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Style of the Week: Bavarian Helles!

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March 20, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Typical German server carrying a few Maßkruge!

Typical German server carrying a few Maßkruge!

One of the best beers to have around for the upcoming warmer months of Spring, and Summer is the Bavarian style Helles. While Helles means light in German, there’s nothing light about this beer, except for the color. While only having a balancing bitter to offset the residual sugars, this beer’s malt forward character makes for a very crisp, clean, enjoyable beer that finishes dry. Below is a recipe of mine that makes a reasonable facsimile of the Bavarian style of Helles. While you can use any Pilsner malt in your Helles, I find that the best flavors come from the use of southern German malts. Also the same goes for hops, meaning that German style noble hops are the order of the day. Hops like Hallertau, Liberty, Crystal, Mt. Hood, and Sterling all make for a deliciously hopped Helles. Some people may want more hops, and some may like less, but I prefer a balancing act of malt and hops so that neither predominates, thus giving a nicely balanced beer for warm weather quaffing.

Extract:

6 lbs. Pilsen Light DME

1 lb. Malto-Dextrin

½ lb. Carahell malt

½ lb. Melanoidin Malt

2 oz. Liberty Hops (Bittering)

Wyeast 2112, WLP810, or SafLager 34/70

Procedure:

  • Heat ¾ gallons of water to 165°F.
  • Add steeping grains to kettle and steep for 30 minutes.
  • Remove grains, and rinse with 165°F water
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to Heat, bring to boil for 5 min. then add bittering hops.
  • At 15 minutes remaining, add the Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss.
  • At knockout, cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. Add the mixture to the fermenter, removing the hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using distilled, bottled, or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 60°~62°F for 7 to 10 days.
  • Allow to age an additional two to three weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain:

10 lbs. Pilsner Malt

½ lb. Melanoidin Malt

½ lb. Carahell Malt

2 oz. Liberty Hops (Bittering)

Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss

Wyeast 2112, WLP810, or SafLager 34/70

¾ gm. Brewing (Calcium Chloride) Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in the mash and in the boil.

Procedure:

Infusion mash at 154°F for 1 hour. Sparge to 6.5 gallons of wort. Bring to boil for 5 min. then add bittering hops (Liberty). Continue boiling for 45 min. then add Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss. Turn off heat and cool mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller. Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well). Pitch yeast and ferment at 60°F to 62°F. Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 115 gms. corn sugar (approx. 1 cup), or kegged to 18 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 45°~50°F in a Halb or Maßkrug glass, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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