I was watching a video on YouTube and someone made a comment about something that I think is very common when it comes to brewing software…

They don’t always calculate things right…

I know I’ve followed the math to the T only to find myself short on water or low on temperature…

… it’s happened to me, and apparently I’m not alone…

Now, don’t get me wrong… I do still make use of brewing software myself, but only up to a point…

I try to trust my gut…

Not because that will be more accurate, but because it forces me to understand the brewing process better and trains me to react on the spot if and when anything goes wrong…

When you just go by numbers and don’t trust your gut, then stuff happens, like it happened to me this week…

… see, I decided to brew a Maibock

… and I calculated my strike water using my 20qt pot… I just did the math real quick and didn’t think much of it…

The brewing software was actually accurate and I hit my target temperature…

Except I was planning on doing a triple decoction and didn’t really think about water loss during the boils… and neither did the software…

It didn’t really occur to me until I mashed in and realized I had somewhat of a thick mash for decoction… and that’s when the gut feeling kicked in…

I had plenty of water (just over 1.5 qts per pound), but for decoction mashes I like to add closer to 2.25 qts per pound… a bit thinner…

I knew right then and there the brew day wasn’t going to go as planned…

Now, luckily, I understand decoction mashing pretty well that I was able to make a split decision and go on with my brew day by slightly deviating from my original plan and still get what I was after…

… and that’s what I hope to teach… understanding brewing in depth so you can react to problems…

See… going back to the guy who made a comment about brewing software…

He basically said he input all his equipment, recipe and calculated his strike water temperature…

… and in his case, the software wasn’t accurate… he was about 6 °F lower than he wanted…

Unfortunately he didn’t know how to react to that… he could’ve done a small decoction… perhaps add a gallon of boiling water…

… but instead he was paralyzed and didn’t let his intuition take over…

I know brewers are sometimes afraid to do these kinds of things because they have conflicting information…

They hear that heating grains over 175 °F can extract tannins and stuff… or that mashing too thin can limit conversion… or that dumping hot wort can cause hot side aeration… etc…

… but the more I brew, the more I realize these things are not always true…

It would be nice to be perfect and not make mistakes… but sometimes sssstuff happens…

and one thing I learned in the Navy was that “A Calm Sea Does Not Make a Skilled Sailor”…

[video_player type=”youtube” width=”600″ height=”338″ align=”center” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”20″]aHR0cDovL3d3dy55b3V0dWJlLmNvbS93YXRjaD92PV9hTHVhWUJGczRJ[/video_player]

Cheers!


    3 replies to "How to Brew a Maibock (Hellesbock)"

    • brewella deville

      Boy, is this a timely post. I’ve come to realize that part of what I love about brewing is problem solving on the fly. Right now I feel as if my system is dialed in, and I understand the basic concepts of mashing, boiling, and fermenting. I’ve made mistakes here and there, juggled things around, and still end up with some good beer no matter what.

      Now, I think the last thing I need to look at to push my beers over the line from good to really great is an understanding of water chemistry. That’s the last part of the puzzle , but after spending a week reading every bit of info I can find, I think I’m just as confused as when I started. So I’ve decided to put away all the spreadsheets for now and go with my cook’s intuition. I just have to use calcium chloride or gypsum and see what they do.

      Thanks, too, for the video on maibock. It’s one of the styles I’ve wanted to try making for a while now.

      • Jorge

        There is a lot to be learned about water… unfortunately it’s one of the hardest topics to learn about… the books out there are good, in fact too good that you can’t understand unless you have a chemistry background…

        Anyways, maybe this video can help a bit… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jJYrx5JCP4

        … and a shameless plug, I do cover water in my training program Mash Control

        Cheers!

    • brewella deville

      Thanks for the tip. I’m not a “scientist brewer,” and that calculator was a perfect mix of simplicity and science. I think it has given me a good idea on how to improve my beer, and I can’t wait to start my next batch. Cheers.

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