Philly is going to be great, easily within driving distance. Although I might not feel like it on the 30th!
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I had a German Pils that used "c" hops last night at the conference. I loved it, but......
I think ingredients are first, including yeast. Pils malt from Europe has a distinct flavor, the hops have to be noble, and lager yeast of any variety, but especially one that throws off a little sulphur.
I get best results with decoctions when trying for that German flavor.
This is true. It didn't help that I'd lost a bunch of heat because of the headspace in my mashtun. I plan to try it again on a dunkel in the next week or so with my 5 gallon cooler and have some near boiling water at the ready.
I think you want a little liquid in the decoction, but not too much. Obviously you don't want it to be just grains, otherwise, there'd be nothing to boil.