Maibock (Helles bock) brewday

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Mar 28, 2021
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New Zealand
Spring just started here so while the tank water is still cold I thought I'd knock out a lager or two.

We're in the middle of rebuilding a maimai (NZ term for a duckshooting hide) so a Maibock seems apt, especially as we camouflage it with manuka bushes and I want to use some smoked manuka malt.

Recipe: (23 litres)
  • 4000g pilsner
  • 2000g Munich
  • 600g manuka smoked
  • 250g toffee
80 min boil, bittering hops added at 60 mins to ~ 30 IBU. I used up some remnants, so 5g Saaz, 5g EKG, and 45g Pacifica.
WLP 833 German Lager Bock yeast.
Approx 7.2% ABV.

Big beer that needs a starter, so boiled up 295g DME to make 3 litres a couple of days ago...

And put it on a stirplate at 20 degs in a sterilised 5l measuring jug...

Brew day morning it had thickened up, so I put it in a fridge to settle out...
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Brew day this morning. Chilly early start. I'd milled grains last night. 6.85 kg on the limit for my BZ (around 15 litres grain volume when milled) so I added the extension collar...

Probably could have managed without it but made it easier at the start.
Was a thick mash so for first 10 mins I left the rubber bung on the middle tube and stirred manually...

But as soon as a good flow was established I removed the collar and put the top plate on. Almost had the tap on full flow...

Trouble free mash, although I lost count and think I added an extra litre sparging, which dropped gravity slightly. With 10 to go in the boil I added some manuka tips. These are also called the tea tree and Captain Cook made the first beer in NZ using them, to ward off scurvy... 🙂
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Tank water is 10 degs ATM so plate chiller made short work of dropping temp to pitch temp...

And into fermenter...


The yeast had settled somewhat but really should've let it chill overnight...

I decanted off the top portion but still pitched nearly 2 litres. Was a good thick layer on the bottom that I swirled loose, and actually remembered to trap the stir bar with a magnet this time...

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Final gravity was low, which is weird as I normally overshoot. But I sparge using a litre jug and pretty sure I lost track as reached volume much earlier than usual, malt pipe was still draining well at that point.
Was supposed to be a hearty 1.074, but came in around 1.069.

Tastes pretty good, a faint smokiness that should add an interesting warmth to this beer. And a slight astringency from the manuka, think these are similar to spruce tips. This is a beer with a few things happening so the style is a guide only, not too concerned if it veers off a bit... 🙂

And never pitched so much starter before. I think the beer is robust enough to handle it, but I usually let the yeast settle right out first. If it was a Kölsch or Pilsner I would have delayed pitching.

And it's bubbling within 3 hrs of pitching? Never had that before, esp with a lager. Guess we'll see how things go...

[Edit] scratch that. Must have been a temperature adjustment or something making it bubble. Stopped now, seemed weird... 😀
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Update. A long but steady fermentation, started at 11 degs and ramped temp up slowly from day 10 until gravity flatlined, then a few days at 15 to clean up. A long tail, gravity just kept dropping...

Dropped setpoint to 4 degs yesterday for cold crash and added some gelatine at lunchtime today. Took a sample and has a pleasant amount of smokiness, around 8% wood smoked malt...

And looks like 1.010 FG. From 1.069 this gives around 7.7% prior to bottle conditioning. Hiigher than expected given I missed OG, was supposed to be in the mid 1.070s, but finished lower too, expected 1.019. Not sure what's going on there, but first time using this yeast...

Pretty pleased with the colour and flavour although I'm picking up an 'unfinished' taste, that should clean up with time hopefully. Will bottle in a day or two...

[Edit] just realised I'm using a new hydrometer and I haven't checked it against my refractometer. OG on refractometer was 1.069 but looking at pics the hydro was reading 1.067. Using that against FG of 1.010 gives 7.3%, which makes more sense. Plus the volume of starter might skew things somewhat, an extra 2 litres.
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Been conditioning 5 days and the test PET bottles were firm and clear so tried an early sample, one of the 330ml glass bottles I do for such things.
Amazing clarity for so early and nice colour, with surprising carbonation already (although I'm aiming for 2.7 CO2 so a bit to go)...

And the smokiness is about where I was aiming, more a gentle hint than a smoky campfire, with a slight pinieness from the manuka. Sort of wished I'd tried it without the smoke, but I always think that... 🙂

Will see how it develops after some storage, it is a lager after all...
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