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Brauhaus Helles (Ken Lenard's)

Has anyone brewed Ken’s Brauhaus Helles? found here

I would like to try this as my first lager and wanted to know if anyone has tried it. Do you think it’s forgiving enough for my first lager?

For those who don’t like to click on links here is the recipe:

8.5 lbs Pilsner Malt
12 oz Vienna
12 oz Munich Light
4 oz Belgian Aromatic (mash temp 152°)

3 AAU Spalt pellets plus 2 AAU Hallertau pellets for 60 minutes
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager yeast

OG: 1.053, FG: 1.013, IBU: 22, SRM: 5, ABV: 5.2%

I’ll probably be swapping the WY2124 for WLP830 cause that’s all my LHBS carries.

I planned on a 90 min boil, ferment at 50* then lager at 34* for a month.

Any suggestions on maltsters to use for the grains? My LHBS only carries Briess so I will probably order online to get something more Bavarian.

Also wondering if anyone can suggest a water profile to shoot for. I assume “Yellow Malty” in BruWater should get the job done but just curious if other people suggest differently.

to be honest helles would not be my first choice for a first lager. something darker with srm no lower than about 7 srm or so would normally be more forgiving. A good first lager IMHO would be a octoberfest, Vienna, schwarzbier or a dunkel.

I definitely want to save the Oktoberfest for the fall and I’d rather not have something taking up space in my 7cf chest freezer for 7+ months. A dunkel sounds mighty tasty though.

You might want to consider a 90 minute boil too, because of the high pils content. I’ve not brewed that one of Ken’s, but I have brewed several of his other lagers. I don’t see why the “yellow-malty” profile wouldn’t work. The wyeast should be fine. Also, don’t forget a D-rest with that yeast as recommended by Wyeast.

My LHBS sells a lot of dingemans and weyermann pils and I’ve had good luck with both. TBH, since that’s what they sell, I don’t have anything else to compare it with.



Helles is actually a difficult beer to get right. Was finally happy on my third try, and that was after brewing a number of other lagers.

Dunkel is a fantastic, more forgiving beer to brew. 99% light Munich malt, 1% Carafa Special II or III. Noble hops for bittering at 60 minutes, a small noble flavor hop addition at around 20 minutes if you want, and nothing else. Already scheduled for my next brew session, along with the Octoberfest that I will store until next September :slight_smile: .

For water, Helles would be “malty yellow”, and Dunkel would be “malty amber”.

I have worked on my munich helles recipe for years. I tinkered and toyed trying to get flavors right, Color right and style right. In my opinion this beer style should have a bready malt flavor thats in the aroma that last through the beer, and not realy a sweetness to it… but balanced by the hops to keep the sweetness in check. I used vienna once in mine and cut it from my recipe. did not add the flavors i was looking for in the style. Im sure that the recipe is a very good one and will be a very good beer.

I agree… it’s not forgiving. That doesn’t mean you won’t make it properly but it will be a challenge, for sure. The best versions of this beer come out with water that is low in sulfate and low in bicarbonate. I end up using a high percentage of distilled water and then adding back calcium chloride to get my Ca number back to 50ppm. That completely futzes with your Cl:SO4 ratio but pay no mind… this is how it comes out the best, IMO. This is the AJ DeLange school of water and I am a student and follower. Also, the balance is critical: The high level of chlorides in the water will give it that smooth, round, fullness that you want. That, along with the relatively low hopping rate can combine to create a beer with sweetness or at least something that leans that way. To get around that, mash it a little lower… 150° is fine for a single infusion or do a Hochkurz mash at 145x30 and then 160x60. I do not have a direct-fired MT so I have to mash thick at 145 and then add a gallon of boiling water to raise the temp to 160. It works but I don’t do that on every batch I make. Tough style, for sure but really nice to have on tap. Cheers.

Ken, I’m sure that your beer is spot on, but is that amount of vienna/munich/aromatic typical for the style? I was under the impression that helles were almost entirely pils.

BTW the only beer that I have ever made by following someone else’s recipe without changing a single thing, is Ken’s festbier. It’s also probably the beer that has gotten me the highest compliments… some silly coincidence huh!!!

Ken, I’m sure that your beer is spot on, but is that amount of vienna/munich/aromatic typical for the style? I was under the impression that helles were almost entirely pils.

BTW the only beer that I have ever made by following someone else’s recipe without changing a single thing, is Ken’s festbier. It’s also probably the beer that has gotten me the highest compliments… some silly coincidence huh!!![/quote]
I found a recipe years ago that was supposed to get close to Hofbrau “Original” which is a Helles and the one that I probably think of first when I think of helles. Bright gold, a big, soft head, that sort of thing… a glass of liquid bread. That recipe was very close to this one and I honestly can’t remember if I tooled with the recipe or not but a small amount of Vienna and/or Munich is okay in a helles. If someone were to come along and say that this is not traditional, I might be surprised but then again I might just say that it’s my interpretation of the style. I have no issue with ALL PILSNER but I consider that to be more for the actual pilsner style and the additional of Vienna or Munich makes it just a little more interesting to me. Glad to hear about the Festbier… one of my favorite recipes and I just drained a keg of it around the holidays. Cheers.

I agree with Ken. I’ve done helles biers with all pils and with a bit of Munich and definitely prefer the latter. Adds that touch of defining depthness.

What I really need to do is drop everything and head down to Brewingdan’s house/brewery and hang with him, brewing and drinking. Our preferences in beer are very close and something tells me he knows how to make beer. Cheers Amigo!

When I am thinking of brewing a lager, generally the first place I head is to Ken’s page. I am in my lager season now so I look there a lot. I think all of his recipes are solid and I have gotten very good results. His Red Lager is a beautiful beer.

Bottom line is his recipes are a good place to start and there is a wealth of knowledge on is page

Maybe the added grains help to emulate the flavor of traditional decoction technique. If so I’m all for that. I’ve never tried it but decoction is a very scary word. I think I’d rather fill out my own tax forms.

It’s possible that some amount of aromatic, melanoidin could do that or get close. I have tried 3 or 4 decoctions and despite the added length to the brewday, I wasn’t impressed by the final results so I either did something wrong or it’s just not worth the hassle. I will say though… I was in Europe last summer and wow, did I have some fantastic beers.

I was considering the scottish ale technique of removing a small amount from the kettle, boiling it down to a thick syrup and returning back to the kettle, in an effort to gain some of the extra caramelization said to occur in decoction.

The Scottish ale technique will add some nuances but you won’t get the same effect or flavors as from a decoction. Unfortunately the word “caramelization” has been almost universally bastardized lately, even by many of the culinary professionals on various TV food shows who should know better. The flavor and color changes from a decoction, and from simply boiling wort, are derived from the Maillard Reaction.

I use the Scottish “boil down” every time I do a Scottish Ale, and I’ll frequently go with decoctions, initially because I wanted to see what they would add to continental lagers, but later because I figured out it is the easiest way for me to do a stepped mash on my system. The verdict is still out in my mind on what effect decoction has on the quality of beer, despite a lot of practice with it. I’ve made some absolutely fantastic lagers with decoctions, and some equally fabulous ones using single infusion mashes.

Don’t worry that you’ll miss some critical factor if you skip the decoction mash. And definitely don’t try to add the Scottish Ale technique as a sub. There is a substantial flavor effect from that which is far more pronounced than anything you might get from decoction.

If you want something close but maybe just a bit more foregiving try a Dortmunder Export. Essentially, it’s a Helles hopped like a Pilsner. There are a couple of reasons I think it is a bit easier; first, the increased bitterness may cover up some flavor flaws and also you can use harder water. I used a recipe posted originally by Tasty McDole and I really like the way it came out. One great thing about making light lagers, your brewing technique will for sure improve because if you make mistakes, you’ll taste 'um. :smiley:

Hey Barley: If you have a moment, could you either post or PM me the recipe you made for Dortmunder Export and what you did with your water? I occasionally make helles, pilsner and other “gold lagers” but Dortmunder has been in the back of my brain and you just dislodged it and sent straight to the front! :lol: I would be interested in the recipe, mash information and the water you used. No hurry but I would be most obliged. Cheers & thanks.

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