Author Topic: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles  (Read 20488 times)

Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #180 on: November 13, 2015, 01:28:22 PM »
The German "It" strikes me as similar to the Belgian "It" that many of the North American "Belgian Style" beers strive for but don't reach. The Belgian "It" seems easier to obtain though.

I would think so...or at least the flavors we're talking about should be present in Belgian beers, especially given the points charles1968 makes about malt and hops.

Online jeffy

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #181 on: November 13, 2015, 01:38:07 PM »
I usually do the beta at 148 and then the alpha at 158.  A longer rest at the lower temp is normal in part because those enzymes take longer to work but also because it rests for the entire decoction.
I start at the lower temp, then after 20 minutes pull the decoction and heat it to the higher rest - hold that for 20 minutes, then raise to boiling and boil for another 20 minutes.  By the time you're adding the decoction back to the low temp mash it will have been an hour.
The higher rest doesn't take as long.  For grins you can pull a really thin decoction from the higher rest and boil it to add back as a mash out rest.  Then you can say you did a double decoction. :)
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #182 on: November 13, 2015, 01:39:55 PM »
Alright, this thread, weird as it is, had me thinking. Then I listened to the Denny and Drew show, and Denny says I should do a decoction if its fun. Well, I don't know if its fun so I better find out. Thankfully, the tail end of Kai's article says can do it with my direct fire system like the Germans do, so now I dont even have to work that hard at it.

Up coming brew day will be the recipe I posted earlier, but
142F for 45 minutes
158F for 45 minutes (plus however long it takes to reach 158 without scorching)
It looks like kobalch on Best pils and vienna is high enough that I don't need a protein rest.

If I dont detect "IT", I probably wont bother again. If I do, I might even hochkurz my laundry from now on.

I am sorry if this comes off wrong, but trust me, it is in good faith. If you think simply altering your mash (which I have previously stated is at the bottom of the pyramid) and you will get it, it's not going to happen. So you may as well keep your normal schedule and save yourself the headaches, as I guarantee you will have the same outcome.. It's not simply 1+1+=2. It's a radical shift, and completely different approach. The typical American more is better is not valid here ;)

At this point, if you would like I will post my last brew details, if you would like a glimpse of what I am talking about.
I gather that unless I brew your beer your way its wrong. But Im not hearing WHY from anyone. Im curious, is that how all Munich Helles are brewed in Munich? Same recipe, same water, same method, all beer is exactly the same? Seems goose-steppy to me.

Im trying to learn something here, and it sure seems like I'm hearing my Dad bark at me that I'm not doing it right with no indication of what right is, or why. Frankly, I may just decide that im done with trying to brew german beers if this is a harbinger of things to come.

I mentioned "IT" tongue in cheek at the end of that post. I should clarify, I don't beleive in IT as an articulable thing because no one can describe IT. Not to mention that if IT is supposed to be in every beer style in Germany, including smoke beers, dark beers, light beers, ales, sour beers... than IT is an emotion or some elitist mind set. So obviously I am not trying to create something I dont beleive exists. If someone can describe IT, I may change my mind.

Deep breaths... im not asking for a clone recipe, or trying to get jumped into a beer gang. I'm just looking for a little more insight on this step mash thing.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #183 on: November 13, 2015, 01:43:31 PM »
I usually do the beta at 148 and then the alpha at 158.  A longer rest at the lower temp is normal in part because those enzymes take longer to work but also because it rests for the entire decoction.
I start at the lower temp, then after 20 minutes pull the decoction and heat it to the higher rest - hold that for 20 minutes, then raise to boiling and boil for another 20 minutes.  By the time you're adding the decoction back to the low temp mash it will have been an hour.
The higher rest doesn't take as long.  For grins you can pull a really thin decoction from the higher rest and boil it to add back as a mash out rest.  Then you can say you did a double decoction. :)
So, I'm not doing decoction. This is step mash on a direct fire recirculation MT. The other guy says 15 minutes, you say 60. Im thinking that I will just stick with 45.

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #184 on: November 13, 2015, 01:44:31 PM »
Good day ya'll. This is where I bow out.

Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #185 on: November 13, 2015, 01:46:30 PM »
Alright, this thread, weird as it is, had me thinking. Then I listened to the Denny and Drew show, and Denny says I should do a decoction if its fun. Well, I don't know if its fun so I better find out. Thankfully, the tail end of Kai's article says can do it with my direct fire system like the Germans do, so now I dont even have to work that hard at it.

Up coming brew day will be the recipe I posted earlier, but
142F for 45 minutes
158F for 45 minutes (plus however long it takes to reach 158 without scorching)
It looks like kobalch on Best pils and vienna is high enough that I don't need a protein rest.

If I dont detect "IT", I probably wont bother again. If I do, I might even hochkurz my laundry from now on.

I am sorry if this comes off wrong, but trust me, it is in good faith. If you think simply altering your mash (which I have previously stated is at the bottom of the pyramid) and you will get it, it's not going to happen. So you may as well keep your normal schedule and save yourself the headaches, as I guarantee you will have the same outcome.. It's not simply 1+1+=2. It's a radical shift, and completely different approach. The typical American more is better is not valid here ;)

At this point, if you would like I will post my last brew details, if you would like a glimpse of what I am talking about.
I gather that unless I brew your beer your way its wrong. But Im not hearing WHY from anyone. Im curious, is that how all Munich Helles are brewed in Munich? Same recipe, same water, same method, all beer is exactly the same? Seems goose-steppy to me.

Im trying to learn something here, and it sure seems like I'm hearing my Dad bark at me that I'm not doing it right with no indication of what right is, or why. Frankly, I may just decide that im done with trying to brew german beers if this is a harbinger of things to come.

I mentioned "IT" tongue in cheek at the end of that post. I should clarify, I don't beleive in IT as an articulable thing because no one can describe IT. Not to mention that if IT is supposed to be in every beer style in Germany, including smoke beers, dark beers, light beers, ales, sour beers... than IT is an emotion or some elitist mind set. So obviously I am not trying to create something I dont beleive exists. If someone can describe IT, I may change my mind.

Deep breaths... im not asking for a clone recipe, or trying to get jumped into a beer gang. I'm just looking for a little more insight on this step mash thing.


Here's a video with a guy who has been on this quest, too, and is German living in the U.S.  This video gives a good overview of what we're talking about and some of his thoughts on the approach.  There's nothing I'd love to do more than sit down with you guys and taste some German beers.  Personally, I don't mean to be elitist about anything, more than anything I'm humbled that I can't reproduce the beers I love.  I think the fact that this comes down to circular discussion about process is because no one can quite get it. :)




Offline Kit B

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #186 on: November 13, 2015, 01:50:43 PM »
I'd like to know WHY this length or that length. If I was just looking to be told what to do to clone a german beer, id just go buy one.

Hahaha...You sound like me, in that other thread!
Why would anyone want to drink stale beer?

Online hopfenundmalz

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #187 on: November 13, 2015, 01:52:13 PM »
Alright, this thread, weird as it is, had me thinking. Then I listened to the Denny and Drew show, and Denny says I should do a decoction if its fun. Well, I don't know if its fun so I better find out. Thankfully, the tail end of Kai's article says can do it with my direct fire system like the Germans do, so now I dont even have to work that hard at it.

Up coming brew day will be the recipe I posted earlier, but
142F for 45 minutes
158F for 45 minutes (plus however long it takes to reach 158 without scorching)
It looks like kobalch on Best pils and vienna is high enough that I don't need a protein rest.

If I dont detect "IT", I probably wont bother again. If I do, I might even hochkurz my laundry from now on.

I am sorry if this comes off wrong, but trust me, it is in good faith. If you think simply altering your mash (which I have previously stated is at the bottom of the pyramid) and you will get it, it's not going to happen. So you may as well keep your normal schedule and save yourself the headaches, as I guarantee you will have the same outcome.. It's not simply 1+1+=2. It's a radical shift, and completely different approach. The typical American more is better is not valid here ;)

At this point, if you would like I will post my last brew details, if you would like a glimpse of what I am talking about.
I gather that unless I brew your beer your way its wrong. But Im not hearing WHY from anyone. Im curious, is that how all Munich Helles are brewed in Munich? Same recipe, same water, same method, all beer is exactly the same? Seems goose-steppy to me.

Im trying to learn something here, and it sure seems like I'm hearing my Dad bark at me that I'm not doing it right with no indication of what right is, or why. Frankly, I may just decide that im done with trying to brew german beers if this is a harbinger of things to come.

I mentioned "IT" tongue in cheek at the end of that post. I should clarify, I don't beleive in IT as an articulable thing because no one can describe IT. Not to mention that if IT is supposed to be in every beer style in Germany, including smoke beers, dark beers, light beers, ales, sour beers... than IT is an emotion or some elitist mind set. So obviously I am not trying to create something I dont beleive exists. If someone can describe IT, I may change my mind.

Deep breaths... im not asking for a clone recipe, or trying to get jumped into a beer gang. I'm just looking for a little more insight on this step mash thing.
Jim, I step mash often using direct heat. My system has a false bottom so the grains are not on the hot metal. The liquid is recirculated with a pump, so the enzymes are not denatured, and the grain bed has even temperature. Pretty easy.

I will have to watch the video. Kai was at the Philly NHC. I wonder if he will make an appearance at Baltimore.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #188 on: November 13, 2015, 01:57:53 PM »
I'd like to know WHY this length or that length. If I was just looking to be told what to do to clone a german beer, id just go buy one.

Hahaha...You sound like me, in that other thread!
I probably got it from you! Its your fault!

Look, my button got pushed. Its distracting to ask a WHY question and get a response that can be boiled down to You dont need to know why, just do what I do.

Sorry if I vented guys, but "Because I said" just falls short around here.

Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #189 on: November 13, 2015, 01:58:26 PM »

I will have to watch the video. Kai was at the Philly NHC. I wonder if he will make an appearance at Baltimore.

I wish he would,  I greatly miss Kai and his posts. 

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #190 on: November 13, 2015, 02:00:57 PM »
Alright, this thread, weird as it is, had me thinking. Then I listened to the Denny and Drew show, and Denny says I should do a decoction if its fun. Well, I don't know if its fun so I better find out. Thankfully, the tail end of Kai's article says can do it with my direct fire system like the Germans do, so now I dont even have to work that hard at it.

Up coming brew day will be the recipe I posted earlier, but
142F for 45 minutes
158F for 45 minutes (plus however long it takes to reach 158 without scorching)
It looks like kobalch on Best pils and vienna is high enough that I don't need a protein rest.

If I dont detect "IT", I probably wont bother again. If I do, I might even hochkurz my laundry from now on.

I am sorry if this comes off wrong, but trust me, it is in good faith. If you think simply altering your mash (which I have previously stated is at the bottom of the pyramid) and you will get it, it's not going to happen. So you may as well keep your normal schedule and save yourself the headaches, as I guarantee you will have the same outcome.. It's not simply 1+1+=2. It's a radical shift, and completely different approach. The typical American more is better is not valid here ;)

At this point, if you would like I will post my last brew details, if you would like a glimpse of what I am talking about.
I gather that unless I brew your beer your way its wrong. But Im not hearing WHY from anyone. Im curious, is that how all Munich Helles are brewed in Munich? Same recipe, same water, same method, all beer is exactly the same? Seems goose-steppy to me.

Im trying to learn something here, and it sure seems like I'm hearing my Dad bark at me that I'm not doing it right with no indication of what right is, or why. Frankly, I may just decide that im done with trying to brew german beers if this is a harbinger of things to come.

I mentioned "IT" tongue in cheek at the end of that post. I should clarify, I don't beleive in IT as an articulable thing because no one can describe IT. Not to mention that if IT is supposed to be in every beer style in Germany, including smoke beers, dark beers, light beers, ales, sour beers... than IT is an emotion or some elitist mind set. So obviously I am not trying to create something I dont beleive exists. If someone can describe IT, I may change my mind.

Deep breaths... im not asking for a clone recipe, or trying to get jumped into a beer gang. I'm just looking for a little more insight on this step mash thing.
Jim, I step mash often using direct heat. My system has a false bottom so the grains are not on the hot metal. The liquid is recirculated with a pump, so the enzymes are not denatured, and the grain bed has even temperature. Pretty easy.

I will have to watch the video. Kai was at the Philly NHC. I wonder if he will make an appearance at Baltimore.
Ya I use it all the time. Ive just not done this hochkurz step mash thing. Im just going to go for it and not get lost in the weeds.

Offline Kit B

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #191 on: November 13, 2015, 02:02:12 PM »
I gather that unless I brew your beer your way its wrong. But Im not hearing WHY from anyone. Im curious, is that how all Munich Helles are brewed in Munich? Same recipe, same water, same method, all beer is exactly the same? Seems goose-steppy to me.

Im trying to learn something here, and it sure seems like I'm hearing my Dad bark at me that I'm not doing it right with no indication of what right is, or why. Frankly, I may just decide that im done with trying to brew german beers if this is a harbinger of things to come.

I mentioned "IT" tongue in cheek at the end of that post. I should clarify, I don't beleive in IT as an articulable thing because no one can describe IT. Not to mention that if IT is supposed to be in every beer style in Germany, including smoke beers, dark beers, light beers, ales, sour beers... than IT is an emotion or some elitist mind set. So obviously I am not trying to create something I dont beleive exists. If someone can describe IT, I may change my mind.

Deep breaths... im not asking for a clone recipe, or trying to get jumped into a beer gang. I'm just looking for a little more insight on this step mash thing.

Please, don't think that anyone is telling you that your way is wrong.
Here's the situation...
A bunch of us have spent years chasing this.
We've worked together & shared notes...
We've tried countless mash schedules, grain bills, hopping schedules, etc.
We know which things we have tried that simply do not work.
We know several combinations of things that simply do not work.
No one is telling you that you HAVE to brew this way, or you're wrong.
The approach we are taking is to say, here...Let's eliminate the stuff we've tried that doesn't work.

I believe Brandon said it best, when he described IT, like this:

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 bi
Why would anyone want to drink stale beer?

Offline germanbrew

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #192 on: November 13, 2015, 02:05:31 PM »
I gather that unless I brew your beer your way its wrong. But Im not hearing WHY from anyone. Im curious, is that how all Munich Helles are brewed in Munich? Same recipe, same water, same method, all beer is exactly the same? Seems goose-steppy to me.

Im trying to learn something here, and it sure seems like I'm hearing my Dad bark at me that I'm not doing it right with no indication of what right is, or why. Frankly, I may just decide that im done with trying to brew german beers if this is a harbinger of things to come.

I mentioned "IT" tongue in cheek at the end of that post. I should clarify, I don't beleive in IT as an articulable thing because no one can describe IT. Not to mention that if IT is supposed to be in every beer style in Germany, including smoke beers, dark beers, light beers, ales, sour beers... than IT is an emotion or some elitist mind set. So obviously I am not trying to create something I dont beleive exists. If someone can describe IT, I may change my mind.

Deep breaths... im not asking for a clone recipe, or trying to get jumped into a beer gang. I'm just looking for a little more insight on this step mash thing.

Please, don't think that anyone is telling you that your way is wrong.
Here's the situation...
A bunch of us have spent years chasing this.
We've worked together & shared notes...
We've tried countless mash schedules, grain bills, hopping schedules, etc.
We know which things we have tried that simply do not work.
We know several combinations of things that simply do not work.
No one is telling you that you HAVE to brew this way, or you're wrong.
The approach we are taking is to say, here...Let's eliminate the stuff we've tried that doesn't work.

I believe Brandon said it best, when he described IT, like this:

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 bi

And in my description (please feel free to adapt it, add descriptors, etc, I'd like it to evolve into the best description possible, this was just a first shot at it.

I'm watching Kai's video again and he really does a nice job describing 'it' (as best as one could in a presentation without beer to sample) and the various processes and issues we're discussing.  I think achieving the '5 elements of it' is the combination of many process decisions and ingredients.  But getting the right ones and then getting them to harmonize is the art.  Thanks all for a good discussion!  Even if it is a weird thread. :)

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #193 on: November 13, 2015, 02:08:47 PM »
Thats a good description!

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Chasing the perfect Munich Helles
« Reply #194 on: November 13, 2015, 02:17:36 PM »
I'd like to know WHY this length or that length. If I was just looking to be told what to do to clone a german beer, id just go buy one.

Hahaha...You sound like me, in that other thread!
I probably got it from you! Its your fault!

Look, my button got pushed. Its distracting to ask a WHY question and get a response that can be boiled down to You dont need to know why, just do what I do.

Sorry if I vented guys, but "Because I said" just falls short around here.

Jim, I did give some reasons why on the last page - you want each enzyme to have enough time to "go as far as it can go" at each rest temperature. You can do this by tracking when SG increases level off at the beta rest, and by using an iodine test at the alpha rest. The amount of time that conversion takes depends on a lot of things, like the particular malt you use, the mash pH, etc. 30 minutes for beta is a "safe" choice, and the same goes for 40 minutes for alpha.
Now were getting somewhere, thanks.

So, Kai's chart of the hichkurz showing it taking a total of 3 hours... way too long I take it? Is that just old info thats not accurate anymore? Seemed long to me.

Anywho, im not trying to tackle that whole package right now, just the step mash and I think im tracking now.