Winter Pils

I am continuing my quest for the perfect German pils, with numerous iterations (see these recent examples) and a continued presence on my Brew Year’s Resolution list. Through various iterations, I am finding that I like a beer in the lower end of the IBU range for the style (around 25 to 30), and a lower mineral water profile.

This new version focused on the Edelweiss hop blend, a really delicious blend of (mostly) US-grown varieties. I decided to do multiple additions, to layer up the flavor and aroma characteristics of the hop. Additionally, I wanted to give Diamond Lager yeast (from Lallemand) a spin…I have primarily used W34/70 up until this point, but have consistently noted a slight tartness that I didn’t really care for. Diamond has been really well regarded, so it’s time to give it a spin!

Winter Pils

  • 10 lb. Viking pilsner malt
  • 0.5 lb. acidulated malt (Weyermann)
  • 6 oz. dextrin malt (Viking)
  • 1 oz. Edelweiss hop blend pellets (5.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Edelweiss hop blend pellets (5.1% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient WLN1000 (White Labs), 15 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Edelweiss hop blend pellets (5.1% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Diamond Lager yeast (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 1.049 o.g., 1.007 f.g., 5.5% abv, 28 IBU, 4 SRM
  • Water built from RO to hit target of 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 pm SO4, 63 ppm Cl, -47 ppm RA
  • Full volume Hochkurz mash, held at 144° for 45 minutes, 160° for 45 minutes, and 10 minute mash-out at 168°

Procedure

  • I added 2.7 g gypsum, 2.2 g epsom salt, and 3.4 g calcium chloride to 7 gallons of RO water, to hit a target of 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 pm SO4, 63 ppm Cl, and -47 ppm RA.
  • I mashed in at 150°, to hit a rest temperature of 144°, and held it there for 45 minutes. Then, I raised the mash to 160° (over a period of about 15 minutes), and held it at 160° for 45 minutes. Finally, I raised the mash to 168°, and held it there for 10 minutes before removing the grain basket.
  • In total, I had 6.35 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.047, for 74% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe. After a 60 minute boil, I chilled the wort, transferred to the fermenter, and chilled the rest of the way down to 50°.
  • I brewed the beer on 21 November 2021, and pitched the yeast on 22 November 2021.
  • I fermented the beer at 50° until 24 November 2021, when I let it free rise to 52°. I let the beer free rise to 54° on 28 November, 56° on 1 December, and 60° on 3 December 2021. On 6 December, I began to cycle the beer down to 34° by about 5° per day. I was down to 34° by 9 December 2021.
  • I kegged the beer on 26 December 2021, using a closed transfer into a purged keg. Final gravity was 1.014, for 5.0% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Brilliantly clear and straw-colored, with a white, creamy, and persistent head.
  • Aroma
    • Floral hop aroma, with a crackery sweet malt character. Very clean yeast profile.
  • Flavor
    • Malty sweet, with a moderate and clean bitterness that has a slightly floral quality. The bitterness level is perfect for my taste. It lingers a bit, but isn’t overwhelming as in some previous beers.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium light body and relatively crisp (but not quite perfectly crisp). The finish is off-dry, and carbonation is moderate.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Absolutely! It took awhile to get to “brilliant” (around two months), but the wait was worth it. Bitterness level is right where I want it, and the malt and yeast character are great. Diamond lager yeast is worth the hype…I don’t get the slight tartness I sometimes got on W34/70, which is nice. Going forward, I think a 25 to 28 IBU German pils is about perfect. I’ll probably drop any dextrin or CaraPils malt, to crisp things up a bit, and I’ll also stick with my current water profile.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

Farke’s Best Pils

My dad has a few hop bines on the farm in South Dakota, and usually has a fair bit of Cascade that he sends my way (see my recent pale ale). This year, I also managed to snag some South Dakota-grown versions of Saaz, Hallertauer, and Sterling, so a German pilsner seemed like an awesome use of them. I went with a super simple grist, and loaded up most of the hops towards the end in a hope to elevate relative flavor and aroma. I had to guess on alpha acid levels, so aimed a bit higher in estimated IBU in the presumption that they would be a bit lower in potential bitterness than is typical for the varieties.

Farke’s Best Pils

  • 10 lb. Viking Pilsner malt
  • 1 oz. Sterling whole hops (est. 7.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Hallertauer whole hops (est. 4.8% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Saaz whole hops (est. 5.3% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient (WLN1000), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Saflager lager yeast (W34/70)

Target Parameters

pale yellow beer with white foam held aloft in tall clear glass
  • 1.046 o.g., 1.009 f.g., 4.9% abv, 32 IBU, 4 SRM
  • Full volume mash at 149° for 60 minutes, with 10 minute mash-out at 168°
  • Water built up from RO water, to hit target of 59 Ca, 8 Mg, 89 SO4, 63 ppm Cl, RA=-47

Procedure

  • I added 2.8 g gypsum, 2.3 g epsom salt, and 3.6 g CaCl in 7.25 gallons of water to hit a profile of 59 Ca, 8 Mg, 89 SO4, and 63 ppm Cl, with RA=-47.
  • I heated the water to 154° and mashed in to hit a temperature of 149°. At this point, I added 0.7 mL (approximately) of 88% lactic acid, to hit the target mash pH of 5.3 to 5.4.
  • I mashed at 149° for 60 minutes (with recirculation), before raising the temperature to 168° and holding it there for 10 minutes.
  • After the mash, I removed the grains. In total, I collected 6.5 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.041, for 70% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I chilled to 78°, let settle for 90 minutes, and then transferred to the fermenter. I chilled it down the rest of the way to 50° in the fermentation chamber, before pitching the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.046. I brewed the beer on 18 September 2021.
  • After starting fermentation at 50° on 18 September 2021, there were active signs of bubbling by 20 September 2021. I raised the temperature to 53° on that day, and then up to 56° on 22 September 2021, and 60° on 30 September. I dropped it to 55° on 3 October, 50° on 4 October, 45° on 5 October, 40° on 6 October, 35° on 7 October, and to 32° on 9 October.
  • I kegged the beer on 11 October 2021. There was a gorgeous and delicate malt flavor at that time, with a really nice floral hop character, and moderately low level of bitterness. This was shaping up to be a nice beer!
  • Final gravity was 1.010, for 4.7% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Light yellow, very clear (nearly brilliant), with a fairly persistent white head
  • Aroma
    • Delicate malt aroma with a grainy character and light honey-sweet quality. A very low floral hop aroma. Very nice and clean fermentation character!
  • Flavor
    • Light malty character, slightly sweet, with a clean fermentation character. The bitterness is clean and moderate, but not overly so. There is a nice balance between hops and malt!
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body and moderate carbonation, with an off-dry finish.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • The malt aroma is amazing, but I wish there was a little more hop aroma alongside that in the final product. The bitterness level is perfect, and it dodges some of the issues I have had with overbittering in past recipes. The body could be a touch lighter. That said, I’m very happy with how clean the fermentation turned out, and the water character is great, too! Overall, this is not an amazing beer, but still a pretty good one.
  • Overall
    • 7/10

Schell’s Pilsner Clone 2021

I brew this recipe from time to time, and have enjoyed it pretty well so far. It’s a nice German pils to have around, and has a wonderfully simple approach. This year’s edition is generally the same as in past years, although I used all-Sterling as the hop, rather than a mix of Mt. Hood and Sterling, and I have a different brand of base malt.

Schell’s Pils Clone

Schell’s Pilsner Clone 2021

  • 11 lb. Viking 2-row Xtra Pale Malt
  • 0.25 lb. Carapils (Briess)
  • 0.75 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 20 minute boil
  • 1 g BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1.3 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. German Lager yeast (WLP830), in 2L starter
  • 1.25 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 3 day dry hop

Target Parameters

  • 1.050 o.g., 1.006 f.g., 5.9% abv, 35 IBU, 4 SRM
  • 60 minute full volume mash, with 40 minutes at 144° and 10 minutes at 158°
  • Claremont tap water

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7.3 gallons of water at 150°, adding 7 mL of 88% lactic acid, and recirculated at a mash temperature of 144° for 40 minutes.
  • Next, I raised the mash temperature to 158°, holding it there for 10 minutes.
  • Finally, I raised the mash to 168° for 10 minutes, before removing the grains.
  • In total, I collected 6.4 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.044, for 68% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled, transferred, and finished chilling to 48°. I oxygenated with pure O2 for 40 seconds before pitching the yeast.
  • I started with ~5.25 gallons of beer in the fermenter and an original gravity of 1.050.
  • I brewed the beer on 1 May 2021.
  • I began fermentation at 50°, and raised the temperature to 52° on 8 May 2021. I raised the temperature to 60° on 26 May 2021, and cold crashed on 26 May 2021. My fermentation chamber broke(!) on 1 June 2021, so the beer was at ~65° for around 24 hours. I got it back cold on 2 June 2021, and added the dry hops on 5 June 2021.
  • I kegged the beer on 12 June 2021, adding 1 tsp. of gelatin heated to 156° in 3/4 cup of water.
  • Final gravity was 1.010, which works out to 5.2% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • This is a light gold/yellow beer that pours brilliantly clear, with a persistent creamy head.
  • Aroma
    • The beer has a light, spicy hop note, and a crackery malt note.
  • Flavor
    • It has a prominent bitterness, with a crisp and clean hop character. The bitterness is a bit over the top, and the water has a mineral-type (almost salty) character. Paired with the right food it does OK, but it is a bit too bitter on its own. The malt is light and crackery; very simple, but nice. Yeast profile is quite clean.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, slightly dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes, but next time I’m going to do better on the water profile. I think using tap water was a mistake here, especially without more adjustments to knock out carbonates, etc. The bitterness is just too much, which is unfortunate! In going back through my notes, all past iterations have built up from RO water, and I think I’ll do that again next time. Everything else works pretty well, and I suppose the bitterness is within the upper bounds of a German pils, so I can’t ding it too much. I might also try going back to the Mt. Hood+Sterling hop combo, just to give it a touch more interest in the hops.
  • Overall
    • 6/10

Pilsnerpeton

I’m slowly and steadily improving my German pils game, and feel like this one is a winner! It’s a super basic recipe, but my philosophy has always been that the best pilsners are accentuated by skill and quality ingredients, rather than endless ingredient lists.

The name is a cheeky reference to a naming convention in zoology, with many amphibians, reptiles, and relatives getting an “-erpeton” suffix. It translates literally as “reptile” or “creeping thing.” Acquaintance Brad McFeeters cheekily noted that Pilsnerpeton would be a great name for a lagerpetid (dinosaur cousin), and I thought it would also be a euphonious name for a beer! I might keep it as the name for my house German pils recipe from here on out…

Pilsnerpeton

  • 10 lb. Viking Pilsner Zero malt
  • 0.4 oz. Perle hop pellets (7.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.15 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1.0 oz. Perle hop pellets (7.1% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 0.25 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 WhirlFloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Global liquid yeast (Imperial #L13)

Target Parameters

  • 1.046 s.g., 1.006 f.g., 5.2% abv, 4 SRM, 26 IBU
  • Full volume step mash, with 30 minute rest at 142°, 40 minute rest at 156°, and 10 minute mash-out at 168°
  • Claremont tap water, treated with Campden tablet.

Procedure

  • Around 12 hours in advance of pitching, I made a 1.5L SNS (shaken-not-stirred) starter with 150 g of light DME.
  • I heated 7.25 gallons of water to 147°, and mashed in the grains. I added 5 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust pH.
  • I held the mash at 142° for 30 minutes, and then raised it to 156°, which took approximately 9 minutes. After 40 minutes at 156°, I raised the temperature to 168°, which took around 10 minutes. I held it at this temperature for 10 minutes, before removing the grains and bringing the kettle to a boil.
  • The gravity out of the mash was 1.039, with 6.4 gallons collected. This equates to 67% mash efficiency.
  • Once the kettle was boiling, I added hops and kettle finings per the recipe.
  • After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the heat and chilled down to 88° while recirculating. At this point, I stopped recirculation and let the wort settle for 30 minutes.
  • Then, I transferred the wort to the fermenter, discarding around 1 gallons of trub. This was probably a bit more than I needed to get rid of, and would aim for ~0.5 gallons next time.
  • In the fermenter, I chilled the wort down to 49°, over a 3 hour period. I oxygenated the wort for 40 seconds, and then pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed the beer on 28 December 2020. Starting gravity was 1.044.
  • I started fermentation at 48°, with a free rise to 50° after pitching. I raised the beer to 54° on 1 January 2021, 56° on 5 January, and 60° on 9 January. I cold crashed down to 34° on 16 January 2021.
  • I kegged the beer on 30 January 2021, after two weeks of cold crashing.
  • Final gravity was 1.013, down from 1.044, for 4.1% abv. The final gravity was a bit higher than predicted by BeerSmith, but I think that’s because the software doesn’t do well with calculating wort fermentability from step mashes.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Very clear light gold beer, just shy of brilliant, with a beautifully creamy, tall, and persistent white head. It has wonderful lacing down the side of the glass as you drink it.
  • Aroma
    • Malty sweet and cracker notes in a moderate malt aroma. There is a low level of “spicy” hop character. I might like a little more hop aroma, but that’s a minor fault.
  • Flavor
    • Clean, malty-sweet character, with moderate level of very smooth bitterness. The hop flavor is herbal/spicy, with a clean finish. The bitterness lingers pleasantly.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, very smooth finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! The malt/hop balance are perfect for my taste, so I think ~25 IBU in a lower-gravity pils is a sweet spot for my preference. Clean fermentation character and clean malt make this taste so good! I might try some hop adjustments for the late hopping to improve aroma, but that is the only real fault in this beer.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

Pfriem Pilsner

I recently bought a Foundry brewing system, and chose a German pils as my first brew. First off, I really like this style. Importantly for a first spin on the Foundry, it gave me a chance to try out a step mash. The recipe is from Dave Carpenter’s Lager book, modified slightly for hop varieties. Otherwise, it’s pretty much as advertised.

Pfriem Pilsner

  • 9.5 lb. Pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 7 oz. Carafoam malt (Weyermann)
  • 3 oz. acidulated malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.6 oz. Perle hop pellets (7.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Crystal hop pellets (4.5% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Spalt Spalter hop pellets (3.0% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Vanguard hop pellets (6.5% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Crystal hop pellets (4.5% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
  • 0.5 oz. Spalt Spalter hop pellets (3.0% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
  • 0.5 oz. Vanguard hop pellets (6.5% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
  • 2 pkg. Saflager Lager Yeast (W34/070)

Target Parameters

  • 1.046 s.g., 1.006 f.g., 5.2% abv, 3 SRM, 35 IBU, 5.25 gallon batch
  • Full volume step mash, with 40 minutes at 142°, 40 minutes at 156°, and 10 minutes at 168°; 70 minute boil
  • Claremont water with carbonates knocked out via lactic acid and Campden tablet to remove chloramines.

Procedure

  • While the 7.25 gallons of water were heating, I added 6 mL of 88% lactic acid to neutralize the carbonate load, in addition to adding a Campden tablet. No other minerals were added.
  • It took 29 minutes to heat up from tap water temperature (~115°) to 146° for the mash-in temperature. I also added 5 mL of 88% lactic acid (but realized I had the wrong settings, and this was probably too much). I hit an initial mash temperature of 142°, and held it there for 40 minutes. 10 minutes into the mash, I started recirculating. Then, I raised the temperature to 158°, which took around 20 minutes (I started at 75% power, and then upped it to 100% power for the last 10 minutes). To raise to 168° for mash-out, it took ~7 minutes at 100% power. To get boiling temperatures, it took around 50 minutes. I noted that it was boiling (bubbling) before the panel actually showed 212° (~207°).
  • The post-mash volume was 6.4 gallons, with a gravity of 1.043, for 72% mash efficiency.
  • I boiled for 70 minutes, adding hops and finings per the recipe.
  • After the boil, I chilled and transferred to the fermenter. In the fermenter, I continued the chill, down to 52°. Then, I pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 17 October 2020, and it had a starting gravity of 1.049.
  • I raised the beer to 60° on 30 October 2020.
  • I lowered the beer to 55° on 1 November 2020, and down to 33° on 6 November 2020.
  • I kegged using semi-closed transfer on 30 November 2020.
  • Final gravity was 1.013, for 4.7% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • The beer pours with a persistent, thick, and white head–absolutely gorgeous! This is a true slow-pour beer. I am so pleased with the heading I’ve been getting from my pilsners. In the glass, the beer has a light gold color, with a very slight haze.
  • Aroma
    • Light grainy malt note, with a low level of spicy hop character. Very clean yeast character.
  • Flavor
    • Moderately low grainy-sweet malt character. The hops are more prominent, with a slight herbal character and clean bitterness that is pretty strong, almost approaching a level of harshness. Yeast flavor is very clean.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderate/moderate-low level of carbonation, due to the high head on the pour that drives off some of the CO2. The finish is off-dry, with a light and crisp body.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes? I really need to take a look at my hopping levels, and perhaps consider going with American hops rather than European ones to get a better aroma. The persistent haze is annoying, but I also misjudged the lactic acid addition, which I suspect might be a factor, as well as the whirlpool. I’ll dial back the hops in my next batch and avoid the whirlpool, because this is more bitter than I really like for a pils. Once I’m buying RO water again, I’ll definitely be building up my water profile, rather than augmenting the rather over-mineralized tap water. So, there are things I like about the recipe, but I think I can continue to adjust for improvements.
  • Overall
    • 6/10