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jlangfo5

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Around a year ago, I brewed a Festbier that I entered into a brew competition as a Munich Helles in Portland Oregon that got some solid constructive feedback. I had brewed the beer using a triple decoction mash inside of my tiny apartment at the time. I now have a slightly larger apartment, and better equipment, so now I am ready to try it again, except I want to improve on the beer taking the judges feedback into mind.

Here is the recipe from the original thread:

Now for the recipe for a single 6 gallon batch:

9 lbs 8.0 oz----Pilsen (BestMälz)-----------(1.8 SRM)----70.4 %
2 lbs------------Vienna (BestMälz)----------(4.1 SRM)----14.8 %
1 lbs------------Munich (BestMälz)----------(7.6 SRM)----7.4 %
1 lbs------------Munich Dark (BestMälz)----(12.7 SRM)---7.4 %

1.50 oz---------Saaz [3.80 %]----Boil 60.0 min 18.5 IBUs
0.38 oz---------Saaz [3.80 %]----Boil 25.0 min 3.2 IBUs
0.38 oz---------Saaz [3.80 %]----Boil 15.0 min 2.3 IBUs

1.0 pkg---------German Bock Lager---------(White Labs #WLP833) ( I did a two step starter, stir plate->2.5 gallon)

Here is a picture showing the beer turned out.

helles.jpg


Finally, here is the judges feedback
(Remember, this was entered as a Helles)

Overall Score: 30.5

Aroma:

BJCP Reference:
Pleasantly grainy-sweet, clean Pils malt aroma dominates. Low to moderately-low spicy noble hop aroma, and a low background note of DMS (from Pils malt). No esters or diacetyl.

Judge 1:
Low Grainy malt with sweet corn DMA scent. Honey malt character develops, No Hops or diactyle detected.
8/12

Judge 2:
Muted grain with some slight sweetness, some slight hint of DMS (as appropriate)
6/12

Judge 3:
Cracker and bread crust malt aroma with floral hops.
10/12

Judge 4:
Clean malt forward medium intense honey biscuit, light almond. Low hops, slight peppery. Low esters of pear. Very Pleasant.
7/12

Appearance:
BJCP Reference:
Medium yellow to pale gold, clear, with a creamy white head.

Judge 1:
Golden straw in color and quite clear. Nice head formation with white bubbles.
2/3

Judge 2:
Dull clarity of a golden color with creamy white head that dissipates quickly leaving a few bubbles along the edges.
2/3

Judge 3:
Gold color with good clarity. Creamy white head that persists at edges.
2/3

Judge 4:
Clear medium intense amber color, a bit dull with mixed sized head fade quickly. Large internal bubbles.
2/3

Flavor:
BJCP Reference:
Slightly sweet, malty profile. Grain and Pils malt flavors dominate, with a low to medium-low hop bitterness that supports the malty palate. Low to moderately-low spicy noble hop flavor. Finish and aftertaste remain malty. Clean, no fruity esters, no diacetyl.

Judge 1:
Grainy sweet malt flavor dominates, with a soft floral hop character pulling through in the end. No esters- a very clean fermentation. Hops with the balance, but don't overpower.
12/20

Judge 2:
Slightly sweet with some very mild bitterness and lot of grain/malt flavor.
10/20

Judge 3:
Malty sweetness (bread crust) with herbal hop flavor. Balanced towards sweetness but hop bite helps to dry out the finish.
12/20

Judge 4:
Sweet honeyed malt biscuit up front carries sweetness to finish. Mild white pepper form hops minimed low bitterness. Clean low pear ester form ferm. Malt King almost to much. Finish sweet and very malty.
12/20

Mouthfeel
BJCP Reference:
Medium body, medium carbonation, smooth maltiness with no trace of astringency.

Judge 1:
Light-body, medium carbonation. Slight creaminess from the alcohol. Also, slight warmth.
3/5

Judge 2:
Highly carbonated, expands quickly in the mouth leaving with a lot of gas to work through.
3/5

Judge 3:
Medium bodied with medium creamy carbonation.
3/5

Judge 4:
Medium bodied, medium carbonation. medium warmth to high not astringent.
2/5

Overall Impression:
BJCP Reference:
Malty but fully attenuated Pils malt showcase.

Judge 1:
This is a very nice balanced Helles. The soft character of the hops is showcased throughout. Refreshing, but intricate. Hops could be slightly more spicy, but it still goes well with the style. A little too sweet.
7/10

Judge 2:
Good beer with some issues in the clarity and the carbonating. The overall flavor was pleasant but seemed lacking some depth and spicy flavor.
7/10

Judge 3:
Good beer, that with some tweaking could be great. Hop flavor is a bit high for style, and higher attenuation level and dryness would make it much more drinkable.
6/10

Judge 4:
A very drinkable beer with a solid malt bill for the style. However, it needs a longer fermentation to provide more dryness and lightness. Too heavy, too alcoholic for style. Needs full attenuation.
6/10

Total:
Judge 1: 32/50 (Recognized Judge)
Judge 2: 28/50 (No given bjcp rank)
Judge 3: 33/50 (No given bjcp rank)
Judge 4: 29/50 (Certified Judge)



So there are a few things that I will need to work around. I want to keep the grain bill relatively simple as it is now. I think the judges found the malt profile to be on target if perhaps needing more spicy hops to bring it to balance. I need to some help adjusting the grain the bill and the hop profile needs to be completely re worked.

I went to the local brew store today and picked up 2 oz each of Hersbrucker, Perle,Tettnanger, Spalt, so there should be plenty of noble hops to choose from to get whatever kind of spicy hop profile my beer was lacking last time.

For the yeast, I picked up 2 packets of Saflager w-34/70, which is supposed to be similar to wlp830 https://www.whitelabs.com/yeast/wlp830-german-lager-yeast

So, what do you guys think?
 

TheMadKing

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With those comments, I would definitely consider a large whirlpool addition (like 1oz +) of hallertau or saaz (I'd go with saaz because it is spicier to me). This seems like a lot, but it will fade drastically during the lagering process.

I would also consider adding some aromatic malt (like 5oz or so) just for a hint of complexity. Go with the cleanest yeast you can find, 34/70 should do well, but I would pitch both packs and make sure you rehydrate. I would also mash at a lower temperature than you did last time, and personally I'd lose the decoctions. Modern malts are so well modified that you don't need the multi step mash, and pilsner malt has plenty of diastatic power to fully convert that grain bill.
 
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jlangfo5

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The triple decoction mash with 20 minute decoction boils for each step not to make sure that the malt would convert, but for flavor complexity and added color without the need to add specialty malts. I would defiantly push to have my steps at lower temperatures though because I did come out to heavy. What has your experience in the past been like with aromatic malt? I have not used it before.

So, the whirlpool hops would help with adding mostly aroma right? Think that maybe I should buff up my mid boil addition a bit to add more flavor and bitterness too?

Can you whirlpool without a chiller? I do a process similar to no chill.
 

saltymirv

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Sounds like the take home messages are: needs to be higher attenuated, more spicy, more dry.

I know this may sound out of line for a helles, but maybe try subbing in a pound of rye...? That will contribute greatly to a dry and spicy flavor.

It also sounds like you need to lower your OG by a little bit and mash lower. You could also consider using a higher attenuating yeast
 

TheMadKing

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The triple decoction mash with 20 minute decoction boils for each step not to make sure that the malt would convert, but for flavor complexity and added color without the need to add specialty malts. I would defiantly push to have my steps at lower temperatures though because I did come out to heavy. What has your experience in the past been like with aromatic malt? I have not used it before.

So, the whirlpool hops would help with adding mostly aroma right? Think that maybe I should buff up my mid boil addition a bit to add more flavor and bitterness too?

Can you whirlpool without a chiller? I do a process similar to no chill.

Aromatic malts add a bready biscuity flavor that isn't terribly sweet, so in small amounts they can greatly contribute to a pilsner or helles.

Correct, the whirlpool hops would add only to aroma, I would not use "mid boil" additions, as they are basically only good for adding less bitterness than a 60 minute addition, but almost no aroma. I would focus on the last 15 minutes of the boil with the hop additions.

Whirlpooling is basically just adding hops when the wort is between 175-140F. You can certainly do this with no chill, but you might add more bitterness because your time in that temperature range might be hours instead of minutes. I don't have any experience with no chill, so maybe someone else can answer that question better.
 
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jlangfo5

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Aromatic malts add a bready biscuity flavor that isn't terribly sweet, so in small amounts they can greatly contribute to a pilsner or helles.

Correct, the whirlpool hops would add only to aroma, I would not use "mid boil" additions, as they are basically only good for adding less bitterness than a 60 minute addition, but almost no aroma. I would focus on the last 15 minutes of the boil with the hop additions.

Whirlpooling is basically just adding hops when the wort is between 175-140F. You can certainly do this with no chill, but you might add more bitterness because your time in that temperature range might be hours instead of minutes. I don't have any experience with no chill, so maybe someone else can answer that question better.


The aromatic malt sounds like it could be a good idea then. I will do some looking at the whirl pool addition too.
 

techbrau

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If you want to take your malty Euro lagers from 30 points to 40+ points, this guide explains what you need to do:

http://www.germanbrewing.net/docs/Brewing-Bavarian-Helles.pdf

Much more discussion can be found here:

http://forum.germanbrewing.net/index.php

For fest, I would recommend 20-30% Vienna malt + 10-15% light Munich malt + 2-3% specialty malt (carahell, caramunich, melanoidin, etc) and the rest Pilsner. 13.5 Plato OG and approx 22 IBUs. Follow the guide when it comes to mashing, boiling, fermentation, etc.
 
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jlangfo5

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Techbrau,

Thanks for your response. I wanted to reply sooner, but I wanted to make sure that I had time to read the paper properly that you linked to me before I sent a response. I have questions about the contents of the paper for you, that I will be posting here. Would you mind filling in some of the gaps for me?

It requires that you pre-boil all of your mash water immediately before use, quickly force chill it to strike temperature, add a modest dose of sodium metabisulfite (SMB), and completely eliminate all sources of splashing or aeration (such as leaky pump lines).

How quick is quick enough when it comes to chilling water, is the concern that oxygen will permeate the water as it cools? I don’t have a plate or immersion chiller, would the SMB not suffice on it’s own?


For now, keep your water as simple as possible. The use of SMB will introduce both sodium and sulfate to your water, so we recommend starting with reverse osmosis water and simply adding enough calcium chloride to achieve 30 to 50 ppm of calcium. A 100 mg/l dose of SMB will add 24 ppm sodium to your water, and 76 ppm of sulfur compounds (sulfur dioxide, sulfite, and bisulfite).

I don’t have my own RO filter, but I could buy RO water across the street at the store, and I do have the proper brewing salts, so this is not an issue.

This recipe is a very basic helles recipe, but is a perfect showcase for low oxygen brewing:
• Original gravity 12 Plato, final gravity 2.5 Plato • 88% German pilsner malt
• 6% German Carafoam malt
• 4% German Carahell malt
• 2% Acidulated malt

How is this recipe a show case for low oxygen brewing? Is it because it’s a relatively simple grain bill? Why the carafoam and carahell? I thought many traditional Bavarian beers were supposed to depend on the mash technique to get the flavors offered by these malts such as a decoction mash.


It is recommended to condition the malt prior to milling with 1-2% water by weight. This will keep the husk intact and reduce the number of lipoxygenase and peroxidase enzymes into the mash, which would otherwise accelerate the oxidation of malt lipids and phenols [4].

How important is this step right here? I have my own mill, but I have never tried to condition my malt before. How do you condition your malt prior to milling?


First, heat your mash water and boil vigorously for 5 minutes. Then, force chill it to your strike temperature as quickly as possible. An immersion chiller works well for this, but again, do not use a copper chiller or any copper equipment whatsoever at any point in your process as the oxide layer is very soluble and promotes rapid oxidation of the wort.

Again, I don’t have a chiller right now, how important is this particular step? I am tempted to get one after reading this, but I am not sure how cool I could get my wort using tap water alone.

Doughing-in is perhaps the most deleterious process in low oxygen brewing. Ideally, you have a bottom filling system and can first add the grist to your tun and slowly fill with water from below. If not, add the grain from above as gently and slowly as you possibly can. It is absolutely critical that you dough-in gently and do not splash or agitate in an aerating fashion. If your grain is floating, then you can assume there is air trapped in the grain. You want to avoid this at all costs, as it will both oxidize malt character and heavily consume the SMB.

The best I could do with my setup is dough in from the top and stir very cautiously. To help reduce headspace, I could try doing a very thin mash and attempt to collect around 7 gallons of wort from my 10 gallon water cooler mashtun during the mashout.

You want to spend as little time as possible mashing, and introduce as little oxygen possible. We recommend a Hochkurz mash with a 30 minute rest at 62C, and a 60 minute rest at 72C. It is advisable to keep a lid on the tun for the entire duration of the mash with as little head space as possible. If your tun has a lot of headspace, consider fabricating an inset lid or “mash cap” that can float or otherwise sit nearly flush to the surface of the mash.

This is a 90 minute mash, in which way do you consider this a short mash? Is it because the main rest is only minutes at 62C ? I am not very familiar with a Hochkurz mash.

A no-sparge system is easier to keep oxygen free than a system that requires a sparge. However, if you are forced to sparge, all of your sparge water should be treated similarly to your mash water

I have never tried no sparge before, what is your recommendation in terms of how big of an efficiency hit I might expect, so I could compensate by adding more grain?

We recommend a 60 minute boil, with a total evaporation of 10% or less. This will most likely look more like a simmer to you than a vigorous boil, but commercial German breweries routinely boil under pressure for as little as 30 minutes, and target evaporation rates of 4% [4]

So, just a simmer it looks like. And since I would be doing no-sparge, it looks like it’s important that I get my starting volume just right too. Any issue with not getting hot break or DMS from a weaker boil? Do you still add irish moss to the beer in the last 15 minutes, or is it avoided to keep with the purity law?

For that reason, it is not advisable to leave the wort overnight or for a prolonged period of time without active yeast in suspension to scavenge the free oxygen. Every effort should be made to reach pitching temperature (5-6 degrees Celsius) and add the yeast as quickly as possible. In fact, from this point forward, yeast is the best protection against oxidation damage. The pitching rate we recommend is approximately 20 to 30 million freshly grown cells per milliliter of wort for a 12 Plato beer [4].

So, once the wort is cooled and the yeast it pitched, I see no speak of providing oxygen to the yeast for their growth phase. Is this not important? Why?

We recommend WLP838 or WY2308, but have had excellent results with WY2124, WLP835 and WLP860 as well. We do not recommend dry W34/70 yeast.

What is wrong with W34/70? It seems that using a dry yeast would be helpful in reaching your high pitching rates, unless you just don’t care for that particular strain.

If the beer level is above the level of the dip tube, then beer will be forced out the spunding valve during carbonation and you will also be left with more headspace in the keg than is optimal. An effective trick is to cut the gas dip tube short, so that the beer can safely fill the keg nearly to the brim. After racking, attach a pressure relief valve (spundapparat, but commonly called a spunding valve) set to 0.8 bar.

This sounds like a handy tool to have. I do like the idea of laggering inside of kegs, can fit many more kegs in a freezer than 5 gallon carboys. Can I find one on Northern Brewer?

I would also like to put together a step by step using my equipment and see if you think it would meet the merits of calling it a low oxygen process, that way I could give it a fair shot.

Thanks!
 
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