I have a Thanksgiving tradition of crafting a new “fancy” beer for our holiday get-together. After consulting with my friend Justin, we settled on a dunkles bock. It’s rich, malty, and eminently drinkable–a perfect beer for a late fall celebration. I don’t think I’ve ever brewed this style before, either, although I certainly have enjoyed drinking it!
The recipe is a modified version of Gordon Strong’s traditional bock, from Modern Homebrew Recipes. The base grist of dark and light Munich malts is basically the same, although I had to substitute in Briess’s Caramel Munich and some melanoidin malts instead of Caramunich III. Also, I used Magnum hop pellets instead of whole Hallertauer cones. In terms of techniques, I used a straight infusion mash rather than a double decoction.
As an extra special treat, I wanted custom glassware with a unique logo for the beer. So, I commissioned the wonderfully talented Charon Henning to create a design. Bock labels often feature goats as part of a linguistic pun, but hey, I’m a paleontologist. Why not go with a prehistoric goat analog? The bone-headed dinosaur Stygimoloch*, with its goat-like spikes and potential butting behavior, seemed like a perfect fit. Charon did a superb rendering that pays homage to many old bock labels. Even better, she worked some leaves of prehistoric hops into the background!
- 9 lbs. Munich II malt (Weyermann)
- 5 lbs. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
- 8 oz. Caramel Munich 60L (Briess)
- 4 oz. melanoidin malt (Weyermann)
- 1 oz. Carfa Special III malt (Weyermann)
- 0.65 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
- 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
- 4 pkg. Bavarian lager dry yeast (Mangrove Jack’s M76)
- 60 minute infusion mash, 154°, batch sparge
- 1.070 o.g., 1.017 f.g., 7.0% abv, 25 IBU, 15 SRM
- Blend of Claremont tap water and RO water, with 3 g CaCl, to produce target water of 4 ppm Ca, 5 ppm Mg, 13 ppm Na, 22 ppm SO4, 53 ppm Cl, 119 ppm HCO3, RA=56 ppm.
- I mashed in with 5 gallons of Claremont tap water and 1/4 of a Campden tablet at 164°, to hit a 154.4° mash temperature.
- After 60 minutes, I added 0.5 gallons of RO water blend (3 g of CaCl added to 4.5 gallons of water) at 185°. I let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected first runnings.
- I next added 4 gallons of the RO water blend at 185°, let sit for another 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
- In total, I collected 7.25 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.055, for 72% mash efficiency.
- To up the gravity a touch, I boiled the wort for 15 minutes before adding the hops (a total of 75 minute boil). I figured this longer boil time would work well to add additional character.
- After boiling for a total of 75 minutes, I turned off the heat, and chilled down to 80° before transferring into the fermenter and cooling overnight in the fermentation chamber. I oxygenated for 60 seconds, and added 4 packages of yeast. I used four packages because they were around 9 months past “best by” date. Nonetheless, they took off pretty well.
- Starting gravity was 1.066, on 30 August 2019.
- I fermented at 52°, until raising the temperature to 60° on 30 September 2019. I cooled back to 50° on 4 October 2019, and then down to 35° on 5 October 2019.
- I kegged the beer on 9 October 2019. Final gravity was 1.020, for 6.1% abv.
- Color is a gorgeous deep copper, and the beer has become brilliantly clear in the keg. The tan head is quite persistent.
- Amazing malty, bready aroma, with a touch of caramel.
- Rich, bready flavor, with some toastiness–it is very reminiscent of a hearty bread crust. The beer is a touch more bitter than appropriate for the style. (note: the bitterness had mellowed a bit when I tasted it again on November 24)
- Medium-full body, nice rounded finish.
- Would I brew this again?
- Yes! This is a really nice beer, with a phenomenal maltiness and drinkability that approaches slightly dangerous. Color and clarity are exceptional, and it’s only going to get better as it matures towards a Thanksgiving official launch date (I did the tasting in mid-October). It is maybe a touch more bitter than I would like for the style, so if I brew it again I’ll dial back the hops slightly.
*Yes, I mostly agree with the hypothesis that Stygimoloch is probably a younger form of something like Pachycephalosaurus, so the name itself may or may not be valid. Even so, let’s just agree that we shouldn’t let nomenclatural pedantry overrule the fact that “Stygimoloch Bock” rolls off the tongue more easily than “Pachycephalosaurus Bock”.