I just pulled a hydrometer sample as it seemed to burn out in about a week. It's definitely the cleanest tasting lager I have made at just under 3 weeks old! I could tap it and drink it now. Might have to try this again!
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I used jamil's yeast starter page for a while but later found www.yeastcalc.com and it really helped me with stepping up to a larger starter for larger batch sizes. Also it will tell you how much dry extract for the starter size you desire
This turned out GREAT. Still some time needed to clarify a bit more but I'm drinking it as-is. The Melanoid malt added an interesting richness to the beer that's hard to describe but I really like it.
This is my first Helles and about the only thing I will say is strange when I drink this beer I'm expecting a hit of Saaz in the finish and it's not there, because there isn't any! I'm so used to Bopils and German Pils that I just naturally expect it and Helles doesn't have it. The beer is still great.
I plan to brew another lager soon.
Some more so than others. I picked up a cheap 5L that I ended up returning because the bottom had an arch and the glass was so thin it made me really nervous to handle. I would recommend you invest in Kimax or Bomex and if you can, inspect before you purchase.
Dry hopping is all about the aroma and my personal preference is whole leaf. I once split a ten gallon batch and dry hopped one carboy with 2 oz. of whole leaf Amarillo and the other with 2 oz. Amarillo pellets (b/c it was all I could get) and thought the whole leaf had better aroma. Those leaf hops will soak up the wort given time in the carboy.
as always, though, it's all about the freshness of the particular batch of hops you're using. For me, sometimes the pellets are better, sometimes the whole hops are better. I just can't generalize that one type is always better than the other.
Martin, you rock! Thanks so much for your work.
+1 This tool is going to help make a lot of better brewers.
+1, I like to think Im one of them. Thank you very much Martin, your spreadsheet has helped me create water profiles and produce much better beer!