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Old 02-08-2013, 08:25 PM   #1
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In my quest for the perfect (to my tastes) golden lager I'm looking for some advice on process tweaks. I've made several batches that turned out nice and probably to style, but are still not hitting the target I want. Most I've made are in the ballpark of 1.050. The main issue seems to be dryness. I know crispness/dryness is typical of this style, but I want to make something that's a little sweeter to enhance the maltiness. Some ideas:

- Halt fermentation early - would take monitoring and may leave some yeast byproducts not desired
- Use some light crystal or other grain with sweet unfermentables. I've tried this with little success. I'm also not looking to make amber Marzen- that, I can make consistently well.
- Use lactose (ugh)
- Use a different yeast. To date I've used Wy2206 and W34/70. Thinking of trying a Bock strain like WLP 820

Am I missing anything?

Some other things I think I'll do:

Cut back further on hops and do FWH.
Lower carbonation

I don't think this is a problem with maltiness, but maybe it is? Perhaps I should also focus on fresher malt?

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Old 02-10-2013, 01:43 AM   #2
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I would skip your FWH as it's not a "traditional" technique. Look to your recipe first, and then possibly water composition. Carbonation probably isn't going to be it- that'd be an easy test to do.

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Old 02-10-2013, 12:40 PM   #3
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I would skip your FWH as it's not a "traditional" technique. Look to your recipe first, and then possibly water composition. Carbonation probably isn't going to be it- that'd be an easy test to do.
Thanks for the feedback.

I hear you on the FWH. I can't really say that when I've done it in the past on other beers that it made the hops bitterness less harsh. The only thing I noticed was a huge magnification of IBU. As far as perceived bitterness goes, I don't think Beersmith really calculated "IBU"s very well for FWH.

To give you an example of what I'm shooting for, I had a Wiehenstephaner Festbier on tap once that was fantastic. It was very bready/grainy/malty and not very dry. I realize it is technically a Marzen, but since it is still very golden and not amber, it made me wonder how they kept it from being completely dry. I assume it's in their process and yeast and not some special grain.

As far at water goes, lately I've been starting with DI water and adding some CaCl2. My grain bills have been straight Weyermann Pils and sometimes various small additions of Munich, Crystal 10, Carapils, Melaniodin, etc. I feel I've been getting what I should out of the yeast - clean ferments with very low esters. But I've also noticed something strange in that they all seem to develop something more tart and estery after being in the keg for a while.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:21 PM   #4
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I'd look again at the history of FWH. It is a german technique from long ago that was lost for awhile and has now made a resurgence.

Have you tried raising your mash temps? If you are always mashing at 148-150 try bumping that up to 154.

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Old 02-11-2013, 06:33 PM   #5
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I'd look again at the history of FWH. It is a german technique from long ago that was lost for awhile and has now made a resurgence.

Have you tried raising your mash temps? If you are always mashing at 148-150 try bumping that up to 154.
I'd try FWH again if only to save hops. The problem is I feel it's more difficult to predict hops bitterness. Maybe I'll just have to experiment and remind myself that IBU calculations are only estimates anyway.

On all these lagers I've always mashed high (typically 156 and even as high as 158) based on the common idea that high FG=sweet. However as I've read alot more about fermentation, the residual unfermentables (mostly dextrins) are not necessarily sweet. In fact there seems to be a correlation where the sweeter a sugar is, the more fermentable. Yeast must have a "sweet tooth" Residual sweetness is a more complicated issue than usually described (i.e. by FG alone). See pg 70 of the yeast book. Sweetness isn't completely attributable to residual sugars.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:56 PM   #6
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In the interest of science I'd only make one change at a time, but I'd probably at least try the following:
-Lower your mash temp. You said it yourself, the incomplete conversion leaves more sugars in the final beer but they tend to be longer sugars that add to the body of the beer but not the sweetness.
-Use a different yeast. I'm not sure about W34/70, but WY 2206 is one of Wyeast's highest attenuating lager strains. Trying something like WY 2308 or 2278 might leave more sugars behind in the final product.
-Make it a bigger beer. Bigger beers tend to have a lot of residual sweetness.

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Old 02-11-2013, 11:57 PM   #7
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I bought a recipe kit from my lhbs because I wanted to brew a lager and the kit was considerably cheaper than buying the components individually. I was skeptical at the amount of Cara-pils malt but the resultant beer is absolutely amazing. Crispy, malty, dry yet a hint of sweetness. Here it is:

5.5 Gallons

Mash @ 155F
9.5 lbs Weyermann Pilsner
1.0 lbs Munton's Cara-pils
0.5 lbs Weyermann Vienna

90 minute boil
.33 oz Warrior @ 60 mins
1.0 oz Spalt @ 10 mins

WLP802 Czech Budejovice Lager Yeast

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Old 02-12-2013, 12:25 AM   #8
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In the interest of science I'd only make one change at a time, but I'd probably at least try the following:
-Lower your mash temp. You said it yourself, the incomplete conversion leaves more sugars in the final beer but they tend to be longer sugars that add to the body of the beer but not the sweetness.
-Use a different yeast. I'm not sure about W34/70, but WY 2206 is one of Wyeast's highest attenuating lager strains. Trying something like WY 2308 or 2278 might leave more sugars behind in the final product.
-Make it a bigger beer. Bigger beers tend to have a lot of residual sweetness.
Thanks for the inputs. I hadn't yet considered your first and third points together, but it seems like they could amplify each other.

I studied yeasts last night for longer time than I'd care to admit. I've liked the flavor outcome of 2206, but you're right, on the Wyeast's scale it's a significant attenuator. Interestingly, the supposed same strain from WL (820) is one of their lowest attenuators. I guess I misspoke above; WLP820 is their "Octoberfest" (Wiehenstephan) strain and WLP833 is their Bock (Ayinger) strain. I like several beers from both breweries, so I might try both yeasts. I was also thinking of making a split batch and trying a few yeasts. Trouble is that I wouldn't really be able to bring them all to completion simultaneously - I don't have a bunch of small kegs, and I don't want to bottle condition. So I'd probably try to get some taste impressions after secondary, then blend the beer into a single batch. I'm all for the science project here, but I don't have the patience or memory to do it serially.

W34/70 is a very clean fermenting yeast, but all three varieties (incl 830 2124) seem to attenuate high.

I'd probably also try 2308 based on attenuation and descriptions of malt enhancing characteristics, but I've been afraid of it in the past because of sulfur production. If it makes a great beer in the end it might be worth it, but in my experience sulfur take a pretty long time to scrub out.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by shelly_belly View Post
I bought a recipe kit from my lhbs because I wanted to brew a lager and the kit was considerably cheaper than buying the components individually. I was skeptical at the amount of Cara-pils malt but the resultant beer is absolutely amazing. Crispy, malty, dry yet a hint of sweetness.
None of my recipes had that much carapils in them, but I could look at increasing specialty grains. In one recipe, in somewhat of a desperation move, I threw the kitchen sink at it - basically some combination of carapils, aromatic, biscuit, melanoidin, and munich all totaling about 15%. I realize I probably need to focus on one specialty grain at a time and some of these are not style appropriate, but I had some leftover grains and wanted to see what would happen. Well, not much really. It is more grainy/malty, but it really didn't do anything for residual sweetness. Of course due to some other problems, I way overpitched on that batch (a combination of expired W34/70 and Wy2124)
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