This is a first for me in many respects. To prepare for an upcoming Septemberfest event, I decided to do an Oktoberfest style beer. I also decided, though I definitely do not have the proper equipment, I was going to do an all grain batch and then lager it, since it is, after all, a lager.
Now I don’t technically have a mash tun or any form of insulated cooler which would have worked better, so I just used my brewing bucket and did all the heating and boiling in my brewpot. After the mash, I struggled to pour my bucket of mash through a grain bag which was a little too small for the amount of grain I had. I got it done anyway, and then poured 3qt 20 oz of 166ºF water over the grains to rinse them. I was straining it all into my brewpot to get ready for the next step. Finally got it all into the pot and put it on the stove to boil.
Brought the wort to a boil and added the 2oz of hops. Boiled the wort for 60 minutes. I noticed at this time that cooling the wort was going to be a problem, as I had about 4 gallons of wort and I usually cool by adding ice. This was not going to happen very well, in this case. I prepared a cold water bath to help cool the wort before adding the ice. This dropped the temperature fairly quickly from 212º to 155º. Ran another cold water bath and dropped it down to about 125º. After this, transferred the wort to a bucket on top of about a gallon of ice. Perfectly hit my target range, down to 64ºF and a total of 4 gallons. Added 1.5 gallons of water to make 5.5. At this point, measured the Original Gravity to be 1.050 at 64ºF, giving a potential alcohol content of 6.6%, but I expect more around 5%, I think. I added yeast. I think my Wyeast pack was defective, because the inner pouch had a second sealed compartment that would have never broken open by smacking it. Had to cut it open. Might have thrown off my yeast pitching. That and the fact that I forgot to activate it when I started the mash. Overall, a successful day. I transferred it into a carboy and placed it in a make-shift swamp cooler to try to keep the temperature down for the primary fermentation.
My swamp cooler was only getting the beer down to about 64ºF, not ideal for a lager. So I made room in my fridge, turned up the thermostat and stuck it in. I bought a fridge thermometer and the carboy already has a fermometer stuck to the side of it. Fridge temperature stabilized at 50ºF, but the beer was still at 54-56ºF, so I turned the fridge down to 45ºF and the beer was down to about 50ºF the next morning. Plan to leave it at this temperature for two weeks, then step it down to 35ºF.
Lagering: After fermenting at about 48ºF for a week of solid activity, things slowed down and everything started to clear up and drop out of the beer. After another week, I am now turning the temperature down a few degrees a day until I will get to 32-35ºF.
So in a couple days I lowered the temperature to about 40ºF. Seems to be about the limitation of my fridge without cranking it up all the way. I think it should be fine. Today I racked the beer to another carboy, getting rid of about an inch and a half of trub at the bottom and everything that was floating.
Bottling: I racked the beer to a bucket and mixed in priming sugar. Had about 4.7 gallons of beer. Filled 49 12oz bottles and capped them. It was flowing through the tube a nice clear amber color. Final Gravity was observed to be 1.014 at 45ºF, which translates to 1.013 and 4.94% ABV.