My wife and I welcomed the birth of our first child by brewing up an Oktoberfest style German lager the month before her due date. I kept the recipe pretty simple with almost equal parts Castle pils, Weyermann Dark Munich, and Briess Vienna malt. Most recipes I researched also had a small amount of Caramunich so I added one pound to the mash. I used a small dose of traditional German Hallertau pellet hops to balance the clean malty profile of this style. The fun part was once again splitting this 10 gallon batch into two carboys and pitching different yeasts. To save the time of making two large starters from liquid yeasts, I chose to ferment the wort with two of the most common dry lager yeasts strains, Saflager S-23 and W-34/70.
Aria Lee Serfass arrived on Oct. 15th both healthy and happy but the beer wasn’t quite done lagering. I cold crashed it for a few more days and then filtered it using my trusty plate filter. I then pressurized it with 30 psi of CO2 and shook it for five minutes. This was my first time doing the “quick-carb” method of shaking the keg to carbonate the beer. This method works best when you chill down the beer near freezing (my beer was already there for cold-crashing/lagering) and then roll the keg on the floor because CO2 goes into solution much quicker at colder temps. You will need to keep reattaching the gas line as the CO2 goes into the beer after rolling on the floor every 20 seconds or so.
The two yeasts created distinctly different tasting beers. Both beers finished at 1.014 (73% attenuation) but the 34/70 was the better beer and more true to Oktoberfest style. The 34/70 had a delicious creamy and complex malty flavor that lingered just long enough before finishing crisp and refreshing. The 34/70 nose was sweet caramel malt and toast. The S-23 was notable in the odd sense of the absence of maltiness. It almost seemed like the hops stood out more with a big floral presence in the nose and citrus in the mid-palate. There also seemed to be fruity esters in the S-23 that masked the complex malt profile. This makes me think S-23 would be very well suited for German and hop-forward Czech pilsners. Don’t get me wrong, both beers are delicious, but stylistically the 34/70 hit the mark dead on. I think this recipe might just make it into my brewing calendar to have on hand for Aria’s birthday in the years to come.