Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bock Bier

Lager season this year seems to be turning into the season of the malty lagers. Next up was one of the ancient German styles, the Bock Bier. Noted for big flavor, big alcohol, darkish color and they also often have goats on the label (bock being the German word for goat). Sorry I couldn't come up with a better name. You'd think it would be easy, what with the goat visual and all, but sometimes I just can't be bothered.

Bock Bier

Dark Munich- 5 lbs
Vienna- 5 lbs
Melanoidin Malt- 1 lb
Belgian Carapils 8L- 8 oz
Carafa 400L- 2 oz

Northern Brewer- .75 oz- 60 minutes
Northern Brewer- .25 oz- 9ish minutes

White Labs WLP833 Bock- Yeast cake from Winter Solstice Dunkel

127/152/Mash out- All decoctions (I am, in fact, the man)

Gravity- Target/Actual/Final/ABV

My recipe creation has hinged on Randy Mosher's great brewing book, Radical Brewing: milk as much color from the primary malts as possible. Hence, I opted for the dark version of the Munich malt, Vienna to provide some balance, and so on. The dark Carafa is a lot like the Black Malt in the English beers, where you literally need a couple tablespoons or you'll blacken the beer too much, along with giving it an acrid aftertaste. Traditionally Bock's only have a bitterring addition on the hops, but being an American, I need my hoppinesss and went with a small flavor addition. A word of note to any home brewers reading this: the White Labs Bock is a new strain, I think, and it is an exceptionally slow starter. I put this beer on the Dunkel yeast cake, and it didn't really show outward signs of attenuation for something like 36 hours. It gets a brownish foam going (almost like an ale yeast when it's almost done) before it takes off. Based on the Dunkel sample I tasted at racking last weekend though, it's a great yeast that totally accentuated the malts.

I think the cornerstone of this beer will be the malt, driven by the decoction mashing. It's kind of a pain, and you really need to do your math properly if you're going to hit your rest temps. Thankfully Promash does those calculations for me, but still, it's not something that you want to just try and wing. Better to cut your teeth on a decoction mash out once or twice (since you're trying to just get above a certain point), which is a lot more forgiving than trying to hit an exact temperature. Again, the Dunkel sample I tried, I wanted to just turn the carboy upside down and drink, it was so bready and tasty. So good.

I'm of two minds about the next beers to do. I would kind of like to do a small session style Schwarzbier, I'd like to do a redo of last years Smoked Lager (which Kerry's friend Lara said was the best beer she's ever had thankyouverymuchlara). I'm also not sure if I want to try a different yeast with these German lagers before I do some light colored beers before spring. The one thing I do know is that my mash cooler has brewed it's last. My old set mash lautering issues have cropped up again, and I'm scrapping this setup. I actually tried brewing this Bock beer last weekend, was only able to drain off two gallons of sweet wort, and ended up tossing it all in the composter. I had never been so frustrated while brewing. This week I splurged and bought an all stainless steel brewpot style tun with a false bottom that sits above the ball valve. First class all the way, so this thing better last a while. I can't wait to brew with it.