Schell’s Pils Clone

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.

Close-up of pilsner beer foam in conical glass

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

Target Parameters

  • 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

Procedure

  • 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.

IMG_20191009_171317

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • 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).
  • Aroma
    • Light grainy aroma, with a nice spicy hop note alongside it. Very clean!
  • Flavor
    • Grainy and ever-so-slightly sweet malt profile, with a firm, clean, and slightly spicy bitterness. Balance is tilted modestly in the hoppy direction.
  • Mouthfeel
    • 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.
  • Overall
    • 9.5/10
This entry was posted in lager, pilsner, tastings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s