Maibock (IV: Yeast and Fermentation)

DSCN0062Brewing a Maibock is fairly straightforward. The recipe can be simple and wort production does not have to be complicated. The part of brewing as Maibock that separates the best homebrewed examples from the rest is the fermentation.

 

Yeast Strains

Maibock is a lager, and most lager yeast strains will work well for this type of beer. The best strains, as recommended by their manufacturers, are Wyeast 2124 (Bohemian Lager), Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian Lager), Wyeast 2308 (Munich Lager), White Labs WLP820 (Octoberfest/Märzen Lager), White Labs WLP833 (German Bock Lager), White Labs WLP838 (Southern German Lager), and White Labs WLP920 (Old Bavarian Lager Yeast).

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Maibock (III: Boiling and Hops)

IMG_2091Wort production — mashing and running off the wort — for a Maibock is unlikely to cause most homebrewers any problems. For a 5.0-gallon (19-L) batch, you’ll need 11–16 lbs. (5.0–7.3 kg) of grain — assuming you get an extract efficiency between 65 and 80% — to hit your target original gravity (OG 1.064–1.072). If you have a 10-gallon (38-L) or larger mash tun, you’ll have plenty of room.

For some homebrewers, however, kettle size may be limiting. Fully-sparged, 11–16 lb. of grain should yield 7 to 10 gallons (26 to 38 L) of pre-boil wort at around 11 °Plato (SG 1.044). If your extract efficiency is on the low end, and you’re shooting for a Maibock on the high end of the OG range, a 10-gallon (38-L) kettle will not be large enough.

To calculate how much pre-boil wort your grain bed will yield, assuming it is fully sparged, multiply your weight of your grain bed (in pounds) times 0.65 gallons per pound — this will give you a rough approximation (in gallons) of the volume of pre-boil wort. If this is more than you can comfortably boil in 90 minutes, you can add more grain to your recipe, but collect less wort. (Estimating how much grain to add can be tricky, though.) You could also supplement your all-grain wort with malt extract. You could also reformulate the recipe for a lower starting gravity.

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Maibock (II: Malts and Mashing)

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Adding 5–25% Munich malt to your grist gives a nice malt character that is appropriate in a bockbier.

Most Maibock recipes are very simple. The beer should be pale and better attenuated than other bockbiers, so the grist is usually 100% base malts. Crystal malts are not needed because caramel flavor and the extra body that crystal malts add are not desired. In the same vein, there is no call to add CaraPils (or CaraAnything) to your grist. A simple mix of Pilsner, Vienna, and Munich malt is ideal.

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Maibock (I:Intro)

This is the introductory post for another entry in Beer and Wine Journal’s beer style series. Previous styles profiled are American Hoppy Ales (American Pale Ale, IPA, etc.), Dry Stout, German Wheat Beer, Golden Ale, Porter, and Russian Imperial Stout.

 

Beauty of Spring 5

Spring

With the current wintery blast engulfing most of the US, many homebrewers may be looking forward to Spring. One way to prepare for the annual return of warmer weather is to brew a Maibock (which translates from the German as May Bock). Although commercial Maibocks are often available from late-winter through early summer, they are most strongly associated with Spring. Most Maibocks clock in at around 6–7% ABV. So, if you brew one now (in January), you can lager it for 2–3 months and it will be in great shape by April or May.

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Articles on Brewing Big Beers From Our First Year

birthday-party-suppliesBeer and Wine Journal turned one year old about a month ago. During that time, I’ve posted a couple compilations of articles that ran in our first year, including brewing science stories and articles about all-grain brewing (and, of course, the requisite top 10 list).  Here’s a list of our best articles on brewing strong beers.

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BJCP Comparison Spreadsheet

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Mark Schoppe’s spreadsheet. You can download a copy by clicking the last link in the article.

The proposed new BJCP Guidelines have been released for comment and they contain many changes from the 2008 guidelines. The BJCP site has a spreadsheet mapping the new category numbers to the old, but Mark Schoppe, of the Austin ZEALOTS, has taken that a step further. He has made a spreadsheet that details all the additions and deletions of styles, plus changes in numeric parameters. (You may remember Mark as the 2012 NInkasi winner. I also interviewed him for the “Competitive Brewing Logistics” article.)

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Russian Imperial Stout (IX: Conditioning and Aging)

This is the ninth article in my series on Russian imperial stouts

RISphotoOnce primary fermentation has finished, it’s time to condition — and possibly age — the beer. For the purposes of this article, I’ll define conditioning as the process of aging the beer so it loses its green character and becomes drinkable. I’ll define aging as storing the beer beyond that point, in the hopes of developing characters that can only be acquired over time. Before I discuss conditioning and aging, however, I want to describe one important test that should be done whenever you make a big ale.

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Russian Imperial Stout (VIII: Fermentation: Aeration, Nutrients, and Temperature)

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This is the eighth article in my series on Russian imperial stouts

If your wort has been chilled, and your yeast starter is ready, it’s time to get the fermentation started. The first thing you need to do is aerate the wort. Aeration helps build stronger yeast cell walls and allows the yeast to multiply faster. As with any big beer, the yeast have a tough job ahead of them. Be sure to give them all the help they need with regards to aeration. (See also my article, “Aeration Tips.”) 

Most of the time, you will want to give the wort one shot of oxygen prior to pitching, as with most beers. For the biggest examples of this style (in the 11–12% ABV range), however, you may want to give the wort a second shot of oxygen just prior to high kräusen.

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Russian Imperial Stout (VII: Fermentation: Yeast Strain and Pitching Rates)

RISphotoIn most cases, the thing that separates a good Russian imperial stout from a bad one is a well-run fermentation. In order to conduct a good fermentation, you need to select the right yeast strain, pitch an adequate amount of it, and create a healthy environment for the cells.

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A Second Beer From A Russian Imperial Stout

This is the seventh article in this series on Russian imperial stouts

 

RISphotoWhenever you brew a big beer, there are several options for wort collection. One of them is to only collect the first wort, or the first wort and a limited amount of sparged wort. That way, you have high-gravity wort that does not need to be boiled for an extended period to hit your target OG and volume. In order to utilize this method of wort production, however, you must add more grain to your mash tun to compensate for the loss in extract efficiency.

Many times, there are enough sugars left over in the grain bed that you can brew a second beer. Brewing a second beer from a Russian imperial stout grist poses two types of challenges – the usual challenges associated with brewing a second beer, and those challenges specific to brewing a second beer from a partially-spent Russian imperial stout grist.

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