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Snowball's Chance (in) Helles

Brewed: 01/11/2015   Bottled: 01/25/2015

snowballs.jpgIf you follow my blog, you may know that SheppyBrew's 2013 goal was to have brewed all-grain batches of beer in all 23 of the BJCP categories (see SheppyBrew Styles). At the end of 2012, one of the missing categories was Category 1 Light Lager. I didn't really want to brew any of the American light lagers. I had been thinking of brewing a Munich Helles for quite some time. I like the crisp, clean easy drinking, low alcohol beer style with nice German malts. Every Helles that I have ever had has been very nice.

So, it was pretty much a no-brainer that my Category 1 beer would be a Helles. The name "Helles" has all kinds of pun possibilities with "hell". Most of them that I came up with already had beers associated with them. Surprisingly, though, "Snowball's Chance" didn't yield any results on untappd. Seems like an obvious one, so I am snapping it up. Maybe I should trademark the name, but that just seems like too much work.

"Snowball's Chance (in) Helles" was the first of a series of German lagers. I started with this one because it is the lowest in alcohol and lightly hopped. Next up was a Schwarzbier and then a Mailbock. I propagated the yeast from batch to batch. For this series I am used Bohemian Lager (Wyeast Labs #2124), which Wyeast told me is appropriate for all three styles. By the time I got to the Maibock I had plenty of yeast to pitch into the high-gravity wort. For what it is worth, Helles in a Hand Bock-sket won a first-place award in a local competition.

I added Clarity-Ferm to this recipe to Kill the Glutens.


I bottled this batch, and somehow completely screwed up the carbonation. I tried to recover, but never really got this beer where I wanted it.

I did enter this beer into the 2013 National Homebrew Competition. It did alright, winning a "Silver Certificate", which basically means nothing, but I guess is technically an award so-to-speak.

Batch 2 was exactly the same as batch 1 except that I kegged the batch rather than bottle it.

For more about this beer on my blog see:

Snowball's Chance Helles --- Batch 2

Munich Helles
Batch Size
5.50 gal
All Grain
Boil Size   7.76 gal
Brewhouse Efficiency   70.00   Boil Time   90 minutes

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity
1.047 SG
Estimated FG
1.010 SG
Recipe Bitterness
21.5 IBUs (Rager)
Alcohol by Volume
4.8 %
BU : GU   0.458        
Recipe Color
3.8 SRM
Measured OG:   1.046    Measured FG:    1.008
ADF:   82%   Measured ABV:    5


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
4.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 1 -
9 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 90.6 %
11.0 oz Munich Malt - 3L (3.0 SRM) Grain 3 6.9 %
4.0 oz Melanoiden Malt (20.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.5 %
0.375 oz Magnum [15.20 %] - Boil 45.0 min Hop 5 20.0 IBUs
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 mins) Other 6 -
0.50 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 7 -
0.500 oz Hallertauer [4.60 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 8 1.5 IBUs
1.0 pkg Bohemian Lager (Wyeast Labs #2124) [124.21 ml] Yeast 9 -
5.00 ml Clarity-Ferm (Primary 2.0 weeks) Fining 10 -

Mash Profile

Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 12.42 qt of water at 159.1 F 148.0 F 75 min

Batch sparge with 2 steps (1.97gal, 3.88gal) of 168.0 F waterRecipe Notes
A day or two before brewing, make a 1 liter starter.
4g gypsum in the mash water. This should bring Denver water profile (as defined by BeerSmith) to
Brew as instructed.
Cool wort to below 55 degrees before pitching.
Ferment for 1 week as close to 55 as possible. After 1 week, let temperature rise into mid to upper 60s for a week or two.
Keg. If desired, save the yeast to use in another batch of beer.

Brewing Record

Brew Date:
Strike Temp:   160
Mash Temps:
 140 ... adjust to 150. 148 by end of mash
Pre-boil OG   1.043 (1.038 SG)   Pre-boil Vol   7.75 (7.76 gal)
Actual Mash Efficiency
Pitch Temp   45 
Day 1: cold early. kraussen and bublling up to 50 by end of day
Day 3: still bubbling 58 
Day 5: Close to done bubbling out of cooler 64 

Click here to see previous recipes
Brewing Notes:
01/09/2015 esheppy
Bought ingredients today at the Brew Hut. Should brew Sunday.
01/11/2015 esheppy
Brew day today. Everything went well. 1.046 OG. Over cooled the wort. For down to around 40. Let it warm up a bit at room temp. We'll see how it turns out.
01/12/2015 esheppy
Bubbling. Has kraussen. 50.
01/14/2015 esheppy
End of day. 58. Still going.
01/16/2015 esheppy
Bubbling practically stopped. Took out of ice bath. Still very cloudy. 66.
01/17/2015 esheppy
Forgot to mention 1.046 came to 11.1 brix.
01/25/2015 esheppy
Kegged today. FG 1.008 puts this beer right at 5%abv. Very good. May be a bit hoppy for style, but delicious. Still a bit of a yeast haze. Put keg in beer fridge. Hopefully it will clear up soon.
02/05/2015 esheppy
First taste. Good light German lager.
02/20/2015 esheppy
Really been a great beer. Like the Nobel hop flavor. Nice pilsner malt character.
04/12/2015 esheppy
Don't think this will last too much longer. Clarity on this is awesome. Flavor too. This batch is so much more awesome than the last.
04/19/2015 esheppy
The keg blew. Bummer.
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