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First Lager Recipe--Critiques Wanted on Recipe and Techniques

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devils4ever

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Having vast experience (decades) with brewing all-grain ales, I've finally decided to do a lager for the first time. In fact, I want to brew 2 lagers on the same day since it saves me time.

So, I decided upon a Munich Helles and German Pilsner. Here's the recipes.

Munich Helles
10 lbs German Pils malt
1/4 lb Munich malt
1/4 lb CaraPils malt
1.25 oz Saaz hops (90 min)
1.00 oz Saaz hops (0 min)
1 pkg Wyeast 2308 Munich Lager yeast
Mash at 154F for 60 min. Boil for 90 min. Ferment at 50F for 2 weeks. Raise to 60F over 1 week. Lager for 3-4 weeks at 38F.

German Pilsner
10 lbs German Pils malt
1/2 lb Vienna malt
1/4 lb CaraPils malt
1.50 oz Saaz hops (90 min)
0.50 oz Saaz hops (15 min)
1 pkg White Labs 830 German Lager yeast
Mash at 152F for 60 min. Boil for 90 min. Ferment at 50F for 2 weeks. Raise to 60F over 1 week. Lager for 3-4 weeks at 38F.

How's these recipes look?

I can make a 2L starter for one batch, but not both at the same time. Can I do a starter for the first batch and then make a starter (ready the next day) for the second batch?

EDIT: Also, do I need to rack the beer from primary to secondary or can I leave it in one carboy the whole time?
 
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LarMoeCur

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I think your recipes look good.

You want to do a bigger starter for sure. By my calculations at a minimum you need one 6l starter or atleast 2 step ups. Thats targeting 1.5 million/ml/*plato. Your beers are approaching 1.055 OG and should really be pitched at a rate of 1.75 million/ml/*plato. Which means you really need 9l starter or two step ups. If it were me, I'd do a 2l starter and then step it up again into another 2l starter.

You need 494 billion cells. A 2l starter will only get you around 260 billion cells. That's just over half of what you need. Underpitching will stress the yeast and stressed yeast will make flavors that you do not want.

Secondary depends of if you are kegging or bottling.

Kegging there is no need for a secondary. Ferment until 100% complete. Rack to a keg and lager/age the beer.

Bottling (this part is debatable). If it were me, I would rack to a secondary. The yeast most likely will not break down in 6 weeks, but I wouldn't take the chance. When the yeast cells rupture they tastes like hotdog meat and I don't want that flavor in a beer! But, then I'm heard some award winning brewers say there is no need for a secondary even with the prolonged lagering.
 

waldoar15

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You're going to need higher cell counts.

Both recipes look good. I personally would skip the carapils since I don't think it adds much of anything. They'll be fine with it though.
 
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devils4ever

devils4ever

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So, I do a 2L starter two days before brewday. Let it settle, decant and use the slurry into another 2L starter on the day before brewday and pitch the entire starter on brewday? Correct? Also, the starter on a stirplate at room temperature?

I'll remove the CaraPils.
 
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devils4ever

devils4ever

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So, I do a 2L starter two days before brewday. Let it settle, decant and use the slurry into another 2L starter on the day before brewday and pitch the entire starter on brewday? Correct? Also, the starter on a stirplate at room temperature?

I'll remove the CaraPils.
I do keg. So, I'll go for a couple of weeks until fermentation is done and rack to keg directly.
 

waldoar15

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So, I do a 2L starter two days before brewday. Let it settle, decant and use the slurry into another 2L starter on the day before brewday and pitch the entire starter on brewday? Correct? Also, the starter on a stirplate at room temperature?

I'll remove the CaraPils.
If you have a stirplate and a bigger flask you could do it in one step.

You can leave the carapils in, it will be fine either way. I just made the comment that I don't personally feel it adds much in those beers if you mash correctly. It's just one less ingredient for me.

Brew with it and if you decide to brew these again, try without and then you can decide for yourself.
 
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devils4ever

devils4ever

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If you have a stirplate and a bigger flask you could do it in one step.

You can leave the carapils in, it will be fine either way. I just made the comment that I don't personally feel it adds much in those beers if you mash correctly. It's just one less ingredient for me.

Brew with it and if you decide to brew these again, try without and then you can decide for yourself.
I have two 2L flasks. But, I'm brewing two beers. So, I may need another option.
 

hottpeper13

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In your situation I would use 2 packs of yeast, make a 1L starter in each flask 24 hrs before brew day. on brew day remove about 1-1.5L of wort after 10 min.into the boil. Chill asap and pour in flask,put on plate or not (swirl a lot). Put next to wort in fermenter to achieve equal temp, then pitch at high krausen. This works for ales too , just smaller. Just know that you need 4.5 gal in fermenter to end up with ~ 5 after pitching.
 

LarMoeCur

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In your situation I would use 2 packs of yeast, make a 1L starter in each flask 24 hrs before brew day. on brew day remove about 1-1.5L of wort after 10 min.into the boil. Chill asap and pour in flask,put on plate or not (swirl a lot). Put next to wort in fermenter to achieve equal temp, then pitch at high krausen. This works for ales too , just smaller. Just know that you need 4.5 gal in fermenter to end up with ~ 5 after pitching.
2 packs into a 1l starter is only 355 billion cells. He needs 494 billion. Pitching 2/3 the needed yeast will affect the flavor of the beer. Most of the ester production happens during the growth phase. With lager beers you want to keep the growth phase to a minimum to supress ester production. He would need to pitch 2 packs into a 4l starter to make the right count.

Straight from Wyeast web site. "Many of the significant aromatic and flavor compounds are by-products of cell growth and are produced during the log phase. Many large breweries try to limit the amount of yeast growth by pitching larger quantities of yeast and therefore minimize ester synthesis."
 
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devils4ever

devils4ever

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I went to Brewer's Friend to use the yeast calculator. I put in my wort gravity of 1.048 and 5.5 gallon batch size and used a target pitch rate of Pro Brewer 1.75 (is that right?) with 1 liquid yeast pack dated in April. It shows I need 434 billion cells.

According to the calculator, I can do two step ups of 1.036 wort with a 1.5L starter (about my limit in a 2L flask). I can get about 446 billion yeast cells with this method.

Does this sound all correct? I've never used this calculator before.
 

LarMoeCur

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I went to Brewer's Friend to use the yeast calculator. I put in my wort gravity of 1.048 and 5.5 gallon batch size and used a target pitch rate of Pro Brewer 1.75 (is that right?) with 1 liquid yeast pack dated in April. It shows I need 434 billion cells.

According to the calculator, I can do two step ups of 1.036 wort with a 1.5L starter (about my limit in a 2L flask). I can get about 446 billion yeast cells with this method.

Does this sound all correct? I've never used this calculator before.
That is correct. I use that calculator all the time!
 

couchsending

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I’d reccomend much lower Mash steps personally. I step mash everything starting at 144 and still struggle to get most helles/pils low enough for my liking. 1.010 or just below is the sweet spot IMHO.

You literally can’t overpitch. Pitch as much as humanly possible. The lowdo guys recommend as high as 2.5mil. You need to make your starters a ways in advance, mostly because lager yeast doesnt settle well and you want those last ones as they’re often times the attenuators. Build your starters at room temp but once you decant your last step if you can on brew day either build one last 1000ml starter with DME the night before and cool it to your desired pitching temp and pitch it onto the yeast or you can take some wort that has boiled on brew day if you can cool it fast enough...

Key with that last 1000ml is a little more yeast but more importantly is yeast that is fermenting at a similar temp to your wort. And you don’t want to pitch a 2000ml starter into a delicate beer. If you’re gonna ferment at 50 pitch at 48.

Do you have an O2 stone?

If you pitch enough yeast you won’t get any diacetyl so you might not need to 60* step, up to you. If you want to step it up I’d do it while you still have activity instead of waiting for it to finish. Yeast will clean up after themselves much better when they have a little food to eat.

I’d Lager at 30*-32* for at least two weeks if you can. You’ll probably need a bit longer at 38.
 
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devils4ever

devils4ever

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What mash temps would you recommend? I have a HERMS setup, so I can mash at any temp and do many steps. So, 144F for 20 min and 150F for 40 min?

I started my starters last night and they are chugging away at room temp (~72F). This is a 1.5L, 1.040 wort step and I refrigerated another 1.5L, 1.040 of wort for the second step. This should get me to 492 billion cells according to the calculator. I'm thinking of letting this first step go until tonight (24 hrs), then cold crash until Friday night (48 hrs), decant, warm to room temp, and add the second step of wort. I'm brewing Saturday, but it will take until Sunday morning (I'm thinking) until I can get it to 50F. On Saturday night (24 hrs), I can get the yeast to pitching temp of 50F and then pitch the entire thing on Sunday morning. Should be very active at that point. Sound good?

No O2 stone.

I can lager at 32F. No problem.
 
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couchsending

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If you can step mash then yes first step at 144ish for 45, 154 for 20-30, then for kickass foam and head retention 20-30 minutes at 162. You can ramp to 168 if you want or just start your sparge.

Ideally for lagers you’re gonna want a bigger flask and a way to oxygenate thoroughly.
 
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devils4ever

devils4ever

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If you can step mash then yes first step at 144ish for 45, 154 for 20-30, then for kickass foam and head retention 20-30 minutes at 162. You can ramp to 168 if you want or just start your sparge.

Ideally for lagers you’re gonna want a bigger flask and a way to oxygenate thoroughly.
Great. I'll do 144F for 45 min, 154F for 25 min, and 162F for 20 min. I've never mashed at 162F before, but I've never had issues with foam and head retention with ales. Typically, I never mash above 154F or 156F.

Agreed. If I decide to do another lager, I'll probably invest in a 5L flask. I'm not even that familiar with lagers since I brew and drink ales, but I wanted the lager experience to say I've done one!
 

couchsending

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Great. I'll do 144F for 45 min, 154F for 25 min, and 162F for 20 min. I've never mashed at 162F before, but I've never had issues with foam and head retention with ales. Typically, I never mash above 154F or 156F.

Agreed. If I decide to do another lager, I'll probably invest in a 5L flask. I'm not even that familiar with lagers since I brew and drink ales, but I wanted the lager experience to say I've done one!
I forget the exact science but a 20-30 minute mash between 161 and 163 leads to head like this...


DE39292D-5138-4D15-8804-94B3C8579206.png


Coupled with cold fermentation and other things but that step is pretty standard in German brewing. I do it for almost all beers now. To me it really enhances the mouthfeel of all beers.

Once you really get into lagers they’re something you’re going to not want to stop making. Mostly cause they’re incredibly hard to execute to perfection. There are so many horrible ones around but once you find the good ones it’ll all make sense.
 
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devils4ever

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I decided to go with WLP830 for the Helles beer and Wyeast 2124 for the German Pilsner. I gave it 2 days on the stir plate, 2 days cold crashed, and pitched yeast about 1.5 days later. Wort was 51F and yeast was at room temperature, 72F. It's been 12 hrs and at appears not much action yet. Do lagers take a lot more time to get going? Is the activity more subdued?
 

Blazinlow86

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I always go on the hi side. For a 10gallons of lager I'd be doing a single vial of yeast into a 3 step decanted starter or 1L/4L/4L . So basically 4L per 5 gallons. I do half for ales. Cheers
 

couchsending

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I decided to go with WLP830 for the Helles beer and Wyeast 2124 for the German Pilsner. I gave it 2 days on the stir plate, 2 days cold crashed, and pitched yeast about 1.5 days later. Wort was 51F and yeast was at room temperature, 72F. It's been 12 hrs and at appears not much action yet. Do lagers take a lot more time to get going? Is the activity more subdued?
Lagers can take a little longer to get going yes, however you probably cold shocked the yeast a bit. Try to get the yeast and the wort to almost the same temp and ideally a little yeast activity will help to prevent significant lag. The shorter the lag the better and if they’re similar temps and the yeast are active you can get it under/around 6 hours before noticeable activity.
 
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devils4ever

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20180710_052804.jpg
Lagers can take a little longer to get going yes, however you probably cold shocked the yeast a bit. Try to get the yeast and the wort to almost the same temp and ideally a little yeast activity will help to prevent significant lag. The shorter the lag the better and if they’re similar temps and the yeast are active you can get it under/around 6 hours before noticeable activity.
Yeah, I wanted to get the yeast at the same temperature as the wort. I messed up and didn't do it.

So, my 2-stage yeast starter seems to have worked after about 24 hours. This morning, I have lots of activity!
 
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devils4ever

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Ok, its been 2 weeks at 50F and I measured the gravity this morning at:

Pils = 7.0 Brix = 1.011
Helles = 6.8 Brix = 1.012.

So, is it time to raise the temp to 60F for a diacetyl rest for 3 or 4 days before I cold crash it down to 35F?
 

couchsending

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Ok, its been 2 weeks at 50F and I measured the gravity this morning at:

Pils = 7.0 Brix = 1.011
Helles = 6.8 Brix = 1.012.

So, is it time to raise the temp to 60F for a diacetyl rest for 3 or 4 days before I cold crash it down to 35F?
How do they taste?
Do you taste any diacetyl? Have you ever done a VDK test? This most common Homebrew guidance is to raise the temp for a diacetyl rest. I would guess even most professional breweries trying to make Pilsner in the US probably do this too. It takes less time and yup it will be clean and free of diacetyl but the beer can also lose some of the aromatic and delicate qualities of the malt.

Lager yeast has the ability to reduce diacetyl at lower temps, the key is not to shock it. Maybe try it with one batch or maybe try it in the future but if you can step the temp down 1* every 12 hours and rest it at around 39-40 for 5-7 days then keep going down to 30* and leave it there as long as you like or until the beer is ready.

Again maybe something to try in the future as a process change to see if you notice the difference. The beer will be fine with a diacetyl rest at 60 yes.

When you do lager the longer you can keep it at 30* the better. I know at least for me it’s hard to be patient though.
 
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devils4ever

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I just took a small sample of each. Both taste clean with no butterscotch flavor detected. VDK test? Never heard of it.

So, is it worth do a rest at 60F or maybe a little lower at 55F or 58F? Or, should I just start dropping the temperature now?
 

couchsending

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Google VDK test. Basically a way to test if any diacetyl is left in your beer, that could raise its ugly head later on even though you can’t taste/smell it now. Basically you heat up a sample
To a certain temp for a certain amount of time then cool it and smell. I can’t remeber the temps and time right now. Most all professional breweries will do it before sending beer to packaging or at other stages. Takes no time and works like a champ.
 

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I have found that the thing that gets me that meringue head is to use the traditional German fermentation temperature profile rather than a diacetyl rest. When gravity is within a couple of degrees of terminal start lowering the temperature by 1 C per day until as close to freezing as you can get. Hold there for a couple of weeks and then transfer to lagering. This not only gives that fantastic head but controls diacetyl to at or slightly above threshold- right where you want it to be.

In the VDK precursor test you warm the beer to say 110-120 F and then sniff for diacetyl.
 
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devils4ever

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I have found that the thing that gets me that meringue head is to use the traditional German fermentation temperature profile rather than a diacetyl rest. When gravity is within a couple of degrees of terminal start lowering the temperature by 1 C per day until as close to freezing as you can get. Hold there for a couple of weeks and then transfer to lagering. This not only gives that fantastic head but controls diacetyl to at or slightly above threshold- right where you want it to be.

In the VDK precursor test you warm the beer to say 110-120 F and then sniff for diacetyl.
All the directions I see online say to do a diacetyl rest. Can doing the rest actually hurt the beer?
 

couchsending

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You’re reading the typical shortcut directions...

“Hurt” is subjective

Keeping the fermentation cold preserves certain properties of the beer.


You can totally warm it up, it won’t be that detrimental. As you brew more lager beer try the traditional method. It takes longer but if you do it right and your process is dialed you’ll be able to tell a difference.
 

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The diacetyl rest is beloved of the brewerys' accountants and if you are in a hurry you may come to like it too. But it you have the patience to do it in the traditional way you will be rewarded. No, I don't think the diacetyl rest hurts the beer. It may take us one step further from what some of old farts may think of as traditional continental pilsner but the fact that all but very few breweries today use it testifies to the fact that it produces acceptable beer.

If you are really appreciative of beer you will want to experience triple decocted lagers cellared in the traditional way. I can't steer you with certainty (is PU still doing triple decoctions?) to a commercial example so it's most likely you'll have to brew it yourself.

I keep forgetting to mention that I also do the final high temperature rest (set up by the return of the 3rd decoction) so that may indeed also benefit the formation of the meringue head.
 
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couchsending

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The diacetyl rest is beloved of the brewerys' accountants and if you are in a hurry you may come to like it too. But it you have the patience to do it in the traditional way you will be rewarded. No, I don't think the diacetyl rest hurts the beer. It may take us one step further from what some of old farts may think of as traditional continental pilsner but the fact that all but very few breweries today use it testifies to the fact that it produces acceptable beer.

If you are really appreciative of beer you will want to experience triple decocted lagers cellared in the traditional way. I can't steer you with certainty (is PU still doing triple decoctions?) to a commercial example so it's most likely you'll have to brew it yourself.

I keep forgetting to mention that I also do the final high temperature rest (set up by the return of the 3rd decoction) so that may indeed also benefit the formation of the meringue head.
The 161-163 rest?

I’m doing that for just about every beer these days and even my lagers that ferment a little warm (Augustiner yeast) I can still get the meringue. The head retention on all my ales has improved as well. It was fine before, it has staying power now.
 
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devils4ever

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So, my lagers are ready for secondary in my kegs. Do I pressurize them after transfer or just let them be?
 

techbrau

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If you are really appreciative of beer you will want to experience triple decocted lagers cellared in the traditional way. I can't steer you with certainty (is PU still doing triple decoctions?) to a commercial example so it's most likely you'll have to brew it yourself.

I keep forgetting to mention that I also do the final high temperature rest (set up by the return of the 3rd decoction) so that may indeed also benefit the formation of the meringue head.
Some people would say the same about a lager brewed with a low-oxygen mash, biological acidification (soured wort to adjust mash pH), boiled as little (and as gently) as possible, and naturally carbonated in the keg. That's if you want to make something close to what Augustiner, Hofbrau, Andechs, Ayinger, etc. are serving up nowadays.
 

Hopalong

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The recipe looks OK. Maybe add a little sauer malz.

During a mash rest at 140/145F a few things are occurring in the mash. Alpha is liquefying amylose at 1-4 links located throughout the chain (liquefaction), releasing sweet tasting, non-fermenting sugar and glucose (saccharification). Beta is active at the same time converting glucose released by Alpha into complex sugar (conversion) which yeast loves but not as much as it loves glucose. Now, here is the kicker, depending on the modification level of the base malt used to make the beer sometimes Beta is denatured and conversion will not occur or Beta can be very weak and conversion will not reach completion. Before that happens, a brewer adds an Alpha/Beta enzyme from a bottle. In Bavaria a brewer cannot add chemicals and chit is used or malt that contains the missing stuff is added.
Depending on the modification level of malt Alpha can be pretty beat up, as well. Usually, when it is advised not to add adjuncts it is due to Alpha having only enough power to cause saccharification in the malt containing the enzyme. A maltster is producing Marris Otter that is low protein about 8% which is great because there's a lot of sugar in the malt. The problem with the malt, it's very high modified which means that Alpha used up a bunch of power during germination and with the high sugar and starch content in the malt for Alpha to deal with, the enzyme won't have enough power to cause saccharification of added adjuncts.
Modification is listed on the spec sheet that comes with a sack of malt. The number is next to the name Kolbach and next to the acronym SNR. Percentage of protein, malt color, pH, extract efficiency, gravity per pound, beta glucan, FAN and a few more numbers are listed on the sheet. The sheet is used to determine the quality of malt. There's a bunch of numbers, chemical names and acronyms on the sheet. The numbers get there when malt is tested. Malt is tested because it's inconsistent.
When conversion takes place second fermentation is required due to maltose and maltotriose which are complex types of sugar. The beer is racked off the top of the goop after primary and transferred into a second fermentation vessel. During second fermentation, a second conversion occurs. After yeast wipes out all of the glucose during primary, maltose and maltotriose are left. During second fermentation yeast absorbs maltose through the cell wall and an enzyme within yeast converts maltose back into glucose which is expelled back through the cell wall and yeast uses it for fuel. Gravity reduces close to expected gravity. During the aging phase the same thing happens to maltotriose and natural carbonation occurs and gravity falls to expected final gravity. When maltose is present in beer and when the beer is primed with sugar or CO2 injected gushing and over carbonation happens.
Diacetyl is self inflicted, and caused by producing wort lacking in nutrients and by using poor yeast. When the rest is used the beer is krausened because yeast are beaten to death during the rest. The rest temporarily removes diacetyl, it returns. If you haven't produced beer with diacetyl, don't use the rest. It is better to correct the deficiencies than to stress out yeast.
During the decoction method when mash is boiling a bunch of decent stuff happens. There is a type of starch called amylo-pectin located at the tips of the kernel and it is the richest starch in the kernel. Amylo-pectin is very hard, heat resistant, complex starch. Within the starch is a type of sugar, A and B limit dextrin. Dextrin is tasteless, non-fermenting, sugar responsible for body and mouthfeel. The finest Ales and Pils are produced from dextrin rich wort.
The starch begins to "melt" slowly at 169F, it "melts" real fast when mash is boiling. During dextrinization, 149F and up to the time and temperature when Alpha denatures (162F), the enzyme liquefies amylo-pectin at the 1-6 links located throughout the chain and dextrin is released. At the same time Alpha is working on amylose.
Temperatures used with the infusion method are not high enough to cause the starch to enter into solution before Alpha denatures. The starch is left behind in the spent mash. It looks like small, white, particles.
Another important thing that happens when mash is boiling, precipitation of chemicals takes place in the decoction and mashtun, upstream of the boiler. When the decoction is added into the main mash it's used to reach activation temperature of an enzyme, the enzyme changes precipitated chemicals into nutrients. Wort from the decoction method is chemically balanced and rich in nutrients which reduces the risk of the final product developing off flavors associate with home brew.
When mash is boiled protein gum is boiled away and the viscosity of the mash reduces. Maillard Reaction takes place and Melanoidin forms but it takes an hour or so of boiling for the ducks to line up. When mash is boiling hot break can easily be skimmed off before the sludge hits the boiler. When the filter bed is settling a layer of tan and sometimes gray colored mud forms on top of the filter, it's protein that won't end up in the boiler. Hot break is way less in tri-decoction beer than in infusion method beer and due to the wort being clean, less hops are required.
Check out the recipes on Weyermann Malt website. Weyermann Pils light and dark floor malts are slightly under modified, that means that the malt is rich in enzyme content. The malt is low protein 8 to 10% which means there is a lot of starch and sugar in the malt. Take a look at Skagit Valley Malting and Pioneer malting. I have used Weyermann for years and about two years ago I purchased Pioneer Pils floor malt and mixed it with Weyermann Barke, German Hallertau and tossed in a mixture of 34/70 and 802 which works well for my taste buds. 802 works well with a dextrinous wort and 34/70 sharpens up malt character by drying the beer out a little bit. I use straight 802 with Pils, and believe it or not, in Oktoberfest because I like the way it finishes the beer. Instead of having a Lager character the beer finishes closer to a Pils, just darker and higher in gravity and Hallertau flavored instead of Saaz flavored.
 

Blackdirt_cowboy

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I like to lager at 32°. I’m going to have to try a rest at 162°. I’ve always seen pictures of beers with that huge head, but had no idea how they got that way. I do BIAB, but I think if I’m careful, I can get to 162° without scorching.
 

Queequeg

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I know I am late to the party but this is my two cents on those recipes.

Unless you are doing a protein rest I don't think the carapils is necessary.

I do not think Vienna malt or Munich malt have any place in a pils or helles.

IMO a pilsner should be 100% pilsner malt and a helles should be 90-95% pilsner and then 5-10% very pale German Cara malt.

When you start using Vienna or Munich malts you start moving to festbier territory and for a group of beers that a fairy similar to start you need as much distinction as possible.
 
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