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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Assistance in tweaking Kolsch recipe
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:52 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by crazyirishman34 View Post
You should check out the classic styles book. That is one of the recipes they list. According to that book none of the commercial Kolsch breweries use wheat.
I should get that one. I thought I'd listened to the CYBI episode, but maybe it was just the one about Alt.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:35 PM   #12
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Looking at the recipe, the yeast and hops choice, the conversion and fermentation temperatures... I would think you ought to get a good Kölsch out of this. Is it? IOW what do you think? You should know if it is a good beer or not and if you are not sure about something get some experienced friends in and ask them. IOW don't rely too much on judges comments. There are good judges and not so good judges. Most feel that they have to write down something and will scrutinize, think, ponder and in some cases imagine a fault which they will have no trouble convincing their equally perplexed colleagues to agree with. If you, as a judge, are confronted with a beer that is, for example, laden with diacetyl, there is no problem with eliminating it but if you have a table full of good beers, it is hard to pick one as best, one as second best etc.

I once had one of our best judges over here for a club brew or something like that and in the course of the afternoon he came on my log notebook in which he found some judging sheets that he had written on the beer he was drinking. He said that he couldn't believe the negative comments he had put down based on the beer he was drinking at the moment. I pointed out that in the current ambient he was looking for enjoyment from the beer while in the competition he was looking for ways to mark it for elimination. This is one of the reasons I don't take competitions very seriously.

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Originally Posted by roxbob View Post
"A bit too bitter and dry - finishes sharply rather than being soft and rounded. Alcohol warming is a bit too high. Otherwise excellent."
Now this is an example of a comment that may actually be of some value to you. It suggests that the water you used was too high in sulfate and too low in chloride. In my experience water for a Kölsch should be free of sulfate and should contain at least 30 mg/L chloride. Less than that and it tastes thin. You could probably go up to 70 with the perceived sweetness and body (roundness) increasing as you go. You can get a rough idea about increasing roundness by adding chloride by putting tiny amounts of table salt in a sample of the beer as you are tasting it. I'd call BS on the alcoholic warming. It's hard to imagine a Kölsch with enough alcohol to give a warming effect.


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Originally Posted by roxbob View Post
"Attenuation could be a bit lower - check yeast pitching rate"
The 'check yeast pitch' comment suggests that this guy thinks it's under attenuated (too sweet) whereas the 'could be lower' comment suggests that he thinks it's too dry/thin. Thus this comment is pretty worthless IMO. If he really means too dry/thin the chloride can help with that.

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Originally Posted by roxbob View Post
Both judges from the competition where it scored lowest knocked it for DMS as well, which surprised me as I did a 90 minute boil.
You know what DMS tastes like. Does this beer have any? If you don't think you are familiar with DMS get some friends, even those with little knowledge of beer. Ask 'do you taste anything that reminds you of canned corn?' Keep in mind that people are very suggestible.

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Originally Posted by roxbob View Post
So from this feedback, I'm guessing I need to dial back the hops just a bit (maybe 1.5 oz instead of 2), and mash a degree or two higher?
I've never been to Köln so you must take anything I say here with a grain of salt. Bitterness for a Kölsch is not something I'm sure about. My inclination is that bitterness should be pretty much subdued though I have had Kölschs from the bottle (imported) and brewed by craft brewers who have won gold medals in the style in which the bitterness is definitely perceptible. I will say this - if you have noticeable bitterness it had better be fine. Get the sulfate out.

As to conversion temperature - I think that's fine. If you need more body get it with more chloride. You don't want this to be too sweet.

Finally, I don't think you should be too hung up on 'correcting' the errors found by judges. Competitions are a crap shoot which depend more on who is assigned to judge the beer than its qualities given that it is a well brewed beer. Given that it qualified for MCAB I think we can safely say that it is a well brewed beer. MCAB is no different WRT the role of chance. MCAB judges are going to be good judges but while the kind of judges that get asked to participate in MCAB have lots of experience they often also have lots of ego. The one time I did it the people I judged with seemed more concerned about winning a contest of wills with each other than in choosing the best beer. Given that 'best' is such a subjective concept I suppose it's the best we can do.

I can tell you how to win competitions though. First, brew good beer. Second, learn to game the competition i.e. try 'shotgunning'. Enter it as a Pils and as a Helles. Learn about the club sponsoring the competiton. If you know Joe X loves Pils and they always put him on the Pils table and know what he likes you have an advantage. Finally, as chance is a big part of this, improve your chances by entering lots of beers. Another anecdote in this regard. I was grumbling to a friend about the appalling quality of the score sheets I'd received back from a first round AHA competition. I observed that, on the other hand, those from our club who had advanced were our best brewers which included the guy I was talking to. He agreed but pointed out that his beers which had advanced were not the best ones he had submitted.
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Old 11-22-2012, 10:19 PM   #13
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If you want to do a bottle swap I have a batch that is almost ready. I can't keep mine on tap and I brew 10 gallon batches.

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Old 01-31-2013, 08:14 PM   #14
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ajdelange,

Sorry for the long delay in response, but I wanted to let you know I really appreciated your detailed post. I'm just getting in to starting to undertand the effect of water chemistry on my brews, so your input was timely and helpful. I was able to get a copy of my local water report, and it turns out I have very, very soft water - both chloride and sulfate are pretty low, about 10 ppm each. I'm going to take your advice and up the chloride a bit when I re-brew it this weekend, and see how it affects the final product. Your comments about competitions were helpful as well - the shotgunning idea is interesting, I'll definitey keep it in mind (but keep the main effort on just brewing good beer!).

Thanks again,
Bob

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Old 01-31-2013, 08:25 PM   #15
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Oh yeah, and maybe a 120 minute boil to be sure to get rid of all the DMS?
I would not... I did that to a Triple and the Mallard (think) reactions gave the beer a copper color...

90 minutes should be fine.... maybe 75...

I made up a recipe after reading "Kolsch: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes" and a little reasearch... I found a nice article on the Beersmith page that I can't find now...

I have brewed it twice now because it came out so well the first time.
  • I cast the yeast at the high end and then put in the Fermentation chamber near the low end of it's temp range.
  • Gave it a 2-3 day rest at 70
  • Lagered it around 35


QUESTION: What was the ABV? It seemed to me you had more grain than a traditional Kolsch...
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:53 PM   #16
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Thanks, I'll keep it to 90 minutes - I wasn't crazy about the idea of the longer brew day, anyway.

The ABV the last time I brewed it was 4.85%, so right in the middle of the range for Kolsch. I'll be shooting for about that when I brew it again tomorrow.

So I think the only thing I'm going to change is to add 1.5 tsp of CaCl2 to 10 gallons of brew water, which will give me 54 ppm Ca, 12 ppm SO4, and 96 ppm chloride. It was a good beer already, hopefully this will make it just a touch better!

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