Bock (all-grain)

DSC_0781The next beer I concocted for Oktoberfest was an experiment – a Bock.  This is a German style that’s malt forward, slightly darker and a bit stronger than a Marzen/Oktoberfest beer but all around delicious.  This was my first attempt at a beer that uses nearly all Munich as the base malt, so I was anxious to see the result.

  • 10 lb Munich type 2 malt (9*L)
  • 2.5 lb Pilsner malt
  • 0.5 lb Crystal 120 malt
  • 0.5 lb Melanoidin malt
  • 0.5 lb Honey malt
  • 1 oz Tettanger hops (3% aa, 60 min)
  • 1 oz Tettnager hops (3% aa, 30 min)
  • WYeast Bavarian Lager

// 17.5 qt water @ 165F (1.25 qt/lb), brought mash to ~155F. Let rest for 60 minutes, then batch sparge with 3 rounds of ~2 gallons of 170F water to collect 7.75 gal 1.041 gravity pre-boil wort. Boil hard for 90 minutes, adding hops at the times above. Cool to 75F, then let sit for ~20 minutes to let hop trub and proteins settle out. OG 1.061. Pitched a yeast slurry from the previous pilsner lager, along with the fresh WYeast pack. Let initially sit at room temperature. //

UPDATE: Fermentation started quick – about an hour after pitching – and after 3 hours at room temp moved, it was bubbling once every 2-3 seconds, so I moved to the fridge. Checking out the spec sheet for this yeast, the temperature range is 46-58F, so I’ll put it smack in the middle at 52F. Let it sit 2 weeks at this temperature, then let it warm to room temp for 2 days before racking to secondary. Placed in the fridge at ~25F. Gravity read 1.011.

Coming out of the primary, this doesn’t taste spectacular. Aroma-wise there’s a little sulfur, and some faint maltiness, but overall nothing that jumps out.  Color wise, light brown to dark amber, slightly lighter than I anticipated.  It’s still cloudy as hell, so naturally it still tastes very yeasty.  Otherwise, it’s distinctly fruity, kind of a generic “malty” taste, and has a little bit of a hoppy bite which adds some crispness. Overall, not really impressed, and slightly confused as to why this is not tasting as I picture it. As always, time will tell.

UPDATE 10/18: Took a sip after 3 weeks in the secondary at subfreezing (~28F). Aroma: very malty, almost a stereotypical maltyness. Color: a beautiful ruby red.  Taste: upfront it’s faily bland and watery, but it finishes very sweet and has a nice breadyness to it. You can really notice the honey malt, and it gives it a nice sweetness. At this point I’m not super happy with it, but I think a few more weeks will let it develop. It’s definitely malty, but I’m not sure I like the style.

UPDATE #2 10/24: Transferred to the keg because I needed to clear up space in the fridge. I definitely taste some improvement – the finishing sweetness is nice. A little bit yeasty tasting, but still some nice overall bready flavors. I’m starting to get a better sense of Munich malt. Nice clarity too.

THE VERDICT:

::sigh:: It’s always frustrating when you make a beer that’s considerably not-as-good as ones you’ve made previously. You feel like you’re making good progress, understanding things well, then all of a sudden, you’ve taken a few steps in the wrong direction.  The first all-grain lager I made came out unexpectedly amazing (this was, I think, due to a little luck in terms of ambient temperatures, a solid recipe, and a good amount of yeast to help).  This beer is definitely good, but it is not great.  The aroma is of malt, caramel, toasted bread, and a typical “homebrew-y” yeasty smell. To taste, it follows the nose pretty well – very malty up front, a rich sweetness with a little spicy hop sensation in the middle to end. Nice amount of body, not too light or heavy, right in the middle. I honestly think the Crystal 120 is where this one starts to go wrong. The more beers I make, the less I like caramel crystal malts. They’re definitely fine in small quantities (1/2 lb is still pretty small!) for color, but I think with a lager it really stands out too much given all of the other fairly mild ingredients in this. 1/2 lb would probably suit well in an American Brown Ale or even a porter for some depth.. but in a darker traditional German lager, I’d probably prefer some dark munich, or caramunich III.  I think with better fermentation temps, sub in dark munich for crystal, a dash of chocolate malt, and maybe even change the munich:pilsner ratio to be a less munich-heavy, this beer will be well on its way to a better bock.

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Filed under Bock/Dopplebock, German, Lager

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