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Helles Bock Brew

March 5, 2011

Pre-Brew

I borrowed the club’s grain mill for this brew because I started looking closely at getting my own after a noticeable improvement in efficiency after double-milling my grain at the brew shop lately.  The ideal would be to get something that could double as a grain mill for brewing and something to make flour from wheat for my wife’s survival kit.  Unfortunately it doesn’t look like such a thing exists (at least not at any reasonable price) so I figured I’d borrow the club’s mill and see how it worked.  So far I’m pretty impressed.  The husks looked to be mostly intact with the endosperm (?)  broken up pretty well.  I’m kinda thinking we’ll eventually get a Corona-style mill that will work for making flour and people have gotten to work from brewing (though it’s not ideal).

Also, I get to re-pitch the yeast from my Munich Helles for this.  In the Helles Bock episode, I got the impression that Jamil seemed to think pitching a 1.070 Helles Bock on top of a Munich Helles yeast cake would work out right as far as cell counts.  I’m not positive it’s appropriate, but I plug in ‘Simple Starter’ to Mr. Malty’s pitching rate calculator, and it does look like making 3.5 – 4 gallons of 1.048 beer should be about the right amount of yeast.  So all I did was collect the yeast from the bottom of the fermentors and put it in my starter flask.  When I’m ready to pitch, I’m going to siphon some wort over to it (after decanting) and get it going on the stir plate for a little while before dumping the whole thing into the fermentor.

Finally, even though I should get better efficiency this time around, I’m going with a partial mash because I don’t think my MLT can handle 5 gallons at 1.070.  This will also help tune the gravity since I really have no idea what my efficiency might come out to.  I’m optimistic, but you never know.

Recipe

BeerSmith Recipe

Brew Day (3/6/2011)

  • Starch conversion test (only 22 oz. Pilsner w/ 76 oz. Munich) – Looked pretty good by 45 minutes at least
  • Immersion Chiller Dead => Bath tub – worked fairly well
  • Low boil-off
  • Forgot the Whirlfloc!
  • Filled fermentor from bottling bucket, trying to leave as much hot/cold break and hops behind
  • When at temp ~47 F (after sitting on the porch for a few hours – as measured by thermometer bubble-wrapped to the side), transferred to a second fermentor, leaving thick (1 – 2 inch) layer behind
  • siphoned ~1600 mL off to erlenmeyer holding the yeast
  • Wort was awfully dark, hopefully it will be the appropriate color in the end (too much color formation during long boil?  Evap rate was pretty low, so not sure how that would happen)
  • aerated for ~30 seconds
  • added 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient to erlenmeyer and put on stir plate
  • OG read 1.091 so I topped off with ~1 gallon (both full water pitchers)
  • After pitching, aerated for additional ~30 seconds

Fermentation

  • Started in <20 hours
  • Nice frothy head (much larger and more well-formed than the Munich Helles)

Sample after ~19 days:  1.021.  Pretty hazy.  I can’t put my finger on the smell exactly, but it smells a little green.  I assume it’s sulfur, but that doesn’t seem quite right.  Flavor is pretty sweet still.  Not surprising given the SG.  A definite alcohol warming, but I don’t notice it much in the taste.  Color looked good.  Not too dark as I was afraid.  Overall, it’s certainly reminiscent of Capital’s Maibock.  I wonder how much it will keep the similarity once it’s finished (and lost the sweetness).

Sample after 4 weeks:  sample read 1.024.  It was pretty bubbly, so I’m inclined to think that threw off the reading.  I’ll stick with it being in the 1.021 range.  I tasted this after sampling my 1-week old ESB, while having a cold so I’m not sure how much to trust my taste, but it didn’t taste “green” or sweet anymore.  It had a definite alcohol warming to it, but it was pretty mellow.

Kegging (4/4/2011)

No auto-siphon (racking cane portion broke a couple weeks ago) so I f’d around with it until it eventually worked.  Let me know that I need to get another auto-siphon, though.

As my pre-keg impressions, it’s really smooth and malty.  Once carbonation gets to where I want it, I’m going to bottle as much as I can tolerate and try to age it.  This means I can’t wait around too long to brew something else to keep me from raiding the bottles (Doppelbock next).

Impressions (after having too many)

Aroma

Appearance:  A little cloudy.  Large, creamy white head that fades to respectable amount for the duration of the glass.  Nice lacing.

Flavor:  Caramelly Sweet with hop bitterness on the finish.  Smooth, warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel:  Full, creamy body with alcohol warming.

Overall:  I’m pretty proud of this beer.  For being higher alcohol it’s really smooth.  Unless I can get to bottling another 6-pack soon, I run the risk of not having much to savor after its obligatory aging period.

Later Impression

Now that I have a little bit of a taste for bocks, I think I’m drinking the last one.  Overall, I think it’s a very fine beer.  Too bad I don’t have any others left (except maybe a bomber … I sure hope so).  Compared to my “award-winning” doppelbock, it definitely seems like a really good beer.  It’s very similar to the doppelbock, but with less intense dark fruit flavor.  I really didn’t scrutinize it much, but it just seems like a lighter-colored doppelbock.  It has a little more caramel as opposed to the dark fruit sweetness.  It would have been fascinating if I actually had been able to enter it in the same competition as the doppelbock to see how it would have finished.

Reflection

I’d like to try this beer again, but with a decoction mash.  I’m thinking Gordon Strong’s modified Hochkurz method with a protein rest at 131 F for clarity.  I imagine even as a partial mash it can still benefit from the decoction.  Hopefully I can keep my single bottle of this batch to compare, but that’s probably a stretch.

Correction (after my Dunkel):  I do not want to do Strong’s modified Hochkurz with a beer that should have some residual sweetness.  Instead, I expect to do a doppelbock with a more traditional double decoction to see if I can keep the FG in the right range.  If that works out, I can try it with any re-brew of this.

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From → Brews, Lager, Partial Mash

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