Author Topic: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles  (Read 28522 times)

Offline narvin

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2286
  • Baltimore
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #90 on: November 12, 2015, 02:25:01 AM »
Kai mentioned oxidation as a possible factor.  And no, I don't think that "old" German beers in the US that were treated poorly are what IT tastes like.  But I also don't think it's a coincidence that I get that flavor more when my Pilsner has been in the growler for a day to take on a trip for the weekend.  Maybe a decoction pump or grant throws some HSA into the mix...
Please do not reply if your[sic] an evil alien!
Thanks

Offline germanbrew

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 46
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #91 on: November 12, 2015, 02:26:06 AM »
Kai mentioned oxidation as a possible factor.  And no, I don't think that "old" German beers in the US that were treates poorly are what IT tastes like.  But I also don't think it's a coincidence that I get that flavor more when my Pilsner has been in the growler for a day to take on a trip for the weekend.  Maybe a decoction pump or grant throws some HSA into the mix...

Yeah, it's not oxidation from old beer.  Maybe oxidation of beta acids in hops (stuff like first wort hopping would help with it).  But yeah, something like that.

Offline AmandaK

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1850
  • Redbird Brewhouse
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #92 on: November 12, 2015, 02:48:46 AM »
Amanda Burkemper
KC Bier Meisters Education Director
BJCP Assistant Education Director
BJCP Master/Mead

Redbird Brewhouse - There's Always a Project
Our Homebrewed Wedding, AHA Article

Offline Phil_M

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1760
  • Southern Maryland
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #93 on: November 12, 2015, 12:15:08 PM »
Alright, so help me understand this.

I really enjoy German beer, but can't afford a ticket to Bavaria. (And won't anytime soon...I'm a 29 year old technician trying to pay for engineering school...my funds are spoken for.)

While I do notice many things in bottled German beer that I don't get from American versions, I'm not sure if "IT" is among those flavors or not. Where/how do I go about trying to properly taste these beers at least somewhat locally?

The flavor I think might be "IT" certainly hasn't been present in every bottled German beer I've tried. I guess what I'm looking for is a reliable "IT" tasting method that doesn't involve an airliner.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2015, 12:18:38 PM by Phil_M »
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

rabeb25

  • Guest
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #94 on: November 12, 2015, 12:27:40 PM »
Alright, so help me understand this.

I really enjoy German beer, but can't afford a ticket to Bavaria. (And won't anytime soon...I'm a 29 year old technician trying to pay for engineering school...my funds are spoken for.)

While I do notice many things in bottled German beer that I don't get from American versions, I'm not sure if "IT" is among those flavors or not. Where/how do I go about trying to properly taste these beers at least somewhat locally?

The flavor I think might be "IT" certainly hasn't been present in every bottled German beer I've tried. I guess what I'm looking for is a reliable "IT" tasting method that doesn't involve an airliner.

It, is present in every German beer produced, if you didn't get it from a bottle it was most likely old and mis-treated. You best bet is to try it on tap, or go to a bottle shop that goes though a decent amount. A good way to tell is if the beer is anything but brilliantly clear, that means there are some colloidal stability issues, much likely due from oxidation. It shouldn't be too hard to seek out, its in all beers German, lagers, ales... everything.

Offline Phil_M

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1760
  • Southern Maryland
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #95 on: November 12, 2015, 12:41:10 PM »
If it's reliably found in well-kept bottles I think I may know what you're talking about. Thankfully a local shop down here keeps all their beer (800+ different varieties) in a cool room with nice indirect lighting. (No skunking.)

I buy German beer there enough to know what I think is "IT" is not in every six pack, likely due to handling along the trip. (Or at the distributor...) One things for sure, I've not been satisfied with any craft "Kölsch" after enjoying a great sixpack of Gaffel Kölsch.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline klickitat jim

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8604
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #96 on: November 12, 2015, 12:46:43 PM »
IT is in a Rauchbier and a Dunkelbock and a Berlinerweis? No wonder people can't describe IT.

Offline Phil_M

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1760
  • Southern Maryland
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #97 on: November 12, 2015, 12:58:00 PM »
What I'm thinking "IT" is I've never noticed in a rauchbier, that's for sure. What I'm thinking "IT" is I can only describe as a fresh hay/grain/wheat field right before harvest sort of character. I've only noticed it in lighter beers, and slightly in a Dunkel, though that could have been a fluke. Definitely wasn't noticable in any of the Schwarzbiers I've tried, and I'm pretty sure I've had a fresh enough example.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

rabeb25

  • Guest
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #98 on: November 12, 2015, 01:01:55 PM »
If it's reliably found in well-kept bottles I think I may know what you're talking about. Thankfully a local shop down here keeps all their beer (800+ different varieties) in a cool room with nice indirect lighting. (No skunking.)

I buy German beer there enough to know what I think is "IT" is not in every six pack, likely due to handling along the trip. (Or at the distributor...) One things for sure, I've not been satisfied with any craft "Kölsch" after enjoying a great sixpack of Gaffel Kölsch.

If you can find a fresh six pack of Weihenstephan original that has been treated well in transit and storage (or if you can get it on tap from a good bar that treats their beer well), that beer is a very good example of having "it"

And great example of a super light beer, with it in spades.

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4439
  • Play Nice
    • Harvey's Brewhaus
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #99 on: November 12, 2015, 01:13:51 PM »

If it's reliably found in well-kept bottles I think I may know what you're talking about. Thankfully a local shop down here keeps all their beer (800+ different varieties) in a cool room with nice indirect lighting. (No skunking.)

I buy German beer there enough to know what I think is "IT" is not in every six pack, likely due to handling along the trip. (Or at the distributor...) One things for sure, I've not been satisfied with any craft "Kölsch" after enjoying a great sixpack of Gaffel Kölsch.

If you can find a fresh six pack of Weihenstephan original that has been treated well in transit and storage (or if you can get it on tap from a good bar that treats their beer well), that beer is a very good example of having "it"

Agree about craft kolsch. IME it is indistinguishable from a blond ale. The real thing is vastly different.

+1 great example to seek out.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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 Wort-H.O.G.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4439
  • Play Nice
    • Harvey's Brewhaus
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #100 on: November 12, 2015, 01:18:11 PM »
I'm pretty sure Kai wrote somewhere that he was fairly confidant that decoction of any kind isn't a prerequisite for IT. References many German beers with IT are produced without it......anyone recall this?


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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 Phil_M

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1760
  • Southern Maryland
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #101 on: November 12, 2015, 01:20:11 PM »
The local shop I've mentioned often has that beer, I'll have to try it again. While I've tried that beer several times in the past, I've never been impressed.

That being said, when I think "German beer character," the best example I've ever had of it was a very fresh 5L party keg of Hofbräu Helles.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4439
  • Play Nice
    • Harvey's Brewhaus
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #102 on: November 12, 2015, 01:26:15 PM »
found it...here's what he said:

 Re: That German lager flavor
« Reply #174 on: August 05, 2012, 07:32:38 AM »

    Quote

I read through all the posts here and have a few comments.

I don't think there is any single thing or procedure that causes this German Lager flavor. I believe it is a combination of things and simply a product how Germans brew beer. However, German brewing practices today are very much different from what we think. Most beer is mass produced, especially the big brands like Bittburger, Warsteiner, Radeberger ... Even most of the local brands are produced the same way. Most breweries in Germany are either owned by InBev or the Radeberger Gruppe, which is is part of Dr Oetker, a conglomerate that started out as a baking powder company.

A few month back I got pointed to a very good German TV documentary that highlighted how German beer had lost its way. For posterity, here is the link (http://www.zdf.de/ZDFmediathek/beitrag/video/1656374/ZDFzoom-Hopfen-und-Malz-verloren!#/beitrag/video/1656374/ZDFzoom-Hopfen-und-Malz-verloren) there are a few German speakers on this forum for which that might be useful.

I just came back from a trip through the northern part of Germany and I have to admit that most beers in Germany do taste rather bland these days.

Beers brewed in southern Germany tend to be better. For one, they have a better beer culture down there and there is also a bit more variety. Especially when it comes to Weissbier.

As for the brewing processes that can give this characteristic German flavor, I don't think that decoction has anything to do with it. Most German beers are made w/o decoction and I have made many decocted beers that I would say have that German taste. This is not to say that decoction doesn't make a difference, lets leave this for a different discussion.

Warm vs. cold maturation rest? A few times I have tried the cold maturation rest, i.e. where the beer is slowly cooled after primary fermentation is done. The biggest problem was that I ended up stalling fermentation and the beer did not attenuate as expected. These days I often raise the maturation rest temp to 70 F for a week in order to make sure the beer fully attenuates before cold conditioning. The complete fermentation is more important than doing a cold maturation (a.k.a. diacetyl) rest. When I say complete fermentation I mean getting close to the attenuation from the FFT, especially for a Pilsner. A Schwarzbier can be a few attenuation percentage points off and a Doppebock can show 4%-6% lower attenuation than its FFT. Simply judging complete fermentation by the absence of activity may not be accurate enough. The low fermentable sugar content, that you get when the beer ferments to the attenuation of its FFT, is important to get a very drinkable beer.

One major factor in getting the German flavor is the aroma of the beer. German beers have a very subtle aroma. These days many beers don't seem to have any aroma since brewers skimp on good aroma hops. But even the good examples don't have a strong hop aroma. If hops dominate the aroma, its never like sticking your nose in a bag of hops. Instead the hop aroma is more refined. This comes from the fact that German brewers don't add hops late. Even aroma hops are added with 10-15 boil time to go. According to a number of sources I have come across the hop aroma compounds oxidize in the boiling wort and create less volatile compounds. This leads me directly to FWH. FWH doesn't appear to be common in German brewing, but I have had great success with getting that German hop profile into my Pilsner and Helles by using FWH.

Another important part is smooth bitterness and for that I strongly believe that the Kraeusen should not be allowed to fall back into the beer. I make sure that it blows off. Even if that means I have to add more sanitized wort after I realized that I didn't fill my carboy enough to get a blow-off. When I don't do this the bitterness gets a harsh character.

I also started experimenting with CO2 hop extract. The gooey hop resin that NB sells as the Hopshot. A few years back I bought a 150g can and put it into syringes. I know that the use of hop extract is frowned upon among beer geeks, but hop extract is able to add bitterness w/o bringing vegetal matter into the boil that can lead to increased tannins. I have not done a side-by side between a classic bitterning hop like Magnum and hop extract.

While I do have a number of thoughts on this topic, I haven't found that perfect procedure that will always give you the authentic German taste. There are too many variables that would have to be evaluated. Just be open to experimentation and start trying things that you haven't tried yet. This obviously implies that you can brew a clean beer repeatedly and that you brewing process is not plagued by more straight forward issues.

Kai
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

rabeb25

  • Guest
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #103 on: November 12, 2015, 01:42:06 PM »
I was once told by "a guy"  8) that mash is the least important thing on the list. Thats not to say its not important, but its the least in the grand scheme. Thats why people went to step mashes, it saved money, power, and time as the result was similar enough to not matter. With that said, you will NEVER see them do a single infusion ala the English method, as it DOESN'T yield the same results.

The primary reason for the modern day decoction is to increase yield(boiling bursts the hard starches, thus making them now available to the enzymes), and potentially bring some melanoidians to the table( depending on what steps are in the decoctions). A cool trick for those who do decoction do an iodine test during your mash boil ;) .However, That comes with the expense of tannins and color from boiling the husks. The perfect mash (in their eyes) is the endosperm mash. It employs getting completely rid of the husk materials and only using starches. They then use a "mash filter" that uses compressed air to lauter, basically by squeezing, and no, before you ask...this is not BIAB. This yields a product free from husk tannins, and actually less color as the husks contribute to that as well. About .5-1 EBC.

In case you are saying hard starches? That would be these white bits, they will never be fully soluble in a normal mash.



« Last Edit: November 12, 2015, 01:49:52 PM by rabeb25 »

Offline indevrede

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #104 on: November 12, 2015, 02:32:07 PM »
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...