Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Tasting : Munich Bear (Munich Helles)

The beauty of brewing a lager in the Light Lager category of the BJCP guidelines is that because they have a low OG, you're not talking about a big beer that has to be lagered (cold-aged) for a long time. Certainly, in most cases, the longer you can lager the beer, the better (although I'm sure there must be a tipping point at some time?), but a beer that comes in at under 5% ABV is probably ok being lagered for 4-6 weeks before you start drinking it.

And, with my first time brewing a Munich Helles, this was definitely the case. I'm happy to say this beer came out pretty much exactly how I wanted it to - easy-drinking and light, but with enough malt character to separate it from your typical Lite American Lager. 

What made this beer successful wasn't just simply the recipe, of course. Good temperature control is also very important for any beer, especially lagers, and I used my fermentation chamber as I have with all the lagers I've brewed in the past - pitch low, in the high 40s F, let it rise a few degrees over the first week or so, then bring it up to the mid 60s F for a diacetyl rest for a couple of days. Drop slowly to 50 F for another week or two, then transfer to secondary and slowly drop the temp to ~38 F for lagering.

But, what really set this beer apart from many of my lagers was that I got to the FG range I was aiming for. Most of my previous lagers had FGs that were 4-5 points higher than target. I think this one came out better because it was the first lager I've brewed since buying a William's Oxygen Aeration System (no, they did not entice me to write that... unfortunately). Aerating with pure O2 really is the easiest and most effective way to ensure that your yeast are getting the amount of O2 they need to properly ferment your beer. Building up a big enough starter is important, of course, but if you can't provide enough O2, the yeast still may not be able to do a proper job.

I really recommend this recipe to anyone looking for a nice, light beer style for the warmer months that are HOPEFULLY on the way. I kegged mine and have been enjoying it the last few weeks; I'm going to try to set it away for a while longer, so that I'll have some on hand when it's lawnmowing season...

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-sized, white fluffy head with good retention. Body is a burnished-gold color, with very good clarity.

Aroma: Nice malt character in a bready way, accompanied by a sweet pilsner aroma. No noticeable hop aroma. Maybe a touch of DMS, but ok for the style. No diacetyl.

Taste: Pleasantly sweet from the pilsner malt, with the bready malt character in the background. No hop flavor. Low bitterness in the finish. Very clean and easy-drinking.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, moderate carbonation.

Overall: Basically exactly what I was aiming for... light, easy-drinking, but with enough flavor and aroma to set it apart from an American Lite Lager or something similar. Very happy with how it came out.

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