Czech Pilsner

My homebrew club recently had a competition centered around Bohemian-style pilsners. I’ve done a few iterations, but haven’t quite hit where I want to yet. The primary issue concerns hop aroma–it’s really, really hard to get good Saaz as a homebrewer. Gotta keep trying.

Czech Pilsner

  • 10.5 lbs. Barke Pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 2.4 oz. melanoidin malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.3 oz. Carafa Special III malt (Weyermann)
  • 2 oz. Saaz hop pellets (3.0% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Saaz hop pellets (3.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 2 oz. Saaz whole hops (2.8% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. WLP800 Pilsner Lager yeast, prepared in starter

Target Parameters

  • 1.050 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 5.2% abv, 35 IBU, 5 SRM
  • 60 minute infusion mash, 150°, batch sparge
  • Water built from RO, to hit target of 20 ppm CA, 8 ppm Na, 15 ppm SO4, 35 ppm Cl, -61 ppm RA

Procedure

  • I made a 2L yeast starter a few days in advance, and cold crashed it, followed by decantation of the spent wort.
  • I built up the mash water using 0.6 g baking soda, 0.4 g CaCl, 0.4 g gypsum, added to 8.5 gallons of RO water.
  • I mashed in with 3.5 gallons of water at 161°, to hit a mash temperature of 150.2°. I added 7 mL of 88% lactic acid, to adjust the pH of the mash.
  • After a 60 minute mash, I batch sparged in two steps (first of 1.25 gallons, second of 3.6 gallons). At each step, I let the mash sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.9 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.043, for 75% mash efficiency. Right on target!
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding stuff per the recipe, and then chilled after flame-out.
  • I transferred the wort to my fermenter, and put it in the fermentation chamber to drop down to 48°. This took a few hours. Then, I oxygenated for 30 seconds and pitched the yeast.
  • I fermented the brew at 50°. The brew date was 25 May 2019.
  • After three weeks, I raised the temp to 65° for a few days, then cold crashed. After a few more days, I kegged the beer using a semi-closed transfer (CO2-flushed keg, but just air-pushed the beer into the keg). Alas, I neglected to take a final gravity!

Tasting

  • I didn’t get to do a formal tasting before the keg kicked, but did get a few quick observations.
  • The beer flavor was a bit too forward on the melanoidin; I will just ditch that in the future! I am still in search of good hop aroma…overall, the beer is just OK with good clarity, decent head; not quite there yet. Bitterness level is about right. Malt body is about right.
  • Overall, 6/10.
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