Thursday, March 14, 2013

Munich Helles Tasting

For the first time in years, I've gone a full month without brewing a single beer. I blame the miserable weather and the fact that my alcohol consumption has dropped to an all time low. I used to enjoy a pint or two in the evening, but recently it's been more like half a glass every other day. If it wasn't for my pesky neighbors and friends, I'd be dumping full kegs of perfectly fine beer just to make room. Also, a few months ago I brewed a number of lagers - including a Helles, Dunkel, and Vienna lager - and those beers have taken up a lot of prime real estate with their endless fermentation and lagering needs.

While it probably could use more time conditioning, I've got a keg of Munich Helles that I need to kick. I brewed this beer just after Christmas, using Pils and a small amount of Munich malt. I did a fair amount of research before I brewed this beer, looking for an adequate water profile and a yeast strain that would work well in my ghettofied fermentation chest. In the end, I used Whitelabs 838 Southern German Lager and probably fermented it a bit too cold, as I struggled to keep the temperature above 45-48F throughout the primary fermentation phase. After nearly two months of lagering, the beer tastes nice, although it's not without faults.

Session Lager : Munich Helles 

Recipe Specifics: 
Batch Size (Gal): 5.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.00
Anticipated OG: 1.048
Anticipated FG: 1.012
Anticipated SRM: 4
Anticipated IBU: 22
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

88.9% - 8.00 lbs. Pilsner Malt
11.1% - 1.00 lbs. Munich Malt

1.50 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh @ 60 min for 22 IBU

Yeast: WhiteLabs 838 Southern German Lager
Mash 152F for 60 min (single infusion)
Brewed on 31 December

Tasting Notes:
Appearance - Pours a very clear, yellow-pale gold color with a moderate white head that has good retention. Some haziness as the beer warms.

Aroma -  Clean and neutral pils with a grainy and sweet malt aroma. No hops and a slight sulfur note at the end.

Taste - Grainy/sweet pilsner malt with little to no esters and a mellow hop bitterness. Not much of any discernible hop character. While the beer is malty enough, it lacks that 'soft' malt character that many German commercial examples exhibit. Possibly some astringency on the finish.

Mouthfeel - Carbonation is medium-high and the beer goes down very easily.

Drinkability & Notes - Pretty good. Reminds me of some brewpubs attempts at brewing lagers; its decent enough tasting but not nearly as good as stuff from a proper lager brewery. The WLP838 yeast produced a metric **** ton of sulfur during fermentation and it is only after a lot of time spent degassing and lagering that the sulfur has largely dissipated. Don't know if I'd use this yeast again... it is clean and malty, but dealing with the sulfur is a hassle. Aside, I wonder if my mash PH went a bit low with this one - I didn't check - and I'm sure the low ferment temp probably didn't help either. Better than most of my other attempts at brewing lagers, but there is still a long ways to go.

4.4% ABV, 22 IBU, WhiteLabs 838 Southern German Lager.


  1. Which IBU formula do you use?

    1. Tinseth, although I now use beersmith... which has been pretty similar. Regardless, my IBU's are a bit softer than most commerical calcuations, 65 IBU from stone is probably closer to 75 from mine.

  2. Awesome posting, it has the such a interesting site there is listed here, keep up to date favorable deliver the results, might be backside.

  3. Did you fall off the face of the earth and stop brewing????


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