Can we shift back towards discussing ingredients? Early in the thread there was a well-received suggestion about adding Kolsch / Cologne malt, and another about using German "Pale Ale" malt. I've also found references to the super-light (1.2L) "Best Heidelberg" malt in other threads. And Bryan (Rabeb25) has previously sworn that Chit Malt (NOT flaked barley) was crucial. I've also seen suggestions of blending in Belgian Pils. I made a Helles with 100% Weyermann Floor Malted Bo Pils and I thought it had a pleasant but assertive graininess (not astringent tannins, but also not soft bread). Can anyone comment about, say, 50% Heidelberg + 50% Weyermann Pale Ale and similarities to fresh commercial examples?
And, to the OP: you mentioned trying Weyermann, Best, and Avangard. But Weyermann makes 3 Pils malts (Pils, Bo Pils, Floor Malted Bo Pils). Which did you try?
And, Re: yeast, the OP said that WLP835 (the Andechser strain) provided the same floral note that the Andechser beer had, but are there important differences between the other strains mentioned? I've seen many posts saying that WLP833 is perfect for malty lagers, while German homebrewers seem to prefer WY2206 for Helles. WLP838 has it's share of proponents too. I'm guessing WLP830 (W34/70) is too attenuative for the 3 beers favored by the OP (Andechser, Augustiner, Weihenstephaner), but might be perfect for drier examples. And what about WLP860? WY2352?
Plus, there's the issue about new vs repitch: Mark V aka S. cerevisiae has said that his beers are best on the 3rd, 4th, 5th generations. German brewers obviously repitch, so maybe that's an important consideration?
Sorry for the long post & barrage of questions. I'm glad to see this thread hasn't died. I had a bottle of Mahr's Hell a long time ago that still brings a tear to my eye...
Floor malt bopils, is too much for me. All beers I have made with it have a signature fresh wet hay, slight apple, I actually find it rather off-putting. Even when cut to 80%.
One has to realize, that all these guys are getting SPECIFIC barley to them.
Malt is in the top 3rd of the Helles pyramid, but its not the top
A grain bill would change based on how one mashes, hops, boil, ferments, fines/filters/, etc as well. It's a moving target, and not a 1 size fits all. the picture I posted of the helles I was drinking, is not a recipe you can find "in the achives".
I posted back a page or 2 the guidelines for a helles, I have since went that route.
Yeast is in the bottom 3rd. but I think you are on track think about staying away from anything like 830/34/70, etc. I have been using a blend, of some of the yeasts you mention above. I am seeing good results from that, and only trial and error can get you where YOU want to be. My Helles may be far from your Helles.