Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

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mchrispen
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Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

Postby mchrispen » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:32 pm

So, as I feel my system is getting sufficiently tightened up, and I am more comfortable with traditional fermentation procedures and lagering, I want to get some ideas on the groups thoughts on recipe creation.

Going to use pretty generic language here, but from my limited experience now:

Low kilned base malt flavors are off the chart, and at least for lagers, are driving the foundation of flavors. Even the more run-of-the-mill Pale Malts are much more flavorful, including 2-row and 6-row.

Higher kilned base malts are creating much more intense malty, melanoiden-like richness. A 100% Vienna or Munich base seems like it might be WAY too much, even for Dopple's. I recall someone here saying they now treat these like specialty malts.

Caramels bring really cool flavors and colors (although lighter than spec'd it seems) - sweetness, caramel, melanoiden, dark fruit and even some harsh burned sugar caramelization flavors, even with very light application.

I am on the fence now about Aromatic and Melanoiden malts. I seem to get enough richness from a small amount of W CaraFoam and C-malt. Perhaps there is a use with darker beers or smoked lagers?

Other thoughts? I haven't explored adjunct use much, other than in a few saisons. I plan to do a few American light lagers this winter - curious about flavors of corn and rice (please don't shoot me - just curious!) in a LoDO brew.
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Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

Postby Big Monk » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:42 pm

There are some varying opinions on this, especially where malt blending is concerned. Bryan and I have worked through some calcs for blending Pima/Pale (Super Pima) as the lone base malt in all Pale lagers. I also intend on blending MumaI and MumaII to approximate Barke Muma and other custom EBC ratings. Also, cara Malts are limited, as well as roast Malts.

On the other side of the coin, other notable members are using Vima and Muma for their base malt blend, while also limiting Cara malt usage as well.

It's really a matter of taste and preference but simplicity seems to be "ruling the day" so to speak.
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Re: Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

Postby Techbrau » Mon Oct 24, 2016 8:26 pm

Everything I've been brewing lately has used 77-82% pima (Avangard, Swaen, MFB, or Weyermann Barke), 15-20% vima, and 2-3% carahell or carared. The beers have been quite tasty. I have also been experimenting with sauergut lately, and I do think that it is a huge part of the flavor profile of authentic examples.

I think that it really depends on what you're after, and when you really fine-tune your tastebuds you can start to taste the subtle differences between each brewery's beer. IMO there are many, many valid approaches, and what you choose to brew is inevitably going to be a function of what flavors you personally enjoy.

I think that there is significant variation in the flavor of pilsner malt from different maltsters, and to a lesser degree lot-to-lot. You can even taste this when you chew on raw kernels of malt. These differences are massively amplified with low oxygen brewing. The pilsner malt from Avangard, Swaen, etc. tends to be very light in color (closer to 1.5 L or 3 EBC) and has a grassy, hay-like taste. The pilsner malt from malsters lke Best Malz tends to be darker, closer to 4 EBC or 2L, and almost approaches a lighter pale ale malt in flavor (but not quite all the way). You'll see the same variation with vienna and munich malts too. Ultimately, you have to pick what works for you.

These are just a few conjectures based on my tastings:

Northern German pilsners taste to me like they're made with very light pilsner malt (~3 EBC) with a healthy dose of caramel malt, like 5%. My guess for a beer like Pinkus pilsner is 95% ~3 EBC pima + 5% carahell, but that's an easier one to identify because it's not very hoppy. The hoppier examples like Radeberger or Jever are harder to pin down, but I have a feeling that they're similar in nature - perhaps using a darker caramel malt.

What is very interesting to me is the fact that I don't know of any Bavarian maltsters we can buy from. Most malsters who export to the USA are located in Northern Germany. Weyermann would be the closest in Bamberg, but that's Franconia and not really part of Bavaria depending on who you ask. When I visited the Ayinger brewery, they told me that they source all of their barley locally (grown within approximately a 50 mile radius IIRC) and have it malted locally as well. Augustiner of course makes their own malt, as do several other Munich breweries I believe. We really don't know what Bavarian pilsner malt is like, but Narziss gives some clues in Die Bierbrauerei volume 2, claiming that "richer" helles lager (i.e. Bavarian) is made with darker pilsner malt around 3.8 EBC. I would bet that some of the small maltsters in Bavaria are making their pima even a tad darker than that, say 4-4.5 EBC.

Jeff Rankert toured Ayinger recently and they told him that they only stock 5 malts: pils, wheat, munich, caramunich 2, and carafa 2. Maybe they were telling a half truth, and some of their beers are made with other malts that they don't permanently "stock" but I kind of doubt it. My hunch is that their pilsner malt is on the darker side, say ~4 EBC or 2L. I had their helles fresh at the brewery and if I had to take a guess at the recipe I would say 90-95% 4 EBC pilsner + 5-10% munich malt. It's actually a darker colored beer than Jahrhundert, even though it's lower OG. If I had to take a guess at Jahrhundert, I would say 99% 4 EBC pilsner malt + 1% caramunich 2.

If you're stuck with ~3 EBC pilsner malt, Kunze and Narziss both suggest that you can blend it with Vienna malt to "adjust" it up in color. I can confirm that blending 15-20% Vienna into a beer made with a base of extra light pilsner malt really does bring it to life. Is this going to taste identical to using a 4 EBC pilsner malt as your base? I don't think so. I think both will be good, but slightly different.

This is all still conjecture. But I think that once you have the process fundamentals down cold is when the "art" of recipe design is brought to the forefront. I personally don't think there is a right or a wrong way to go about it, as long as you personally are happy with your end result.

It's been nearly a year since i brewed my first low oxygen batch of beer, and it took me a long time to really get my system tuned. Before LoDO, I felt that my lagers were only 20-30% as good as the authentic examples. Getting my system dialed in with LoDO brought that up to 85-90%. Now that I've added what I think was the last missing puzzle piece - sauergut - they're literally at 100%. Not 95, not 99, but 100. Of course I'm still going to endlessly tweak and tune recipes, but I think you can make a 100% beer a million different ways. Augustiner, Andechs, Ayinger, Tegernseer, Weihenstephaner - they're all 100% beers in my opinion, but they all have their own unique flavor profile. My latest beers don't taste like a clone of any of those commercial examples, but as far as my palette is concerned they fit right in alongside them.
Last edited by Techbrau on Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

Postby Ancient Abbey » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:57 am

Brewing lodo is a lot more consistent with chewing grains now. Before, I used to think it was a waste of time bc the wort never tasted like the grains. It was worth it for me to go through all of the base malts individually a relearn their flavor in wort. A few musings on things I learned along the way:

LODO wort comes in so light that it's easy to go overboard with the malts. Early on, it seemed like we could throw in whatever we wanted and get light colored wort. There's a reason Weyermann makes so many kinds of crystal malts, right? Now that we get clean flavors from lodo, we can use them all, right? The dial was turned up to 11 and flavor loading was the strategy for getting all that Bavarian malty goodness. I made one I called crazy helles. It had Pilsner, light and dark munch, melanoidin, carahell and caramunich. It came in a beautiful, gold color, but it didn't work for me. All that amazing malt, and it tasted muddy.

For me, that's when I decided on clean peaks. The way I think of it, it's like a graph you get from a gas chromatograph. If there are many compounds in the system at lower concentrations, you get a lot of small peaks, and overall the peaks are indistinct. If you have fewer compounds, but have higher concentrations of them, then you'll get clean, tall peaks on the graph.

Based on the same principles, my theory is that a higher percentage of a single malt will produced a clean, more pronounced flavor than layering several malts of similar kilning or color. I believe this is also supported when you consider our understanding flavor thresholds. For example, 5% C100 will come through much cleaner than 2.5% of C75 & C125. The basic idea is to use only one base, one brühmalt, one karamalt and one rostmalt in a recipe. I've been developing my recipe accordingly since last April or May, and I'm really happy with how the flavors stand out and compliment the other intentional 'peak'. There are exceptions of course, e.g., stouts, dopplebocks, barleywine, etc.

I used to fear melanoidin malt. It was essential for simulating that decoction character, right? Only, every time I used it, I got soy sauce and dog kibble. I couldn't ever make it work. LODO changed all that. It's quite delicious, like an intense grape nuts cereal flavor. I made a marzen using melanoidin and caramunich III, and the wort tasted like raisin bran cereal, I kid you not. You can still lose a melanoidin malt batch beer late in the game, but in general it is part of my flavor wheel again. For those of you who like rauchbier, try substituting melanoidin malt for the munich so you can increase the percentage of rauchmalt. It's delicious.

I get distinct differences between North American and European malts now. NA are much less intense and already coming in lightly oxidized. I get mostly warm cereal flavors from NA malts, like oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc. It's good, but just kinda bland. With the continental malts, I'm picking out the actual foods they taste like. Pima can range from raw grains (2.5-3 EBC) to bread and maltomeal (3.6-3.8 EBC), vima is croissants and crescent rolls, muma is golden grahams cereal and graham crackers, pale ale malt is bordeax and biscoff cookies and mema is grape nuts or bran flakes cereal. My helles export recipe (with dark pima) was like drinking honey bunches of oats tea. Gosh, I must have been a liter short on that mash bc I just kept drinking wort samples. In general, I think the high-kilned malts come across more like moist breads, crusts and such, while the low-kilned malts that are toasted come across more like dry, hard crusted, cookie-like flavors.

It's important to know the specs of the malts you are using too. There is a reason Narziss talks of adjusting your pima to a target EBC. For a while, I couldn't understand why my beers were ever so slightly darker than others. I was chasing a leak in my system, constantly adjusting my SMB dose. Turns out we were all using different pilsner malts, so 15-20% vima on top of my 3.8 EBC pima came out deep gold, whereas with any of the 2.5-3 EBC pilsner malts, 15- 20% was just right. At the same time, you can buy vima that is only 5-6 EBC, and you can also find pale ale malt that is 7-9 EBC. Some maltsters make light muma that is the same color as others make dark muma. Some even produce a dark muma that is kilned to the same color as most maltsters mema. I believe understanding your target base malt or base blend, targeting the flavors you want and confirming with malt analysis sheets is more important that blanket statements.

Malts can easily be out of place in beers, despite the recipe being dialed in to the correct color. I made a belgian blond using the helles recipe, and while I absolutely must have vima in helles, it doesn't work for me in Belgian beers. The doughy, bread character is too rich and lingering; it tasted like a funky helles, rather than a blond. I went back to low color pima blended with pale ale malt in the grist, and it was amazing. I used the helles recipe to make an APA and it was too malty, and I've never tasted croissants in an APA. Again, I went with a NA pima and crystal malt and the next APA was amazing. All malt is delicious now, but I do believe in sourcing your malts to match the style.

I have yet to really begin experiment with a lot of hops. I have used ~15 different hops since going lodo, but no side-by-side comparisons yet. I can say for certain that hops come through much better lodo: cleaner, fresher and more aromatic. It's really fun to get that fresh field of wildflowers, or fresh ripened fruit, without having to dry hop. I would say that Spalt comes across like a bottle of Herbs de Provence to me, and I don't like them anymore, or at least not used as a single hop. I think the flavors are so clean now, that it's worth comparing the American 'noble' hops, like Mt. Hood, Liberty and Sterling to see if they are good substitutes for Mittelfruh and Tettnanger, as the %AA in German hops seem to be getting lower and lower. The other side of the coin, is that the vegetal character can also come through as well, and I really don't want to have to use 1-2% AA hops to get noble flavors.

I've convinced myself that it's the total process of avoiding oxidation damage that preserves the flavors that the maltster created. This includes a whole suite of enzymatic and non-enzymatic processes, and the mechanisms that active or inactivate them. I've tried lodo without scavengers, with scavengers, with copper, without copper, scavenger A, scavenger B, with pre-boil, without, mash caps, etc. and many combinations in between. Some things are good at protecting hot-side, some cold-side, but each are simply one of many levers in a complex system. I sometimes cringe now when people talk about creating flavors during the mash or boil, bc I believe you are really just trying to not destroy the flavors you are starting with. My basic philosophy is that preserving fresh, linger malt flavor is like the Hippocratic Oath: do no harm.

It is an enjoyable journey and the flavors are incredible. I also agree that the art of recipe design is personal preference, but it can also be a lifelong journey with no ultimate destination. I've said in other threads that I could alternate between Cologne, Vienna and Munich malts in making helles, and I would be a happy brewer for a long, long time. They are all slightly different, and some may stray somewhat from a specific clone or your ideal helles, but they are all delicious. Ask me now what is my favorite helles, and I will tell you the one in my maß. Just remember to be ever vigilant about the science of brewing, and they will all be amazing.
Last edited by Ancient Abbey on Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

Postby Weizenberg » Tue Oct 25, 2016 5:05 pm

There are certain milestones one needs to hit when it comes to the process.

After that it's really up to you in order to determine the blend you are happy with. There are some ballparks which have been outlined plenty. But whatever suits your experience and expectations is something only you can determine.

And that's the beauty of it too.

Once the milestones are mastered then the "beer is your oyster" :D

Courage! It's ok to not get things right the first time round. The best things I did needed at least 3 passes.
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Re: Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

Postby mchrispen » Tue Oct 25, 2016 5:57 pm

> Courage! It's ok to not get things right the first time round. The best things I did needed at least 3 passes.

Completely get that. I am on batch 8 trying to get a BlackSheep Rigwelter recipe close to that lovely beauty. Fortunately most of the mistakes are drinkable to pretty good. A few even with trying to match the effects of the YS fermenter and aeration. Sadly - British beers are probably less understood in the US than German beers.

It's cool that low oxygen brewing changes malts to the extent that everything needs to be rethought and considered.
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Re: Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

Postby bjanat » Tue Oct 25, 2016 6:17 pm

mchrispen wrote:> Courage! It's ok to not get things right the first time round. The best things I did needed at least 3 passes.

Completely get that. I am on batch 8 trying to get a BlackSheep Rigwelter recipe close to that lovely beauty. Fortunately most of the mistakes are drinkable to pretty good. A few even with trying to match the effects of the YS fermenter and aeration. Sadly - British beers are probably less understood in the US than German beers.

It's cool that low oxygen brewing changes malts to the extent that everything needs to be rethought and considered.

Never heard of it, but seems good. Care to share the recipe?


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Re: Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

Postby Weizenberg » Tue Oct 25, 2016 6:18 pm

mchrispen wrote:It's cool that low oxygen brewing changes malts to the extent that everything needs to be rethought and considered.


Well, you are wrong there.

Oxygen control in the mash as well as in packaging is the hallmark of every professional outfit worth their salt. Homebrewing literature conveniently overlooked it for some reason. Professional literature is quite clear on this topic.

It's nothing new. It's just best practice.
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Re: Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

Postby Weizenberg » Tue Oct 25, 2016 6:24 pm

Big Monk wrote:There are some varying opinions on this, especially where malt blending is concerned. Bryan and I have worked through some calcs for blending Pima/Pale (Super Pima) as the lone base malt in all Pale lagers. I also intend on blending MumaI and MumaII to approximate Barke Muma and other custom EBC ratings. Also, cara Malts are limited, as well as roast Malts.

On the other side of the coin, other notable members are using Vima and Muma for their base malt blend, while also limiting Cara malt usage as well.

It's really a matter of taste and preference but simplicity seems to be "ruling the day" so to speak.


These grain bills are quite standard and pretty well outlined in some German textbooks. The beauty of home-brewing is that it gives the individual a lot of control of what they actually like. It takes some experimentation, but the end results should be most satisfactory for each individual, provided the key cornerstones in the brewing process are met.
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Re: Discussion: Recipe considerations for LoDO

Postby mchrispen » Tue Oct 25, 2016 6:29 pm

Yeah - not a well written statement.

Perhaps better stated, once deploying low oxygen techniques, malt flavors shine and are characteristic enough to rethink recipes. No more muddy beer flavors.

RE: Rigwelter - sure, but this is the German brewing site. Once I get this recipe nailed - will put it up on my blog. I got some hints from the head brewer there - but he was cagy about percentages and I think he threw in a false lead (yeast related). Frankly - it's the off the charts from West Yorkshire yeast character aerated all to hell that seem to be the key. I would pump over in my conical, bottom output to the top, every few hours, watch the foam rise and skim the brown bits. Made the garage smell like a beery rose garden. Sadly, the configuration is NOT at all like a York Square - so it only hinted at the yeast character. One day I will build one to scale, down to the horn sprayer.

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