I brewed a smoked helles this morning. I mashed in at 7am and was all wrapped up by 10:15ish. I have been under shooting my beers gravity lately. I think I have been using too much water in my sparge so I am going to try and dial my process back in.
I decided to brew this beer after trying a few commercial versions lately. Ballast Point Brewing makes a really nice and smokey version call Smoke Screen (they also make a nice Rauchbier called Abandon Ship). I tried Schlenkerla;s helles. This beer has a perfectly subtle smoke element yet drinks like a wonderfully brewed helles. The Helles isn't actually made with any smoked malt, but it is brewed on the same equipment as their other beers, so it picks up the smoke during production...creating one of the finest beers I have ever tasted.
I decided to brew w beer somewhere in the middle, not as smokey as Smoke Screen, but using some smoked malt. I decided to use Briess Cherrywood Smoked Malt to get a balanced smoke flavor and aroma. RThe beer smells great and I will be lagering it in my chest freezer, its been a while since brewed a lager and I haven't yet perfected lagers yet. In an attempt to better my lager making I decided to switch to dry lager yeast and to use 2 packs of the dry yeast. Keep your fingers crossed that the beer will finish out correctly.
I am toying with the idea of adding a few smoked dried chipotles in the dry-chile method. My sister-in-law picked up some of these chilies up at whole foods a few weeks back when she was making a vegetarian chili. They have the most unbelievable aroma of smoked spice, but they are super ugly. I have a picture of the same type of chipotles below. I have only ever seen them as red chilies in adobo sauce. These are way better! I haven't decided if I will add them or not yet, I am waiting to see how the base beer turns out. I may also split the batch and dry-chile one version.