This brew is long gone (saved two bottles for competition though), and I’m just now getting around to posting the review. The recipe and brewday can be found here. To summarize, this beer is a traditional bock brewed with almost 100% munich malt and a dash of chocolate malt (2 ounces) to adjust for color. This was also my first authentic double decoction mash. The first time I tried a decoction was for my Bohemian pilsner, however, I did not decoct exactly as German Brewers would. I took my first decoction and simply boiled it. The thick decoction that is removed from the main mash should go through its own saccharification rest for a set time and then boiled, with the idea being any residual amylase activity will convert remaining dextrins in the side (decocted) mash.
Appearance: Pours rusty brown and clear – three months of lagering can do wonders to chill haze and beer clarity. Decent 1/2 head that remains in sticky patches.
Smell: Dark candy, over-ripe fruit, raisins, plums. Lots of melanoidins are coming off the nose in this beer as opposed to esters from the yeast. Low to no hop aroma and malt profile seems a bit muted.
Taste: Whoa! Huge complex malt flavor that I was note expecting from the beer. Clear biscuit-like malt backbone followed by more melanoidins. Sharp fruit flavors – macerated stone fruit, blackberry, caramel, and chocolate covered raisins. Complex with multiple layers. After the melanoiden onslaught, the beer gives way to a very clean and neutral yeast profile with low low residual diacetyl. Medium carbonation with medium body. Absolutely no alcohol is evident in the brew – not bad for 7.1% ABV.
Overall: One of the best brews I’ve made. I have had my share of failures, but this brew simply sings as a traditional bock, and I hope it does it well in competition. Now the question remains – was it the decoction that created the complex malt bill? Can I replace this with some crystal malt? The debate of whether a decoction is necessary with today’s highly modified malts is fierce, and I was on the fence. However, after this brew I’m leaning towards a decoction mash providing a more complex malt profile than subbing in crystal/caramel malts. I’ll have to brew a similar beer with crystal malts to prove my observation wrong.