A Helles is one of the best summer beers, but brewing one as a home brewer is a challenging task that requires a lot of attention to recipe design and brewing process. In German Edel means noble and is generally used to refer to a beer that has been brewed with the finest ingredients. Hell or Helles is what German call the light colored malt forward beers of southern Germany.
The hop use in this recipe was inspired by Weihenstephan Original, an excellent Munich Helles brewed by the Weihenstephan brewery in Freising, Germany. Their beer is brewed with Perle as the bittering and Hallertauer Tradition as the aroma and flavor hop. I used Magnum instead of Perle. While a Munich Helles should not be a hop forward beer, like its cousin the German Pilsner, many of the good examples have a slight noble hop aroma. Another inspiration was a German brewing textbook which referenced some typical hopping schedules used in German beers.
This beer also uses mash and wort acidification, a German brewing technique in which lactic acid is added to both the mash and the boil.
The result was a very easy drinking beer with an aroma of pilsner malt and a slight noble hop note from the Hallertauer Tradition.
for brewers who build their own water
30L (assuming 25L (6.25 gal) pre-boil volume) reverse osmosis water +
3.0 g CaSO4 (gypsum)
2.4 g CaCl2 (calcium chloride)
(50 mg/L Ca; 1 mg/L Mg; 5 mg/L Na; 57 mg/L SO4; 43 mg/L Cl; 30 mg/L HCO3)
Note that this water profile includes a few minerals from my reverse osmois water.
The important aspects of this water is that it contains only the bare minimum of calcium (you may even go lower than 50 mg/l but this is the minimum level recommended for brewing water) and that it its bicarbonate content is low. The latter is necessary to keep the lactic acid additions necessary to adjust the mash pH to a minimum.
The Sauermalz should adjust the mash pH to 5.5, if this is not the case, change the amount of Sauermalz in subsequent batches. If no separate lactic acid addition to the boil is done, it is advisable to adjust the mash pH to 5.4.
Aim for a post boil gravity of 12.5 Plato (1.050 SG)
(per pre-boil volume)
The use of a high alpha bittering hop reduces the amount of vegetative matter that is brought into the boil. This gives the beer a smoother bitterness.
WLP 830 (German Lager)
Propagate about 5 - 6 gram of dense sediment for every liter of wort that will be pitched. This will result in a pitching rate of about 25 Million cells per ml.
(18 l pitched wort will require about 100 g dense yeast sediment)
dough-in: 50 C (122 F), start heating immediately
maltose rest: 63 C (145 F), 30 min
dextrinization rest: 72 C (162 F), 40 min
mash-out: 76 C (169 F), 15 min
Alternatively a single infusion mash held at 67 C (153 F) for 90 min has yielded similar results.
If this beer is brewed with lactic acid additions to both mash and boil, the pre-boil pH should be lowered to 5.3 - 5.4 through the use of lactic acid. I used about 0.08 ml 88% lactic acid per liter of pre-boil wort (2 ml for a pre boil volume of 25 l) which dropped the pH from 5.55 to 5.35. A lower boil pH softens the bitterness that is extracted from the hops.
Add hops after 10 min boil and boil for another 60 min. The total evaporation should be kept to 10 - 15% of the pre-boil volume. Chill to pitching temperature of 6 *C (43 *F). Aerate wort well to reach an oxygen level of 10 - 12 mg/l. In a 18 l batch this requires 90s pure O2 through a sintered stone for me.
Take a sample of wort for a Fast Ferment Test. This is very important for monitoring the fermentation.
Allow the beer temperature to rise to 8 C (46-47 F) and let the beer ferment at this temperature for 10 to 14 days. Transfer the beer to a lagering vessel while carrying over some yeast. Raise the temperature to 20 - 22 C (68 - 72 F) for 3-5 days for a maturation rest or until its attenuation is within 1 - 2 % of the attenuation limit determined by the fast ferment test.
Cool the beer to a cold conditioning temperature of 0 C (32 F) and hold it there for 4 - 6 weeks before transfering it to a serving keg or filling it into bottles. The cold conditioning time, if done in cornelius kegs, can also be used to carbonate the beer if that has not already been done during the maturation rest. If the beer is going to be bottle conditioned fresh yeast should be added.