Mash Temp for Munich Helles Lager

Hey everyone,

I just finished up an all grain Munich Helles Recipe, and it came out great, but just a little bit too sweet for my taste. It attenuated well, down to 1.012, but was still slightly malty sweet. I prefer this style a little bit drier, and was wondering if anyone has had this issue. My mash schedule is as follows:

9.8 Pounds German Pilsner (unmodified) with protein rest at 122 degrees for 35 minutes.

Single decoction (from thickest part) added back to raise to mash temp of 152 degrees for 45 minutes.

Batch sparged with 168 degree water

90 minute boil, 1oz Geman Hallertau hops added at last hour of the boil.

2 liter, two stage starter of WLP830 liquid yeast fermented at 48 degrees giving final gravity of 1.012.

Lagered for three months at 32 degrees.

Bottle carbed with 5oz corn sugar, and 1/4 packet of Danstar Nottingham yeast in the bottling bucket to speed up carbonation.

Beer is crystal clear, but doesn’t smell or taste quite as bready as I was shooting for. The beer is slightly too sweet for this style.

Any suggestions? Lower mash temp perhaps to get fermentable sugars higher in the wort?

I haven’t done a Helles myself as of yet, but with that said, I probably would have shot for around 148 degrees or so. Everything else looks pretty good to me. It just seems like it should have finished at a lower gravity.

Agree with the above. A little lower might help get that to dry out a bit.

Waidafrigginminnithere…I REALLY doubt you use UNmodified pils malt. AAMOF, if it was unmodified, it wouldn’t be malt!

I noticed that too. I assumed the OP was referring to undermodified malt.

Other than what is discussed above, a few other possible issues:
Double check your yeast pitch rate, it might be on the low side.
Did you raise the temperature a few degrees as the fermentation slowed down? Doing so can help it finish better without the risk of off flavors.
How many IBUs was that ounce of hops? If it was too low, it might not have been enough to balance the malt and you could end up with the perception of too much sweetness.

But 152 is definitely too high for a helles.

How about wort and mash pH? Might’ve been a tad on the high side too.

EXACTLY. An ounce of 3-4% AA hops for a 5-6 gallon batch is not enough. This is the reason why your beer is sweet. 1.012 is a good FG for helles and 152 seems like a good mash temp. Unless you used overly soft water, maybe add a bit of gypsum to your next helles and some finishing hops at 20 minutes.

Great thread. Plan to brew this style soon. 60 minute and a 20 or 30 minute Saaz addition for 22 IBU.

I dunno, 1.012 is the upper end of FG for a Helles, and one ounce of 4%AA is just at the lower end of the guideline for bitterness at about 16 IBUs. I personally would ramp the IBUs up to about 20-22 for this beer, but I’m still thinking attenuation is the key here. I personally wouldn’t mash anything I wanted to ferment dry above 150 degrees.

I did a Helles maibock this winter and mashed at 152 I made a note to mash at 149 the next time also.

Totally agree; if you want a dry beer you want to mash at a low temp and it wouldn’t hurt to extend the time as well. And for a helles, 1.012 is finishing on the high side.
But I just put a light lager on tap (OG = 1.035, FG = 1.005, mashed at 149 for 90 minutes) which still has a noticeable sweetness from the malt present. I’m pretty sure that is because it only has 10.6 IBUs.

How long has it been conditioning in the bottles? 5 oz is a lot of priming sugar. Perhaps you are picking up residual priming sugar if not fully conditioned yet, which might take up to around 3 weeks to finish. Just trying to eliminate another variable.

If that is not the problem, I really wonder if it might be a mash pH thing as pkrone brought up. What was your water source? What was the mash pH? Did you add anything for pH control? Without any specialty malts in there, it appears to me that you did a short mash at high pH, not an optimal condition of about pH 5.4 but rather maybe 5.8-6.0 or even higher. I would think this would have more impact on conversion but I am not certain exactly how it might impact fermentability. Perhaps someone else has more wisdom on this than I.

Lots of great info from all responses thus far but rebuiltcellars in particular brought up a number of other possible factors that I agree with where some or all might have come into play.

Best regards.

I don’t think it’ll make much difference between 1.012 and 1.010, but with the IBUs down to 16, or probably lower, depending on the alpha acid % of the hops. I don’t think mashing at 152 would give you a sweet beer. But mashing lower and upping the hops would be advised, for sure.
I like a Hochkurz step mash - 30 minutes at 146, add boiling water to bring it to 158-160 for 60 minutes. For a drier beer, I would bump it to 45/45 for the rests.