Black Bear Pils

I really like German pils, and make it pretty frequently…with 14 brews of this style under my belt, it’s time for number 15! For this iteraton, I returned to Dave Carpenter’s Lager book for inspiration via the Pfriem Pilsner recipe. My current version is modified for hop varieties on-hand; thanks to my HOPBOX I had a few different German hops in the freezer, which were a perfect match for this style. Notably, I’ve never brewed with Saphir before, and wanted to give it a try. I also had some S-189 in my stockpile (from a freebie give-away), and figured this would be a good batch to try it in.

The batch practically named itself. I was brewing in my garage on a hot summer day, with the Foundry right at the garage door entry. I ran across the driveway (our house is horseshoe shaped, with a parking space right in the middle of the U) to grab something from my fermenting area, leaving my brew rig unattended for a minute. Looking out the window and towards the garage, I suddenly noted a black bear wander into our yard. It ambled over to the open garage door, obviously intrigued by the malty aromas of a pilsner mash. As it started to poke its nose around the Foundry, two thoughts went through my head…first, “That’s so cool! I should get a picture!” The second thought was…”My beer! The bear! I don’t want the mash tun tipped over! The bear could get burned! My beer could get wasted! Action! Quick!” In an instant, I was at the door, yelling at the unexpected visitor to get out of my garage! With what I can only assume was surprise, the bear craned its neck to look at me, and then booked it out of the yard. Disaster averted! And beer recipe named.

Black Bear Pils

  • 10.25 lb. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 2 oz. acidulated malt (Weyermann)
  • 1 oz. Hallertau Tradition hop pellets (6.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Hallertau Tradition hop pellets (6.1% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Saphir hop pellets (3.7% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Spalt Spalter hop pellets (3.0% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1.5 oz. Saphir hop pellets (3.7% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
  • 2 pkg. SafLager German lager yeast (Fermentis S-189)

Target Parameters

  • 1.047 s.g., 1.007 f.g., 35 IBU, 4 SRM, 5.2% abv
  • Full-volume mash, no sparge, at 142° for 40 minutes and 156° for 40 minutes, with 10 minute mash-out at 168°
  • Claremont tap water adjusted with RO and minerals to hit 47 ppm Ca, 2.5 ppm Mg, 33 ppm Na, 92 ppm SO4, 39 ppm Cl, and 11 ppm HCO3, with 9 ppm alkalinity and RA=-26 ppm


  • To produce the water, I added 2 mL of 88% lactic acid to to 2.5 gallons of tap water to remove the bicarbonate, and then 1/4 of a Campden tablet to remove the chloramines. Then, I added 4.5 gallons of RO water and 3.5 g gypsum to achieve a final water with 47 ppm Ca, 2.5 ppm Mg, 33 ppm Na, 92 ppm SO4, 39 ppm Cl, and 11 ppm HCO3, with 9 ppm alkalinity and RA=-26 ppm.
  • I heated the mash water to 146°, and added the grains to hit a target mash temperature of 142°. I held it at this temperature for 40 minutes, chasing away bears when necessary. It wasn’t necessary to add lactic acid for this batch, because I already had acidulated malt. After the initial rest, I raised the mash temperature to 156°, and held it here for another 40 minutes. Finally, I heated to 168° and held it there for 10 minutes before removing 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 hops, BrewTanB, and Whirlfloc as indicated in the recipe. In total, I had a 70 minute boil.
  • I brewed this beer on 20 August 2022. After chilling to ~75°, I transferred the beer to my fermenter and continued to chill overnight down to 48°.
  • Starting gravity was 1.047, right on target. I pitched the yeast on 21 August 2022, and started the fermentation at 48°.
  • I raised the fermentation temperature to 55° on 28 August, and then to 60° on 1 September 2022. I crashed the fermenter to 36° on 3 September 2022, and lagered at this temperature until kegging on 28 October 2022.
  • Final gravity was 1.010, for 4.9% abv. Although there was some yeast disturbance upon kegging and initial serving, I was pulling remarkably clear drafts within about 10 days. I’m quite pleased with that!


  • Appearance
    • Near brilliantly clear, straw-colored beer, which pours with a medium white head of modest persistence.
  • Aroma
    • Spicy hop aroma with a doughy and very slight honey quality to the malt. Clean fermentation profile in the aroma. Wonderful!
  • Flavor
    • Cracker-like malt profile, with a slight bit of malty sweetness. Moderately high and clean bitterness, with a modest spicy quality. Clean yeast character. The malt is at the front of the taste, and the bitterness sneaks in and then pops for an extended and prominent bitter finish. The mineral character of the water also comes through, against the hops.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry finish.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • This is a super solid German pils! I wish the head retention was better, but everything else works super well. I’m also pleased with the yeast–it emphasizes the malt well, and also dropped clear pretty quickly.
  • Overall
    • 9/10