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That special German malt flavor explained (?) -- Low oxygen brewing

Discussion in 'Germany' started by herrburgess, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,087) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    Some very intriguing ideas here. Basically the authors are saying that the reason things like spunding are essential in developing that particular bready malt character found in German lagers -- and far less so in their American interpretations -- is due to keeping oxygen super low throughout the brewing process. Indeed most US brewers are, according the authors, not even close to being equipped to even brew the way the Germans do. Would love to hear from @MattRiggs if he's still lurking around here. http://www.germanbrewing.net/docs/Brewing-Bavarian-Helles.pdf
     
  2. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,087) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    I have to say right off the bat that a number of smaller breweries around Bamberg that I have visited sure do seem to splash the crap out of their wort on the hot side. Makes me a bit sceptical, but still intrigued by this
     
  3. bergbrew

    bergbrew Initiate (70) Jan 12, 2004 Minnesota
    Trader

    Questionable science at best. It's pretty common knowledge to minimize O2 in the brewing process. It looks like they set out to prove what they already assumed was the answer. And guess what? The experiment supported it!
     
  4. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,087) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    Yeah...and it's not like they tested each element in isolation -- like, say, spunding or multi-step/decoction mashing as a major/sole contributor. I mean, look at those old wort recirculation setups some Bavarian brewers use, with the 5-6 faucets that drain into a basin that is then pumped back into the MT. There are bubbles and O2 all over the place there, and those beers seem to still exhibit that depth of malt. Maybe focus here is too tightly on Munich Helles style and/or one particular beer? One of the pieces cited has as its title something like "Trying to Make [Augustiner] Edelstoff." Dunno...
     
  5. bergbrew

    bergbrew Initiate (70) Jan 12, 2004 Minnesota
    Trader

    Yep. Or Baudelot coolers.

    So yeah, is keeping out O2 a GMP? Of course. It doesn't just apply to German beers, though.
     
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  6. Hanglow

    Hanglow Crusader (772) Feb 18, 2012 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    I've seen some of the better brewers here use co2 in their mash tuns and mashers to keep oxidising down on that side of brewing, but then plenty of people make great beer without doing so or use pre crushed malt etc

    So I dunno either :slight_smile:
     
  7. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,175) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    When I was home-brewing regularly we always aerated the cooled wort (different stage, of course) because we had heard it made for a rich environment for yeast to propagate. Seems like Hots Side Aeration was always feared because it would create off flavors, but the more I read the more I hear that the off flavors usually aren't at levels the human palate can detect.

    However, I was just an amateur -- even less! :wink:
     
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  8. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,087) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    I do know that most German breweries aerate in-line between chiller and fermenter with sterile air and not O2...not sure if this is just a matter of accepted best practices or what.
     
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  9. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (278) Nov 3, 2005 California

    Good and interesting information.

    I think it's a bit odd that the recommended recipe includes Carafoam. Not that I have anything against anyone using it, but if you are brewing to a "T" like this, and if you had a system on which you COULD brew like this, a crutch like Carafoam would be unnecessary.
     
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  10. spartan1979

    spartan1979 Aspirant (280) Dec 29, 2005 Missouri

    I read the report and have been reading about it on several forums. It's intriguing and I'd be interested in improving my German style beers, but I'd have to do a lot of changing of my process and some equipment changes to make it work. Current conventional wisdom in homebrewing has been that HSA doesn't matter much and so I haven't worried about it.

    For example, I use the same kettle for my HLT and BK. Until the kettle is empty of sparge water, I collect the wort in a bucket. I then transfer the wort to the kettle that results in some splashing. At a minimum, I'd need another kettle.

    So far this this year I've won a BOS with a German Pils and I have a first round NHC first place with an Altbier so my process has been good enough. But can it be even better? I'm going to keep watching and reading.
     
  11. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,409) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Do those guys know that some US breweries like Sierra Nevada and Firestone Walker wet mill with DO water under N2, and keep O2 out of all of the brewing process as much as they can. SN uses sterile filtered air for aeration before fermentation, as that is all the Chico yeast needs.

    SN does make some good lagers, and when they don't overdo the hops, even won a WBC gold for a Pilsner. They might use O2 for the lager yeasts.

    For wet milling under N2, look up GEA Millstar mills. There are more than a few of those around the US. Does Augustiner have a GEA Huppmann brew House? Looks like Kaspar Schulz. Mill?
     
    #11 hopfenunmaltz, May 1, 2016
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
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  12. MattRiggs

    MattRiggs Initiate (105) Dec 1, 2012 Illinois

    The article made for an interesting read. It was loaded with brewing methods that are widely accepted in the Germany brewing industry. It also contained methods that are rarely used (malt/grist gassing) and methods that are never used (sulfating).

    There was a phase several years ago where some of the leading researchers, as well as some of the leading brewhouse manufacturers, were making a case for low oxygen grist treatment. To the best of my knowledge, that technique has fallen out of favor. Low oxygen levels on the hot side are important, but I think that most German brewers would agree that by adopting commonsense procedures (closed wort grants, fill and transfer from bottom of vessel, etc.) hot side aeration’s negative effects are kept in check.

    The fermentation regimen that’s used in this paper is a bit odd. The pitching and fermentation temperatures are both on the lowest end of what’s possible with the traditional German Lager strain. The lack of a raised conditioning temp goes against everything I’ve seen, read, or experienced. And to stay that cold without adding Kraeusen? That is a recipe for the whole group of young beer characteristics.

    There was a mention of mash pH (which was right on), as well as a sentence about souring the boil pH with lactic. In my opinion, this is one of the keys to making a great lightly colored beer.

    I also find it odd that these guys want to test the DO in sparge water but:
    -don’t care to look at the protein levels of the malt
    -don’t conduct the appropriate protein rest (depending on malt analysis results)
    -use two different types of cara malt in a helles

    With that being said, it was cool to see so much German brewing doctrine (some more “German” than other) in an English language paper. Too bad they didn’t do a controlled blind taste test to get some objective feedback on which variables actually do make the most difference. I’d be happy to take part in such a venture....
     
  13. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,087) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    Did you follow the link that references Narziss's recommendations for secondary/conditioning. He recommended at Day 0 a temp of 4.5 C (with 1.3% remaining extract) dropping to 2.7 C on Day 7 (0.7%) and 0 C on Day 14 (0.5%). What do you make of those numbers?

    Agree with this. Obtaining proper mash and finished beer pH in my Koelsch (by utilizing acidulated malt...old school German way :wink: ) has been important in making everything from the malt to the hops really "pop."

    Found all that odd, too. Then again, nearly all US homebrewing 'literature' I have read advises unequivocally against any type of protein rest lest you 'make a thin, flavorless beer' ... or some sort of similar nonsense. :wink:
     
    #13 herrburgess, May 1, 2016
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
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  14. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Savant (932) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Are there any US brewers brewing the way the Germans do? (This isn't rhetorical either, I'm genuinely curious if you know of any).
     
  15. bergbrew

    bergbrew Initiate (70) Jan 12, 2004 Minnesota
    Trader

    As we've discussed before, that was a stance taken by Narziss in a Brauwelt article regarding brewing with modern malts. It's repeated in Kunze. So it's not just homebrewers in the US questioning a protein rest. Indeed, they were probably the ones who said you unequivocally needed one if you wanted to brew continental lagers.
     
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  16. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,087) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    Yeah. I would still maintain that Narziss's intent was misconstrued there. I guess I could try and write him and see.
     
  17. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,409) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    There are the ones with the full German brew houses that can do what the German Brewers do, if they want to. See my post above.

    Sierra Nevada has a top of the line German Brewing system.

    All German brewers don't Brew as those guys say. I would say most German brewers are not Brewing the way the authors of that paper say.
     
  18. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,409) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

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  19. Lurchus

    Lurchus Initiate (188) Jan 19, 2014 Germany

    The topic of "special german malt character" or "german malt terroir" is a really fascinating one for me.
    Sadly, I'm not a brewer myself, so I'm afraid I don't really get the main points there.......
    All I can say this, I found this character in many beers that come from totally different breweries, so... difficult to say.
     
  20. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (278) Nov 3, 2005 California

    I've been told that Gordon Biersch brews according to German brewing methods.
     
  21. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,175) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Their Doppelbock always seems to have that big, bready malt character. To a certain extent, so does their Maibock/Hellerbock.

    If you look at their web site you'll also see that they source their yeast from Weihenstephaner for almost all (maybe all?) their beers.
     
  22. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,409) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    He went to brewing school there.
    http://www.gordonbiersch.com/brewery/dan_history.html
    His saying is "Never trust a skinny Brewer".
     
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  23. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,409) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    @Starkbier What do you and the Victory team think of all this?
     
  24. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Savant (932) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    When you speak to these US breweries having German brewing systems and methods, is this a general statement? My assumption as @hopfenunmaltz stated (if I'm understanding it correctly), is that they are not brewing the way this paper says specifically though.
     
  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,905) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Troegs new (2011) brewery is from a German brewing equipment vendor: BrauKon.

    Some aspects of the brewhouse is shown in the beginning of the below video.

    Cheers!

     
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,905) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Peter (@Peter_Wolfe), any thoughts on this paper?

    Cheers!

    Jack
     
  27. Starkbier

    Starkbier Initiate (73) Sep 19, 2002 Maryland

    Not speaking for Victory here but it reminds me of the big deal about HSA that the late George Fix used to write about. And sure we all know of classic sudhaus design that uses the swan neck lauter backs that ensure lots and lots of HSA and there are numerous old time places all over Franken that use these methods and make excellent lager beer.

    Of course, all things being equal one wants to minimize O2 pickup at most steps of the process. In the grand scheme of things for home brewers to worry about I would say that malt selections and proper yeast handling are so much more important then HSA in general. The author of this piece would not like to see the methods I use in my pilot system but I think it makes excellent beer that holds up well for the timeframes I need (3-6 months in kegs). Cheers, Jim
     
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  28. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,409) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Thanks. Dr. Charlie Bamforth says a good fermentation fixes most of the problems of HSA.

    I know a guy who has brewed some batches of Helles one this way, and one as usual, and will have some at the NHC in Baltimore for triangle tests.
     
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  29. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,087) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    As much as I am skeptical about some of the things presented in this paper...is it really so easy as that? Seems like a broad simplification.
     
  30. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,409) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    You can find him talking about it here
    http://beersmith.com/blog/2014/01/3...ith-dr-charlie-bamforth-beersmith-podcast-74/

    The guys on the German brewing forum may be right for this instance. I will have to try some beers at NHC/HomebrewCon to see for myself. Others are doing their own tests.
     
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  31. bergbrew

    bergbrew Initiate (70) Jan 12, 2004 Minnesota
    Trader

    To fix a little (little the key word) oxidation on the hot side? Probably. Things aren't always complicated.
     
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  32. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,087) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    There are probably a number of ways to "fix" a little HSA. I remember watching a Zoigl brewing video and thinking about how much HSA was going on, in addition to things like leaving wort in coolship overnight and transferring beer to lagering tanks in what seemed like pretty unsanitary conditions. The "fix" was that all the beer was consumed within 3 weeks of kegging (with a lot of remaining extract seemingly still hanging around in secondary)...before any real negative effects could set in. Not a bad way to "go" either for a beer I guess :wink:
     
  33. bergbrew

    bergbrew Initiate (70) Jan 12, 2004 Minnesota
    Trader

    Oh yeah, some of those coolships are a bit scary...sometimes right next to the mill!

    My only advice is the one I received in school: once you've fixed all the oxidation on the cold side, then you can focus on the hot side. In layman's terms (which I also learned in school): It takes an idiot (or someone who's really trying) to ruin a beer in the brewhouse. The closer you get to the package, the easier it is to do non-reversible damage. That's when oxygen really runs rampant.
     
  34. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Defender (612) Nov 6, 2007 California

    I think that a lot of that signature "German" malt character is from excessive heat stress on wort, and is actually something that a lot of German brewers have moved to avoid. You get an instant richness and depth from driving heat reactions in the brewhouse as you form more melanoidins. Pasteurization will also accelerate these flavors, which is done to most beer sent to the US from Germany. I think their assumption here is actually pretty backwards.
     
  35. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,087) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    Not sure I understand. Like temps in the MT in excess of 170 F...without doing decoctions? Or excessive boil length? How do you excessively put heat stress on the wort? Can you explain some more?
     
    #35 herrburgess, May 3, 2016
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  36. bergbrew

    bergbrew Initiate (70) Jan 12, 2004 Minnesota
    Trader

    Boiling long, boiling at excessive temps, whirlpooling at high temps all cause thermal stress. It's been linked to flavor instability, especially aldehyde formation
     
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  37. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,087) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    But paper says low boil is best so that doesn't jibe with what @bulletrain76 is saying about melanoidin (I assume) malt richness (I.e. what its of people pick up in German lagers in particular) being produced by such things, right? Or am I missing something?
     
  38. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Defender (612) Nov 6, 2007 California

    I guess my premise is that they are going for a malt character in the paper that is not what Americans think of as the quintessential German signature. And so many lauded breweries in Germany do not do these things that they recommend so I guess it's an interesting theory that I don't think has much real-world justification.

    Stuff like decoction, longer boils, and older German external boiler systems especially can really impact your wort flavor. But current German literature like Kunze I think is more in line with what they want, so mash in at 63C and no lower, no decoction, short boil with a pressure/simmer system, all closed vessels in the BH, etc. But I think using deaerated liquor and milling under N2 is generally considered overkill by most and some bigger German brewers may do it but we just ordered a fancy new GEA brewhouse and none of that stuff was on the table.
     
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  39. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (278) Nov 3, 2005 California

    Boiling at excessive temps? Like 213 degrees?
     
  40. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,175) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    :grinning:
    Well, 212° is the boiling point of water -- add all sorts of sugary wort and hops to that water and the boiling point is going to have to be a little higher temp. Add too much temp to that and you have Fire-brewed Stroh's. :wink: