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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2003 * December 2, 2003 * Off flavor in Helles < Previous Next >

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Milan Bartolec (67.170.82.145)
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 05:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Last spring I made a couple of batches of Helles lager. one batch was 5 gallons (step mashed 122,146, 156 using hot water infusions and recirc through HERMS as neccesary. The other was 10 gallons (my first triple decoction same schedule as above). I used only DURST 2 row pilsener malt and only German Hallertuer Mittelfrueh hops. I pitched WYeast 2206 Bavarian lager (XL smakpak), and fermented for 2 weeks at 50. 2 days diacetly rest, an then stepped down 2Degrees per dat until I got to 32. Lager period was at least 3 months, and in the case of the last one, 7 months.

There' a flavor I get in all of the brews that is almost "woody" - cedar-like. Especially if served at warmer temp (above 50).

Also, when you first taste, it has a "tangyness" on the roof of your mouth. Almost bitter, almost like an alcohol warmth.

I was shooting for the Hofbrauhaus Helles flavor, but didn't come close.

Any thoughts on what these flavors could come from? I'm particulaly curious about the "cedary flavor".

TIA
 

Jared Cook (24.1.247.22)
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 06:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, I wouldn't serve it that warm then. I had a lot of beer when I visited Bavaria, and it was all much cooler than 50º. I know this doesn't answer your question, but if serving it at a cooler temp does the trick, it's probably more traditional anyway.
 

danno (207.225.86.219)
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 06:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Could the woody like flavor be from using low alpha Noble hops? The taste I get from using too many of thse types of hops I describe as a wet hay flavor. I don't care for it and now-a-days substitute some higher alpha hops like Nugget or Mt Hood for some of the bttering hops to minimize that wet hay flavor.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 06:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In general lagers are served somewhat cold (in the low 40s F). I would add to danno's suggestion by saying that less than fresh hops also could be the culprit. Another possibility could be your sparge technique. Is it possible the cedary flavor you're describing is astringency?

Munich helles is a tough style to brew well. The relatively light body and lack of darker malts don't do much to hide any flaws.
 

Milan Bartolec (67.170.82.145)
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 08:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The hops I got were pretty fresh. Although, no expert, I think they were fine.

Sparging is a good candidate at this point. I'm never confident that I have the right temps. I can never seem to get to mash out temps of 168-170F. Althought the water in my HLT through wich I recirc and sparge from Is no higher than 180, my thermometers never seem to get this high in the mash tun. Maybe in attempts to reach these temps, I am getting the mash too hot.

I was also thinking about water chemistry as a possible culprit.
We have very soft water - ideal for Czech pils, but I know that munich water is much harder.
Here's my water profile for Mukilteo, WA - water company.
Ca 3.4
Mg 0.2
Na 8.1
SO4 4.0
Cl 7.7
HCO3 21.0
PH 8.0
Note: The hardness I measured with a kit was ~12

Everytime I try to adjust the water profile with Salts in Promash, the Sodium and Sulfates are really high. Any suggestions?

TIA
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 08:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You may be on to something, Milan. Adjust your mash with calcium chloride rather than gypsum (calcium sulfate). This is better for relatively malty styles such as Munich helles because it reduces the potential for sharp bitterness from the hops which is accentuated by high sulfate levels.
 

Milan Bartolec (67.170.82.145)
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 04:04 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If I use ProMash water profile calculator, what am I looking to increase/decrease? Ca or HCO3?

If I add 1 gram/gal of Calcium Chloride, I get the target Ca levels, but my Cl is 127.4 when it is supposed to be around 2.0. (Do I need to care about that). Also, the HCO3 is not affected, I'm still 131 different (target 152, my water 21.0).
I can add baking soda to increase the HCO3 (which I think is also called alkalinity?) but do I need to, plus the Na will also increase (it's already over the target - do I care about that?)

Thanks for your help. Water chemistry is very new to me. I'd like to try to adjust before going to reverse osmosis water.

TIA
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 03:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If your goal is to emulate Munich water I would add 0.8 grams calcium carbonate per gallon of water to the mash. These calculations are from ProMash; you can plug in the values and see for yourself. The main goal is to increase the calcium and carbonate levels, which are what you are interested in to achieve the soft malty quality of this style (Munich helles).
 

Dave Johnston (12.221.36.212)
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 04:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'd look more at your Ph 8 is rather high and could lead to this astringency. While your water may be soft it could contain lots of bicarbonates(temprorary hardness) already as indicated by the higher Ph. and try to adjust that down, perhaps with citric acid.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 05:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This discussion illustrates the difficulty of making conclusions about water chemistry without an accurate means of measuring pH. Milan, perhaps you could obtain some high quality pH strips and measure your mash pH. The pH of the water itself is more difficult to measure because it is so little buffered, but the effective mash pH is the important value.
 

Milan Bartolec (135.214.42.162)
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 10:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I ordered some colorPhast strips last week. Still waiting for them to come. :0(

I've always added a few drops of food grade phosphoric acid to my sparge water (~14 gallons) in an attempt to bring the pH down. But I've had those useless strips and have no clue what my pH was.

Also, I did a 15 minute rest @ 100F. I was hoping that would help with the pH level of my mash with all pale malt.

Would the "woody cedar-like" flavor come from astringency?
 

chumley (199.92.192.126)
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 11:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't know about astringency, but are you sure that the "woody cedar-like" flavor isn't just from using Mittelfrueh hops? I made a helles last year and was amazed at the amount of spicy Hallertau flavor I got in a 22 IBU beer. It seems that some years Mittelfrueh is spicier than others. Some people have used "resiny" as a flavor descriptor for hops, though I wouldn't think of Mittelfrueh as "cedar-like."
 

Milan Bartolec (135.214.154.104)
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 11:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Never used Mittlefrueh before, but I its used and recommended for Helles style. I love the Hoffbrauhaus Helles, and I read somewhere that they use Mittlefrueh.

The taste reminds me of the smell of a sauna.

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