September 13, 2011

Oregano Hoptoberfest

As promised in my Oktoberfest post, it's time to fill you in on my latest homebrewing experiment: an Oregano Hoptoberfest.  It won't be an Oktoberfest so much as a Pale Ale -- an Oktoberfest is a malt-driven lager whereas this will be (hopefully) a hoppier ale.  With oregano.  The name I came up with is as much a salute to the season as it is descriptive of the final brew.  In any case, it's got a nice ring to it.

My recipe was inspired by the Oregano Pale Ale recipe in The Homebrewer's Garden, which you can find here on the Brewlog.  I made some changes to try to get the beer closer to an IPA, but with still a bit of German influence:

6 lbs Golden LME
1 lb Organic Munich Malt 10L (catch the German reference?)
1 lb Organic Caramel Malt 20L (gotta love organic)
.75 lb Smoked Malt
1 oz. Northern Brewer hops for 60 mins
1 oz Centennial hops for 30 mins
.5 oz Tettnanger hops (German) for 15 mins
1 oz fresh, locally grown oregano for 15 mins
.5 oz Tettnanger hops for 5 mins
Wyeast American Ale yeast

Estimated IBUs: 65
Estimated ABV: 5.8%

Alright, so there's a lot going on here -- some malts to give the beer a copper color and a hint of smokiness, some stronger American hop varieties paired with a more mellow German one, and of course the oregano, which I found to be pretty pungent.  I'm very curious to see how it all turns out.  Here's how things went down on brew day (exactly two years after my first brew day!):

Here are the different hops and the oregano, all ready to go, in the order that they'll be added to the boil.  The camera flash really brings out the difference between the hops.

Then we mash the grains (in other words, steep at around 150-155F for 45 mins):


Next, the grains are strained from the wort and rinsed with hot water: 


We add some filtered water to get the boil volume right, then add the liquid malt extract:


Now we're cooking!  The hops start going in, following the recipe schedule:


Now the oregano.  I had this straining bag that's gonna save me the trouble of trying to remove the oregano leaves.  I tasted some of the run-off from the bag and boy was it bitter!:


At the end of the 60 minute boil, the wort cools, the yeast gets thrown in, and then we wait.  I should be
 able to bottle this batch in about two weeks, then it should age for about a month to let the oregano mellow out.

I'll keep you posted!

UPDATE:

10/24/11 - Oregano Hoptoberfest placed 2nd out of 12 entries in the Spice, Herb, and Vegetable Beer category at the 5th annual Virginia Beer Blitz!