Sticking with the malty theme that accompanies winter, I decided to brew a traditional bock. Historically, the beer originated in the German town of Einbeck during the middle ages. Here, the beer was subject to rigorous quality control for the time period and exported to other states within the Hanseatic League. After the Thirty Years war (1648) devastated Einbeck, brewers in Munich took up the cause and attempted to replicate the brew. However, due to differences in water, with Munich water supply having more chalk, the beer was different from Einbeck. Water high in carbonate tends to produce beers that are more bitter and harsh, and the beer was made sweeter and darker. Bottom fermenting yeast from Bavaria was also used, giving birth to the bock beers that we know today.
After Munich, the beer took on different faces when brewed in different regions, and the beer turned into such cousins as Maibocks, Doppelbocks, and Eisbocks. The name Bock actually means goat in German, phonetically similar to Einbeck and no doubt changed into something that would give a happy imbiber a kick.
According to the BJCP, a traditional bock beer is a dark beer of moderate strength. Hop bitterness takes a back seat to strong malty flavors and can be perceived as sweet due to slightly lower attenuation. Toast, caramel notes, and melanoiden dominate the malt profile of the beer. Noble hops are the traditional hops for this brew. The beer should be clean with no diacetyl or off-flavors.
This beer will be all Munich malt (except for a ver small amount of chocolate malt to adjust color) and a double decoction scheme traditionally employed by German brewmasters.
A decoction mash involves taking the thick portion of your mash into a separate kettle as a side mash. One then raises the temperature of the side mash through several steps and ultimately boils the grist. The side mash then is added back to the main mash to reach the next temperature rest. A double decoction repeats this process, while a triple decoction boils portions of the grist three times. Here are a few things that happen to mash during this process:
- Starch granules become more accessible through heat, leading to a slight bump in efficiency.
- Maillard reactions occur due to vigorous boiling of wort and contributes to caramel flavors.
- The wort becomes darker.
There is some debate as to the benefits of a decoction mash and I’m on the fence whether it is truly beneficial. If one wants the flavor of decoction scheme, this can be accomplished through specialty malts. However, some brewers swear by the process. I’ve actually done one before for my Bohemian Pilsner, but it wasn’t quite right; I boiled the side mash instead of raising it through its own temperature rests.
The recipe (5.5 gallons):
- 8 pounds Munich malt (15.5L)
- 7 pounds Munich malt (9.0L)
- 2.1 oz of Chocolate malt (Briess – 350L)
- First decoction:
- Doughed in at 122ºF. Transfered 9.7 qts of thick mash to new pot and quickly ramped up to 150ºF.
- Held at this temp for 15 mintues. Brought to boiling, which took 16 minutes, and then boiled for 15 minutes.
- Added back to main mash and hit 145.5ºF. Brought up to 147ºF using flame. Held at this temp for 15 minutes.
- Second decoction:
- Took 4.8 qts of thick mash and heated to 158ºF and held for 15 minutes.
- Reached boiling point in 10 minutes, and boiled for 15 minutes.
- Added back to main mash to raise to 162ºF. My target was 156ºF and I was off by adding medium-low heat to the main mash prior to adding back the decoction, hence the increase. Let the mash rest at this temp or lower for 25 minutes.
- Mashed out at 169ºF. First runnings at 1.066. Collected 6.8 gallons of 1.056 wort
Boiled from 6.8 gallons down to 6.3 and started hop additions:
- 2 ozs of Hallertauer (4.3% alpha acid) at 60 minutes.
- Whirlfloc and Wyeast nutrient at 15 minutes.
Cooled to 59ºF and put into chestfreezer to cool down to 49ºF overnight. The next day, I oxygenated for 1 minute and 30 seconds and pitched 700 billion yeast cells (Wyeast Bavarian lager 2206). I brewed this beer two months ago and it has since finish fermentation. I raised the temperature slowly over 3 days to 60ºF for a diacetyl rest. Racked to a keg, the beer is comfortably lagering at 33ºF. Below is a picture of the beer from the primary.
- OG: 1.076
- FG: 1.022
- 7.1% ABV
- 25.1 IBUs
Homebrew Review can be found in this post.