The previous hopping schedule appears to be quite efficient as far as hop utilisation (bitterness) and flavour are concerned.  However, some brewers may opt for a more expensive schedule, aiming to extract even more flavours from the hops.

The boiling time and partition of the hop additions (expectedly) vary from brewery to brewery, as well as in the type of beer it is aimed at.  For beers below 24IBU (such as your typical ‘Helles’), it is not unusual to add all the hops at once at begin of the boil.   Some brewmasters opt to delay this addition by 5-10 minutes to avoid the loss of bitterness due to coagulation of the proteins as the hot break forms.   Similar to wheat beers, this addition only serves to provide enough bitterness to counterbalance the malt sweetness.

For lagers with a more intense note, the hopping schedule follows several additions.   Usually, the hops employed with the following method are mostly of the noble of flavour aroma quality.   What appears to be quite common is that the additions are split into two parts.

  1. 70-80% of hops at 50-60 minutes boil time
  2. 30-20% at 10-20 minutes boil time

[Source L. Narziss,  Abriss der Bierbrauerei]

An interesting observation is that many opt for the late hop addition in the form of pellets, rather than whole hops.

The consensus is that only the best of aroma hops are to be used for this approach.  Generally, these are

  • Saaz
  • Tettnang
  • Spalt
  • Select
  • Tradition
  • Hersbrucker

Quite interestingly, Mittelfrüh does not feature on this list.  I often use it for the early additions, mainly because it tends to blend rather well with the above hops and has a slightly higher alpha-acid charge.  On the other hand, one could argue that Tradition replaces Mittelfrüh with a breed that is more disease-resistant and higher in bitterness yield.  I still favour Mittelfrüh given then choice.  It may not be practical for large-scale operations, but for my purposes it’s admittedly one of my favourite varieties!

To achieve a flavoursome hop note in Bavaria Helles is not without challenge.  A low-quality hop added to late will introduce unwanted steely flavours.   My experience is that it is best to start with a good ballpark, then push the limits, slowly, brew by brew to achieve the best flavours which are suited for the water profile and malts used.   Unfortunately, there is no magic formula.  It is up to the brewers skill and dedication to slowly discover the best mix for his decoction…

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