Just in case you didn't know, Octoberfest (Oktoberfest)
is a German celebration/fair held each year to mark the
anniversary of the marriage of (future King) Crown Prince of
Bavaria Ludwig I and Princess
Therese of Bavaria on October 12,1810. The people of
Munich, where the event took place, were invited to a huge
celebration that day, and have continued to do so each year
since. Called "October" fest, since the event took
place during late September into the first weekend in
October. It actually occurs mostly in
September so as to take advantage of better weather.
The huge party (I've been to several and they are fun, fun,
fun!) lasts for 16 or 17 days, depending if the 3rd of
October falls on a Monday (German Unity Day). Millions
turn out for the event each year from around the world.
If you get a chance to go, make sure you visit the Hofbrau
Haus in Munich. For some reason, the beer never stops
speaking, an Oktoberfest style of beer is a strong pale
lager originating in Bavaria, Germany. It is about
5.8% alcohol by volume. Traditionally, this beer was
brewed in March and allowed to ferment slowly
through the summer months. Remember, mechanical
refrigeration hadn't been invented yet. So dark, cool locations
were required to keep the beer from
going sour. Of course, Bavaria, with its high
elevations, made keeping fermenting beers cool simpler for
Oktoberfest is a registered trademark of the Club of
Munich Brewers, and as such, only certain breweries are
permitted by German law to brew original Octoberfest beer,
including Augustiner-Bräu, Spaten, Hofbräu-München,
Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr. And, during
the Oktoberfest in Munich, only these beers (which are
brewed within the city) are allowed to be sold during the
Known as "Marzen" bier (Märzenbier, Oktoberfestbier,
Festbier, and Wiener Märzen), it comes from the Bavarian
brewing law of 1539 (Germans have always been the pioneers
of quality in brewing laws!) That law states the this
beer can be brewed only between the dates of September 29
and April 23. Meaning... now beer was NOT to be brewed
during the five months of spring - summer. As such, by
summer the last batches from the coolest of cellars, caves,
or under blocks of ice were all but consumed. What was
left over was the higher abv or strongly-hopped beer that
could last through summer... what is now called
Enjoy Oktoberfestbier with any German cuisine, but
especially bratwurst and brotchen!
Headed to Munich for Oktoberfest?
Take this map with you!
Eathing and Drinking
Bavarian pretzel. Strand of dough artistically wound to form
a lye bread. On the Wiesn, the enormous, over-sized pretzel
A Bavarian cheese delicacy with Camembert, onions, paprika,
caraway seeds, butter and sometimes even beer; available in
various beer tents at the Oktoberfest.
A hoibads Hendl bitte.
I’d like half a chicken please.
Oans, Zwoa, Gsuffa.
One, two, down the hatch. (The toast used on the Wiesn.)
A bread dumpling made with salt, eggs and parsley
Leberkäse (meat loaf)
Similar to a ploughmans; basically a snack consisting of
bread, cold cuts of meat and cheese eaten throughout the
day. Important components of a Brotzeit are Brezn, Obazda,
Radi and Leberkäse (meat loaf).
A litre of beer
Pretty girls and
tight lederhosen as far as the eye can see, all these visual
attractions soon bring on a case of flirting fever. A happy
person is therefore
one who knows how to gather kisses and telephone numbers
instead of Watschn (a clip around the ear). Obandln or
flirting is a natural part of the Wiesn.
Scheene Aug’n host
You have beautiful eyes
A fesches Madl
A beautiful girl
Host du vui Hoiz vor da Hüttn
You’ve got a nice pair
Is da no frei
Is this seat free?
A girl or a type of traditional dress
I mog di
I love you
Other Words and Phrases
Wos host g'sogt?
What did you say?
Ja mei ...
Oh well ...
Bye, see you later
Waiter, we’d like to pay, please.
I bin ogschdocha
So a schmarrn
That’s not true
The Secret Dress Code
The dirndl bow code
A bow tied on the left hand side:
She’s still available. In this case flirting is still
allowed or even desired!
A bow tied on the right hand side:
Hands off! Or think twice about it. Unfortunately, she’s
A bow tied at the back:
She is either a Wiesn waitress, or a widow.
A bow tied in the middle:
She’s still a virgin.
Styles of Beer
Many have said the taste of beer must be "acquired".
That may be true. Although factors such as the brewing
process and various spices, fruits, etc. play a role, the
taste of beer chiefly comes from the malt and water
used, esters (or lack of) from the yeast, and the hops.
And, it's the hops that people are inherently tasting when
we say beer is an acquired taste...
You'll find that most beginners use bottles for their
home brewed beer. But, as you advance your
knowledge and experience in brewing beer at home,
you'll likely want to move away from bottling to kegging
your beer. Learn about the various home brew
kegs and kegging systems.
Get answers about the home brew system, the best
home brew kits, all
the different pieces of
home brew gear, and even where to obtain beer
labels for your bottles!
Any of the Belgian Monk beers brewed within the
walls of the Trappist Monastery and controlled by
the International Trappist Association. World
renowned beers that are considered by us among the
Great beer, brewed in a fashion familiar to any of
us who have served with the Army/Air Force in
Germany during the Cold War. Love the new Pint
Glass they sent me recently. Ummmmmm!
While stationed in The Netherlands, this was the
more popular beer, after Heineken. In our
opinion, it is a far better brew than the big "H"
beer! Unfortunately, Brand beer is not
available in the United States.
July 24, 2012 - Note: This is a Lager - meaning bottom
fermentation required - and needs low fermentation
temperatures... preferably around 45 - 50 degrees F.
We did not follow this procedure as we have a lack of
mechanical control (i.e. refrigeration) of low temperature
fermentation. Since brewing, however, we have learned
that an artificial lager fermentation bucket of water/ice
can be used. As can a very cool basement during winter
months. Ideally, a refrigerator setup can be used.
Clearly, we wanted everything clean
and sanitized. As usual, we used our Step solution
with water. We enjoyed a nice Warsteiner while we
worked! To start, we used filtered water from the
Next step was to bring about 2 1/2 gallons of this water
to about 150 - 155 degrees F. That is the point where
we added our grain bag for steeping. Steeping lasted
for 50 minutes, while we carefully monitored the
temperature. Do not allow for the temperature to
exceed 155 F. Doing so will impart bad flavors in your
After steeping, we moved the grain bag from the pot and
placed in a bowl. Next we turned the heat up and
brought the brew to a boil. At that point, we added
the dry malts, being careful not to allow an over-boil.
We stirred the mixture, carefully watching for boil-over.
10 minutes into the boil, we added the bittering hops...
The brew was stirred for another 45 - 50 minutes.
At that point, after an hour of boiling, we moved the brew
from the heat and added the aroma hops...
Giving these hops about 3 to 5 minutes to work their
magic, it was time to cool the brew. As we've done in
the past, we brought the temperature down quickly by adding
ice (filtered water ice, of course)...
This got the temperature down to about 100 F in quick
fashion. Since yeast-pitching doesn't happen until
about 72 - 74 degrees F., we needed to further cool the
brew. So, we added about a gallon of cool water that
we had resting in our sanitized carboy in the fridge.
That got it down to about 76, so we decided to place the
brew pot in the fridge for half an hour or so.
Afterwards, when the temp was down to 73, we pitched the
yeast and siphoned the brew to the carboy. An air-lock
was added and the carboy was placed in a cool location of
the house (first pic below). Oddly, fermentation
didn't really start until about 36 hours later (2nd pic
below). Perhaps because we did not place a dark towel
around the carboy? Maybe because the temperature was
still 74 F (warm) in that location? We are not sure.
UPDATE: Ok, so we figured it out... we are
fermenting at too high of a temperature. This is a
LAGER beer. As such, it needs to ferment at a
temperature of about 45 - 50 degrees F. After
researching our mistake, we have learned that it will likely
produce a home brew that is drinkable, but not one that will
be matching the flavor of a typical Oktoberfest style beer.
In essence, what we will end up with is a steam beer (or the
German dampfbier) - one that uses lager yeast, but is
fermented at high temperatures.
By the third day, fermentation was very active, and the
air-lock was really popping at a rate of about 1 per second.
Oddly, the temperature rose to around 77-78 degrees F.
Mind you, it is summer time here. But, the air
conditioning is on and the room temp is around 70-72.
Of course, fermentation creates a bit of heat itself.
So, we added a wet towel around the carboy to reduce the
temperature. For more about brewing optimum lagers,
check out these
10 keys to great lager home brew. Below is a video
of our beer fermenting. Sorry, not good quality (made
with android) so we will work on future vids.
After a week in the primary fermenter, we decided to move
the home brew to a secondary fermenter. Using the
standard siphon, here is how we did that...
And, here is a video...
Following an additional two weeks in the secondary
fermenting carboy, we siphoned the brew to the racking
bucket, added the 3/4 cup of powdered sugar - priming
sugar used to reactivate the yeast while in the bottle to
produce CO2 - and mixed (aerated) it with a vigorous spoon
mixing. From there, we did a complete sanitization of
the bottles and filled 18 1-liter bottles. A day at
room temperature, followed by a move to the fridge.
Should be ready just in time for Octoberfest (about a
month from now)! Which, by the way, begins in late
September each year, and last until the first weekend in
October. Why? Because the Germans realized it's
more fun to drink in the warmer weather!
August 28, 2012 - Update: We clearly
couldn't control ourselves and wanted to test the beer
frequently to see if it was ready. Over the past two
weeks, we popped the lid on several bottles to check for
carbonation. Each time, the beer was still flat...
just a tea. Total time in the bottle was just 1 week
when we started checking. I have to tell you that
impatience is not a good trait for the homebrewer!
Especially when brewing lager-style beers, which require
more conditioning time (several months, at least).
Nonetheless, we were concerned because we fermented this
batch at ale temperatures and it should have been lagered
at much cooler temperatures. So, we figured we would
lose some bottles and perhaps the entire batch.
Because of this logic, we decided to write this one off and
just test is as we saw necessary.
So, we took all remaining bottles of home brew out of the
fridge and let them rest a day at room temperature.
The next day they went back into the fridge. After
another day of cooling down, we tried one. It had
carbonated very well and made a loud "pop" as the wire-top
was released. So, we drank on the remaining ones for
several days with each day that passed making the brew
cleaner and flavorful.
In short order, after drinking the last one, three
weeks after bottling (video below of opening the bottle), I
have to say that it turned out to be a decent beer. I
was surprised, quite honestly. The next batch of
Oktoberfestbier we brew is going to get at least three
months at 38 - 40 degrees F. Probably going to have to
get a separate fridge. Or perhaps condition it in a
keg. If we plan on drinking it around the end of
September (in honor of the season) we need to probably brew
it no later than May or June.
The moral of this story is to never give up on your brew.
You may have boilovers, fermentation that blows sediment out
the top of the air-lock creating a mess, and ales that
should have been lagered. These mistakes are going to
happen. But, what I've learned is, barring major
sanitation errors, it's pretty hard to screw up a batch of
home brewed beer. We have inadvertently done the three
aforementioned things and the beers all turned out
successful. Thinking about it, beer was originally
preferred over water thousands of years ago as it generally
had zero possibility of contamination. So, even today
if the beer tastes good, its likely going to be good... and
perfectly fine to drink.