Bierstadt Pils Clone

It’s pils time again, as I continue my exploration of European lagers. The July/August 2018 issue of BYO magazine had a tasty looking clone recipe, for Bierstadt Lagerhaus’ Slow Pour Pils. Its simplicity was beautiful–pilsner malt, acidulated malt, Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops, and lager yeast. Additionally, it gave me a chance to play around with more step mashes and decoctions.

I followed the published recipe pretty closely, adjusting just slightly on my additions to ensure that the bittering hops would still hit my target of ~33 IBU. But, I then saw a correction in a later issue that the whirlpool addition should instead be a late hop addition. I figure this probably won’t mess things up too much, giving a bit more hop aroma, although also leaving slightly more potential for haze. In any case, the official recipe is posted at the BYO website.

Because I don’t have direct-fire capabilities for my mash tun, all of the steps had to be accomplished via infusions. This took a bit of creativity, but I managed reasonably well. As another wrinkle in the process, I tried for the first time a closed-transfer technique. In the past, I found that my pilsners tended to get that honey-like taste of oxidation after 6-8 weeks, which detracted from my overall enjoyments towards the end of the keg. As noted below, my attention to technique paid off pretty well!

Bierstadt Pils Clone

  • 8 lbs. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.5 lb. acidulated malt (BEST)
  • 1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.0% alpha), first wort hop and 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (2.7% alpha), 40 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (2.7% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.0% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
  • 2 pkg. W34/70 Saflager lager yeast
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil

Target Parameters

  • 1.048 s.g, 1.011 f.g., 4.9% abv, 33 IBU, 3.4 SRM
  • Infusion step mash with decoction
  • Water built from 8.12 gallons of RO water, with 1.6 g CaCl, 1.25 gypsum, 1 g epsom salts in 3.25 gallons of mash water, and 2.4 g CaCl, 1.9 g gypsum, 1.5 g epsom salts in 5 gallons of sparge water, to achieve -47 RA, 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 ppm SO4, 63 ppm Cl

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 2.5 gallons of water at 150° (1.054 quarts/pound of grain), aiming for a protein rest temperature of 131°. Instead, I hit 141°, and stirred frequently to get it down to 136° by the end of the 10 minute protein rest.
  • I next added 1.5 quarts of boiling water to achieve a mash rest of 144°. After 30 minutes, the temperature was down to 140°. I then added 1.5 quarts of boiling water, to hit 152°. This was below my target of 160°, so I added another 2 quarts of boiling water, to finally hit 160°. I let it sit here for 40 minutes before proceeding to the next step. In total, I added 4.5 gallons of water for the mash.
  • Next, I pulled a thin mash of 2.75 gallons, and boiled it for 10 minutes. Next, I added it back to the mash tun, to hit 168°. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
  • Next, I added 3.25 gallons of water at 180°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.75 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.053, for 87% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and kettle finings per the schedule. To keep bitterness closer to my calculated numbers, I removed the boil hops before adding the whirlpool charge.
  • I chilled the wort to 85°, and then transferred it to the fermenter, where it was further chilled to 49° in my fermentation chamber. I oxygenated with 60 seconds of pure O2, and then pitched the two packets of dry yeast directly.
  • Starting gravity was 1.053, with brewing on 31 August 2018. I fermented at 50°, until 25 September 2018, when I cold crashed to 36°.
  • I did a closed transfer to the keg (under CO2 pressure) on 27 October 2018.
  • Final gravity was 1.012; down from 1.053, this works out to 5.4% abv.
Boiling the decoction

Tasting Results

  • The Basics
    • 1.053 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 5.4% abv
  • Appearance
    • Brilliantly clear, light yellow beer, with a fine, white, and persistent head
  • Aroma
    • Slight spicy hop aroma, with a pleasant and gentle maltiness behind that
  • Flavor
    • Robust hop character nicely balanced against a grainy/sweet malt profile. Really nice!
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderately dry, with a smooth finish that tilts toward the hoppy end in a gentle yet firm way.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Absolutely! This has matured into a wonderfully drinkable, really delightful beer. I’m pleased with how such a simple recipe can produce excellent results.
  • Overall
    • 9/10
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4 Responses to Bierstadt Pils Clone

  1. SpudClampDawg says:

    Thanks for the detailed recipe and instructions, Andy. Slo Pour is one of my favorite beers and I’m planning to brew it this Sunday. It will also be my first step mash and decoction. I had a question though — in the BYO recipe it lists two ounces of hops and you used four. Was this simply to up your IBUs? Or did you have a few versions of the recipe you were working from?

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  2. Andy Farke says:

    My hops clocked in a bit lower on alpha acid versus those used in the BYO version — the BYO recipe used all 4% alpha hops, whereas I had a mix of 4% and 2.7%. In order to hit the recommended target of 33 IBU, I had to increase my hop rate. I calculated everything out in BeerSmith, and the combination I present in my recipe matched the BYO version for IBUs. Depending on what hops are available, I often have to adjust hopping rate when I make things.

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  3. CRE says:

    Hey Andy – Great post and instructions. I just brewed my first pilsner in early March, although it was a warm fermented lager using WLP830 German Lager yeast. In any case, it came out pretty good, and this has me wanting to play around with some more lagers. What did you think of the Saflager yeast that you used?

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  4. Andy Farke says:

    I use the Saflager yeast for about 75% of my lagers…mainly because it’s quick and easy to use. The big downside is that you spend a bit more in cash (2 yeast packets), but on the other hand I don’t have to do a starter ahead of time. I’ve always had good fermentations with 34/70, although I would also say that it’s fun to try some of the other yeasts out there when I want variety. I haven’t done any head-to-head fermentations with different strains, either, so I am probably missing subtle notes that it adds or misses relative to some other yeasts.

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