As the summer reached its peak of heat near the end of August, pilsners were always on my mind. There’s nothing more refreshing than sitting out on the patio at the end of an afternoon, with a Willi Becher of freshly poured pilsner. I find that a good pilsner with some character can also work as a fall beer…basically, a classic German pils is the year-round beer in my world!
So, during the Dog Days of Summer, I crafted this Dog Days Pilsner recipe. I kept the malt bill super simple, with pilsner malt and a touch of CaraPils to round out the mouthfeel. Although I often go for a SMaSH-type strategy for hopping, this time I wanted to build up some layers of hop character. Finally, I wanted a little more yeast character, so went with the White Labs’ Oktoberfest/Marzen recipe, instead of my usual W34/70. Those strategies paid off nicely in the end!
Dog Days Pilsner
- 9.5 lb. Pilsner malt (Weyermann)
- 6 oz. Carapils malt (Weyermann)
- 4 oz. acidulated malt (BestMalz)
- 1 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 oz. Saaz hop pellets (5.3% alpha), 20 minute boil
- 0.55 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (3.2% alpha), 5 minute boil
- 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
- 1 WhirlFloc tablet, 5 minute boil
- 1 pkg. Octoberfest/Marzen lager yeast (WLP 820), in 1.75L vitality starter
- 1.046 s.g., 1.015 f.g., 4.1% abv, 3 SRM, 37 IBU
- Infusion mash, 155°, batch sparge; 60 minute boil
- Claremont water, adjusted with lactic acid and gypsum to achieve 66 ppm Ca, 30 ppm Mg, 81 ppm Na, 107 ppm SO4, 90 ppm Cl, est. 30 ppm HCO3; alkalinity 25 ppm, effective hardness 65 ppm, RA -40 ppm
- The morning of my brew day, I spooled up a 1.75L vitality starter for the yeast, and ran it on my stir plate.
- To prepare my water, I added 9 mL 88% lactic acid to 8.25 gallons of tap water along with a Campden tablet, and then 4g gypsum. This was done to knock out the carbonates and approximate a target of 66 ppm Ca, 30 ppm Mg, 81 ppm Na, 107 ppm SO4, 90 ppm Cl, est. 30 ppm HCO3; alkalinity 25 ppm, effective hardness 65 ppm, RA -40 ppm.
- I mashed in with 3.5 gallons of water at 162°. Mash temp was a bit low at 151.5°, so I added 3 quarts of water at 178°, to hit 155.5°. I added 0.75 mL of 88% lactic acid to the mash, to lower pH to an estimated target of ~5.45.
- After 60 minutes, I added 0.75 gallons of water at 185°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed and then collected the first runnings. I added the remainder of the sparge water, and collected second runnings.
- In total, I collected 6.8 gallons of runnings at 1.043, for ~77% efficiency.
- I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and kettle finings per the schedule. After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the heat and chilled down to 85° with my cooling coil. I transferred to the fermenter and cooled the rest of the way (~52°) in the fermentation chamber. This final chill took around six hours.
- I gave the wort a 30 second blast of pure oxygen, and then pitched the yeast.
- I brewed the beer on 15 August 2020, and started fermentation at 54°.
- I raised the temperature to 56° on 31 August, 58° on 2 September, and then 60° on 4 September. I held it at 60° for 12 hours, and then started the downward trend. It was at 57° on 5 September, 50° on 6 September, 45° on 7 September, 40° on 8 September, and 35° on 9 September. The final step was down to 32° on 10 September, and I held it there until kegging on 26 September 2020.
- The final gravity was 1.011, down from 1.049, for 5.0% abv.
- Clear, just shy of brilliant. Light gold color, with a fine and persistent white head.
- Moderate level of malt aroma comes through, with a grainy sweet character. The hops come across amazingly, with a moderately prominent floral quality.
- Moderate grainy-sweet malt character–just gorgeous! The bitterness is moderately high, with a clean and slightly herbal character.
- Moderately light body, with a crisp and slightly dry finish and moderate carbonation.
- Would I brew this again?
- This is a really nice pilsner. The aroma and malt character are perfect. I can’t think of much I would change with this one, other than letting it lager a touch more before it goes on tap. In the last part of the keg that I’m on right now, it’s looking really nice!
- My typical German pils recipes are on the upper end of bitterness for the style (37 IBU here, versus 40 max in the BJCP guidelines). At some point, I should probably play around with recipes at the lower end of the IBU spectrum…
- 9.5 / 10 (slight ding for initial clarity)