Failed attempt at Augustiner Info

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Boerderij_Kabouter

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I am not a shy person. I want to brew an Augustiner Helles because I think it is the best in the world and you can't get it outside Munich. (I know they have an export but it just isn't the same somehow).

So I sent them this email:

Hallo,

I am an American homebrewer who lived in Germany for a summer. While there I visited a good friend of mine in Munich and spent a good deal of time in your bier-garden. I have longed for a taste of Augustiner Helles ever since! I have been homebrewing for about 3 years now and want to produce a good copy of the Augustiner Helles so I can drink it here in America with my friends and family. I have searched for a good recipe and the techniques to produce the best Helles (in my opinion) but have been unable to find such information. I really hope you would be willing to help me out. From what I can gather, a traditional Helles bier is 100% Pilsner malt mashed with a triple decoction mash schedule and uses Hallertauer hops. I also know that many current Helles biers are not 100% Pilsner malt based. I have several questions I am hoping you can help me with...

1) What does your grain bill look like? What percentage of what malts do you use?
2) What mash schedule do you use? What temperature rests? Do you use decoctions? Do you raise to a mash-out temperature? Do you batch or fly-sparge?
3) What hops do you use? How much bittering? What time do you make your additions?
4) How long do you boil for? Do you use any other ingredients or clarifiers?
5) What is the original gravity of your Helles?
6) What yeast do you use? If it is a house yeast, is there any way to get it? I have a good friend who lives in Munich, could he stop by the brewery and pick up a small container of yeast slurry?
7) What temperature do you use for primary fermentation? How long does your primary fermentation normally last?
8) Do you generally need a diacetyl rest? What temperature do you lager at and for how long?
9) How do you carbonate? Kraüsen? Force carbonation? How many volumes of CO2 do you target for carbonation?
10) Do you age with oak barrels for any period of time?

I hope you can help me on my quest to have this beer at my home. Perhaps if I am successful, I can send you some of my beers for sampling.

If you have any other information that may help me produce a good copy of your beer, I would appreciate any advice you can give.

Thank you very much. Hopfen und Maltz, Gott erhalts!
Not much to my surprise, this is the reply I received:

Hallo Mr. Talbot,

sorry, but if I would answer only one of your questions I would have to look for a new job and would have to pay a lot of money.

Before somebody starts to work for Augustiner he has to sign a contract and there it is fixed, that it is forbidden to say anything about the process of beer brewing at the Augustiner Brewery.

Thank you for regarding our Helles as the best. We are proud to hear this!

With kind regards

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Augustiner-Bräu Wagner KG
Rainer Englmeier
Hauptabteilungsleiter
Produktion und Qualitätssicherung
I both love and hate the secrecy the Germans still have with their beer!! :drunk:
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Very nice. I think I am going to embark on a quest to clone Augustiner. If any one else has tried, how did it turn out, are you getting close?
 

Kaiser

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Well, at least he was pretty nice about it!

You either get this or the usual marketing spiel of “only the purest water, finest malts and hops. Slow fermented and lagered for a long time”

And even if they would have told you how they brew it. It would have been of little help to you b/c you don’t have their brewhouse and cellar at your disposal. I bet that if you manage to clone Augustiner, your recipe and procedure would not work in their brewery.

The only thing you are left with is getting an understanding how to affect the various beer flavors and come up with a process/recipe that creates exactly the beer you are looking for.

Let me take a stab at answering some of your questions based on my cyurrent understanding of the German brewing process:

1) What does your grain bill look like? What percentage of what malts do you use?

Mostly Pilsner, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they also add some specialty malts to compensate for changes that they made in the brewhouse. (e.g. less or no decoctions but added some crystal/munich malt to keep some of the original character.) Just a guess though. Modern brewhouses have become much more gentle and keep the wort really light but many Helles beers are a tad darker than a all Pilsner malt beer should be. In addition to that they may use malt made to their spec.

2) What mash schedule do you use? What temperature rests? Do you use decoctions? Do you raise to a mash-out temperature? Do you batch or fly-sparge?


Most likely dough-in above 155F. With rests at 145F and 160F and mash-out at 170F. If decoction then a single or double. But it is also very likely that no decoction is used. Fly sparge.

3) What hops do you use? How much bittering? What time do you make your additions?


Magnum and Hop extract are popular these days. But they may also use the higher quality aroma hops.

4) How long do you boil for? Do you use any other ingredients or clarifiers?


50-60 min boil is common. No clarifier in the kettle

5) What is the original gravity of your Helles?


I can’t find it, but with 5.5% abv, it is most likely between 12.5 and 13 Plato

6) What yeast do you use? If it is a house yeast, is there any way to get it? I have a good friend who lives in Munich, could he stop by the brewery and pick up a small container of yeast slurry?


For most German breweries I’d say W34/70, but the Munich breweries may use some other strain. The characteristics will be different anyway since Augustiner ferments in much larger vessels that you would.

7) What temperature do you use for primary fermentation? How long does your primary fermentation normally last?


Primary fermentation is likely to peak at 8-9C and lasts for about 7 days. After that time the beer is already cooled to lagering temps.

8) Do you generally need a diacetyl rest? What temperature do you lager at and for how long?


If they do a diacetyl rest it will be around 4-6C. Largering close to 0C, but I don’t know for how long. Maybe 4 – 6 weeks.

9) How do you carbonate? Kraüsen? Force carbonation? How many volumes of CO2 do you target for carbonation?


Carbonation is built during lagering. I doubt that Kraeusen is added though.

10) Do you age with oak barrels for any period of time?


I can’t believe you asked this. It’s a Helles and not an IPA.



Again, all the statements are just a good guess.

Kai
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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10) Do you age with oak barrels for any period of time?[/FONT][/COLOR]

I can’t believe you asked this. It’s a Helles and not an IPA.
I know it is but I had heard a rumor that they used Oak barrels lined with pitch for a portion of their aging process. I wanted to know if it was true....

Thanks, for the help Kai. Have you brewed a Helles lately? Any general tips for the style?
 

Ryan_PA

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1) What does your grain bill look like? What percentage of what malts do you use?

Mostly Pilsner...
4) How long do you boil for? Do you use any other ingredients or clarifiers?


50-60 min boil is common. No clarifier in the kettle
I would not think to disagree with you Kai, but should't you do a 90+ minute boil if you have that much pils in your bill? I always thought this was one of the best approaches to minimize DMS.
 

Kaiser

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I know it is but I had heard a rumor that they used Oak barrels lined with pitch for a portion of their aging process. I wanted to know if it was true....
50 years ago maybe. But no brewery is bothering with pich lined barrels anymore. Even the ones you see at the Okoberfest when the draw from “Fass” are actually stainless steel inside. Pitch is a hassle and unsanitary and you may actually end up with some pitch in the glass. I believe the German expression “Pech gehabt” (tough luck) started there meaning that the one with pitch in the glass had tough luck.

Have you brewed a Helles lately? Any general tips for the style?


If I were to tell you that I would have to pay a lot of money and look for a new job ;)



I think he could have given you the info that I gave you. Maybe more detailed but instead of being specific to Augustiner give the info that is common brewer knowledge in Germany. Stuff you read in books, papers and other publications. But that would have taken a long time which he doesn’t have. I’d love to sit down a brewer like this and chat wit him about this.

I don’t have any new info about brewing a Helles. I’m still trying to see the differences that the process makes in getting close to the German character.

Kai
 

phissionkorps

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I had a couple of these last year at that restaurant by Marienplatz right across from the bronze catfish statue and church (someone here has to know what I mean). I hope someone is able to figure this out.
 

menschmaschine

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You asked for WAY too much, BK. But thanks for trying!:) I'm very interested in this myself. I think Helles recipes are relatively simple in concept and the only thing I think I'm missing from creating something fairly close to Augustiner is the hops... type(s) and schedule (although it may just be bittering). I think there is a certain delicate pleasantness to Augustiner that makes it so unique and I think getting the right hops is key. I'm confident I can get the grains and brewing technique to produce something similar/worthy, but it's just those dang hops!... and there's only a few from which to choose (German Noble). If I could just get the hop info, I think I could get close.
 

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I would not think to disagree with you Kai, but should't you do a 90+ minute boil if you have that much pils in your bill? I always thought this was one of the best approaches to minimize DMS.
The breweries may be able to get malt that has fewer DMS precursors? Maybe they do a low pressure boil? The breweries I have been to boil the holy crap out of their wort so I would think 60 minutes would be sufficient. It makes BierMuncher's boil pics look like a wimpy boil. Must be nice to have a kettle which is the size of a basement.
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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I had a couple of these last year at that restaurant by Marienplatz right across from the bronze catfish statue and church (someone here has to know what I mean). I hope someone is able to figure this out.
Yes I know what you are talking about, but you should have made the half mile trip to the Augustiner beer garden... Next time!
 

Kaiser

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.. but should't you do a 90+ minute boil if you have that much pils in your bill? I always thought this was one of the best approaches to minimize DMS.
Good point but not if you look at a modern boil system. So how do modern breweries get away with <60 min boils for pilsner malt?

It is known that DMS is formed during the whirlpool rest but is not boiled off at that point. Because of that a conventional brewery set-up needs to boil the wort for 90 min b/c they need to make sure that the DMS and the DMS precursor are below a threshold that keeps the DMS in the post whirlpool wort below the perception threshold.

But many breweries have installed post whirlpool evaporators that evaporate DMS formed in the whirlpool. As a result of that, the DMS and DMS precursor level in the wort entering the whirlpool can be higher and a 60 min boil is sufficient.

The same principle applies to home brewers. Not because we evaporate after the whirlpool, but because the ones who use an immersion chiller can cool the wort quickly and thus be able to work with higher DMS precursor levels at the end of the boil. If you keep the wort hot after boiling you may have to go to a 90 min boil b/c you need a lower DMS precursor level.

One extreme is the Schoko soft boiling system made by Kaspar Schulz. In this system there is no evaporation during the boil. The wort is just kept shy of boiling and stirred. This gets 4 of the 5 “ations” of boiling (sanitation, isomeration, coagulation and denaturation) and the 5th “ation”, evaporation, is done after the whirlpool where about 6% of the wort are evaporated and with that enough DMS to get the remaining level below threshold.

I’m not sure if Augustiner has such a system or not, just that there is a trend in German brewing towards less boil time and lower boil-off rates to save energy.

Kai
 

EdWort

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I had a couple of these last year at that restaurant by Marienplatz right across from the bronze catfish statue and church (someone here has to know what I mean). I hope someone is able to figure this out.
There's two Augustiner's near Marienplatz. There's Augustiner am Dom, by the church on Frauenplatz.



Then there's Augustiner am Platzl which is Catty-Corner from the Hofbrauhaus on Münzerstrasse.



Both have great beer & food and decent prices. The best deal in Munich on Marienplatz is Donisl which is to the left if you are facing the Glockenspiel.



These days, there is not a single entree on their menu over 7,65 Euros.
 

Ryan_PA

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Good point but not if you look at a modern boil system. So how do modern breweries get away with <60 min boils for pilsner malt?
Right, but my point was more on mimicking this brew on the homebrew scale. I think the larger breweries would have tools an techniques in place to work around DMS.

Would you agree that a 90 + minute boil should be utilized on a brew of this grainbill for homebrewers?
 

Kaiser

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Would you agree that a 90 + minute boil should be utilized on a brew of this grainbill for homebrewers?


I brew all my beers with a 60 min boil. Including the ones with 100% Pilsner malt and don’t notice a DMS problem. (I consider myself fairly sensitive to DMS as I can actually find it in quite a number of micro brewed lagers). I also use an immersion chiller to chill the wort quickly. So from a DMS point of view I don’t see an issue with a 60 min boil.

But I don’t know if a longer boil may do something to the beer that gives it a different character. Something the brewery may compensate for by adding specialty malts to retain a character that the beer had when it was still being brewed with a conventional boil system. And when said 60 min as the likely boil time I didn’t imply that a home brewer would have to boil 60 min when attempting to clone this beer.

I’ll have to see if I notice a difference between a 60 and 90 min boil for my beers.

Kai
 

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I also use an immersion chiller to chill the wort quickly. So from a DMS point of view I don&#8217;t see an issue with a 60 min boil.
This is a good point. A CFC with a pump running a loop back into the kettle is ideal, an immersion chiller also works well. I see folks use CFCs without a pump, the wort is sitting at 200*F+ for 20 minutes as the wort trickles into the fermenter. I don't think that is a good cooling solution, not only for DMS reasons but also because of more oxidation of the hot wort as it sits, and all the cold break getting into the fermenter...

Jamil says on the Jamil Show he uses a 60 minute boil on everything, too, including Pils malt. He has a wicked fast CFC recirculating whirlpool system which gets the wort from 210*F to under 90*F in five minutes. That's plenty fast enough to have no worries about DMS.
 

phissionkorps

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This is the one I went to (I took a pic so I can go back next time I'm in Munich):



I hope someone is able to at least approximate this beer. Good luck to whoever endeavors to do so.
 

StunnedMonkey

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This is the one I went to (I took a pic so I can go back next time I'm in Munich):



I hope someone is able to at least approximate this beer. Good luck to whoever endeavors to do so.
Here's a poor shot of the same restaurant taken in April 1993 while I was on my honeymoon! Looks like the little Augustiner Bierhalle sign is gone, or maybe it's just not visible in your angle.



We were only there for three days, but the Augustiner beers were definitely my favorite in Munich.
 

phissionkorps

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No that sign is still totally there, you just can't see the face of it. It's right in between the 1st and 2nd of the 3 arches, right above the menu. I had the knackwursts w/ potato salad, and about 4 of the helles. Ahhhh I want to go back.
 

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Sign is still there, you're just looking @ an 90 degree angle to it. It's the little brown box right above the gold-and-white display case, between the 1st and 2nd arch. :)

[Used to play far too much Where's Waldo when he was young.]

Edit: LOL, beat to the punch. My bad.
 

StunnedMonkey

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No that sign is still totally there, you just can't see the face of it. It's right in between the 1st and 2nd of the 3 arches, right above the menu. I had the knackwursts w/ potato salad, and about 4 of the helles. Ahhhh I want to go back.
Yeah. I see it now.

We just had an appetizer while we were in there. (Well, and beer.) Some sort of bread plate with lots of radishes. Who knew Germans liked radishes?
 

StunnedMonkey

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I think you're right. Looks like a well rounded meal to me:



By the way, that photo is 15 years old, so save any cracks about my dorkiness. That I'm actually still that dorky isn't relavent.

The glass says Augustiner Edelstoff, but I think it's actually a Dopplebock.
 

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Does anyone know which type of wood the Augustiner Helles barrels are? My guess is oak, but thats just based on what I work with in the wine industry and what Ive observed at the Augustiner Brewery and Beergarden....this also begs the question where the secondary fermenation/lagering they do takes place and for how long....it would be fun to try this as i have access to wood casks, but as mentioned in an early post, are the wood barrels Augustiner uses really lined with stainless steel? Why would they even bother if there is no benefit ?
 

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I've been to Augustinerkeller many times. I asked the guys over there and they say the barrels there are not lined with stainless, but who the hell knows. I see them roll out the barrels and even helped get a few barrels ready for tapping and also poured some liters. I would imagine that if the barrels were lined with stainless, they'd be extremely heavy.

My question today is, do we have a consensus on what hops they use? I know Edelstoff is a little different than what you get from Munich, but I'm not getting the same taste/flavor from the German Magnum or Mittelfruh I use.
 

Bosh

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Look at the Brulosophy poat where they boiled wort from a pilsner SMaSH for 15 minutes and no detectable DMS. Don`t think a 90 minute boil is at all necessary unless you`re using old-style less modified malts.
 

SFOtoMUC

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To answer your hops question, in dozen or so times I have been to the Augustiner Brauerei on Anulfstrasse and to the Augustiner Keller on Landsbergerstrasse, I have asked all the guys moving the casks and they said the hops are from Hallertau. The restaurant manager at the brewery also gave me the same answer. That doesnt exactly nail down exactly which variety, but that sure narrows it down a lot. Given my extensive research with thier lagerbier helles vom Holzfass, the mild nuance has to be noble hop. Its such an amazingly well balenced beer!
 

SFOtoMUC

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I do wish I had more opportunity to drink through thier Weissbier, just as amazing but more filling and Im not that into just half liters while im in Munich :)
 

chris000

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I know this is an old thread, but I miss that beer; actually I used to prefer Edelstoff over their regular Helles, but that was 15 years ago and I know my taste has shifted since – so either would be something I’d really like to get my hands on over here.
I came across this thread, because I decided to brew one tonight (yeast starter is read ;-). No I don’t have the perfect clone recipe yet and intend to make a rather general Muenchner Helles.
I also think the response to the OP from the brewery is quite nice. It didn’t come from some customer service rep either, but from the head or production&quality, which shows that they surprisingly bothered evaluating how to respond to the bold request.
One thing to keep in mind is that they are not only old on paper (1328), but they used to be an ultra-traditional brewery even for German standards (I don’t know today, but I had a friend who worked their 25 years ago). Regarding the malt you need to keep in mind that they are one of the few breweries worldwide who maintain their own malt house (Tenne; i.e. floor malted)!
So, beside most likely having their own yeast strain (which I think does not play so much of a role for the lager when you factor everything else in), they will have their unique malt. The water in the area is hard; average of around 3 mmol/l CaCO3 (and no, I don’t know what their well water actually is).
They also continued to be one of the very few filling limited quantities into traditional wood barrels despite the cost and other drawbacks. Typically, this results in lower carbonation and a subsequent shift in perceived maltiness. On the other hand, most beer is sold in bottles (so you might compare apples and oranges, depending on which one refers to).
Because of the overall traditional notion, a hop from the Hallertau is the way to go.
Someone here said 100% Pilsner, but it is a true Munich lager, so there needs to be some degree of Munich malt properties in grain bill.
As other said, DMS is a non-issue in a homebrew pot - the whole idea of exactly mimicking a commercial process is never going to result in a perfect clone. Up-/Downscaling a process is a very difficult thing and in this particular case, access to the malt is already a limiting factor. So, why not go alternative the whole way?
For my first attempt at this, I’ll try 9 parts Boeheminan floor malted Pilsner and one part Munich malt (perhaps incorporating some Melanodin or Vienna down the road is something to look into), single step infusion mash (keeping it really simple for now, but chances are I change at least to ramping up temp.), Hallertau, a VLB yeast at 12C (which is certainly not the same they use, but I have it ready right now).
I have no idea if this will result in anything close to an Augustiner Helles, but since I cannot remember the very precise taste anymore (i.e. in comparison to other Munich Lagers) it should provide a drinkable beer and hopefully some foundation for future attempts when I ever get my hands on some bottles for reference.
 

wobdee

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https://edelstoffquest.wordpress.com

This guy knows a little about Augustiner, lots of good tips and info to look over.
 
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