Author Topic: That German Lager flavor, round 2  (Read 5078 times)

Offline narvin

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1232
  • Baltimore
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2012, 01:20:24 PM »
I have an unsubstantiated theory that lactic acid, not just low pH, is a contributor to the flavor of light German lagers.  But I'd have to do that whole side by side thingie to actually find out.   ;)
Please do not reply if your an evil alien!
Thanks
Chris S.

Offline nateo

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2162
  • Aachen, DE
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2012, 01:22:38 PM »
I have an unsubstantiated theory that lactic acid, not just low pH, is a contributor to the flavor of light German lagers.  But I'd have to do that whole side by side thingie to actually find out.   ;)

It sounds plausible. Maybe I'll try acidifying my mash with Sauermalz next time, instead of phosphoric acid.
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline redzim

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 264
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2012, 07:47:08 AM »
Couple things from reading this summary:

#1. This (and the previous thread of same title) is probably the most valuable and informative thread I've seen on this board.   Thanks for everyone's input!

#2. IME I can nail any amber or darker German lager (at least in my own blind tests). Maibock, Dunkel, Schwarz...  I seem to have no trouble getting a beer I'm really really happy with.  It's the Pilsners (both German and Bohemian) that are hard to hit. Obviously this has a lot to do with my water: it's moderately hard, and I use it 100% for Schwarz, and dilute it 50/50 with distilled water to brew Maibocks and Dunkels. But I use 100% distilled and add in minerals to brew Pilsners. 

#3. +1 to the idea that extended lagering is very key... the closest matches I've had to Jever Pils and Pilsner Urquell (the two styles I've been trying to copy; brewed probably five 10-gal batches of  each over the last 2 years) tasted the best at 8+ weeks in the keg. But both of these were not in primary for more than 18-20 days.... I've never tried the lagering on yeast cake thing and not sure I want to try

#4. Decoction: Probably psychological but I like to do at least a mash-out decoction on all the German styles... makes me feel more authentic, and its fun.... I do Hochkurz on Bo Pils and am going to try a triple on my next Bo Pils just for the hell of it... and of course the beer tastes better; I put an extra 2+ hours of work into it!

#5. Happy New Year to all...

-red



Offline musseldoc

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 98
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2012, 09:43:15 AM »
I have enjoyed these two threads so far.  Here is what I took from the thread(s): to be German, do as the Germans would do.

1) use german style ingredients: germanic malts, noble hops, style specific water profile
2) use a german style process: mash profile, decoction, hochkurz, fwh, long boil.
3) ferment like the Germans: german yeast strain, fresh pitch, big pitch, ferment cold, lager even colder, be patient.
4) drink, by the liter in a boot, of course  ;)

There are tomes written on the German methods of brewing.  Kai has even translated some of the original German texts for us.  I think the 'hows' are fairly straight forward.  That said, many palettes are dialed into imported German beer flavors.  If that is what you like, what you define as German, then adapt the above to reflect what you like.  Honestly, if the greater purpose of this thread is to gather information for entering beers in competition, remember, it is a crap-shoot as to whether you get BJCP judges with palettes dialed in on having spent time in Germany, having visited germany once, only trying German styles imported into the USA and only really having read books and guidelines on the lager styles. Brew what you like. 
This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption... Beer! - Friar Tuck

Offline nateo

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2162
  • Aachen, DE
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2012, 12:04:34 PM »
I've had a hard time getting the really crisp lager. My lagers taste fine, but don't have that 'snap.' I'm thinking it's maybe from using water that's too soft.

I asked a German brewer about it, and he recommended using water with hardness of dH 40, or about 700ppm as CaCO3. That sounds really, really hard to me. That's like, what, 300ppm Ca? I don't remember the formula to convert that.

He must have been talking about Dortmunder water. I wonder if using something like Martin's "yellow bitter" or "pale ale" profile might help.
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline musseldoc

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 98
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2013, 08:27:03 AM »
IIRC, Kai's conclusion was that it's the aging.

I thought the same, but I found a quote from Kai while reading threads this morning.  From another thread Kai started:

« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2012, 02:55:20 PM »
Quote
I think the cold conditioning portion of lager brewing is less important that we think. I also think it makes a difference, but it's easy to get away without it. Currently both my freezer chests are broken and I'll have to get away w/o properly "lagering" my Schwarzbier. At least it's winter and my basement is at ~60 F

Kai
This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption... Beer! - Friar Tuck

Offline nateo

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2162
  • Aachen, DE
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2013, 09:59:23 AM »
So, I asked "the Germans" what they thought the secret to "German lager flavor" is. The consensus was to ferment under 10*C, lager at 0*C (for 5+ weeks), pitch a lot of yeast, if possible. Some said Pilsen-type water was fine, some suggested harder water would help.

I told them that I use decoction mashes, and they assumed I didn't know what I was saying, apparently because decoction mashing is insane. German homebrewers step-mash everything, but as far as I can tell, they never use decoctions. Some think of decoction as a sort of old-fashioned gimmick to sell beer.

Here's one response I found interesting (my translation, from http://hobbybrauer.de/modules.php?name=eBoard&file=viewthread&tid=16789)

Decoction mashing came from Bavaria. In the 19th century, Anton Dreher of Schwechat (near Vienna) invented lager beer as it is known today.  He traveled to England, which was at that time the leader in malting, and brought their techniques to Schwechat.  He was also influenced by Gabriel Sedlmeyer, from Munich, with whom he worked closely. Also from Bavaria was Joseph Groll. He went to Pilsen, in Bohemia, and invented Pilsner Urquell. That beer was brewed with Bavarian decoction.

We have these three legendary brewers to thank for the triumph of lager in Germany, and later the world. Lager soon spread and replaced many varied types of beer in Germany.  Before this, Germany had a lively brewing industry, with a great diversity of ales. Because of lager, the majority of those ales are now extinct.
The decoction procedure was very popular in the 19th century. Today, decoction is long gone. Almost every brewer uses direct heat. They instead use kettle mashing (direct heat) or hot water infusion. Usually they use the high-short process (hochkurz) because time is money. 

In Bohemia/Czech Republic decoction is still popular. Pilsner Urquell is supposedly brewed using the original recipe from Joseph Groll.

In Germany, only a few old, traditional breweries use the expensive decoction process for their flagship products. This is more or less for prestige, to compete in the difficult German beer market. For example, the Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel. It is brewed with a triple-decoction. A beautifully aromatic Doppelbock, is it therefore in the “Top 100” beers on Ratebeer.

The small craft breweries in Germany also try to preserve the old brewing processes. The large breweries copy these beers, and make them in a cost-effective manner. [I'm not sure I translated that correctly, I'm not sure if the big brewers copy the craft brewers, or vice versa. "Die kopieren auch nur die Großen um einigermassen kostengünstig produzieren zu können."]

I had a great decocted beer last year at the Kommunbrauern in Ummerstadt. The small brewhouse was built in the 19th century, and has since been preserved by the locals. The mash was boiled for 90 minutes. The wort was boiled for 5 hours. That beer was awesome, crisp and malty, without much carbonation.

So, it is still there, that “old lager flavor,” but you must look with a magnifying glass to find it.

Here's a video of Brauerei Ummerstadt (German not required, but it helps): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYm-LoothK0
 
« Last Edit: January 01, 2013, 03:27:26 PM by nateo »
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1354
  • Rebelling against cheap swill since 2005
    • View Profile
    • Bauhaus Brew Labs
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2013, 12:20:13 PM »
Thanks for posting, nateo.  That was an interesting read.  I used to decoct a lot of my German lagers.  I stopped doing that last summer, opting for single-infusion mashes instead.
Matt Schwandt | Minneapolis, MN
AHA Member

Partial-Mash Pictorial
All-Grain Pictorial

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4537
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2013, 12:53:21 PM »
Thanks for posting, nateo.  That was an interesting read.  I used to decoct a lot of my German lagers.  I stopped doing that last summer, opting for single-infusion mashes instead.
Any difference? I did a Vienna a couple weeks back, just an infusion. Will see what I think in a few months.
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1354
  • Rebelling against cheap swill since 2005
    • View Profile
    • Bauhaus Brew Labs
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2013, 12:56:08 PM »
Thanks for posting, nateo.  That was an interesting read.  I used to decoct a lot of my German lagers.  I stopped doing that last summer, opting for single-infusion mashes instead.
Any difference? I did a Vienna a couple weeks back, just an infusion. Will see what I think in a few months.

Well, I haven't done a side-by-side tasting or anything like that, but I don't notice anything lacking in the single infusion lagers.  My decocted beers were very good, but I don't think the single infusion beers taste much different, if at all.
Matt Schwandt | Minneapolis, MN
AHA Member

Partial-Mash Pictorial
All-Grain Pictorial

Offline Thirsty_Monk

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1842
  • Eau Claire WI
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #25 on: January 01, 2013, 05:08:38 PM »
Nice Video. Thank you.
Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer

Offline nateo

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2162
  • Aachen, DE
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #26 on: January 01, 2013, 05:33:41 PM »
One of the things I've learned, talking to German people, is that "Germany" is kind of an abstract concept, while the historically independent regions (Bavaria, Thuringia, Saxony, Franconia, etc) are very much still how Germans think about their country. "Germany" is a fairly recent invention, so "German" lager flavor is a bit of a misnomer.
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4537
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #27 on: January 01, 2013, 07:07:04 PM »
One of the things I've learned, talking to German people, is that "Germany" is kind of an abstract concept, while the historically independent regions (Bavaria, Thuringia, Saxony, Franconia, etc) are very much still how Germans think about their country. "Germany" is a fairly recent invention, so "German" lager flavor is a bit of a misnomer.
Deutschland is how they think of it. Germany is what we call it.

Of course, the Franconians will tell you they are not really Bavarian.
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #28 on: January 01, 2013, 09:01:44 PM »
One of the things I've learned, talking to German people, is that "Germany" is kind of an abstract concept, while the historically independent regions (Bavaria, Thuringia, Saxony, Franconia, etc) are very much still how Germans think about their country. "Germany" is a fairly recent invention, so "German" lager flavor is a bit of a misnomer.
Deutschland is how they think of it. Germany is what we call it.

Of course, the Franconians will tell you they are not really Bavarian.
A German woman challenged me when I said there was a German beer that had banana and clove flavors.  I told her it was common to Bavaria, and she said something like "Oh, that's Bavaria, you said German".
Tom Schmidlin

Offline redzim

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 264
    • View Profile
Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2013, 06:02:29 AM »


Here's one response I found interesting (my translation, from http://hobbybrauer.de/modules.php?name=eBoard&file=viewthread&tid=16789)



Gee thanks Nate!  ;)  Now I have to follow yet one more brewing forum, only it's in German!   Actually that site looks really interesting and I'm going to have to spend some time there...

-red