Maibock (Helles bock) brewday

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sifty

Landlord.
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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...
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And put it on a stirplate at 20 degs in a sterilised 5l measuring jug...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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And into fermenter...
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The yeast had settled somewhat but really should've let it chill overnight...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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)...
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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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