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TGMBA's musings and observations about everything beer!
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May 2014
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05/30/14
A Few Tasting Notes; Recent Batches
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 11:07 am

I wanted to add some info about a few of the recent batches for the record.

Firstly, the modified Munich Dunkel. It had a pound of toasted Munich malt in it. The beer itself came out slightly darker. After conditioning it had a little bit more of a darker amber-orange color to it than the straight Munich malt beer that we had made previously. Head retention was great, and the aroma had a distinctly toasty aroma of fresh bread. The brew was more of a toasted lager than a Dunkel but very quaffable. Will be bottling a Doppelbock later with 1lb of toasted Munich as well.

Secondly, Maibock batch 2, with 11 lbs pils, 2 lbs Munich. After conditioning, a rather rich yellow color and a decent lasting white head. Clean aroma with a few malty and grassy notes. rich big malt flavor with notes of honey backed up with a balanced hop bitterness. Lasting malty finish.

Thirdly, Dormunder. This German brew was pushed more to the malty end of the spectrum. Slight hop note mixed with clean malty notes in the aroma. Bright yellow color with a lasting white head. Great pilsner malt flavor from the Avangard malt, with a hop flavor presence from the mash hop and a gentle bitterness. Malty lasting finish. The mash hop also added some hop flavor in there as well.

Lastly; Belgian Golden! This one carbonated in 4 days, which was surprising. Nice golden color with a thick rocky head. Has the distinct fruity aroma, laced with slight clove and banana, that brings classic Belgian brews into memory. The fruitiness carries into the flavor as well, with some sweet maltiness balanced by the clove-banana flavors and slight hop bitterness and flavor. Pleasant dry and spicy finish, with a little bit of hop flavor. Very drinkable.

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05/25/14
Brew Day!: Abbey Tripel!
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 1:55 pm

The third brew in a string of Belgians. I like to generally save the biggest for last, and this one should be pretty big. A rather simple recipe, that could end with a twist, as it is possible that a cousin of the hop may become available to add a little spice to the beer. But we shall see!

I am making this one the same general way as the others.

12.75 lbs of Avangard Pilsner malt (all I had left)
0.25 lb Avangard Munich malt (just to hit 13)
1 oz Styrian Golding hops (Mash)

1.5 lb homemade candi sugar (1.5 lb table sugar cooked until it turns color, with some acid blend, can substiutute Belgian candi sugar) The candi syrup turned a nice shade of redish yellow….

25 IBU German Magnum (90 minutes)
1 whirlfloc tablet (15 minutes)

I did use decoctions toward the end to raise the temps from 148F to 158F then to 168 F. Mash in was around 120F and held for a good 15 minutes before a gradual rise to 148-150F where is was held for a good 45 minutes.

Re-pitched White Labs Trappist ale yeast from Dubbel (WPL500-Chimay)

Start of boil gravity: 17.2 Plato
OG: 19.2 Plato and crazy red from the candi sugar!

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05/18/14
Brew Day!: Abbey Dubbel!
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 11:59 am

After getting the yeast going with a Belgian Golden, next up is a Dubbel. This one is a simple recipe that will produce those Belgian raisin and candy notes that we are all familiar with.

10 lbs Avangard Pils malt
1 lb Special B
1 oz Styrian Goldings hops (Mash)

1.5 lbs amber Belgian candi sugar, consisting of 1.5 lbs table sugar and a touch of acid blend cooked on stove until it darkens. Added at pre-boil
29 IBU Perle (7.5% AA)
1 whirlflock tablet

OG Pre-boil 15.5 Plato
OG 17.9 Plato (a little water added)

Re pitched Trappist ale yeast from Belgian golden (WPL500)

Step infusion mash, 120F for 20 mins, 130 for 10 mins, 150 for 40 mins, 158 for 15 mins

Rich red color!

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05/11/14
Brew Day! Belgian Golden
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 1:29 pm

Seasons change, and now is the time for switching to what ales me. First up a Belgian Golden ale. That said, make certain to do your starters a couple of days in advance, Kiddies! the Trappist White Labs tube has a July date on it, but it took a full day and a half to get going in a pint of wort. Never mind what would have happened in a full beer.

This ale is a step to a much bigger beer to be brewed in a few weeks. I will use a decoction on the mash as it has German Avangard Pils malt, and I want to extend the malt profile a bit. Also, will be making homemade Belgian candy sugar.

9 lbs Avangard Pilsner Malt
1 oz tetnanger hops (mash)

1 lb table sugar
acid blend
Add a little water and add heat, dissolve sugar and add acid blend. Let cook until temp rises to 250-300 degrees. Add at beginning of 90 min boil.
Sterling hops 8 % AA- 25 IBUS 90 minutes

1 whirlflock tablet 15 mins left in boil
Trappist ale Yeast WPL500

12.5 Plato Start of boil gravity
15 Plato OG

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05/10/14
Maibock-the 20 year circle
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 1:25 pm

Those that don’t know me probably wonder why The Great Maibock Addict? It all began 20 years ago. The first microbrew/beer craze was just getting started. There were few microbreweries and brewpubs available. Beer selections in liquor stores were limited. I started homebrewing June, 1994. Research was on my mind, heading about to visit brewpubs, breweries, and attend beer festivals wherever I could. Suffern NY was home to Mountain Valley Pub and Brewery, captained by former Vernon Valley Brewing company’s Jay Misson, who learned lager brewing at the former Sussex Brewery. I remember having a Blonde Bock (Maibock) that he made that at the time was perhaps the best beer I had ever had. It was only a seasonal beer though, and being very popular, was gone as quickly as it came. This beer became a base line of a quest for beers similar to this brewpub’s fabulous nectar.

As time went on, the Long Valley Pub and Brewery opened, and this provided a conduit to a premier expert on German Lagers, Roger who lives in the woods a few miles from the pub. He frequently would be part of or host gatherings with the focus on beer. Here is where I had the opportunity to further sample examples of Maibocks. From Spaten Maibock to Hacker-Pschorr’s St Hubertus, along with many others including Ayinger Maibock, I became hooked on Maibock, and on an endless quest to find this elusive style. It was a rare occurrence for a brewery to brew this style and brew it properly using German malts and hops, and package is after being properly lagered for weeks. Of all these, my favorite became Ayinger. My first experiences with Ayinger beers was at the Front Porch in Hawthorne and their 100 beer club. Consuming the likes of Dunkel and Celebrator Doppelbock in bottles, followed by my friend and I splitting a case of Dunkel and enjoying every drop. The maibock was more difficult to come by, and basically seemed to disappear right after this initial surge of sampling maibocks.

I remember one day getting a note from a friend that there were a couple bottles left at a local liquor store. I scooted over with eager anticipation and was able to acquire 2 bottles of the elusive nectar of Gods. I can remember the mouthwatering excitement of preparing to pop the cap and indulge in this quaffable elixir for the first time in over a year. I can remember lining up the bottle opener and with a swift motion, removing the cap with a phffft! and the aroma of putrid skunk emanating from the bottle. Ooops! Old skunked beer. There was still the remnants of a formerly great brew in the background, underneath the clear indications of abuse and improper aging. What a disappointment and an extremely horrible way to remember what was undoubtedly my favorite Maibock. I soon learned that Ayinger had stopped sending this beer into the US at least the year before. I was sad. I never really got to fully appreciate this wonderful brew as I never had expected it to disappear forever. An empty hole had appeared in my life.

At around this same time, the Hacker Pschorr St Hubertus also disappeared from the market as well. Spaten was extremely difficult to find and the other options were few and far between. I did manage to help pressure High Point Wheat Beer to begin brewing a seasonal Maibock of reasonable quality. Not the Ayinger that I was craving, but not bad. Hoffbrau then became readily available in the area, and I remember having their Maibock. Very good, but still not Ayinger. Even Weltenburger Kloster brought in Maibock a couple of times. Both HB and Weltenburger were darker and richer than the Ayinger. Fine brews but not quite what I was looking for. I was also introduced to Einbecker Ur-Bock Helle, the original Maibock. Great beer and close to what I learned to love, but the green bottles made it difficult to find unskunked. I did have it on draught a few rare occasions. This was a beer that is rarely available, and sometimes it would be several years between sightings. Another gem was found in Eggenberg Ur-bock 23, a 9+ percent ABV malt monster. As time went, these great beers became more and more difficult to obtain or find. 

Fortunately, homebrewing has provided a substitute method for injecting Maibock into my system. Over the years, my lager brewing methods and processes have been fine tuned. Yes I have made some decent Maibocks over the years. This year, the first two batches have been quite tasty, and well received. The increased variety of imported German malts have also provided closer approximation to the real thing. The commercial versions though, were growing harder and harder to find. There have been a few recent years where I did not have a single commercial example. Truly sad.

It is now 2014, and 20 years have past since my first batch of homebrew, and my first beer quests. 20 years since discovering Maibock. Much of that time has been spent wondering if I would ever see a nice constant supply of top quality Maibock that wasn’t my own. Then it happened. My friend came over to brew one Sunday and announced that Ayinger Maibock is back! A few limited kegs were coming in, and would be here soon! The long wait to have this luscious brew again was finally coming to an end! Fortunately, having the proper friends has enabled me to have easy access to these rare kegs, and now I remember why I am the Great Maibock Addict! Yummy rich malty goodness indeed. Additionally, St Hubertus has also made a return, and Kloster Andechs is bringing in their yummy Maibock in another year! The excitement of Maibock has returned and the cycle is now complete! There is something about this 20 year cycle that is special, so I wonder what else will happen. Stay tuned! and get out there and support you local pubs by drinking lots of Maibock!

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