernstein. He’s been a pioneer of the shift of the niche beer writing toward a broader audience, and his book, The Complete Beer Course, is just that. It’s a detailed breakdown of the beer market, beer styles, how to perform tastings, and what to identify when you’re dissecting a beer.
He’s as good as it gets — and this book shows you how, with plenty of work, you could get there too.
Beer School: A Crash Course in Craft Beer
For the Beginner: Beer School, written by Jonny Garrett, is a digestible explanation of how beer is made and how its styles are distinguished.
Garrett, one of the United Kingdom’s most recognizable voices in beer, enlisted veteran creative Brad Evans for the book’s illustrations. Together they make beer’s scientific reasonings both appealing and entertaining.
Brewing Revolution: Pioneering the Craft Beer Movement
For the historian: Frank Appleton is an English-trained brewmaster whom many consider the outright father of the Canadian craft beer movement. His memoir, Brewing Revolution, archives his fifty years in the industry, the hardships of his passion, and looks toward the future of what he believes is the most competitive market yet.
New World Guide to Beer
For the completionist: Every beer lover should be familiar with Michael Jackson’s work (insert not that Michael Jackson joke). He is perhaps the most revered and talented beer writer in the world and his New World Guide to Beer is a must-buy for completing your beer book collection.
If you’re looking to supplement this book, which came out 20 years ago, then look to another talented and respected beer writer and brewer, Garrett Oliver. Oliver’s gigantic The Oxford Companion to Beer is a great addition to your book stack.
The Comic Book Story of Beer: The World’s Favorite Beverage from 7000 BC to Today’s Craft Brewing Revolution
For the comic-book lover: Most beer books are chock-full of details and dense paragraphs of historical anecdotes. But, Jonathan Hennessey and Mike Smith’s The Comic Book Story of Beer is just that – a comic book. Packed inside there are 180 pages of full-color, bursting-with-detail comics that highlight beers ascent from a primal beverage to premiere glassware-garner.
Untapped: Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Craft Beer
For the culturally conscious friend: Untapped is a collection of twelve essays about craft beer’s meteoric rise. Untapped asks questions like, “How does the growth of craft beer connect to trends like the farm-to-table movement, gentrification, the rise of the “creative class,” and changing attitudes toward both cities and farms?” and seeks answers through interview, investigation, and interjection. It’s a worthy read for beer-lovers with an inkling for how beer exists in our communities.
The Beer Bible
For the pious drinker: Jeff Alworth’s The Beer Bible celebrates beer. Whether you’re a newbie or a beer-drinking veteran, there’s something for you in this book. If nothing else, The Beer Bible can serve as a reference and poses some great questions: “how do I enjoy beer?” and “what really is a lager?”
The Little Book of Craft Beer: A Guide to Over 100 of the World’s Finest Brews
For the traveler: While The Little Book of Craft Beer hasn’t come out quite yet, it’s one to add to your pre-order list. Melissa Cole, acclaimed beer and food writer, details seeking out the world’s best brews and how to subsequently pair them with what you eat. It’s a detailed — mostly by personal experience — explanation of all things great beer.
Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
For the entrepreneur: The United States is home to a few landmark breweries and brewery founders. Reading their stories gives insight into how the craft beer movement started in America and where it might be going.
In this book, Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman offers his own story. Read about Grossman’s beginnings as a homebrewer and how Sierra Nevada Pale Ale became one of the most popular beers in America.
In the same vein as Beyond the Pale, check out Dogfish Head’s story in Brewing up a Business and Brooklyn Brewery’s in Beer School.
The Beer Geek Handbook: Living a Life Ruled by Beer
For the beer-aholic: Do you already know the ins and outs of beer and brewing? Have you dedicated your life to consuming as many different beers as possible?
If so, The Beer Geek Handbook is the perfect companion for a beer nerd. You’ll find yourself encouraged by the things you already knew and challenged by those that are new to you — it’s an all encompassing guide to further dedicating your life to beer (if that’s possible).
Brew Log Book: Homebrew Recipe and Tasting Notes Journal
For the note-taker: If you’ve got a notebook at the bar, you’re probably taking things a little bit too seriously. But, if you’re seriously, and absolutely, in need of something to write in while drinking or brewing beer: get the Brew Log Book.
Vintage-y green and adorned by a simple pair of illustrated hops, the logbook is simple and tasteful — just like your favorite beer!
Cocktails on Tap: The Art of Mixing Spirits and Beer
For the bartender: You might not think of it often, but there are plenty of people who are eager to combine beer and spirits. With these recipes, the seemingly prehistoric adage of “beer before liquor” quickly goes out the window. It’s not a guide book on avoiding a hangover, but rather a detailed recipe-book on how to cultivate one.
Goodnight Brew: A Parody for Beer People
For everyone: Just because, like seeing your favorite beer on the draft list, it’s too good to pass up.
Unless otherwise noted, all of the products featured on Hop Culture are independently chosen by our editorial team. However, Hop Culture may earn a commission from purchases made through affiliate links on the site.
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