Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maibock Brew

   To anyone who may or may not read this... My primary reason for starting this blog is to provide myself with a more detailed and illustrated brew log for my records. 

   So I’ve only tired one Maibock (aka Hells Bock) before this brew and that was Sierra Nevada’s Glissade Golden Bock.  Although I can’t say I absolutely loved it, I did think it was good enough to try to brew the style.  I thought this would be a good beer to approach those BMC lovers with as an attempt to move them closer to the “Dark Side”. 

Left is my brew kettle with the first runnings and
to the right is my mashtun with the final sparge
So, with this being my first post I forgot to start the picture documentation until my final sparge.   With a strike temp of 167F I was able to hit my target mash-in temp of 154F with 3.75gals and maintained it for the full 60 min mash.  The orange cooler is my mashtun with my final sparge and the picture to the left of it is my brew kettle with the runnings from the mash and the 1st batch sparge.  Both sparges were 11.5 quarts.  Overall efficiency for this batch was pretty good at 88%.   

   In between collecting the runnings from the first sparge and heating the water for the second, I can't forget the old tradition of enjoying a nice homebrew while brewing.  Since I am brewing a bock, I chose to enjoy my "Drunk Monk Dopplebock" that I brewed back in November. 
Next, it is time to recirculate or "vorlauf".

This means recirculating the mash to set the grain bed and be sure that small amounts of grain doesn't get added to the brew kettle along with the collected wort.  Wort is the term used to describe "raw" beer, which is beer that has not yet had yeast added to it. Wort (pronounced 'wert') is essentially just sugar (from malted grains) and water.  The next step is to finish collecting the wort from the second sparge into the brew kettle and get a initial gravity reading.  So, from my sight-glass on my brew kettle you can see I collected close to 8.5 gals of wort. 

At the same time, I cooled off a hydrometer sample and got a initial specific gravity reading of 1.052.  That gravity is with a total volume of around 8.5 gals, though.  So, the more volume I boil off the more concentrated the sugars will become and consequently the gravity reading will go up.
Next, I measured out the bittering hops and added that to the boil.  I boiled the wort in total for about 90 mins.  A 60 min boil is required to ensure complete utilization of bittering alpha acids in the hops.  It also helps further break down proteins in the beer and helps with a cleaner tasting brew.

At the time of the boil, my first beer is nearing empty if not completely empty... so time for another.  This one is my Strong Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy.  After 30 mins or so, it's time to add the flavoring hop addition.  Normally at this stage I start the clean up process and sanitizing the wort chiller.

Left to right: 30 and 5 min hops, Yeast fuel and Whirlfloc tablets, sanitizing the wort chiller

With this brew I have 4 hop additions (bittering, 2 flavoring, and flame out).  The first flavoring hop addition goes in with 30 mins left in the boil and the second goes in with 5 mins left.  At 15 mins left in the boil I always add yeast fuel and whirlfloc tablets.
Flame-out hops and
The rapid cool down
 Whirlfloc is a protein coagulant derived from Irish moss used to clarify the wort when it is rapidly cooled. It coagulates protein particles in the wort, causing them to drop out of solution.  This will help the finished beer to be crystal clear.  I use a wort chiller I made out of 15 feet of copper tubing to rapidly cool the wort after the boil.  I normally circulate ice water in a cooler through the wort chiller in order to achieve the rapid temperature drop I need to clear the wort.  The faster this process goes, the clearer the finished product.  Usually I can get from 212F to around 70F in 15-20 mins and around 60F in 30 mins.  Of course, it goes slower in the summer.  
Close-up of the wort chiller in the kettle.
As I'm waiting for the cool down, I'm finishing clean up with dumping the spent grains.  I then take a OG reading (Original Gravity).  I got a specific gravity reading of 1.072 and the reading on the kettle sight-glass shows 5.25 Gals.  Now it's time to filter and siphon off to the fermenter and oxygenate the wort with my aquarium pump and stone.  
 Off to the ferment refrigerator at 55F for 2 weeks and Lager at 32F for 6 weeks.   After pitching the yeast (Saflager W-34/70) and 4 days later, the temperature has spiked.  I have a temp well and probe in the fermenter to measure fermentation temperatures.  So I know we are at high kraeusen (peak fermentation).  Kraeusen is the term used to describe the foam that forms on top of the fermenting beer.
Around two weeks later I checked F.G. (Final Gravity) 1.016 consistent on two consecutive days.   So time to transfer to an empty keg and place in my kegrator for the deep sleep at 32F. I purged the head space of the keg with CO2 to reduce the risk of oxidation from the transfer.  It will probably lager for 4-6 weeks while I put it on 12 psi of CO2.
Here's the finished product. The taste reminds me of a light oktoberfest/bock.  So I have to say I'm pleased with the results.  So far it has been a big hit with friends.