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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