Pre-Prohibition Lager

Continuing my journey through the world of lagers, I decided to try a new version of a Pre-Prohibition lager. I’ve made something from this style range before, during my first foray into lagers, and it turned out pretty well. For the current batch, I used a blend of pilsner and 2-row malt to achieve a bit of complexity, layering in some flaked corn to give the “American” component. I got some Triumph hops in a HOPBOX selection, and thought this would be well suited for my American lager. Triumph is an American hop with European parentage, including some noble hops, and it is supposed to bring some noble characteristics along with delicate fruit qualities.

Pre-Prohibition Lager

  • 6.5 lb. Pilsner Malt (Viking)
  • 4 lb. 2-row malt (Rahr)
  • 1 lb. flaked corn
  • 0.25 lb. rice hulls
  • 0.5 oz. Triumph hop pellets (7.9% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Triumph hop pellets (7.9% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. BruTahB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Triumph hop pellets (7.9% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Diamond lager yeast (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 1.051 s.g., 1.008 f.g., 28 IBU, 5.7% abv, 4 SRM
  • Full volume Hochhurz mash, 45 minutes at 144°, 45 minutes at 10 minutes at 160°, 10 minute mash-out at 168°
  • Water built from scratch to hit 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 pm SO4, 63 ppm Cl, -47 ppm RA

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 heated the water in the Foundry to 150°, and added the grains to hit a mash temperature of 144°. I added 1.5 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust pH slightly. I held the mash at 144° with recirculation for 45 minutes, and then raised the temperature to 160°, holding it here for 45 minutes also. Finally, I raised the mash to 168° and held it here for a 10 minute mash-out.
  • After the mash-out, I removed the grain basket and brought the runnings to a boil. I collected 6.3 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.048, for 71% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the beer to a boil, aiming for 60 minutes, adding hops and such per the recipe. My Foundry had an issue mid-boil (the power switch was starting to burn out),so it took a bit of work to limp the boil through to the end. I adjusted the length of the boil time slightly to compensate.
  • After approximately 60 minutes of total boil, I turned off the heat and chilled to ~68°, before transferring to the fermenter and chilling down to 48° in the fermentation chamber. I then pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed the beer on 14 February 2022, and fermented at 52°. Starting gravity was 1.053.
  • I kegged the beer on 8 April 2022. Final gravity was 1.013, for 5.3% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Brilliantly clear, light yellow beer with moderately persistent head. The head pours fairly thick, but thins out after awhile.
  • Aroma
    • Clean! Slight grainy/corn profile; not much hop character, although there is a bit of a spice hop note.
  • Flavor
    • Malty/grainy, with light corn flavor; moderately high bitterness, but not much for hop character otherwise.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Fairly crisp finish, with moderate carbonation. Medium body. Very smooth drinking!
  • Would I brew this again?
    • YES! This is a nice version of the style; I suppose it doesn’t hit all of the BJCP style notes, but it really is a pretty awesome American lager. A touch more hop aroma would be nice, but not mandatory.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

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

Mow the Damn Lawn, Farke

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)

Target Parameters

  • 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

Procedure

hand holding willi becher glass of yellow beer with white head
  • 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.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • 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.
  • Aroma
    • Light malty sweetness with a very very slight green apple character (virtually imperceptible), and a crisp, faint hop spice note
  • Flavor
    • 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.
  • Mouthfeel
    • 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.
  • Overall
    • 6.5/10

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