Author Topic: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles  (Read 26308 times)

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #75 on: November 12, 2015, 12:48:08 AM »
The ability to accurately describe "it" would sure be helful though. If you just write "lacking that German "IT" flavor and aroma" I'm afraid you'll tune up a lot of brewers. Recognizing IT is only 1/25 of the job.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #76 on: November 12, 2015, 12:50:56 AM »
Disclaimer - Never been to Germany (yet). I know quite a few pretty sharp beer people who have been to Germany and talked about the differences between helles from brewery to brewery, town to town. Zero hop flavor or aroma reported most often obviously, with a few helles showing slight hop flavor and/or aroma. Some maltier than others, some drier, slight color variations within reason, etc. In other words, at least some variation within the style.

My point and question is that, if we accept the premise that brewing helles on a par with the ones brewed in Germany is nearly impossible (and that might be the case), is this a generalized, across the board statement given brewery/regional differences in the style ? Or is it based on comparisons to what the helles experts consider to be one or two of their favorite helles beers in Germany? I consider my helles to be good and evolving, and I'm always looking to make it better. But I also completely agree with others that the setting you drink a beer in can't help but influence your perception of it. Anybody honestly believe that drinking a beer in a Munich biergarten on a sunny day tastes EXACTLY the same as that  same exact beer at home on your sofa ? If the extremes are 'nearly impossible to brew an authentic one' on one end and 'setting affects perception' on the other end, I'm betting the truth lies somewhere in between. Still want to make mine better.
.

Yes there are differences. Augustiner München was my favorite in Munich. There were differences. Hofbrua was my least favorite, as it was grainy to me. Others have it as their favorite.

Then there are some very good Helles outside of Munich. Ayinger is very good. I must say that the Augustiner in Salzburg was as good or better than the one in München. I need to do another trip to get to Salzburg

The ingredient list is simple. The process is complex. A recipe is ingredients and the process to the end product.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #77 on: November 12, 2015, 12:52:59 AM »
Next Monday Im brewing an Helles, and an Helles Exportbier. Will be the 4th attempt at the Helles, trying to dial it in.

1.050 | 18 IBU
9.5 lbs Best Malz Pils
1.5 lbs Best Malz Vienna
Mashed at 145F for 2hrs, target 5.3pH adjusted with lactic per Brewers Friend, 50Ca 10Mg 8Na 50CaCl 0 SO4 107 HCO3
28g Mittelfruh @60
28g Mittelfruh @ 10
2 x 1000ml Wyeast 2308 high krausen pitches
50F
Final pH target 4.3
Cold fined with gel
Bottle conditioned at 2.7 volumes, then lager in cases at 38F for a month

I guess time will tell

If you enter competitions it will have too much hop flavor and aroma from the 10 minute additions according to the judges, who have probably never tasted a fresh Helles in Bayern. If you like it, drink up!

I scored 44 in competition on a Helles that had 15 minute hop addition and, to me, tasted slightly mildly reminiscent of a Helles and had the merit that it was light in color.  I wouldn't use the standard every day BJCP competition as the litmus test for Helles.  Really good judges who know the style are key.  And in that case, a 10 minute addition can provide just the right accent and pass muster.
Agreed. I am not brewing this just to compete. But it might go. My last attempt had all of those problems I mentioned before, yet took 1st at the Bend Oregon COHO last June. Woo hoo, right? Comps are just fun fund raisers, not really a good test of your beer. Besides, there isnt a comp good enough to prove anything for homebrewers. It all can be argued away. Maybe if you entered WBC and beat all the old Munich breweries... but even then, there will be someone on the Internet brow beating you down. Bottom line, I dont brew to prove anything. Its just for fun. Having said that, continuing to try to come up with MY perfect German Malty Light Lager is fun too

Dude, I like your style.
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
AHA Governing Committee
BJCP National
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

rabeb25

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #78 on: November 12, 2015, 12:53:05 AM »
There in lies the other problem if you already don't know what it is... You most likely never will.  It is in dang near every lager produced outside of the US.  As described earlier, you don't even have to drink it to know, just a whiff.  I have never even been to Germany, so my "taste perception" can't be influenced.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #79 on: November 12, 2015, 01:00:32 AM »
No, I am not the expert, claiming to be would only be a lie. However experts did write the rules, and those are what I based my answers on.
Here is my eternal debate. I have dedicated the better part of the last year, almost every free, waking moment to learn about this. This information does not come easy, its tireless work. I have a family, work, a life. Whats the price on that? Do I just give it all up for the sake of science? Would you even do it if I told you (i.e. would I be wasting my breath). My problem also involves me not fully being able to master it as well. Am I going down the wrong path, did I just steer you down the wrong path? I am hesitant, due to all the "paths" I have been put down.
Just something to think about. If not sharing what you've learned because it might mislead someone is the thought process, is just saying Wrong better? A whole bunch of us spend a lot of time on brewing and share pretty much everything along the way. Some of it is wrong. Its an ongoing process.

rabeb25

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #80 on: November 12, 2015, 01:03:31 AM »
No, I am not the expert, claiming to be would only be a lie. However experts did write the rules, and those are what I based my answers on.
Here is my eternal debate. I have dedicated the better part of the last year, almost every free, waking moment to learn about this. This information does not come easy, its tireless work. I have a family, work, a life. Whats the price on that? Do I just give it all up for the sake of science? Would you even do it if I told you (i.e. would I be wasting my breath). My problem also involves me not fully being able to master it as well. Am I going down the wrong path, did I just steer you down the wrong path?



A forum (be it internet or otherwise) is a place to exchange information. If you have information you would like to share then share it.

If you would like to sell this information maybe you should write a book. Brewer's Association is always coming out with new stuff.

If you want to keep it to yourself, then please do that, but I would suggest not critiquing a recipe without some constructive criticism.

Ok I'll bite and share one nugget.


Hell Lager
Colour 5-7 EBC (but can be up to 9-10 EBC)
Bitterness 15-22 EBC
Residual Alkalinity at 1-2° dH
Mash in at 58-62° Celsius
Typical Mash Schedule:  Hochkurz
Water to Grist Ratio: 1:3.3
EVG (attenuation): 82-87%
Possible addition of Acidulated malt or biological lactic acid
Base Malt:  Very light (3 – 3.5 EBC)
Possible use of Caramalt in the proportion of 1-2% (Colour 25 EBC)
Sometimes 0.5 – 1.0% Caramalt at 100 EBC

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #81 on: November 12, 2015, 01:09:17 AM »

No, I am not the expert, claiming to be would only be a lie. However experts did write the rules, and those are what I based my answers on.
Here is my eternal debate. I have dedicated the better part of the last year, almost every free, waking moment to learn about this. This information does not come easy, its tireless work. I have a family, work, a life. Whats the price on that? Do I just give it all up for the sake of science? Would you even do it if I told you (i.e. would I be wasting my breath). My problem also involves me not fully being able to master it as well. Am I going down the wrong path, did I just steer you down the wrong path?



A forum (be it internet or otherwise) is a place to exchange information. If you have information you would like to share then share it.

If you would like to sell this information maybe you should write a book. Brewer's Association is always coming out with new stuff.

If you want to keep it to yourself, then please do that, but I would suggest not critiquing a recipe without some constructive criticism.

Ok I'll bite and share one nugget.


Hell Lager
Colour 5-7 EBC (but can be up to 9-10 EBC)
Bitterness 15-22 EBC
Residual Alkalinity at 1-2° dH
Mash in at 58-62° Celsius
Typical Mash Schedule:  Hochkurz
Water to Grist Ratio: 1:3.3
EVG (attenuation): 82-87%
Possible addition of Acidulated malt or biological lactic acid
Base Malt:  Very light (3 – 3.5 EBC)
Possible use of Caramalt in the proportion of 1-2% (Colour 25 EBC)
Sometimes 0.5 – 1.0% Caramalt at 100 EBC


See...now doesn't that just feel good!


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Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
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https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harveys-Brewhaus/405092862905115

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Science_of_Mashing

Serving:        In Process:
Vienna IPA          O'Fest
Dort
Mead                 
Cider                         
Ger'merican Blonde
Amber Ale
Next:
Ger Pils
O'Fest

Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #82 on: November 12, 2015, 01:41:08 AM »
The ability to accurately describe "it" would sure be helful though. If you just write "lacking that German "IT" flavor and aroma" I'm afraid you'll tune up a lot of brewers. Recognizing IT is only 1/25 of the job.

This is the closest I can articulate.  Sorry, I really wish I could do better.  Terms are so subjective.  And I do wonder if there's a genetic element to it (after seeing years of threads of folks who know what it means, and folks who don't).  I liken it to the ability to smell asparagus in your urine.  Some folks can, some can't. 

The 5 elements of “it” in German light lagers.

1)   Aroma and first impressions
It: Fresh malt and hop aroma – sign of good things to come.  Very clean, slightly sweet but refreshing
Not it: No aroma. Metallic, plastic, organic off aroma coming from the glass.  Or overwhelming, cloying malt aroma, or strong, pungent hop aroma overwhelming the malt.

2)   Getting intimate - First Taste
It: the “it” we refer to – fresh grain, depth of character and bright notes of a fresh field of grain and flowers.  Sometimes spicy, particularly with Czech and East German Pilsners.  But clean and balanced with the malt.  Sometimes a minerally, salty impression from East German examples.
Not it: Dull, single dimension of malt.  It’s there, but not light, fresh and rich.  Overwhelming hoppiness as either flavor or strong bitterness.

3)   Balance of character
It: the overall impression is of balance between malt, bitterness and hop flavor.  Often floral, slightly sweet, and grainy.  Rich, bright grainy flavor.
Not it: Dull and flat, one dimension maltiness.  Like old malt or darker malt that is heavy on the palate.  Or muddy, overly complex flavors as from too many malts.

4)   Mouthfeel
It: Clean, crisp mouthfeel. Refreshing and you want to take another sip.  Clears out quickly.
Not it: Either thick and sweet or dry, puckering and thin.

5)   Finish  - Ahhhhh
It: briefly lingering malt flavor and aroma.  If you lightly exhale your breath and sniff, you get fresh malt graininess, a bit of hop aroma, and depth of aging character, slight lingering note of sulfur.
Not it: Cloying sweetness or astringent dryness, almost bitter.  Lingering hop bitterness that hangs in your mouth for a long time.  Yeast bite. 


Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #83 on: November 12, 2015, 01:43:40 AM »
I'm drinking a glass of IT right now



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Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
CPT, U.S.Army
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harveys-Brewhaus/405092862905115

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Science_of_Mashing

Serving:        In Process:
Vienna IPA          O'Fest
Dort
Mead                 
Cider                         
Ger'merican Blonde
Amber Ale
Next:
Ger Pils
O'Fest

Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #84 on: November 12, 2015, 01:45:34 AM »
I'm drinking a glass of IT right now



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Beauty!

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #85 on: November 12, 2015, 01:52:40 AM »

I'm drinking a glass of IT right now



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Beauty!

Granted, it's O'Fest IT, not Helles.





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Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
CPT, U.S.Army
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harveys-Brewhaus/405092862905115

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Science_of_Mashing

Serving:        In Process:
Vienna IPA          O'Fest
Dort
Mead                 
Cider                         
Ger'merican Blonde
Amber Ale
Next:
Ger Pils
O'Fest

Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #86 on: November 12, 2015, 01:54:07 AM »
There in lies the other problem if you already don't know what it is... You most likely never will.  It is in dang near every lager produced outside of the US.  As described earlier, you don't even have to drink it to know, just a whiff.  I have never even been to Germany, so my "taste perception" can't be influenced.

yeah, the funny thing here.  rabeb25 sent me an example of his Pils...thinking that ok, he's been to Germany, he knows what German beers should taste like.  And I'm laying down the same kinda talk he's been saying.  I taste his Pils and it tastes exactly like mine.  Clean, well brewed, meets the BJCP specs, but no 'it'.  I tell him that and he's like "right?". So WTF, how do we get 'it'?  We've never met, but we zero in on the exact same thing.  Aside from this bizarre flavor we've picked up (and enjoy) in beer, we have absolutely no reason to know each other, talk to each other or have any reason to cross paths (this is not a conspiracy to piss off the home brewing internet).  I have been all over Germany, consumed all variations of fresh, keller, filtered, unfiltered, big brand, no name, small town German beers and I get what 'it' is.  For folks looking at us like we're freaks...I get it, I totally do.  It's certainly the most frustrating thing I've ever experienced.  I want it, I know what it is, I try to describe it, that doesn't do it justice.  I want you to get 'it' and share in the fun!  But if you can't pick 'it' up, none of what we're saying will make any sense. 

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #87 on: November 12, 2015, 01:58:37 AM »
All kidding aside- I understand what you are both trying to describe. I too have done my best to replicate what I love so much much about German pils, dunkel, Helles, o'fest, dunkelweizen, etc.......it's a quest I enjoy and will continue to travel.


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Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
CPT, U.S.Army
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harveys-Brewhaus/405092862905115

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Science_of_Mashing

Serving:        In Process:
Vienna IPA          O'Fest
Dort
Mead                 
Cider                         
Ger'merican Blonde
Amber Ale
Next:
Ger Pils
O'Fest

Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #88 on: November 12, 2015, 01:59:30 AM »
All kidding aside- I understand what you are both trying to describe. I too have done my best to replicate what I love so much much about German pils, dunkel, Helles, o'fest, dunkelweizen, etc.......it's a quest I enjoy and will continue to travel.


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OK, cool!  I was going to say, that's a very pretty beer...you've got to get 'it'. :)

Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #89 on: November 12, 2015, 02:09:43 AM »
Even Kai struggled to get "it". He gave a talk in Australia titled "The Elusive Taste of German Lagers." I remember him saying that he had gotten it once or twice but couldn't do it consistently.

Indeed...I didn't think I was nuts.