Holiday Festbier

I have always stereotyped lagers–especially those that are lighter in color–as beers best suited for warm weather. Lawnmower beer. That kind of thing. As my palate has expanded, though, I’ve decided that lighter lagers aren’t just for the summer. A festbier–with its slightly more complex flavor profile–seems like a good option for cooler months. And who says it’s just for Oktoberfest?

My recipe was inspired by a festbier recipe I saw on Brulosophy, with pilsner and Vienna malts carrying the bulk of the grist alongside a splash of Munich malt. In the end, it worked out pretty well!

Holiday Festbier

  • 6 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 5.5 lb. Superior pilsen malt (Great Western)
  • 0.75 lb. Munich Malt (Best; 7.6 SRM)
  • 0.35 oz. Magnum hops (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 2 oz. Saaz whole hops (3.0% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Saflager lager yeast (W34/70)

Target Parameters

  • 60 minute infusion mash, 149°, batch sparge.
  • 1.056 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 5.9% abv, 21 IBU, 5 SRM
  • Water built from RO, for target of 35 Ca, 3 Mg, 29 Na, 41 SO4, 40 Cl, 77 HCO3, 37 RA

Procedure

  • I built up 4.25 gallons of mash water by adding 1.7 g baking soda, 1.3 g CaCl, 0.8 g gypsum, and 0.5 g epsom salts. I aimed for a mash-in temperature of 160.5°, to hit 149.1° for the mash. Immediately after mashing in the grains, I added 9.5 mL of 88% lactic acid, to adjust the pH appropriately.
  • I built up the sparge water with 4.6 gallons of RO water supplemented with 1.9 g baking soda, 1.5 g CaCl, 0.9 g gypsum, and 0.6 g epsom salts.
  • I started the batch sparge with 1 gallon of water at 180°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected first runnings. I then added the remainder of the sparge water, vorlaufed, and collected the rest of the runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.045, for 70% efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and chilled down to 75° or so. After transferring to the fermenter, I chilled down to 50° in the fermentation chamber before oxygenating the wort and pitching the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 7 December 2019. Starting gravity was 1.053, a touch below my target (1.056), but not too awfully low.
  • I started fermentation at 52°, and raised it to 56° after two weeks (21 December 2019). I raised the beer to 60° on 23 December 2019, before crashing to 33° on 26 December 2019.
  • I kegged the beer on 28 December 2019, by semi-closed transfer into a CO2 purged keg. Final gravity was 1.009, which works out to 5.9% abv.
  • After kegging, I lagered the beer at 33°. From the start, flavor was really nice. When I sampled the beer on 12 January 2020, after two weeks of lagering, flavor was still amazing, but the beer was still fairly hazy. By February 6, the beer had only a slight haze, and could be rated as relatively clear (but not yet bright). I expect it should be up to snuff within a week or two.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Gold, nearly clear (only a slight haze at the time of this tasting), with a nice and persistent white head.
  • Aroma
    • Malt, malt, malt. Aroma is a slightly sweet malty quality, and I don’t pick up much for hops.
  • Flavor
    • Smooth maltiness, with the malt character being a combination of pure maltiness and a bit of breadiness. (I’m using various forms of “malt” in my descriptions, but that’s really the best descriptor for this beer!) Hop level is moderate and has a beautiful smoothness, with the balance of the beer definitely tilted towards malt.
  • Mouthfeel
    • This beer is sooooo drinkable! Medium body, moderate carbonation, just a pure thing of beauty.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Absolutely! This is a wonderful recipe. My only mild knock-down is for the slight haze in the beer, but if I were to lager this for months as a proper festbier I think it would be fine. The malt character and hopping level are perfect. On top of all of this, it really nails the high drinkability that a good festbier should have.
  • Overall
    • 9/10
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1 Response to Holiday Festbier

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