It’s always lager season, and especially so during the warm opening days of fall here in SoCal. I’m continuing to explore the morphospace of pilsners, with my latest foray following a recipe in Craft Beer for the Homebrewer: Recipes from America’s Top Brewmasters. I was particularly interested by a clone recipe for a pilsner from Schell’s Brewing, based out of Minnesota. One notable thing about the provided recipe is that it used American 2-row instead of European pilsner malt. They’re not too far off each other in terms of color, so I thought it would be a neat test of malt character.
The recipe itself closely matches that in the book; my main adjustment was to modify the hop schedule slightly for amounts and time to account for the hops I had on hand.
Schell’s Pils Clone
- 10.5 lb. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
- 0.25 lb. Carapils malt (Briess)
- 1.9 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
- 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
- 1.1 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 5 minute boil
- 1 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.9% alpha), 5 minute boil
- 1 pkg. Harvest liquid yeast (Imperial Yeast #L17), prepared in 1.5L starter
- 1 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 7 day dry hop
- 1.050 o.g., 1.013 f.g., 4.8% abv, 38 IBU, 3 SRM
- 60 minute infusion mash, 152°, batch sparge
- Water built up from RO, to hit target water profile of 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 ppm SO4, 63 ppm Cl; RA=-47ppm
- I made a 1.5L starter a few days in advance, let it run for 48 hours, and then cold crashed it (and decanted the spent wort).
- To create my brewing water, I added 3.3 g gypsum, 2.7 g epsom salt, and 4.2 g calcium chloride to 8.5 gallons of RO water.
- I mashed in with 3.5 gallons of water at 162°, to hit a mash temperature of 152.2°. I added 7.5 mL of 88% lactic acid to the mash, to help hit a target pH of ~5.3.
- After 50 minutes, I added 1.25 gallons of water at 185°, in order to raise the mash temperature o 156°. I let the mash sit for 10 more minutes, vorlaufed, and collected first runnings. Then, I added 3.75 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected second runnings.
- In total, I collected 6.9 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.042, for 74% efficiency.
- I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and other kettle additions per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and chilled down as far as I could (~80°) before transferring.
- I chilled the wort down to 57°, before pitching the yeast and continuing to chill down to 52°. I completed the fermentation at 52°.
- A good krausen was built within 24 hours.
- I brewed the beer on 11 August 2019.
- On 18 August 2019, I raised the temperature of the beer to 56°.
- On 21 August 2019, I raised the temperature of the beer to 66°.
- I added the dry hops on 24 August 2019.
- I cold crashed the beer to 33° on 29 August 2019.
- I kegged the beer on 1 September 2019. Final gravity was 1.008 (via refractometer), for 5.5% abv.
- Pours with a thick, fine, frothy head, that is quite persistent. The beer itself is light yellow and fairly clear (but just a touch away from brilliant clarity).
- Light grainy aroma, with a nice spicy hop note alongside it. Very clean!
- Grainy and ever-so-slightly sweet malt profile, with a firm, clean, and slightly spicy bitterness. Balance is tilted modestly in the hoppy direction.
- Crisp, with a slightly dry finish. Moderately high carbonation.
- Would I brew this again?
- YES! This is a really nice German-American pilsner, all the more interesting because I got such a nice malt flavor profile using American 2-row rather than European pilsner malt. The Rahr 2-row is pretty light (1.8 SRM), not too far from typical pilsner malt (Weyermann Barke pilsner is actually 1.9 SRM), so I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising, at least on the basis of color. I’m particularly pleased with the head retention on this beer; it pours with a beautiful foam that sticks around for quite awhile. If I had a little more patience, I would let it condition a bit longer to clarify to brilliant, but that’s pretty much the only (minor) flaw in this beer.