Author Topic: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles  (Read 30252 times)

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #150 on: November 13, 2015, 01:08:52 AM »
It's hard to say something constructive here without sounding like your taking a jab or poking fun but I'll try.

Take North American Trappist/Belgian Abbey style beers prior to the Candi Syrup revolution. There was an approach that used large, complex grain bills to replicate beers that often contained 2 malts and some syrup. It was the case of inadvertently making something more difficult than it had to be. Now you can consistently taste beers that give the originals a run for their money at the very least and best them given the best examples. I'm not saying this directed at the German beer crowd at all, but it is a case where vast improvements and results were obtained by dramatically simplifying the ingredients and process to a certain degree.

Striving for perfection in anything is difficult when your approaching your goal asymptotically. Great expenditures in effort offer only small bits of improvement. Without insulting anyone's efforts or goals, could it be that your making certain aspects of the process too difficult? Are you overlooking something simple?

Again, grain of salt here, as I am not a lager guy as of yet.

No no, I honestly, truly believe that you are on to something. It HAS to be something relatively simple, because so many of the German, Austrian, Czech, and Polish beers have it.

As germanbrewer said, I too worry it is simply freshness of ingredients. Is "it" a volatile compound in the malt that dissipates after a month or two of storage? I don't know.

personally speaking-with my pils there were some painfully obvious and simple tweaks that have pushed me close to what i'm after. perhaps more so in retrospect, but nonetheless simple.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #151 on: November 13, 2015, 01:09:00 AM »
The trouble is that if a thing can not be described, there is no way of knowing what we're talking about, so how do you know if people can or can not detect it? At some point the discussion turns into a type of a mystic séance.

At times, this thread reminds me of Ed Meese and porn.  I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it!

However, unless these guys are having us on - and I don't think they are - they're chasing something ethereal with the hopes of catching it.

Good luck to them.

That quote was originally from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. Just for the record.
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Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #152 on: November 13, 2015, 01:11:01 AM »
The trouble is that if a thing can not be described, there is no way of knowing what we're talking about, so how do you know if people can or can not detect it? At some point the discussion turns into a type of a mystic séance.

At times, this thread reminds me of Ed Meese and porn.  I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it!

However, unless these guys are having us on - and I don't think they are - they're chasing something ethereal with the hopes of catching it.

Good luck to them.

No, we're not messing with you.  But it does feel like we are chasing unicorns.  But I know I've seen one...and it poops rainbow ice cream...and smells like Saaz.

Offline Phil_M

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #153 on: November 13, 2015, 01:13:39 AM »
As germanbrewer said, I too worry it is simply freshness of ingredients. Is "it" a volatile compound in the malt that dissipates after a month or two of storage? I don't know.

That's my thought. The "good" German beers I've had have all reminded me of the way one of the local wheat fields smell around when the grain is close to being dried and ready for harvest, but isn't dusty yet. Especially if you drive past a field at night with the windows down.

But what do I know? I haven't even tried to brew a lager.

I do think the German beer home-brew community needs to try and better describe the flavors they're striving for, things like "IT" just confound and frustrate people looking for quantifiable answers.
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Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #154 on: November 13, 2015, 01:13:52 AM »
It's hard to say something constructive here without sounding like your taking a jab or poking fun but I'll try.

Take North American Trappist/Belgian Abbey style beers prior to the Candi Syrup revolution. There was an approach that used large, complex grain bills to replicate beers that often contained 2 malts and some syrup. It was the case of inadvertently making something more difficult than it had to be. Now you can consistently taste beers that give the originals a run for their money at the very least and best them given the best examples. I'm not saying this directed at the German beer crowd at all, but it is a case where vast improvements and results were obtained by dramatically simplifying the ingredients and process to a certain degree.

Striving for perfection in anything is difficult when your approaching your goal asymptotically. Great expenditures in effort offer only small bits of improvement. Without insulting anyone's efforts or goals, could it be that your making certain aspects of the process too difficult? Are you overlooking something simple?

Again, grain of salt here, as I am not a lager guy as of yet.

No no, I honestly, truly believe that you are on to something. It HAS to be something relatively simple, because so many of the German, Austrian, Czech, and Polish beers have it.

As germanbrewer said, I too worry it is simply freshness of ingredients. Is "it" a volatile compound in the malt that dissipates after a month or two of storage? I don't know.

personally speaking-with my pils there were some painfully obvious and simple tweaks that have pushed me close to what i'm after. perhaps more so in retrospect, but nonetheless simple.

Whatcha waiting for?  Do tell, do tell! :)

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #155 on: November 13, 2015, 01:17:20 AM »
Simple answer. Go grab a 4 pack of Urqell in cans, and tell us what YOU taste.

I might just do that.  I don't know that I'll recognize IT though. Worth a try, and nothing to lose.

You do recognize that I said I don't believe you're having us on, right?
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #156 on: November 13, 2015, 01:18:18 AM »
The trouble is that if a thing can not be described, there is no way of knowing what we're talking about, so how do you know if people can or can not detect it? At some point the discussion turns into a type of a mystic séance.

At times, this thread reminds me of Ed Meese and porn.  I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it!

However, unless these guys are having us on - and I don't think they are - they're chasing something ethereal with the hopes of catching it.

Good luck to them.

That quote was originally from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. Just for the record.

You're older than me, Jeff.  And I was worried people wouldn't know who Ed Meese was.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

rabeb25

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #157 on: November 13, 2015, 01:22:29 AM »
As I have said before, it is in every beer they make.  Ale or lager.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #158 on: November 13, 2015, 01:24:57 AM »
The trouble is that if a thing can not be described, there is no way of knowing what we're talking about, so how do you know if people can or can not detect it? At some point the discussion turns into a type of a mystic séance.

At times, this thread reminds me of Ed Meese and porn.  I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it!

However, unless these guys are having us on - and I don't think they are - they're chasing something ethereal with the hopes of catching it.

Good luck to them.

That quote was originally from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. Just for the record.

You're older than me, Jeff.  And I was worried people wouldn't know who Ed Meese was.
Yes, I am old, but pretty cool with it.  :)
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Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #159 on: November 13, 2015, 01:26:52 AM »
As germanbrewer said, I too worry it is simply freshness of ingredients. Is "it" a volatile compound in the malt that dissipates after a month or two of storage? I don't know.

That's my thought. The "good" German beers I've had have all reminded me of the way one of the local wheat fields smell around when the grain is close to being dried and ready for harvest, but isn't dusty yet. Especially if you drive past a field at night with the windows down.

But what do I know? I haven't even tried to brew a lager.

I do think the German beer home-brew community needs to try and better describe the flavors they're striving for, things like "IT" just confound and frustrate people looking for quantifiable answers.

You got it, that's a good description of it...smell of a field of fresh grain. 

I've been working on it as the descriptors go.  I've been researching this for several years, and found some buds on the same quest.   Then the German beer market is really odd, with its history and Reinheitsgrebot and Biersteuergesetz, former kingdoms with their own styles (e.g. Franconia and Bavaria), and pretty traditional customer base.  It's not like the US craft beer market.  But that's changing there, too.  Anyhow, it seems to be a fairly insular group (in Germany - maybe largely due to language and culture, the average dude like any of us is not chasing down breweries there to learn how to brew) and not a lot of information is as easily accessible.  Kai Troester and a few others have done incredible work to translate Ludwig Narziss's works into English so we have some theory and practice to go on.  Which causes a lot of the conflict, because German brewing is traditionally different than English and American, so has us on our heads trying to understand what's important and what's not.  Does any of that make any difference?  Who knows...that's what we're trying to figure out.  But it hasn't been the slam dunk I assumed it would be when I started down this path.  2 years into my home brewing I figured 'eh, I can make a nice APA, IPA, brown and dark beers, let's try German lagers'.  And some of mine are really nice.  But the Helles and Pils are not hitting it. 

As was suggested above, grab a 4-pack of PU cans...especially if you can compare it with one of your own light lagers.  I agree 'it' isn't a good description for someone who doesn't immediate know what it means. 

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #160 on: November 13, 2015, 01:29:28 AM »
If at least a good portion of the 'it' factor is the fresh smell of a field, freshly harvested grain and hops, I can't help but feel that freshness of ingredients and the fact that many of those breweries often have their grains malted to their own unique preferences must be a big factor. The fact that homebrewers typically have access to mostly malt not chosen by breweries would make duplicating these beers much, much tougher, I would think. I wish everybody luck.                                               
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Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #161 on: November 13, 2015, 01:32:16 AM »
Simple answer. Go grab a 4 pack of Urqell in cans, and tell us what YOU taste.

I might just do that.  I don't know that I'll recognize IT though. Worth a try, and nothing to lose.

You do recognize that I said I don't believe you're having us on, right?

I wish we could get together for a beer and the experiment.  I find it vastly fascinating that some folks immediately taste it, and others don't.  It's just as likely that it's a description issue as some genetic ability to pick up a flavor.  I can't imagine it's ultimately really all that complicated, just zeroing in on the same thing we're tuning in to and enjoy.  It may simply not matter to you, so you don't pick it up.  First time I tried it, bingo...instant love and whole new level of appreciation of a region of beer.  Who knows...

« Last Edit: November 13, 2015, 01:33:48 AM by germanbrew »

Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #162 on: November 13, 2015, 01:37:21 AM »
If at least a good portion of the 'it' factor is the fresh smell of a field, freshly harvested grain and hops, I can't help but feel that freshness of ingredients and the fact that many of those breweries often have their grains malted to their own unique preferences must be a big factor. The fact that homebrewers typically have access to mostly malt not chosen by breweries would make duplicating these beers much, much tougher, I would think. I wish everybody luck.                                               

Yep.  sad sigh - if this ends up being the case.  Thanks!

rabeb25

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #163 on: November 13, 2015, 01:38:36 AM »
While it certainly can't hurt. I don't know if I buy it, I was at a Brazilian steak house recently, and got their house Pilsner that was like 3.99 for a 12oz bottle called Palma Louca. Well I'll be damned if it didn't have it in spades. I highly doubt this Podunk brewery in Brazil has access to maltster fresh German malts in Brazil.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2015, 01:40:58 AM by rabeb25 »

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #164 on: November 13, 2015, 01:56:22 AM »
As I have said before, it is in every beer they make.  Ale or lager.
I have to say having lived in Germany for a year and a half, and after many work trips and personal trips all I can say is not all. Not all beers have "it".  Some beers are defective, sorry, but that is my experience.
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