That German Lager taste

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Bilsch

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You'd also be surprised at how few German breweries still have Sauergut reactors in operation since with modern malt and moder water treatment it is not needed at all.
Uh.. you are aware that without sauergut the lagers of Germany would be completely different, right? If you cannot taste the SG prominently in the flavor then I honestly feel very sorry for you.

Also.. without it, how do you suppose they make their kettle pH adjustments?
Reinheitsgewhat?
 
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csantoni

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I’m not necessarily trying to do anything EXACTLY how the Germans do. I had just noticed a particular quality I liked that I wouldn’t mind replicating if I could.

My brewing philosophy is to make the best beer, that I enjoy drinking, that I can with my equipment, water, and process. I figure ingredients, water, and a bit of process are the variables I can control.
 

Lupulus

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This doesn't change the fact that what you taste in commercial German beers has got nothing to do with LODO since German commercial breweries do not waste any time with such nonsense, that was just a blatant lie some guys tried to pander on this and other forums.
You'd also be surprised at how few German breweries still have Sauergut reactors in operation since with modern malt and moder water treatment it is not needed at all.
1. Narziss, Kunze, W Back are not "some guys", nor they pander blatant lies. They have educated the best brewers in the world.
2. Sauergut reactors are mentioned in the most recent German literature... because nobody uses them... Silly.
3. It's odd that there's no literature reference supporting your arguments. Maybe you need to write a book and show the world how it's done.
4. You know all the above is true but you enjoy trolling.
I'll drop the mic and let you have the last troll.
Prost.
 

Pablo 54

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Curious what you're getting out of this technique (krausen skimming) that others aren't. I'd posit that this is a very unpopular practice, and the few pieces of work I've seen done on it (namely this, and this) suggest it doesn't lend itself in a discernable way.
I should have been clearer on what I wrote. I currently use open fermentation on 100% of my hefe's and, since I've switched to low oxygen brewing with a little bit of pressure fermentation, I've stopped doing this on my other beers.
Probably the best description would be less "bite". I know that's not a great description but I've been trying almost everything under the sun to recreate a perfect German hefe. Open Fermentation has produced a smoother taste and mouth feel.
My ferm chamber is a chest freezer. I use an old Anvil stainless 7 gal fermenter and cover the top with a 5 gal painters' mesh bag, sprayed with StarSan. About every 12 hours or so, I'll open the chest freezer, pull the mesh bag aside, scrape off the very top of the krausen, and then finish with a vigorous stir. I'll then "waive" the lid to pull in more air and push out the built-up CO2.
Repeat a couple of times until the krausen no longer builds. Bonus: It is kind of cool to see and hear the yeast doing it's "job". Also, this is about the only beer I bottle condition.
 

Pablo 54

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Wyeast 2308 Munich Lager is my absolute favorite strain for helles, followed by 2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast. 2308 needs care, but a good helles is process, process, process. Here's a nice site with some good resources:

Edelstoffquest has a section on Wheat Beers. I used to use the mash schedule from Markus Herrmann but have tweaked it a bit. Great articles.
 

Miraculix

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Just an FYI.. this guy behind the quest for Edelstoff site.. Nico, was one of the original members of the GBF Low Oxygen group and also a co-author of the German Helles paper that started the whole lodo wave.
I don't find references in German papers to lodo brewing stuff. I just read a work of a professor that was summarising something like 30 diploma (German equivalent to master of science or engineering) thesis, many papers and so on ... Lots about process, about mashing temperatures, about barley varieties, about dekoktion, but I have yet to find a reference in there that resembles something like the stuff propagated by the lodo guys.
 

Bilsch

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I don't find references in German papers to lodo brewing stuff. I just read a work of a professor that was summarising something like 30 diploma (German equivalent to master of science or engineering) thesis, many papers and so on ... Lots about process, about mashing temperatures, about barley varieties, about dekoktion, but I have yet to find a reference in there that resembles something like the stuff propagated by the lodo guys.
Let me help you find some to get you started then. Here are a couple good ones, there are many more.

Enzymic and Non-Enzymic Oxidation in the Brewhouse: A Theoretical Consideration

New Procedures to Improve the Flavor Stability of Beer

Investigating the evolution of free staling aldehydes throughout the wort production process

A Challenge in the Study of Flavour Instability

Oxidative Enzyme Effects in Malt for Brewing

The Chemistry of Beer Aging: A Critical Review

Ascorbic Acid Oxidase in Barley and Malt and Its Possible Role During Mashing1

Impacts of Copper, Iron, and Manganese Metal Ions on the EPR Assessment of Beer Oxidative Stability
 
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goodolarchie

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Wow this went to the seventh ring of dante's inferno and back...

For a long time I sought the classic german lager flavor and aroma, I was always using german hallertauer region hops, continental pilsner malt, RO adjusted water etc. I didn't get there until I started using the Augustiner strain and really focused on getting great clarity, removing all of that yeast. I could get there with w34/70 and gelatin but it was never quite the same. It's remarkable how much just a bit of yeast covers the very nuanced flavors you reach at that final level.

So I am very patient with fermentation, use floating dip tube to rack off... no gelatin, just time and very very cold temps.
 

BigEd

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While I wait for some HB batches to mature, I've been drinking a lot of German lagers. I've had a few in the past but I'm definitely not as familiar with them as with English and American styles. One thing I've noticed is they all have a distinct flavor that makes me say, "ah, that's a German beer." I can't really describe the flavor but it's present in both the light and dark styles.

My question is, what ingredient gives that flavor? Yeast? Malt? Hops? My own Oktoberfest (which admittedly still needs to mature) doesn't have this quality, but I used a fairly clean yeast, Marris Otter, and just a bit of Hallertauer so I mostly taste the MO.

These are the beers I've been drinking, in case that matters:
Weihenstephaner Original
Paulaner Münchner Lager
Spaten Oktoberfestbier
Ayinger Oktober Fest Märzen

There's already lots of good info in the thread responses here so forgive me if I generalize a bit and repeat thoughts previously posted. To me there is a both a structure and indigenous flavors in good German lagers that do set them apart. BTW all the beers you listed are Bavarian and close to Munich which many would say is the home of the best German beers.

Yes it's the ingredients. German malt is delicious and is the heart of the flavor in those beers. British pale malt made from Marris-Ottter barley is excellent malt and has a wonderful flavor profile but it does not taste "German". So yeah it's going to make a tasty beer but it just won't taste like a German Oktoberfest. This malt thing works in both directions, so if I'm brewing a Special Bitter or ESB it's going to have a base of UK pale malt.

Yeast makes a difference. Use a German strain and in the case of those Bavarian styles one with southern German origins. Pitch a big starter and pay attention to fermentation temperatures. Technique and precision are important ingredients too.

Definitely choose German hops to compliment your German malt. For starters I stay with traditional German noble varieties like Hallertuer, Spalter, Tettnanger, etc. There are new types as well but I'd suggest staying with simple, proven hops to get started.

Mashing technique is a big factor. I like a decoction mash best for these beers but I'd save that for down the road. A Hochkurz mash schedule of 45 minutes @ 64C/147F followed by 30 minutes @ 70C/158F is simple enough to accomplish with most equipment and will help achieve the good body combined with a clean, dry finish that separates good German lagers from others.

Keep your recipe simple. These aren't kitchen sink beers. Lots of good base malt and discrete amounts of caramel or other specialty malts if you must. Same thing with the hop schedule. Save your dry hopping for bitters and IPA. One main bittering addition for 60 minutes and a small late addition at 15/20 minutes for a little extra flavor if desired.
 

Miraculix

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Let me help you find some to get you started then. Here are a couple good ones, there are many more.

Enzymic and Non-Enzymic Oxidation in the Brewhouse: A Theoretical Consideration

New Procedures to Improve the Flavor Stability of Beer

Investigating the evolution of free staling aldehydes throughout the wort production process

A Challenge in the Study of Flavour Instability

Oxidative Enzyme Effects in Malt for Brewing

The Chemistry of Beer Aging: A Critical Review

Ascorbic Acid Oxidase in Barley and Malt and Its Possible Role During Mashing1

Impacts of Copper, Iron, and Manganese Metal Ions on the EPR Assessment of Beer Oxidative Stability
You are aware that oxidation is not limited to oxygen right? While I'm not able to read every single one of these articles right now, half of them imply something new, so they cannot be the reason for already existing "German taste", while others are talking about oxidation via enzymes, however that might work, and the last one talks about ascorbic acid, which is not used during German beer production, cannot be the reason either.

And then, there are plenty of small breweries that make marvelous beer, with nothing but traditional methods and their beer tastes incredibly German, whatever that taste might be. These guys don't use lodo stuff.

We don't need your new beer religion here in Germany to brew good beer :D.
 
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Taket_al_Tauro

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This kinds of reminds me of a fruitful discussion that happened on this site a bit more than a year ago.... If I recall correctly I think it had something to do with whether German breweries de-areate their water for the brewhouse or not...
 

Lupulus

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If it's in a thick expensive text book written by dead German guys, well then that's good enough for me. ;)
Text books are created to summarize the state-of-the-art knowledge in a given field. Every field.
It takes a lot of work to update them, so they go away after the first edition if they are not good.
I guess there's always one lay person saying the same about Molecular Biology of the Cell (or Gene); Gray's Anatomy; Guyton and Hall's Physiology.
Findings and data in the book are not less true because of an insult.
As Galileo said... "Eppur si muove".
 

Miraculix

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Text books are created to summarize the state-of-the-art knowledge in a given field. Every field.
It takes a lot of work to update them, so they go away after the first edition if they are not good.
I guess there's always one lay person saying the same about Molecular Biology of the Cell (or Gene); Gray's Anatomy; Guyton and Hall's Physiology.
Findings and data in the book are not less true because of an insult.
As Galileo said... "Eppur si muove".
That is true. We should keep in mind that the "German beer flavour" was probably already there before the 80s or 70s, when did this lodo thing start?
 

Lupulus

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You are aware that oxidation is not limited to oxygen right? While I'm not able to read every single one of these articles right now, half of them imply something new, so they cannot be the reason for already existing "German taste", while others are talking about oxidation via enzymes, however that might work, and the last one talks about ascorbic acid, which is not used during German beer production, cannot be the reason either.

And then, there are plenty of small breweries that make marvelous beer, with nothing but traditional methods and their beer tastes incredibly German, whatever that taste might be. These guys don't use lodo stuff.

We don't need your new beer religion here in Germany to brew good beer :D.
You don't need to read any articles (it was an answer to a question). Narziss has done all the work for you. Narziss describes well the different options, including low and high oxygen, low and high TBA index and how to manage each process.
You are right that there are many small German breweries that don't do low oxygen in the hot side (specially in Franconia).
It's also right that ALL German breweries concerned about flavor stability do low oxygen.
Taste is a subjective opinion and each one of us has one.
My opinion:
In general, well-made beers non LODO beers benefit from decoction and a higher finishing gravity. The malt taste is many times a "caramelly" finish with melanoidin notes. For me, it works better in Dunkel styles, ie Schlenkerla Märzen, a favorite of mine.
Well-made LODO beers work better for pale styles, and with very attenuated beers. They have more malt complexity, keeping hay and complex honey notes (that disappear otherwise). Work specially well in Munich Helles, Pilsners and generally all beers that use a sauergut pH drop at the end of the boil to improve crispness.
Prost!
 

Miraculix

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You don't need to read any articles (it was an answer to a question). Narziss has done all the work for you. Narziss describes well the different options, including low and high oxygen, low and high TBA index and how to manage each process.
You are right that there are many small German breweries that don't do low oxygen in the hot side (specially in Franconia).
It's also right that ALL German breweries concerned about flavor stability do low oxygen.
Taste is a subjective opinion and each one of us has one.
My opinion:
In general, well-made beers non LODO beers benefit from decoction and a higher finishing gravity. The malt taste is many times a "caramelly" finish with melanoidin notes. For me, it works better in Dunkel styles, ie Schlenkerla Märzen, a favorite of mine.
Well-made LODO beers work better for pale styles, and with very attenuated beers. They have more malt complexity, keeping hay and complex honey notes (that disappear otherwise). Work specially well in Munich Helles, Pilsners and generally all beers that use a sauergut pH drop at the end of the boil to improve crispness.
Prost!
Yes. Wouldn't want to argue against it (ok, the ALL breweries part sounds a bit too generalized).

And as the initial question was "what gets you that German lager taste?", We can happily exclude lodo from the "necessary things/steps to get German lager taste"-list.
 

Lupulus

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That is true. We should keep in mind that the "German beer flavour" was probably already there before the 80s or 70s, when did this lodo thing start?
The Narziss 1986 review paper "Technological factors of Flavour Stability" is a good starting point for the tide change at large breweries. Engineers trained at Weihenstephan started driving equipment modifications around that time.
I would propose not using the "German Flavor" again. When originally used a few years ago, it was a reference to pale, well attenuated, crisp German beers with evident sauergut aroma notes. I understand now how it may offend German brewers that don't chase this flavor.

We need to move forward from these discussions once and for all.

Most beer (by beer volume, not breweries) world-wide is presently brewed with LODO brew houses, because of flavor stability needs. Sierra Nevada recently moved to LODO.

Yet, many small brewers don't package and are happy with and proud of their beer brewed with their traditional non LODO process.

There's room for both. Let's move on.

And for hobby brewers, choose your own path. But do remember the square cube law and the impact it can have in both mashing and boiling processes.

Happy brewing!
 

Lupulus

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This kinds of reminds me of a fruitful discussion that happened on this site a bit more than a year ago.... If I recall correctly I think it had something to do with whether German breweries de-areate their water for the brewhouse or not...
BTW
The answer is:
Most beer world-wide, by volume, is brewed with de-aereated water. Over 90% for sure.
By brewery, I don't know, but won't be surprised if most breweries don't de-aereate.
 

ThatVideoKid

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Question on that "sauergut aroma/flavor":

Are we sure this is from sauergut? I get that white wine thing from many beers brewed predominantly with pilsner malt, and have come to accept it as just a quality of good pilsner malt. I get it in my pilsners as well, though that could obviously be bias.

I'd be curious to know if Urquell is using sauergut, because (to me anyway) Pils Urquell has that flavor the most by a large margin.

You'd also think that if the sauergut flavor was able to survive through the mash and boil, that kettle sours would be absolute grape bombs, which, to me anyway, they are not.
 

Miraculix

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The Narziss 1986 review paper "Technological factors of Flavour Stability" is a good starting point for the tide change at large breweries. Engineers trained at Weihenstephan started driving equipment modifications around that time.
I would propose not using the "German Flavor" again. When originally used a few years ago, it was a reference to pale, well attenuated, crisp German beers with evident sauergut aroma notes. I understand now how it may offend German brewers that don't chase this flavor.

We need to move forward from these discussions once and for all.

Most beer (by beer volume, not breweries) world-wide is presently brewed with LODO brew houses, because of flavor stability needs. Sierra Nevada recently moved to LODO.

Yet, many small brewers don't package and are happy with and proud of their beer brewed with their traditional non LODO process.

There's room for both. Let's move on.

And for hobby brewers, choose your own path. But do remember the square cube law and the impact it can have in both mashing and boiling processes.

Happy brewing!
I think the main problem is this generalisation of processes and their results, within the lodo crowd. Flavour stability, yes oxygen is probably the biggest problem (although there is far more there then just oxygen, don't want to open that can of worms now). And of course biggest breweries are well aware of that fact, but do we actually know at which step they avoid oxygen and how? Probably not.
Also, does that mean that we need to do this to get the initial flavour right? No also not, as this is about flavour stability on the long run and not about initial flavour.

So there is something like incomplete knowledge within the interwebs and people create their own thing out of it.

So I agree with you, it would be far more beneficial if we would just skip this whole lodo thing and talk about single processes/ steps and how they affect the results instead. This also includes oxygen avoidance strategies of course, if necessary.
 
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Taket_al_Tauro

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BTW
The answer is:
Most beer world-wide, by volume, is brewed with de-aereated water. Over 90% for sure.
By brewery, I don't know, but won't be surprised if most breweries don't de-aereate.
The funny thing is, after that infamous thread was closed, I got one last reply from my contact at Weihenstephan. He said something along the lines "given that I have better things to do than trying to convince a group of resistant craft brewers, I forwarded your inquiry to Mr. Narziss...maybe people will believe his word".
The reply from Mr. Narziss himself never came, beacuse he obviously has better things to do as well, especially at his age.
Or maybe he never replied because you are right, and my contact was either misinformed (very unlikely, given his position as head of the research brewery) or pulling my leg (more likely).
Anyway I'm not getting involved into something like this again, and for sure :-D
Happy brewing to you as well!
 
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Lupulus

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Question on that "sauergut aroma/flavor":

Are we sure this is from sauergut? I get that white wine thing from many beers brewed predominantly with pilsner malt, and have come to accept it as just a quality of good pilsner malt. I get it in my pilsners as well, though that could obviously be bias.

I'd be curious to know if Urquell is using sauergut, because (to me anyway) Pils Urquell has that flavor the most by a large margin.

You'd also think that if the sauergut flavor was able to survive through the mash and boil, that kettle sours would be absolute grape bombs, which, to me anyway, they are not.
Difficult to explain.
It's evident in Augustiner, Tegernsee and many large Munich breweries.
I didn't get it until I made it and compared it. I thought it was hops.
 

Miraculix

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Difficult to explain.
It's evident in Augustiner, Tegernsee and many large Munich breweries.
I didn't get it until I made it and compared it. I thought it was hops.
I might try that one actually. Just to be able to taste it. Do you already taste the respective flavour from the resulting beer when trying the Sauergut itself, or does it change a lot during the brewing process?
 

Lupulus

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I think the main problem is this generalisation of processes and their results, within the lodo crowd. Flavour stability, yes oxygen is probably the biggest problem (although there is far more there then just oxygen, don't want to open that can of worms now). And of course biggest breweries are well aware of that fact, but do we actually know at which step they avoid oxygen and how? Probably not.
Also, does that mean that we need to do this to get the initial flavour right? No also not, as this is about flavour stability on the long run and not about initial flavour.

So there is something like incomplete knowledge within the interwebs and people create their own thing out of it.

So I agree with you, it would be far more beneficial if we would just skip this whole lodo thing and talk about single processes/ steps and how they affect the results instead. This also includes oxygen avoidance strategies of course, if necessary.
I might try that one actually. Just to be able to taste it. Do you already taste the respective flavour from the resulting beer when trying the Sauergut itself, or does it change a lot during the brewing process?
Until I made my own SG, I thought it was a special way to process hops.
It's a flowery fresh smell.
Get an Augustiner at the Bräustuben. Whatever you get at the first smell is sauergut (and some sulfur 😁).
Make one, just for kicks...
 

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That is true. I never did a decoction, but I was able to mimic the effect by using 5% melanoidin malt. Have you been able to compare both?
The problem I have with melanoidin malt is color. A little goes a long way. I only used 2 oz in a 3 gallon batch and it made the beer significantly darker than I was aiming for. I guess it works for amber lagers but I’m not going to use it again for anything that I want to be light colored, 4-5 SRM. Just a tiny bit will push you past that range.
 

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I was just going over some of this myself. I’ve been trying to make lager recipes with ale yeast, and its just not the same.

Its a combination of factors.

- Water. You have to have the right minerals and right chloride to sulfate ratio. What I’m reading says your water should be 3:1 chloride to sulfate to brew lagers. You want lots of chloride and little sulfate.

- Pilsener malt. MO is ale malt. Pilsener malt is lager malt.

- Recipe. You’re not going to find biscuit malt, crystal malt, etc in German lager recipes.

- Process. As others have said, you can’t beat decoction.

- Balance. Malt to hops. Noble hops only.

- Yeast. Lager yeast has a slight sulphur character that ale yeast doesn’t produce. You have to handle the yeast properly, do the diacetyl rest, too, etc.

- Attenuation. You need a good attenuation to get that “crispness”.

- Lager/cold aging. Really lets the flavors round out and develop. It takes time and there is no substitute for time.
 

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In no particular order:

Wyeast 2206
WLP833
Lallemand Diamond Lager

These will all give you the absolute best lagers with "that German" flavor.
I agree, and will add in W-34/70 yeast.
Also Ireks and Weyermann malts are fantastic.
A triple step infusion mash will get you good results, for an authentic Euro-Lager.
 

ThatVideoKid

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- Yeast. Lager yeast has a slight sulphur character that ale yeast doesn’t produce.
This is exactly what I was going to say when I read your first line. You can be as clean as you want with ale yeast (esp things like Lutra) and you wont get that "lager" character. Definitely tasty, but not "lager". Better for the darker lager styles if you're going to do it.

This is why I fell in love with Lalbrew Diamond Lager. It gives me just the perfect whisper of sulfur every time.
 

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Wow this went to the seventh ring of dante's inferno and back...

For a long time I sought the classic german lager flavor and aroma, I was always using german hallertauer region hops, continental pilsner malt, RO adjusted water etc. I didn't get there until I started using the Augustiner strain and really focused on getting great clarity, removing all of that yeast. I could get there with w34/70 and gelatin but it was never quite the same. It's remarkable how much just a bit of yeast covers the very nuanced flavors you reach at that final level.

So I am very patient with fermentation, use floating dip tube to rack off... no gelatin, just time and very very cold temps.
Augustiner for sure. Presently have a Helles on tap that used Augie. Cleared rapidly and completely to 'brilliant' clarity after less than 3 weeks at lagering temperature. No biofine, no gelatin, no fish bladders.

WLP-830 (aledgedly 34/70) has been my usual go-to dependable workhorse for lagers, but Augustiner has really impressed me with how clean the fermentation was in this Helles coupled with the remarkable clarity. This is 'clearly' one of the best lagers I've brewed.

Oh, and apologies to the non-believers. It was brewed with attention to LoDO processes.
 

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Augustiner for sure. Presently have a Helles on tap that used Augie. Cleared rapidly and completely to 'brilliant' clarity after less than 3 weeks at lagering temperature. No biofine, no gelatin, no fish bladders.

WLP-830 (aledgedly 34/70) has been my usual go-to dependable workhorse for lagers, but Augustiner has really impressed me with how clean the fermentation was in this Helles coupled with the remarkable clarity. This is 'clearly' one of the best lagers I've brewed.

Oh, and apologies to the non-believers. It was brewed with attention to LoDO processes.
I'm currently trying that strain (Imperial yeast harvest) at room temperature in an American hops pilsener-ish type of beer. Looks clear in the fermenter after about 12 days, I'm bottling today, I'm really looking forward to trying the results.

And just to confuse people, s04 gives sulfur flavour when fermented too cold, I once made a pretty convincing pseudo lager with it by accident. Apparently, it can easily become too much sulphur, I might just have been lucky, it was exactly the right amount of it.
 
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ThatVideoKid

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I've got a pilsner on with harvest right now.

I can't judge the strain though, because unfortunately I found out the hard way that even with Hallertau, 3oz at flamout and 2oz dry hop is a fruit-bomb.
 

Miraculix

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I've got a pilsner on with harvest right now.

I can't judge the strain though, because unfortunately I found out the hard way that even with Hallertau, 3oz at flamout and 2oz dry hop is a fruit-bomb.
What? Really? I never had anything else than spice from it. Strange. Maybe wired harvest?
 

ThatVideoKid

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What? Really? I never had anything else than spice from it. Strange. Maybe wired harvest?
I think too much of any hop and you get into fruit and citrus. I though I was crazy, or I really effed up this batch, but then I found brulosophy's hop chronicles for mittelfruh, which seems to confirm my experience.

They seem to have had a similar experience with Tett as well.

It's a tasty beer though, but I'm a bit bummed because I was hoping for real punchy noble character.
 

dmtaylor

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And just to confuse people, s04 gives sulfur flavour when fermented too cold, I once made a pretty convincing pseudo lager with it by accident.
Ditto. I have found S-04 to be very lager-like indeed. My last batch of ale fermented at 70 F turned out so very clean that I renamed it to be a lager style.

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