Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Hofbrau Oktoberfest

I was at a bud’s house last Sunday (his wife is German-American and her parents speak with an uber-thick German accent) and he had a bunch of Hofbrau Oktoberfest that he said he picked up at Costco. I have had a number of German Oktobers including Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner, Spaten and Ayinger but not this one. The color surprised me because it’s light… maybe 4-5 SRM. But the flavor was awesome. It’s such a simple-tasting, simple-looking beer but it’s very satisfying. These must’ve been fresh or at least stored properly because there was no skunking depsite the green bottle. Does anyone have a feel for how to create such a straightforward yet satisfying beer? It occurs to me that many US versions of Oktoberfest are too dark, fruity, roasty or any combination of those. I wonder if you could make a beer like this with 100% light Munich malt from Weyermann (these usually clock in around 6 SRM) or maybe 75% light munich and the rest pilsner malt. The hops seemed to be 60-minute only but maybe a FWH addition as well. The yeast seemed like something along the lines of 2124 Bohemian which is a great lager yeast. Any thoughts on this?

Yeah these are thr real festbiers served at the bayern tents. They are really higher og hellesbiers.

Hey Ken. I’ve had a number of pints of this brew on tap over the last two weeks at a local spot. It’s very good, I agree, and maybe the best of what I call the “modern” Festbiers. Modern in that as opposed to the darker, historical German versions and the usually crystal malt laden American offerings this brew is more like a bumped up version of a Helles with a likely nod to an addition of Vienna malt.

I would start with a blend of Pilsner and Vienna malts, maybe 60/40 and a little CaraHell, with an OG of perhaps 1.060 and IBUs in the high 20s.

On HomeBrewTalk they were talking about this beer and some were saying it was a Helles and others were saying that real German Oktobers were like this… lighter and more refreshing. I’d love to make something along these lines.

BryanH: Thank you for joining in. How would you hop it? Once at 60 and that’s it or something else in there? Also, I’ve seen a number of reviews where people say that they can actually pick out the Vienna malt so good call on that. Cheers!

A quick recipe formulation…

[b]7 lbs Best Malz Pilsner Malt
4½ lbs Weyermann Vienna
½ oz Hallertau 4.7% FWH
1 oz Hallertau 4.7% for 60
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager yeast

OG: 1.060, FG: 1.015, IBU: 25, SRM: 6, ABV: 5.8%[/b]

Any feel for a mash schedule? Step mash 142x30 then 158x60 or just single infusion 150-151°? I think I have a water makeup too… 50% RO, 50% filtered tap. Thoughts?

[quote=“Ken Lenard”]On HomeBrewTalk they were talking about this beer and some were saying it was a Helles and others were saying that real German Oktobers were like this… lighter and more refreshing. I’d love to make something along these lines.

BryanH: Thank you for joining in. How would you hop it? Once at 60 and that’s it or something else in there? Also, I’ve seen a number of reviews where people say that they can actually pick out the Vienna malt so good call on that. Cheers![/quote]

There is no doubt this brew contains a good dose of Vienna malt. Since a “real” Helles is all Pilsner malt, calling this and other light colored Festbiers bumped up Helles (which I do myself) is a bit of a stretch but since they are quite light in color it is a good point of reference. I’d use two hop additions, one early on for bittering and one small one in the middle @ 20-30 minutes for just a touch of flavor. A Hallertauer variety would be my hop choice although Spalt or Tett would certainly work too. :cheers:

You probably already know my first choice re mash schedule but either of those you mentioned would work. Keep the water simple but don’t forget the Calcium. I don’t know what numbers your 50/50 blend ends up with but if starting with RO try adding 5g of Calcium Chloride and 2g of Calcium Carbonate that should give you a good balance.

Okay, I have everything I need for this beer and I’m going to make it soon. I appreciate the input.

Oh, remember too that Hofbrau actually makes a Helles, usually referred to as Hofbrau Original so this being called an Oktoberfest it must have some differences and my guess would be the Vienna. I will report back as I make this beer!

Oh, water would look like this: 50% RO, 50% filtered tap with 4½g of CaCl added to the mash:

Ca: 58
Mg: 6
Na: 7
Cl: 82
S04: 5
Bicarb: 57

I could go all RO and use 2g CaC03 and 5g CaCl and get these numbers:

Ca: 71
Mg: 0
Na: 0
Cl: 80
S04: 0
BiCarb: 33

Which is better?

[quote=“Ken Lenard”]Oh, water would look like this: 50% RO, 50% filtered tap with 4½g of CaCl added to the mash:

Ca: 58
Mg: 6
Na: 7
Cl: 82
S04: 5
Bicarb: 57

I could go all RO and use 2g CaC03 and 5g CaCl and get these numbers:

Ca: 71
Mg: 0
Na: 0
Cl: 80
S04: 0
BiCarb: 33

Which is better?[/quote]

I don’t think there is enough difference for any concern. They will both work fine IMO. Use the blend and you won’t have to buy as much RO water. :cheers:

Was it toasty tasting?

I’m on the wrong computer but I could send you a recipe later if you want including the water recipe.

[quote=“Boulderbrewer”]Was it toasty tasting?

I’m on the wrong computer but I could send you a recipe later if you want including the water recipe.[/quote]
BB: That would be great. The more info the better. Toasty tasting? I’m not sure I could say that necessarily but it certainly had more going on than just a standard gold beer. Post your recipe here when you have the chance & thanks in advance.

Well I’ve never had a bad beer in Germany regardless of which one I choose. They really are amazing brewers. Even a pils, which I would have to be force-fed here, is so amazing and fresh, it’s still great.

But I think the lighter versions you see now are not traditional, they have been dumbed down for the masses who like light beer. They are still a mile above the BMC crowd, but I think the craft US O-fests and Marzens are more traditional than you will get at Oktoberfest.

[quote=“brwrboy69”]Well I’ve never had a bad beer in Germany regardless of which one I choose. They really are amazing brewers. Even a pils, which I would have to be force-fed here, is so amazing and fresh, it’s still great.

But I think the lighter versions you see now are not traditional, they have been dumbed down for the masses who like light beer. They are still a mile above the BMC crowd, but I think the craft US O-fests and Marzens are more traditional than you will get at Oktoberfest.[/quote]
I think the difference is that the Germans would use more base malt and get the most out of that base malt by using a decoction or whatever means are available to them. I think they get flavors that we do not because they spend the time and energy to do things the traditional way. I think that US breweries think they can get that flavor by using more Munich or things like crystal malt. Don’t get me wrong, I can drink some Sam Adams, Leinenkugel, Harpoon (and various others) Oktoberfest and be perfectly content. But I think they are different animals or at least different interpretations of this style. If I have a US Oktober, I say “Mmm, yum” and when I have a German version, I say, “HOLY ####, how did they do that!?!?!?!?”. :expressionless:

On a related note… how does anybody out there feel about adding a smidge (maybe 2 oz) of Aromatic to this? Just a thought. I found my Activator of 2124 (dated July 2011) and I will make a starter over the weekend and get it on the stirplate. Also, I already have about 20 gallons of RO/distilled water so I think I’ll go with the 100% RO/DI and use the 2g of CaCO3 and 5g of CaCl suggested by BryanH. Going to try to make this beer one day next week.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com