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

Twisted Schwarzbier

I have brewed schwarzbier once before, and it came out pretty good. I wanted to revisit the style as a warmer-weather dark beer, and so picked out a second recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. This version differed from the last in that it emphasizes pilsner malt more than Munich.

I am contractually obligated to use Space Balls references in any schwarzbier name, with zero apologies from doing so. Thank you.

Twisted Schwarzbier

  • 9 lb. Viking Pilsner Zero malt
  • 1 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
  • 11 oz. Carafa Special II malt (Weyermann)
  • 1 oz. Vanguard hop pellets (6.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • Repitch of Harvest lager yeast (Imperial L17)

Target Parameters

  • 1.049 o.g., 1.013 f.g., 4.7% abv, 30 IBU, 24 SRM
  • 60 minute infusion mash at 152°, full volume
  • Claremont tap water, treated with Campden tablet

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7.5 gallons of water at 158°, to hit my mash target of 152°. After adding 5 mL of 88% lactic acid, I held the mash at 152°, with recirculation, for 60 minutes. I then raised the mash to 168°.
  • After the mash, I removed the grain basket and collected 6.75 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.041, for 69% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the wort to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled it down to 70°, before transferring to the fermenter and chilling down to 52° in the fermentation chamber.
  • After the wort hit fermentation temperature, I oxygenated with 30 seconds of pure O2, and then pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 6 February 2021. It had a starting gravity of 1.048.
  • I started fermentation at 52°, held it here for three days, raised to 54° for three days, and then finished at 56° for three days, before cold crashing.
  • I kegged the beer on 27 February 2021. Final gravity was 1.014, for 4.5% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Brilliantly clear, deep brown beer, pouring with a persistent tan head.
  • Aroma
    • Roasty and coffee aroma, at a moderately high level.
  • Flavor
    • Roasty malt and coffee flavor, with a bready malt character in the background. Moderately high level of bitterness. Clean yeast character. Extended bitterness on the finish.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Perhaps? It’s a good, clean beer, but if feels like I could dial back the roast/coffee character a touch and move the base malts (especially the Munich) more to the forefront. I think if I were to rebrew this, I would add a bit more Munich, or maybe add in some Vienna, and reduce the percentage of pilsner malt. That said, this beer is very drinkable, so I wouldn’t make it too heavy for the base malts. Based on the BJCP written descriptions, it seems to be a great example of the schwarzbier style, but just isn’t to my taste.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

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

Tremonia Lager 1.1

With the end of the year, I did a rebrew of Tremonia Lager, one of my favorite recipes from the past 12 months. This round uses an identical malt bill, although I switched out the bittering hops (Sterling instead of Magnum), and used Diamond lager yeast from Lallemand instead of W34/70. The water is slightly modified too, to accommodate our seasonal water changes and reduce the magnesium load.

Tremonia Lager 1.1

  • 9.5 lb. pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 1.5 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
  • 1.5 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.85 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Diamond Lager yeast (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 1.057 o.g., 1.014 f.g., 5.6% abv, 26 IBU, 5 SRM
  • Infusion mash, 152° for 60 minutes, full volume
  • Claremont tap water adjusted with lactic acid and mineral additions, to achieve calculated water profile of 102 Ca, 45 Mg, 74 Na, 66 SO4, 89 Cl, 25 HCO3, -79 ppm RA, 20 ppm Alkalinity, 99 ppm effective hardness.

Procedure

  • I tested my water the night before brewing, and added 6.75 mL of 88% lactic acid to neutralize carbonates. Then, I added 2 g of gypsum and 0.5 g of calcium chloride, to achieve the target water profile listed above. Unlike my first batch of this beer, I used no Epsom salts.
  • I mashed in with 7.5 gallons of water at 159°, to hit a target mash temperature of 152°. After sitting for 10 minutes, I began recirculation, for a 60 minute mash rest at 152°. Then, I heated the mash to 168°, holding it here for 10 minutes.
  • After removing the grain basket, I had 6.6 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.049, for 69% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the schedule. I also added 1 tsp. of BrewTan B at the end of the boil, to help maintain freshness of the beer.
  • I chilled the beer down to 75° or so, and then transferred to the fermenter for the final chill down to 50°. Then, I pitched the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.055. I brewed this beer on 21 November 2020.
  • On 30 November 2020, I raised the temperature in the fermenter to 60°, and then cold crashed to 33° on 4 December 2020.
  • I kegged the beer on 10 December 2020, with a semi-closed transfer into the purged keg. It lagered for a few weeks at this temperature before going on-tap.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Very clear, nearly brilliant gold beer, with a persistent fine white head. Beautiful!
  • Aroma
    • Malt-forward, with a light sweet maltiness and low hop level.
  • Flavor
    • Malty, delicious, with cracker-like character. There is a firm, moderately high bitterness, but not much hop character beyond that.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body, moderate carbonation, with off-dry finish and lingering bitterness.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a nice beer! I like the previous version a touch better, but this one is still pretty good. The hop character was a touch better previously, and I think the mineral balance is slightly out of whack, giving a slight harshness to the bittering. I might adjust the minerals to be just a touch closer to the “old” version next time around.
  • 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