It’s pils time again, as I continue my exploration of European lagers. The July/August 2018 issue of BYO magazine had a tasty looking clone recipe, for Bierstadt Lagerhaus’ Slow Pour Pils. Its simplicity was beautiful–pilsner malt, acidulated malt, Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops, and lager yeast. Additionally, it gave me a chance to play around with more step mashes and decoctions.
I followed the published recipe pretty closely, adjusting just slightly on my additions to ensure that the bittering hops would still hit my target of ~33 IBU. But, I then saw a correction in a later issue that the whirlpool addition should instead be a late hop addition. I figure this probably won’t mess things up too much, giving a bit more hop aroma, although also leaving slightly more potential for haze. In any case, the official recipe is posted at the BYO website.
Because I don’t have direct-fire capabilities for my mash tun, all of the steps had to be accomplished via infusions. This took a bit of creativity, but I managed reasonably well. As another wrinkle in the process, I tried for the first time a closed-transfer technique. In the past, I found that my pilsners tended to get that honey-like taste of oxidation after 6-8 weeks, which detracted from my overall enjoyments towards the end of the keg. As noted below, my attention to technique paid off pretty well!
Bierstadt Pils Clone
8 lbs. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
0.5 lb. acidulated malt (BEST)
1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.0% alpha), first wort hop and 60 minute boil
1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (2.7% alpha), 40 minute boil
1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (2.7% alpha), 10 minute boil
1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.0% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
2 pkg. W34/70 Saflager lager yeast
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
1.048 s.g, 1.011 f.g., 4.9% abv, 33 IBU, 3.4 SRM
Infusion step mash with decoction
Water built from 8.12 gallons of RO water, with 1.6 g CaCl, 1.25 gypsum, 1 g epsom salts in 3.25 gallons of mash water, and 2.4 g CaCl, 1.9 g gypsum, 1.5 g epsom salts in 5 gallons of sparge water, to achieve -47 RA, 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 ppm SO4, 63 ppm Cl
I mashed in with 2.5 gallons of water at 150° (1.054 quarts/pound of grain), aiming for a protein rest temperature of 131°. Instead, I hit 141°, and stirred frequently to get it down to 136° by the end of the 10 minute protein rest.
I next added 1.5 quarts of boiling water to achieve a mash rest of 144°. After 30 minutes, the temperature was down to 140°. I then added 1.5 quarts of boiling water, to hit 152°. This was below my target of 160°, so I added another 2 quarts of boiling water, to finally hit 160°. I let it sit here for 40 minutes before proceeding to the next step. In total, I added 4.5 gallons of water for the mash.
Next, I pulled a thin mash of 2.75 gallons, and boiled it for 10 minutes. Next, I added it back to the mash tun, to hit 168°. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
Next, I added 3.25 gallons of water at 180°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
In total, I collected 6.75 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.053, for 87% mash efficiency.
I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and kettle finings per the schedule. To keep bitterness closer to my calculated numbers, I removed the boil hops before adding the whirlpool charge.
I chilled the wort to 85°, and then transferred it to the fermenter, where it was further chilled to 49° in my fermentation chamber. I oxygenated with 60 seconds of pure O2, and then pitched the two packets of dry yeast directly.
Starting gravity was 1.053, with brewing on 31 August 2018. I fermented at 50°, until 25 September 2018, when I cold crashed to 36°.
I did a closed transfer to the keg (under CO2 pressure) on 27 October 2018.
Final gravity was 1.012; down from 1.053, this works out to 5.4% abv.
1.053 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 5.4% abv
Brilliantly clear, light yellow beer, with a fine, white, and persistent head
Slight spicy hop aroma, with a pleasant and gentle maltiness behind that
Robust hop character nicely balanced against a grainy/sweet malt profile. Really nice!
Moderately dry, with a smooth finish that tilts toward the hoppy end in a gentle yet firm way.
Would I brew this again?
Absolutely! This has matured into a wonderfully drinkable, really delightful beer. I’m pleased with how such a simple recipe can produce excellent results.
After 10 days in primary, I kegged Old Pine Pale Ale on 12 December 2017. I added the dry hops at this point, in a bag. Depending on how it works out, I may or may not remove the hops. I force carbonated the keg, and had it on tap by 16 December. The brew is pretty hazy at this point, and should clear up with time. Final gravity was 1.012, down from 1.052, working out to 5.2% abv.
My latest iteration of Palaeotis Pils started fermentation on 20 November 2017. It fermented at 50° until 27 November, when I raised the temperature to 54°. I raised the temperature to 66° on 2 December 2017, and cold crashed it on 10 December 2017. I kegged the beer on 16 December 2017. Final gravity was 1.010; with a starting gravity of 1.049, we’re clocking in at 5.1% abv. There is a touch of haze, which I’m going to settle out with time and cold.
I really, really like a good German pils, and have iterated through twobatches previously. Based on what I learned there, I refined the recipe a bit more. I opted for Magnum hops for bittering, Barke pilsner malt (courtesy of a free bag from Weyermann at Homebrew Con), and a return to decoction mashing.
Palaeotis Pils 1.2
8.5 lbs. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
0.6 lb. acidulated malt (Bestmalz)
0.6 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
0.5 tsp. Fermax, 10 minute boil
1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.1% alpha), 5 minute boil
2 pkg. Saflager lager yeast (W34/70)
Double decoction mash, infusion to hit 45 minute rest at 151°, thick decoction to raise temperature to 158°, 10 minute rest, thin decoction to mash out at 168°. Batch sparge.
Water built from R.O., to hit 59.1 ppm Ca, 8.2 ppm Mg, 89 ppm SO4, and 62.9 ppm Cl.
1.046 s.g., 1.008 f.g., 34 IBU, 3.4 SRM, 5.0% abv
I started with RO water for both the mash and sparge. For the mash water, I added 1.65 g gypsum, 1.35 g epsom salt, and 2.1 g CaCl to 4.75 gallons of RO water. For the sparge water, I added the same masses of the salts to 3.8 gallons of RO water.
I mashed in with 4.75 gallons of water at 158°, to hit a 151° mash rest.
After 45 minutes, I pulled 2 gallons of thick decoction, raised to 160° for 10 minutes, boiled for 10 minutes, and then added it back to the mash. This raised the mash to 158°.
After another 10 minutes, I pulled a 1 gallon thin decoction (basically, the first runnings), boiled this for 10 minutes, and added back to the mash tun. After another 10 minutes of settling, I pulled off the first runnings.
Next, I added 3.8 gallons of sparge water at 185°, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then drained the mash tun.
In total, I collected 6.7 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.044–this is 88% efficiency! I added 0.5 gallons of RO water to bring the gravity down to 1.041.
I boiled for 60 minutes, adding the hops and other additions per the schedule. After the boil was complete, I chilled to 80° with my immersion chiller, and then chilled down to 48° overnight in my fermentation chamber.
I brewed the beer on 19 November 2017, and pitched the yeast on 20 November 2017. Fermentation was started at 50°, and raised to 54° on 27 November 2017. Finally, I raised the temperature to 66° on 2 December 2017.
In a week or so, I plan to cold crash and then keg the beer.
Light gold and crystal clear, with a thick white head on the pour that settles to a persistent blanket as I drink the beer. In the image, the condensation on the outside of the glass doesn’t do the beer’s appearance justice!
Light and bready maltiness predominates, with a hint of slightly spicy hops behind that.
Bready maltiness, with a restrained bitterness that builds as I drink the beer. Bitterness is persistent; it is maybe a touch harsh, and I wonder if that is because I used Warrior as the bittering addition?
Moderate body with a slightly dry finish. Carbonation is moderate–as it is pouring at the moment, with a fair bit of foam, I think I am losing some of the carbonation. This will hopefully settle down as the keg matures, as happened with my last keg of this style.
Would I brew this again?
This is decent, but I think I prefer my previous iteration of the recipe. The aroma on that one seemed a little more pronounced–both on the hops and malt side–and I feel like the flavor was just a notch better. I wonder if that was due to the decoction on the first batch? I will probably return to Magnum hops for the bittering addition in the next version of this pilsner; the Warrior hops have an ever so slight harsh edge that is out of place for a delicate pilsner. I’m also going to use a German pilsner malt–I have 10 pounds of Barke Pilsner Malt that might be perfect for this task. The malt character came up as a critique in a recent competition, so I think that’s a fairly easy fix. I’ll also return to WLP830 for the yeast.
I kegged the latest iteration of my Gondwana Pale Ale on 7 June 2017, adding two ounces of dry hops in a baggie at that time. Final gravity was 1.012, down from 1.053, for 5.4% abv.
Initial tastings show that this should be a pretty decent beer. It has a bit to mature yet, in that the yeast haven’t totally settled out and that seems to impart a harshness to the bitterness. I expect this should be much improved by the time I get back from Homebrew Con.
After brewing this beer on 20 May 2017, I started it at 50° and then let it ferment at 54° after a few days. I raised the temperature to 64° on 1 June, and then cold-crashed to 33° on 7 June 2017.
I kegged this beer today (11 June 2017). It has a final gravity of 1.011, down from 1.048, for 4.7% abv. At the time of kegging, I also added 1 tsp. of gelatin dissolved in 3/4 cup of water and heated to 152°, as a fining agent.
This beer tastes and smells amazing–I anticipate that it’s going to be a fine brew once it is clear and carbonated! Everything is on-point, and it’s a nice change after the disappointment on my Bohemian pilsner.