I need help understanding my beers + recommendations for hops for next batch

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Tal Orbach, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

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    So, the second batch(es) is ready, and we had some of it last night. Interesting stuff.
    The batch(es) was two SMaSHes - Pilsener being the only malt and using Nottingham yeast, one half of the batch was made with East Kent Golding and the other with Hallertau. The OG was the same for both (same start wort), and they were fermented in same size fermenters (5L each, containing around 3.5L), sitting in the same cooler filled with water. Only technical difference is that when I racked the Hallertau to the bottling bucket, I forgot to close the spigot, which made me lose nearly half the beer (and probably changed the concentration of sugar that I added for carbonation).

    Tasting both beers, the EKG was much more bitter and without any malt character, compared to the Hallertau. The Hallertau was also quite cloudy, and had a bit of a green color - made me think it may have gone bad, but it tasted just fine.
    Also, both beers had a head that wasn't very dense, and somehow almost resembled the foam you get on coke.
    Do these things seem reasonable? (I'd also add that the Hallertau had slightly higher Alpha, which makes the fact that the EKG turned out more bitter even more baffling)
    Would love your input on that.

    Right now I have a similar double batch about to be bottled. This time the hops used are Fuggle and Simcoe (still with Pilsener malt and Nottingham yeast - harvested from the previous brew). Any suggestions for where to go next with this experimentation - which other hops should I try? (keeping in mind that I'm not really into hops that are fruity, citrusy, etc.; yes, I know Simcoe is fruity, I decided to give it a shot, but I'm not expecting to be in love with it)
     
  2. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Tettnang is great personally.
     
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  3. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    What is your hop-schedule like?
    IMO when you add your hops make a difference as to which hops to use.
    e.g. Polaris is limited as a late-add/dry hop choice, but earlier in the boil can be quite interesting...
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Hallertau is my go-to for all my German lagers.
     
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  5. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

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    in blonds I go for hallertau mittelfrüh or crystal, almost the same Willamette is a good one too
     
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  6. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Try some floral Sazz with you pilsner smash beers. Youll dig it.
     
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  7. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    When you say, "second batch(s)", do you mean you've only brewed once before or that this is the second time you've tried this experiment? If the former, I would advise that you brew some reasonably simple beers to get the feel of the basics before experimenting. If the latter, I would recommend concentrating on a style and using ingredients that are matched to that style. Otherwise you're comparing apples to oranges, which is an exercise in futility.
     
  8. Dillon D'Adamo

    Dillon D'Adamo New Member

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    Hallertau for the classic pils feel and saaz to add a bit of floral spice...these two are always good with pilseners. As for why your beers came out so different; Maybe age of hops has something to do with it, acid level of water versus hops, temp the hops get the best flavors and aromas etc. Not to worry though, beer is a living thing, it may change and become phenomenal!
     
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  9. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

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    Well... I don't necessarily have a pre-defined schedule. With this experiment I've done FWH and then dry-hop, but I have no problem changing that - the point is to understand what different hops will contribute, so I wouldn't mind using each variety differently, to get the most relevant results from it.
     
  10. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

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    I mean the former - my first brew was pale ale, using extract and steeping. My second was this double batch. My third was a similar double batch, using different hops.
     
  11. KC

    KC Active Member

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    Dry hop is where the green color comes from. Differences in the pellets (packaging, age) may make one more powdery and suspendable than the other.

    FWH can be sensitive to heating and chill time if you don't add and remove it with the same exposure. If one batch took longer than the other to heat to boil or to cool, the isomerization efficiency and resulting bitterness can be different.

    With identical grains, mash schedule, and conditioning, the head will be the same. Large loose bubbles can be the result of low protein, low ABV, short conditioning time, or storage temperature.
     
  12. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    My recommendation for your second batch is simple: See if you can reproduce the first one. If so, then branch out, if not, figure out what is wrong with you brewing process.
     
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  13. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

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    Thanks for this explanation.

    I think the time they took to boil and to cool were rather similar (albeit not identical). How sensitive is it to changes?

    I guess low protein is the reason (am I right in assuming that Pilsener malt is relatively low on protein?). What do you mean by "storage temperature"? Too low? Too high?
     
  14. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    then you really can't go wrong no matter what you try :D
    If you are looking for a little less fruity/citrusy, you can always try some of the newer German varieties. Quite a few, like Saphir, Smaragd, Polaris, Comet, etc tend to be more earthy/piney/grassy IMO.
    That being said, my German favorite at the moment is Mandarina Bavaria. Bit fruity and a bit citrusy, especially for a german hop :)
     
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  15. KC

    KC Active Member

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    I've never seen it quantified, and I've never done FWH additions side by side to compare. It's a really murky subject. Studies have listed FWH utilization anywhere from 20% to 110%. The way I do it seems to be around 70%.

    Lower temperature increases the absorption of air into liquid. Long, cold storage of beer (especially lagering) helps bring more CO2 tightly into suspension. This causes foam when released. When bottles sit warm, the PSI is higher and air dissipates more readily through the molecular gaps in caps and seals. If a beer is chilled only briefly before serving, it doesn't allow co2 to absorb as effectively.
     
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  16. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    What Nosy said^^^ :)
    I think you may be getting into the weeds with parts of the process that won't matter if you're not brewing consistently to start with. Just use one hop for a few batches and keep it simple, using different additions to add up to the same IBUs and get to know what's the difference between a large late addition and a smaller, earlier one. When you feel you have a little better handle on the most basic function of hop additions, then see what you can do with different hops.
    Your Pilsner Malt/Notty combo is a good place to be but the resulting beer will bear very little resemblance to a German or Czech Pils, no matter what hop you use. Thatdoesn't seem to be your goal to produce that beer but a lot of the advice you're getting seems aimed that way. Noble hops in general aren't usually preferred for dry hopping, though relatively small additions of more fruity/floral cultivars like Hallertau Blanc, Opal, Saphir or very floral varieties like Tett and Mittlefruh can do nicely. I would never dry-hop with Saaz, for instance, because it can get very grassy and vegetal in late additions.
    Small batches can be really good for experimentation and development, but as you've seen, small variations can add up into really big differences in the final product, even with beers that started pretty much the same.
    You have a long way to go so I suggest you just brew some beer and drink it for a while and satisfy yourself that you're brewing cleanly and consistently before you worry too much about subtleties. ;)
     
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  17. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    ^^^^ p.s. Pilsner is an extremely difficult style to brew! Go with something relatively easy, say an ESB or a Blonde Ale, brew it often (hence my recommendation to do smaller batches), get consistent. Subtleties will come later.
     
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  18. White Haus Brews

    White Haus Brews Active Member

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    ^^^That would be great advice for me to take too. And I would if I wasn't having so much fun experimenting with different styles :p Someday maybe I'll rebrew a recipe though
     
  19. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Took me a few attempts to get my pilsners to taste and feel just right .
    Water profile , yeast and temp are critical and any tiny mistakes stick out like the dogs proverbials
     

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