Octoberfest brew...in October?

I've been having an urge to brew something a little lighter on the palette, but still on the malty side. This seemed like a reasonable excuse to give a Marzen/Octoberfest-type beer a shot, so I put together a recipe and was ready for when the opportunity presented itself.

It just so happened that I needed to pick up my daughter on Friday from school.  It also just so happens that there's a brew supply store (Let's Brew) VERY close to her school...at least as far as close goes in Portland. While they're not quite as well stocked as FH Steinbart and didn't have the exact malt I was hoping to add to the mix, they had a good substitute. The same thing happened with the yeast. Was hoping for a Wyeast smack pack, but ended up with a White Labs vial. I sort of don't mind though as this was a small batch and by all accounts, the recipe and surprise components should all play nice in the end.

Miraculously enough, we ended up not having any big plans for the weekend, and it looked like Sunday would be a brew day.  I finished putting the grains together Saturday night from my shrinking stock of base malt, had second thoughts about batch size, but didn't want to make another trip to the brew store and decided to just roll with it.

Since this was just going to be a one gallon batch, I started early in the house by using the stove to heat the water.  However, I learned that a one gallon batch in a 5 gallon cooler doesn't do a good job of maintaining heat.  Guess who took a swing at a decoction mash!  Yup. Pulled out some grains, boiled them up for a bit, and put them back in to get the temp back up a bit.  It was still a little lower than hoped for, but good enough to get through the session.

Spent grains...waaaaaay down there.
The smaller volume meant I was able to up my sparge volume to a more appropriate amount and just let it rip in the kettle. It was nice to not have to be quite as wary of boil-overs since I was at just over 3 gallons in a 5 gallon kettle.

Small batch means I could really put the heat to it.
The volume cooked down as expected, but towards the end, I started to winder if I had gone a bit too far since there was so little there.  It wasn't quite syrup, but it was certainly looking very cooked down!

The point where you wonder if you cooked out too much.
The target gravity was 1.050-1.055.  It came in at 1.060 and was a bit short on volume, so I boiled and cooled some water, pushed the volume back up, and, like most things lately, was on the low end of TG @ 1.050...which is fine. since I am going for a slightly lower abv anyhow.  And given that it mashed at a lower temperature, it should ferment out well.  Current working name: Marzen Rover.

While there was no action in the bubbler as of this morning, the yeast is a slow to start one, and it's starting out a little on the cool side, so that all plays into that.  Definitely looking forward to the finished product though!

Since I had all the tools out, I cracked open the pumpkin ale I cooked up last week.  Starting out at 1.094, it is down to 1.014 after a week. Still VERY sweet and the spices are very present - not so much like pumpkin pie, but more like a holiday beer.  It'll go to secondary in a day or two and one of them will get a little bourbon/oak treatment.  Big beer though - 9.2% already and hopefully a good addition to the Broken Helmet line.