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.
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
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.
Light yellow, very clear (nearly brilliant), with a fairly persistent white head
Delicate malt aroma with a grainy character and light honey-sweet quality. A very low floral hop aroma. Very nice and clean fermentation character!
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!
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.
I brewed this American lager recipe last summer, and thought I’d give it another go to close out the warm months here. The 2021 version is nearly identical, just with a small hop swap as well as water built (mostly) from scratch.
Mow the Damn Lawn, Farke
8.5 lb. 2-row malt (Great Western, California Select)
2 lb. flaked rice
4 oz. rice hulls
0.6 oz. Vanguard hop pellets (6.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 tsp. BruTanB, 10 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
1 tsp. yeast nutrient (WLN1000), 5 minute boil
2 pkg. Saflager Lager Yeast (W34/70)
1.046 s.g., 1.008 f.g., 5.0% abv, 14 IBU, 4 SRM
148° full volume infusion mash, 75 minutes, with 10 minute mash-out at 168°
Water built from 6 gallons RO and 1.5 gallons Claremont tap water, to produce a water of 7 ppm Ca, 2 ppm Mg, 19 ppm Na, 10 ppm sulfate, 21 ppm Cl, 31 ppm bicarbonate, 26 ppm alkalinity; 19 ppm RA
The night before brewing, I set in the water by mixing 1.5 gallon of tap water with 6 gallons of RO water and a quarter of a Campden tablet, to that it would all be ready to go in the morning.
I heated the strike water to 153°, and hit a mash temperature of 148°. I recirculated at this temperature for 75 minutes, noting that the top of the mash read at 147.5°; I was pretty happy with this.
After the mash, I heated to 168° for 10 minutes, and then pulled out the grain basket.
In total, I had 6.75 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.038, for 68% mash efficiency.
I brought the kettle to a boil, boiling for 30 minutes before adding the hops, in order to bring the gravity up a bit. Then, I boiled for another 60 minutes while adding hops and finings per the recipe.
After the full 90 minute boil, I chilled the wort to 75°, and transferred to the fermenter for the final chill to 48° in the fermentation chamber. Finally, I pitched the yeast directly and let it free rise to 52°.
I brewed the beer on 19 June 2021, fermenting at 52°. Starting gravity was 1.044.
I cold crashed the beer on 10 July 2021, and kegged it on 14 August 2021.
Final gravity was 1.009, which works out to 4.6% abv.
The beer was surprisingly hazy at the time of kegging, especially after over a month of lagering.
I tasted the beer on 17 August 2021, and it was an acetaldehyde bomb. Ugh. This was a surprise to me, because it had plenty of time to clean up (two months since brewing). I’m not sure why this was; maybe it hadn’t actually cleaned up because I skipped a diacetyl rest? I’ve gotten away without it before, though, and as mentioned it sat on the yeast for plenty of time. My other thought is that maybe if the airlock dried out a bit, this introduced some oxygen and created more acetaldehyde. In any case, I pulled the beer out to room temperature (~75°), and let it sit there for a few days, with occasional keg purges to outgas any unpleasantness, before re-chilling. It still had a decent bit of green apple when I tasted a week later, but it was much improved. After two more weeks, any acetaldehyde had faded to virtually nothing. In any case, a slight green apple quality is acceptable in the American lager style, so let’s just pretend that I meant to do this.
Very clear, nearly brilliantly so, with a light yellow color. It pours with a creamy and tall white head that subsides to a modestly persistent thin rim.
Light malty sweetness with a very very slight green apple character (virtually imperceptible), and a crisp, faint hop spice note
Low level of maltiness and light sweetness, and a moderately low and clean bitterness. As with the aroma, there is a very faint green apple character, which has faded considerably since the early days on tap. It is a very drinkable beer.
Light body, moderate carbonation, and slightly dry finish.
Would I brew this again?
This is a pretty good beer, which is fun as an experiment to see if I can pull off a light, high-adjunct beer. It’s certainly quite drinkable in decent quantity during a hot day, so I’ve hit that goal quite well. It’s not the most exciting beer ever, but then again that’s not what I was aiming for. I’m a bit disappointed by the heavy acetaldehyde in initial servings, and I don’t quite know what led to that. I suspect it was a combination of things, and will likely do a higher temperature fermentation rest on future batches.
This is another rebrew of anotherfavorite recipe. I seem to be doing this a lot lately! My Munich Dunkel is a wonderfully drinkable dark lager, and this year’s version was no exception.
10 lb. Munich II malt (Weyermann)
0.5 lb. Carafa Special II malt (Weyermann)
6 oz. melanoidin malt (Weyermann)
0.5 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
2 pkg. W34/70 yeast (Fermentis)
1.050 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 5.1% abv, 24 IBU, 23 SRM
60 minute full volume mash at 152°, with mash-out at 168°
Claremont tap water
I mashed in with 7.25 gallons of water at 158°, to hit a mash temperature of 152°. I held it here, with recirculation, for 60 minutes. Then, I raised the temperature to 168° for 10 minutes, before removing the grains and bringing the kettle to a boil.
In total, I collected 6.25 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.043, for 66% mash efficiency.
I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and finings per the recipe.
After the boil, I chilled, transferred, and chilled down to 50° before pitching the yeast. I let the beer free rise to 52° for fermentation.
I brewed this beer on 8 May 2021. Starting gravity was 1.048.
I let the beer free rise to 60° on 24 May, and then cold crashed to 33° on 26 May 2021.
I kegged the beer on 29 May 2021, and it had a gravity of 1.017, for 4.0% abv.
The beer is brilliantly clear, and pours with a persistent, creamy, and tan head. The color of the beer itself is deep brown, with deep ruby highlights when viewed on edge.
The aroma is toasty and chocolatey, with a clean character.
Amazing! A chocolate character is prominent, with a deep toasted, malty, bread crust character to the malt. The malt aspect is rich, yet not overwhelming. Bitterness is moderate, making this a very drinkable beer.
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 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
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
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.
This is a light gold/yellow beer that pours brilliantly clear, with a persistent creamy head.
The beer has a light, spicy hop note, and a crackery malt note.
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.
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.
I like a good steam beer (a.k.a. California common) every once in awhile, and I last made a batch back in 2015. I hadn’t thought it was that long ago, but my notes don’t lie! This year’s version was largely the same recipe, but made with the base malts and caramel malts I had on hand. As before, this batch parallels recipes from BYOand Zymurgy, with only the most minor modifications.
Clonal Common 2021
9.5 lb. Viking 2-row Xtra pale malt
1 lb. Viking caramel 100 (crystal 40 equivalent)
0.5 lb. special roast malt (Briess)
1.15 oz. Northern Brewer hop pellets (7.3% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
0.85 oz. Northern Brewer hop pellets (7.3% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
1 pkg. San Francisco Lager yeast (WLP810), prepared in 1L vitality starter
1.049 s.g., 1.015 f.g., 4.5% abv, 34 IBU, 9 SRM
Claremont tap water, treated with Campden tablet to remove chlorine
Full volume infusion mash at 152°, 60 minutes
On the morning of my brew session, I made a 1L vitality starter to kick-start the yeast.
I heated 7.25 gallons of water up to 158°, to hit a 152° mash temperature target. I held it here for 60 minutes, before raising to and holding at 168° for 10 minutes. I added a bit of 88% lactic acid to the mash, to adjust pH.
I removed the grain basket, and noted 6.5 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.045, for 72% mash efficiency.
Next, I brought the runnings to a boil, boiling for 60 minutes and adding the hops and kettle finings per the recipe. At the end of this, I turned off the heat and whirlpooled (with circulation) for 10 minutes with the whirlpool hop addition.
I chilled the wort, transferred it to the fermenter, and then chilled it down to 60° in the fermentation chamber before pitching the yeast.
I brewed this beer on 24 April 2021, and fermented at 60° for the first week. I pulled it out to finish up at ambient on 1 May 2021, and it looked like fermentation was pretty much done by this point.
I kegged the beer on 9 May 2021. It had a final gravity of 1.015, for 4.6% abv. I hit my numbers pretty well for this batch!
Deep gold/light amber color, and very clear, approaching brilliant. The beer pours with a creamy ivory head that is quite persistent. Overall, though, this batch is just a touch lighter in coor than is appropriate by the BJCP style guide.
The beer has a light caramel aroma, with a slight “woody” hop character as appropriate for this style.
This has a moderately high level of bitterness and a nice woody character to the hop flavor. This one tastes moderately malty with a light caramel note and a slight bit of toastiness. Yeast character is very clean. Overall, this one tilts towards bitterness rather than maltiness.
Medium-light body and moderate level of carbonation, with a clean, off-dry finish.
Would I brew this again?
Overall, this is a pretty nice California Common! There’s not much to say otherwise; I think the overall recipe is pretty well locked in. If I wanted to be a stickler for BJCP guidelines, I should adjust the color slightly with a bit of Carafa Special III or something like that. I also wouldn’t mind a tiny hint of fruitiness in the yeast character, and thus might try fermenting at a slightly higher temperature next time. All that aside, I’m pleased with this one!