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Style of the Week: Maibock!

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May 15, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Here we see a traditional Maibock served in a Typical Masskrug mug.

Here we see a traditional Maibock served in a typical Masskrug mug.

Germany has some very interesting traditions, not the least of which is the ceremonial opening of a cask of bock beer in the spring.  Typically, this is what is referred to as Maibock, or Helles Bock.  A strong malty, bready, flavor and aroma predominates due to the usage of high proportions of Vienna and Munich Malts.  Occasionally, you’ll also find mild hop aroma, and flavor in these beers.  The very best Maibocks have a nicely balanced bitterness to gravity ratio, giving these beers a character that should walk a fine line between blandness and excessive color.  Below you’ll find a recipe that I created which is very similar to most German style Maibocks albeit slightly Americanized.  While decoction may be the norm in Germany, this beer can be made quite easily using either extracts or all grain in a single upward infusion.  While this beer can be made as an ale, I find that the peculiar characteristics of lager yeast make this a better tasting beer.  The answer to brewing a beer like this with lager yeast is to use a hybrid yeast such as the Wyeast 2112, WLP810, or SafLager 34/70, and ferment at relatively cooler temperatures typically the low sixties.  Alternatively, you can also use a clean ale yeast, such as the Scottish ale yeast, the American ale yeast, or PAC man yeast.  While cooler temperatures are preferred, keeping the temperatures in the low to mid sixties will result in a close facsimile to the traditional Maibock.

Extract:

8 lbs. Extra Light DME

4 lbs.  Munich LME

1 oz. Liberty Hops (bitterness)

1 oz. Liberty hops (flavor)

1 oz.  Liberty hops (aroma)

Wyeast 2112, WLP810, or SafLager 34/70 yeast

Procedure:

  • Heat 5¾ gallons of water to 165°F.
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to Heat, bring back to boil.
  • After 10 minutes, add the bittering hop addition.
  • At 20 minutes remaining, add the Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss.
  • At 15 minutes remaining, add the flavor hops.
  • At knockout, add the aroma hops, then cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. Add the mixture to the fermenter, removing the hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using distilled, bottled, or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 60°~62°F for 7 to 10 days.
  • Allow to age an additional two to three weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain:

10 lbs.  Pilsner Malt

5 lbs. Munich Malt

1 oz.  Liberty hops (bitterness)

1 oz.  Liberty hops (flavor)

1 oz.  Liberty hops (aroma)

Wyeast 2112, WLP810, or SafLager 34/70 yeast

¾ gm. Brewing (Calcium Chloride) Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in the mash and in the boil.

Procedure:

Infusion mash at 156°F for 1 hour. Sparge to 6.5 gallons of wort, and bring to a roiling boil. Add the bittering hops 10 minutes into the boil. Continue boiling for 40 more min. then add Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss.  At 45 min. then add flavor hops. At knockout, add the aroma hops, then cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller. Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well). Pitch yeast and ferment at 60°F to 62°F. Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 100 gms. corn sugar (approx. ¾ cup), or kegged to 20 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 45°~50°F in an German half or full liter mug, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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