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Doppelbock All-grain

January 15, 2012

With my Dunkel kegged and the yeast harvested, I’m ready to tackle a doppelbock.  This time I have a big enough MLT to go all-grain (unlike last time).

Pre-Brew

Homebrew shop only had 13# German-sourced Munich malt out and I was in a hurry so didn’t wait for them to refill.  Instead I replaced the last 1# with Briess 20L Munich.  I don’t expect it will make a noticeable difference.

Recipe

BeerSmith Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (2/12/12)

Man brewing is a lot of work.  I’ve been putting it off for a long time, but the crushed grains have been staring at me for too long now.

I tried to make it as low work as possible, so I didn’t take gravity readings during the boil.  I just took off a sample pre-boil and when running off to the fermentor, not checking it until after I was all done.  Luckily I hit about 71% efficiency with 1.084 (vs. the expected 1.088) OG.

I was lucky that one of the faucets outside wasn’t frozen.  Unfortunately the hose was though, so I had to thaw it with some warm water.  The very near freezing water made for a good cooldown rate, though.

I put the fermentor in the keezer set to 45 F overnight.  Transferred over to another fermentor the day after to let the trub settle.  Other lessons from the Dunkel reminded me to run off some to do a fast ferment and I remembered to throw the yeast nutrient in near the end of the boil instead of after.

Only had about 10 of the necessary 13.5 tbsp of yeast (ended up with roughly 400 billion cells vs. the 600 billion I needed).  I used whatever I couldn’t scoop out of the jar with my tablespoon for the fast ferment.  Left the fast ferment on the stir plate for about 12 hours to get growth.  After that time it was really frothy, so hopefully I got enough growth to at least finish the 800 mL off.

Fermentation

Nice krausen and airlock activity by the evening following pitching.  Pretty pungent sulfur-ish smell in the keezer by a couple days later.

Fast Ferment:  1.029 after 6 days.  Alcohol dominates the aroma and flavor.  A little on the hot side, which is to be expected at room temperature.  A little bit of nice munich-y sweetness in the background.

Fast Ferment:  1.024 after 11 days.  Aroma seemed nice munich-y in the sample tube.  I was pretty happy the gravity had dropped so much.  I ended up spilling almost all of the sample in the sink after taking the reading and I was pretty bummed.  But once I drank what was left, I wasn’t too disappointed anymore.  It was all hot alcohol.  Not surprising, but I was hoping I’d at least be able to tolerate what came of the fast ferment.

Sample after 16 days:  1.041.  I was pretty surprised it was still so high.  I’m really hopeful that it can get into the low 20’s like the fast ferment.  The aroma was really nice munich-y with a pretty strong yeasty component to along with.  The flavor – while sweet – wasn’t as sweet as I expected from the gravity.  Otherwise the flavor was a little less intense than I want, so hopefully that develops or comes out when all the other flavors (yeast, etc.) drop out.

Sample after 19 days: 1.040. Slightly musty aroma. Very sweet.

Swirled the carboy to rouse the yeast and raised temperature 2 F (to 50 F).  Bought some dry yeast just in case.

Sample after 24 days: 1.033. Initially, it was about 1.039 but letting it sit brought the reading down significantly, so maybe that’s all that I needed to do with the other sample (maybe allowing carbonation to come out of solution).

Thoughts on the high FG

I tend to think – with operator error removed from the equation – that the strain is the largest contributor to the high finishing gravity. While I still think age/health is a factor, I think it’s much smaller than the strain. Some numbers:

Healthy Hella Bock: Apparent attenuations of 68% and 67% (maibock & first doppelbock, respectively).

Old Hella Bock: Apparent attenuations 61% and 58% (dunkel and doppelbock so far)

Contrast the dunkel’s attenuation with the old hella bock to the brew with Munich Lager yeast (wyeast 2308) and you get 61% compared to 85%.

So, in the end, I think it’s reasonable to only expect attenuations in the 65 – 70% range with this type of yeast. Considering I’m barely breaking into the 60’s – if at all – then there is likely a health issue, but it’s not as great as I first thought.

I happen to still have the munich lager yeast from the first dunkel in the fridge. Obviously it has age issues now (which is why I didn’t re-pitch it for the last dunkel) but as a cheapskate, I think the price-performance ratio is about right for me. I think I’ll work up a starter with it and throw it in there to see what happens. First though, I think I might rack a gallon or so off to compare and contrast.

Gravity @ repitch (by refractometor because I didn’t get enough for hydrometer): 12.12 brix.

Pitched the 1L starter of munich lager 3/12/12. Not much activity 2 days later, but I think it’s doing something (foam on surface, indication the airlock has been bubbling).

5 days after repitch:  1.032.  Essentially no change.  Don’t think I’m gonna get anymore out of it.  Luckily it doesn’t seem too sweet.

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From → All-Grain, Brews, Lager

2 Comments
  1. Adam permalink

    You may need to re-pitch some yeast to get the fermentation going. I would say the first strain you bought (9-month old Hella Bock) was not the healthiest if it could only take a 1.050 beer down to 1.020. A 1.020 Munich Dunkel is a *touch* underattenuated (sweet).

    You can choose to continue holding the beer at lager temperatures and make a NEW 2L yeast starter from an active smack pack. Pitch the yeast into the wort when it is MOST ACTIVE so it can go to work right away!

    The other option is to rack the beer to a secondary (you should do this after 4 weeks regardless), warm the beer to 60-65F and pitch a clean tasting Ale yeast like WLP001 or Wyeast 1056. This will help finish the beer out. Most of your flavors are still there from the original lager fermentation.

    Best of luck!

    ~Adam

  2. Thanks for the response, Adam. You’ve got my gears a-turnin’ and I’m gonna add a section to the post above outlining my thoughts and course of action. I started putting it in a response down here, but realized it was getting too wordy 😉

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