As an amateur home brewer, should I buy or brew oktoberfest beers?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Pbhockey04, Sep 26, 2013.


What should I do as a home brewer for Oktoberfest season?

Poll closed Oct 3, 2013.
  1. Brew Oktoberfest beer at home

  2. Buy Oktoberfest beers

  3. Do both, compare your beers to other oktoberfests

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  1. Pbhockey04

    Pbhockey04 Initiate (0) Jun 25, 2012 New York

    Help me decide should I brew my own Oktoberfest beers or just buy Oktoberfest beers or both? For the record I am not a fan of pumpkin so Oktoberfest is my thing for fall beer.
  2. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Meyvn (1,032) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    When in doubt, home brew.
    bgjohnston and SatlyMalty like this.
  3. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,431) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    If you want them for this Oktoberfest, I recommend that you buy them.
    bgjohnston, pointyskull, Xul and 3 others like this.
  4. afrokaze

    afrokaze Zealot (580) Jun 12, 2009 Arizona
    Industry Beer Trader

    Making a good lager takes longer and is harder than many other styles, plus you'll need to keep it cold as it conditions, which means a spare fridge with a temp controller. However, that's not to say you shouldn't try it , I'm sure you could make a great one.
  5. MrOH

    MrOH Defender (688) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Unless you are prepared to do decoctions, have temp control for fermentation, are willing to do at least a two month lagering, and are ready to pitch ungodly amounts of yeast, it'd be best to buy them.
  6. basscram

    basscram Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2006 Maine They did an "aletoberfest" Not a lagered version. They seem to really like it. It's worth a try!
    standardcherry and DubbelMan like this.
  7. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (519) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    If you are not a fan, and don't care. Don't make it. If you are up to the challenge of making a (good) Oktoberfest beer, then suffer and accept. If not, make something else.
  8. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,351) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Can you control fermentation temps (around 50F) and lagering temps (40F-ish or lower)?
  9. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    I brew all of my Oktoberfest beers(rauchbiers, alt, hefe's this year) but my guests are encouraged to bring a sixer of their favorite store bought German beers.
    herrburgess likes this.
  10. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,315) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I have made a very good one, but that required advanced procedures for making lagers. If you are there in your techniques and equipment, make one as those are rewarding beers to drink later.
    herrburgess likes this.
  11. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (304) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Other than the fact that it's too late to brew it for this year, why would a homebrewer even ask such a question? It's a relatively simple style to brew, the only caveat being that, like any lager, it must be fermented and conditioned cold.

    FWIW, I usually brew a Mocktoberfest Ale in late summer using a very clean ale yeast, like US-05. While not a true Märzen, I think it captures the essence of the style without requiring a level of control that I'm not yet equipped for. And my friends and I look forward to it every year which, in the end, is what Oktoberfest all about.
    alanforbeer likes this.
  12. Seacoastbrewer

    Seacoastbrewer Aspirant (212) Jun 5, 2012 New Hampshire

    I've had difficulty finding fresh European Oktoberfests. I would look for regional versions and try your own as well. It wouldn't be ready in time, but who cares?
  13. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    I like Nottingham fermented under 60F for a nice clean Mocktoberfest. In fact I used it for my alt this year and it turned ot pretty damn good.
    SeaSparrow and JackHorzempa like this.
  14. MLucky

    MLucky Aspirant (286) Jul 31, 2010 California

    Assuming you have all the stuff (temp controller, lagering space, the ability to pitch massive amounts of yeast, and 2-3 months to spare), I don't see why you wouldn't give this style a try. But you're way too late for this year. I'm thinking that if you brewed today, your oktoberfest would probably be ready to drink, oh, early December.
  15. MADhombrewer

    MADhombrewer Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2008 Oregon

    I said do both on the poll. As others have said use an ale yeast and some fall spices to brew an ale version. Also buy and drink some Oktoberfest and maybe a few Pumpkin beers. If you find one you like jump online and look for a clone recipe to brew next year. Why limit yourself to a season. Brew one in March and get your recipe down before fall hits again.

    I am not a big Saison fan. A friend of mine had some extra Saison yeast and asked if I wanted some. I took it as a challenge, made some and it was fantastic. I will be making it again.

    Have fun!!
  16. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,620) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    If, as a newbie homebrewer, you have strong desires to make an Marzen style beer, I say go for it, provided you are willing to do the things that are needed to make a good example. You'll need

    • To invest in temperature controlled fermentation, if you do not yet have the capabilities, or find a location in your house that will stablize temps in lager range, i.e. 50-55 degree F.
    • A good recipe, like the extract recipe in Brewing Classic Styles. I've never brewed this particular recipe, but everything from that book has been good to me.. If you brew all-grain, use the all-grain recipe in there. I think this is a style that will show marked improvement in an all-grain because the German grains (e.g. Wyermann) are better than extracts, IMO. However, I have brewed some good beer with Briess and Northern Brewer Munich extracts.
    • Patience. Be prepared to wait at least two months before drinking, and longer would be better. In otherwords, think of this for some other fest: Xmas, New Years, President's Day, etc. I would drink Oktoberfest style beer on St. Patty's day before I would touch anything dyed green!
  17. machalel

    machalel Aspirant (283) Jan 19, 2012 Australia

    When in doubt, all of the above!
  18. messyhair42

    messyhair42 Initiate (0) Dec 30, 2010 Colorado

    AfroKaze is right, But last February an Oktoberfest was my first lager. It was as much fun as it was a learning experience. I didn't get everything done by the book, but I gave it time and it turned out to be my best beer yet. To properly make one you need to do decoctions (separate, rest, and boil a portion of the mash), you need to be able to ferment them at lower temperatures, and they should be lagered (~1 week/2
    Lagers also need much more yeast than a comparable ale, use yeastcalc or similar.
    afrokaze likes this.
  19. nozferatu46

    nozferatu46 Initiate (142) Mar 24, 2008 Indiana

    I voted both.

    You can brew a (relatively) traditional one if you don't have the best cold fermentation conditions. Wyeast 2124 (Bohemian Lager) has a temperature range of 45-68 degrees per their website. Set up a swamp cooler for fermentation temperature control if you can, but if not and you can only get it to 62 degrees, this yeast won't kill you for it. At warmer temps it produces more esters, but nothing that's going to be too out of style. It won't be spot on at the warmer temps, but it will be an oktoberfest/marzen.
  20. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (270) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    It's not too late if the OP is brewing in the southern hemisphere.
  21. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,351) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I think it's already September there too.
  22. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,620) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Right. Their calendar reads upside down, not back to front.
  23. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (304) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    and their clocks run counter-clockwise.
    nozferatu46 likes this.
  24. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (270) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    Point being the SH's fall beer season is offset from the NH's season by six months.
  25. Pbhockey04

    Pbhockey04 Initiate (0) Jun 25, 2012 New York

    Thanks you guys I decided to do both :-)
  26. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Poo-Bah (2,077) May 21, 2010 Texas

    How marzen-like would a pure munich malt smash be, if the hops were kept low? Just curious, there are no extended ramifications thereof regarding this question. :rolling_eyes:
  27. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,620) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    It might feel more bock-like? Not sure. 100% Munich malt scares me a bit because my two high Munich beers (an alt and a stout) have been cloying, and yet, there are some traditional bocks, which also probably were high Munich, that I have loved.
  28. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Poo-Bah (2,077) May 21, 2010 Texas

    I can honestly say that none of my beers have "died" or "were dying." However, I haven't made beers that were meant to last, and I haven't ever had any still laying around long enough for them to die off. They just get drank too fast. My data on "shelf life" would be non-existant tho.

    Speaking of beer, I'm really craving one of my funky amber-extract/partial mash/slightly warmer and slightly less stable fermentation temps/T-58 brews. Too bad I only made 2.2-ish gallons of it. I really can't wait to see how T-58, with a somewhat similar partial mash profile, and EXTRA DARK extract does. Guess I need to actually make it before I can find out how good it is tho, right? :rolling_eyes:
  29. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,620) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Not dying, cloying. Nevermind. I've done one beer and one mead with T58. The former came across like a hefeweizen, IMO, and the latter, like a dry champagne. While I liked both of these beverages, they tasted even better before I made them. You pays your money and takes your chances.
  30. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Poo-Bah (2,077) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Oops, misread. :rolling_eyes:

    Well I guess I was pretty much expecting what I got out of T-58, which was something saison-ish. I am not disappointed, although I suspect that 3711 would have a fair chance of making a "better" beer under these conditions, with these ingredients. Maybe, maybe not, I like 3711 but don't plan to test the theory. I chose T-58 because it's dry, and at 2.2 gallon batch size, I can get two batches out of one packet of yeast.
    pweis909 likes this.
  31. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (304) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    hmmmm... Sounds a lot like kids. They're so much more enjoyable before they're born.
    pweis909 and cavedave like this.
  32. TruePerception

    TruePerception Defender (636) Aug 30, 2013 California

    I know I've missed the poll (and the period you need the beers for), but assuming money isn't a problem, you should certainly go for (have gone for) both. Even assuming your beer didn't turn out, it's practice, which you'll need/want anyway.
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