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Water profile for a Munich Helles

Thinking about taking a stab at a light lager and since I enjoy Hoffbrau Original I figured I would do a Munich Helles. I plan on doing JZ’s recipe from BCS. I was thinking of using the Yellow Balanced profile in Brunwater but wanted to make sure that this was the correct profile to use for this beer.

I’ve used the Yellow Balanced profile and it works nicely. Use a few ounces of acid malt and the rest German pilsner malt if you want Hopfbrau. I brewed a beer like that a few months ago and it was almost exactly like the Hopfbrau. I think I used phosphoric acid to acidify my mash instead of acid malt in that particular beer though, which isn’t very German-like :oops:

I wont tell the reinheitsgebot police.

I’ve used the yellow malty profile for helles and found it too malty. HB original, even though the IBU’s are low, still has a pretty dry finish.

Thanks for the advice! Yeah I plan on mashing around 148 to get it to dry out real nice.

I use RO water with only calcium chloride when brewing Munich Helles and other light lagers.

Do you acidify your mash (with acid or acid malt)? According to Brunwater using 100% distilled and adding 0.6 gram/gal of CaCl gives you a room temp mash pH of 5.6 which seems a little on the high side.

I add lactic acid to lower the pH

In my opinion, using lactic acid is an important addition in German and other continental styles. A low level of lactate is prevalent in the typical German beer and I have to believe that it adds a nuance to the flavor. If you are dealing with less than say 150 ppm alkalinity in your water, using lactic acid is not likely to add a ‘twang’ to the flavor, just a nuance.

For Bavarian styles, I do recommend that you look at the boiled Munich water profile in Bru’n Water. That is a typical water quality that any Bavarian brewery could achieve and would likely be using. Fairly low mineralization in that profile. It lets the malt shine.

[quote=“mabrungard”]In my opinion, using lactic acid is an important addition in German and other continental styles. A low level of lactate is prevalent in the typical German beer and I have to believe that it adds a nuance to the flavor. If you are dealing with less than say 150 ppm alkalinity in your water, using lactic acid is not likely to add a ‘twang’ to the flavor, just a nuance.

For Bavarian styles, I do recommend that you look at the boiled Munich water profile in Bru’n Water. That is a typical water quality that any Bavarian brewery could achieve and would likely be using. Fairly low mineralization in that profile. It lets the malt shine.[/quote]

Awesome info. Thanks Martin!

[quote=“mabrungard”]In my opinion, using lactic acid is an important addition in German and other continental styles. A low level of lactate is prevalent in the typical German beer and I have to believe that it adds a nuance to the flavor. If you are dealing with less than say 150 ppm alkalinity in your water, using lactic acid is not likely to add a ‘twang’ to the flavor, just a nuance.

For Bavarian styles, I do recommend that you look at the boiled Munich water profile in Bru’n Water. That is a typical water quality that any Bavarian brewery could achieve and would likely be using. Fairly low mineralization in that profile. It lets the malt shine.[/quote]
Martin, with that profile, you’d definitely want to make sure to add some calcium, right? I wouldn’t think 12ppm is high enough to get good conversion and provide a healthy environment for the yeast.

Nope! The need for calcium in brewing is overstated. In lager brewing, there is no problem with brewing with zero Ca water. The main benefit of calcium is that it helps with flocculation and precipitating oxalate. For ale brewing, low calcium is likely to mean that your beers won’t clear well.

Since the beers that Southern Bavaria are famous for are: Weizens and lagers, the need for yeast flocculation is minor. Haze is acceptable in weizen styles and the lagering period will drop beers clear…eventually.

Many brewers have commented that they find that around 20 to 30 ppm Ca is the sweet spot for lager brewing. Most often, that Ca is paired with Cl in their beers.

By the way, that bicarb content in the boiled Munich profile is still a little high. Its well suited for Dunkels, but the paler Bavarian styles would rely on acid malt (aka: lactic acid) to neutralize that excess alkalinity and leave the beer with that lactate nuance I mention.

[quote=“mabrungard”]Nope! The need for calcium in brewing is overstated. In lager brewing, there is no problem with brewing with zero Ca water. The main benefit of calcium is that it helps with flocculation and precipitating oxalate. For ale brewing, low calcium is likely to mean that your beers won’t clear well.

Since the beers that Southern Bavaria are famous for are: Weizens and lagers, the need for yeast flocculation is minor. Haze is acceptable in weizen styles and the lagering period will drop beers clear…eventually.

Many brewers have commented that they find that around 20 to 30 ppm Ca is the sweet spot for lager brewing. Most often, that Ca is paired with Cl in their beers.

By the way, that bicarb content in the boiled Munich profile is still a little high. Its well suited for Dunkels, but the paler Bavarian styles would rely on acid malt (aka: lactic acid) to neutralize that excess alkalinity and leave the beer with that lactate nuance I mention.[/quote]

So if I went with something like 17 Ca, 4.5 Mg, 5.5 Na, 16.5 SO4, 8.5 Cl, 53 bicarb (my tap water diluted 50%) and put enough lactic to get me into the 5.4 mash ph range (which looks like its going to be about 0.7mL/gal), you think that would be good for a Helles or German Pils?

Looks good to me. That said, I HATE lactic acid. I know I am in minority… I agree with Martin’s comments of flavor nuances but I would suggest acid malt instead. The german stuff (weyerman) is NOT just malt sprayed with lactic acid. I researched this heavily and asked someone knowledgeable both with lagers and brewing water and he asked me what I thought would taste better: vinegar made by chemical process or fermented malt vinegar… Side benefit that acid malt is compliant with RHG. Might even consider mashing lower 5.3 for a bit more brightness.

Best of luck with this one! The bar is high. Hofbrau is a top 10 beer for me. Man, with the cool days we’ve been having, it sounds delightful!

Care to talk recipes? I would think something like 50/50 light munich/pils a good start or maybe even 100% vienna. Never managed to get enough maltiness with smaller percentages… What yeast does Hofbrau use, 34/70?

Awesome, Martin! Thanks for the info.

I think Hopfbrau is pretty much 100% pils malt, it’s very clean and light in malt flavor compared to a many of the other commercial Munich helles biers. My last helles was pretty dang close, with about 100% Best pils and phosphoric to acidify the mash (I know…not cool). But with Wyeast Czech pils yeast. It was good.

I think a little vienna or munich malt in a helles is a nice touch; adds a bit of malty sweetness. I’m brewing a helles tonight, actually, with 70% Best pils, 28% Best vienna, and 2% acid malt. Those percentages are approximate… And 34/70 yeast. I look forward to it. Although, I think I decided on a bit higher calcium in the water, can’t remember what I went with; not more than 50 or 60ppm though. I’ll definitely try much lower next time.

[quote=“zwiller”]Looks good to me. That said, I HATE lactic acid. I know I am in minority… I agree with Martin’s comments of flavor nuances but I would suggest acid malt instead. The german stuff (weyerman) is NOT just malt sprayed with lactic acid. I researched this heavily and asked someone knowledgeable both with lagers and brewing water and he asked me what I thought would taste better: vinegar made by chemical process or fermented malt vinegar… Side benefit that acid malt is compliant with RHG. Might even consider mashing lower 5.3 for a bit more brightness.
[/quote]

The problem is, I don’t have anyway to check pH and have just been trusting Brunwater which hasn’t let me down yet. Is there a easy conversion from mL of 88% lactic to weight of acid malt?

[quote]

Best of luck with this one! The bar is high. Hofbrau is a top 10 beer for me. Man, with the cool days we’ve been having, it sounds delightful!

Care to talk recipes? I would think something like 50/50 light munich/pils a good start or maybe even 100% vienna. Never managed to get enough maltiness with smaller percentages… What yeast does Hofbrau use, 34/70?[/quote]

I decided to put off the Helles in favor of a German Pils. A bit off topic but this is the recipe I am going with for that:

9.5# Best Malz pils
0.25# Carapils/Dextrine

Mash at 147 for 90 min

Boil for 90 min
0.75oz Perle (8% AA) @ 60min
1oz Hallertauer (4.8% AA) @ 30min
1oz Hallertauer (4.8% AA) @ 10min

pitch WLP830 ferment at 50* until activity slows down and bump up to high 50’s for a week. rack off yeast and drop to 35 to lager for a month.

I brewed a helles last year (base of pils malt, with a small amount of munich and a very small amount of aroma malt, used Martin’s “malty yellow” water profile) and fermented with 34/70. Soon after I put it on tap, took a trip to Germany and tried a Pauliner Helles. I couldn’t tell the difference from my beer. If I was to try to brew a Hopfbrau clone, I think I’d go with 100% Pilsner malt. And after reading this thread, the boiled Munich water profile with acid malt. But definitely use the 34/70.

That looks like a helles with a little more hop flavor and aroma, mattnaik. Depending on the water profile you went with, it could be a Dortmunder (if it’s on the malty side) or a Pils (if it’s on the dryer, hoppier side).

Either way, I’m sure it’ll still be good.

That sounds good. And 34/70 is definitely a solid yeast.

[quote=“Beersk”]That looks like a helles with a little more hop flavor and aroma, mattnaik. Depending on the water profile you went with, it could be a Dortmunder (if it’s on the malty side) or a Pils (if it’s on the dryer, hoppier side).

Either way, I’m sure it’ll still be good.

[/quote]

Yeah the extra hoppiness was what I was assuming was the real difference between a helles and a pilsner.

[quote=“mattnaik”][quote=“Beersk”]That looks like a helles with a little more hop flavor and aroma, mattnaik. Depending on the water profile you went with, it could be a Dortmunder (if it’s on the malty side) or a Pils (if it’s on the dryer, hoppier side).

Either way, I’m sure it’ll still be good.

[/quote]

Yeah the extra hoppiness was what I was assuming was the real difference between a helles and a pilsner.[/quote]

Or a Dortmunder Export :slight_smile:

They’re all tasty styles, to be sure.

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