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

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

Dog Days Pilsner

As the summer reached its peak of heat near the end of August, pilsners were always on my mind. There’s nothing more refreshing than sitting out on the patio at the end of an afternoon, with a Willi Becher of freshly poured pilsner. I find that a good pilsner with some character can also work as a fall beer…basically, a classic German pils is the year-round beer in my world!

So, during the Dog Days of Summer, I crafted this Dog Days Pilsner recipe. I kept the malt bill super simple, with pilsner malt and a touch of CaraPils to round out the mouthfeel. Although I often go for a SMaSH-type strategy for hopping, this time I wanted to build up some layers of hop character. Finally, I wanted a little more yeast character, so went with the White Labs’ Oktoberfest/Marzen recipe, instead of my usual W34/70. Those strategies paid off nicely in the end!

Dog Days Pilsner

  • 9.5 lb. Pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 6 oz. Carapils malt (Weyermann)
  • 4 oz. acidulated malt (BestMalz)
  • 1 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Saaz hop pellets (5.3% alpha), 20 minute boil
  • 0.55 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (3.2% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 WhirlFloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Octoberfest/Marzen lager yeast (WLP 820), in 1.75L vitality starter

Target Parameters

  • 1.046 s.g., 1.015 f.g., 4.1% abv, 3 SRM, 37 IBU
  • Infusion mash, 155°, batch sparge; 60 minute boil
  • Claremont water, adjusted with lactic acid and gypsum to achieve 66 ppm Ca, 30 ppm Mg, 81 ppm Na, 107 ppm SO4, 90 ppm Cl, est. 30 ppm HCO3; alkalinity 25 ppm, effective hardness 65 ppm, RA -40 ppm

Procedure

  • The morning of my brew day, I spooled up a 1.75L vitality starter for the yeast, and ran it on my stir plate.
  • To prepare my water, I added 9 mL 88% lactic acid to 8.25 gallons of tap water along with a Campden tablet, and then 4g gypsum. This was done to knock out the carbonates and approximate a target of 66 ppm Ca, 30 ppm Mg, 81 ppm Na, 107 ppm SO4, 90 ppm Cl, est. 30 ppm HCO3; alkalinity 25 ppm, effective hardness 65 ppm, RA -40 ppm.
  • I mashed in with 3.5 gallons of water at 162°. Mash temp was a bit low at 151.5°, so I added 3 quarts of water at 178°, to hit 155.5°. I added 0.75 mL of 88% lactic acid to the mash, to lower pH to an estimated target of ~5.45.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 0.75 gallons of water at 185°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed and then collected the first runnings. I added the remainder of the sparge water, and collected second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.8 gallons of runnings at 1.043, for ~77% efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and kettle finings per the schedule. After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the heat and chilled down to 85° with my cooling coil. I transferred to the fermenter and cooled the rest of the way (~52°) in the fermentation chamber. This final chill took around six hours.
  • I gave the wort a 30 second blast of pure oxygen, and then pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed the beer on 15 August 2020, and started fermentation at 54°.
  • I raised the temperature to 56° on 31 August, 58° on 2 September, and then 60° on 4 September. I held it at 60° for 12 hours, and then started the downward trend. It was at 57° on 5 September, 50° on 6 September, 45° on 7 September, 40° on 8 September, and 35° on 9 September. The final step was down to 32° on 10 September, and I held it there until kegging on 26 September 2020.
  • The final gravity was 1.011, down from 1.049, for 5.0% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Clear, just shy of brilliant. Light gold color, with a fine and persistent white head.
  • Aroma
    • Moderate level of malt aroma comes through, with a grainy sweet character. The hops come across amazingly, with a moderately prominent floral quality.
  • Flavor
    • Moderate grainy-sweet malt character–just gorgeous! The bitterness is moderately high, with a clean and slightly herbal character.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderately light body, with a crisp and slightly dry finish and moderate carbonation.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a really nice pilsner. The aroma and malt character are perfect. I can’t think of much I would change with this one, other than letting it lager a touch more before it goes on tap. In the last part of the keg that I’m on right now, it’s looking really nice!
    • My typical German pils recipes are on the upper end of bitterness for the style (37 IBU here, versus 40 max in the BJCP guidelines). At some point, I should probably play around with recipes at the lower end of the IBU spectrum…
  • Overall
    • 9.5 / 10 (slight ding for initial clarity)

Mow the Damn Lawn, Farke

golden beer with frothy white head in clear glass, held by hand

This is probably one of the most memorable homebrew recipe names out there, at least for me. “Mow the Damn Lawn,” by Annie Johnson, took the gold medal at the 2013 National Homebrew Competition, and helped propel Johnson to 2013 Homebrewer of the Year. It’s intended to be a flavorful but highly drinkable “lawnmower beer,” and I’ve wanted to brew it for some time now! And what better time to do so than a SoCal summer?

The original recipe is posted at the Homebrewers Association website, and I made a few minor modifications for ingredients on-hand. I left the basic malt bill unchanged, with ~80% 2-row and ~20% flaked rice. I subbed in Mt. Hood as an American version of Hallertauer, and used a re-pitch of Que Bueno Imperial Yeast L09 instead of an American lager yeast (WLP840). So, it’s not exactly the same beer, but I think it’s certainly close to the spirit of the recipe. I’ve thus augmented the recipe name slightly, to emphasize that any flaws are mine and not the original recipe designer’s.

Mow The Damn Lawn, Farke

  • 8.5 lb. 2-row premium malt (Great Western)
  • 2 lb. flaked rice
  • 2 oz. rice hulls
  • 1 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 repitch of Que Bueno yeast (Imperial Yeast #L09)

Target Parameters

  • 1.046 o.g., 1.008 f.g., 15 IBU, 3 SRM, 5.0% abv
  • 148° infusion mash, 60 minutes, batch sparge
  • Claremont tap water, alkalinity neutralized by 88% lactic acid, with CaCl added to the boil, to produce final profile of 54 Ca, 17 Mg, 7 Na, 50 SO4, 118 Cl, 25 HCO3, 49 hardness, -49 RA

Procedure

  • To 9 gallons of local tap water, I added 8 mL of 88% lactic acid and 1/2 Campden tablet. This knocked total alkalinity down to 25 ppm, based upon a quick water test.
  • I heated 3.75 gallons of water to 157°, and mashed into hit a target temperature of 149°. I added 2.5 mL of 88% lactic acid, to adjust pH.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 1.4 gallons of water at 185°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
  • Next, I added 3.75 gallons of water at ~185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the rest of the runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.65 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.039, for 79% efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and finings per the schedule.
  • After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat, chilled, transferred to the fermenter, and chilled the rest of the way, down to ~48°.
  • Once the beer was chilled, I oxygenated with pure O2 for 30 seconds and pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 20 June 2020, and fermented at 49° for the first 5 days. There was fermentation activity visible within 12 hours, and really vigorous activity during the first few days.
  • I notched the fermentation chamber up to 50° on 25 June 2020, and let it free rise to 54° on July 1. I let it rise to 58° on July 3, and then 60° on July 4. Over several days, I dropped to 55° (July 5), 50° (July 6), 45° and then 40° (July 7), 35° (July 8), and 33° on July 9.
  • I kegged the beer on 17 July 2020; it was still pretty hazy at this point. Final gravity was 1.010, for 4.7% abv. I conditioned at 33° for a few weeks, before putting the beer on tap.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Nearly brilliantly clear, medium yellow in color, with a tall, creamy, and persistent white head. The head on this is seriously amazing–almost too amazing, because it takes a bit to pour a full glass of this stuff.
  • Aroma
    • Fresh, grainy aroma, with just a little bit of spicy hop note behind that. Very clean yeast character.
  • Flavor
    • Malty sweet flavor at the forefront, with a wonderfully rounded malt profile. The hop level is fairly even against the malt, and the hop level is just bitter enough to keep the beer from being overly sweet. The finish has a subtle bitterness to it, without being too much.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, moderate carbonation. Crisp finish without being too dry. Carbonation could be a bit higher for the style, but it does lose a little bit when poured .
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! This is a very flavorful light lager, that is incredibly easy to drink. This accolades for this recipe are indeed deserved. The only thing I might change, and this is a bit of a personal preference, would be to dial back the 2-row to both lighten the flavor a touch more and also reduce the alcohol level. I really would like this as a sub-4.5% beer. It would be interesting to try this with W34/70 or the American lager yeast in the original recipe, which I suspect would dial back the malt character a touch versus the Mexican lager yeast that I used here.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

Schell’s Pils Clone 1.1

Last year, one of my favorite recipes was a clone of Schell’s Pils, a German-style pilsner from Minnesota using 2-row malt rather than pilsner malt. I decided to have another go at this recipe, but with a few minor modifications in the ingredients.

Schell’s Pils Clone 1.1

  • 11.5 lb. 2-row malt (Great Western)
  • 0.25 lb. Carapils malt (Briess)
  • 1 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), first wort hopping and 60 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 20 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 repitch of German lager yeast (White Labs WLP830)

Target Parameters

  • 1.052 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 5.4% abv, 38 IBU, 4 SRM
  • 60 minute infusion mash, 152°, batch sparge
  • Water built up from RO, to hit target water profile of 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 ppm SO4, 63 ppm Cl; RA=-47ppm

Procedure

  • I built up my RO water with 1.86 g CaCl, 1.45 g gypsum, and 1.2 g Epsom salt in total with 8.5 gallons of RO water.
  • I mashed in with 4 gallons of water at 163.5°, to hit a mash temperature of around 152°. After 60 minutes, I added 1.1 gallons of water at ~185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
  • I next added ~3.6 gallons of water, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.25 gallons of runnings with a graviy of 1.045, for 77% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding the hops, nutrient, and finings per the schedule.
  • After a 60 minute boil, I chilled the wort down to ~75°, and transferred to the fermenter.
  • I chilled the wort in my fermentation chamber down to 49°, oxygenated with 30 seconds of pure O2, and pitched a culture of yeast from a previous batch (my Crystal Pils, harvested about 6 weeks prior).
  • I fermented at 52°, for just under a month.
  • Starting gravity was 1.053, on 7 March 2020.
  • I didn’t change the temperature at all during the duration of fermentation, figuring that any lingering off-flavors would be cleaned up during this time.
  • I kegged the beer on 4 April 2020. Final gravity was 1.010, for 5.7% abv.

Tasting

golden beer with white head in conical pilsner glass
  • Appearance
    • Thick white head, pretty persistent. It pours well, and sticks around, too. The beer itself is light yellow and pretty clear (but not quite brilliant).
  • Aroma
    • Lightly spicy hop character, slight grainy-sweet malt character.
  • Flavor
    • Definitely hop dominant, with an assertive hop presence that is on the tongue well after finishing the sip. Malt character is smooth and slightly doughy, but definitely in the background…almost too much so.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Off-dry, moderately high carbonation, with a lingering bitter finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • For my tastes, I liked the first batch much better. This version is still a pretty good German pils, but definitely a touch more bitter than I care for in this style. It just overwhelms the malt too much. I think I’ll go back to my hopping schedule from the previous version. The hop/malt balance was just better in that one. I’ll still keep the dry-hop out, though. I also wonder if changing from Rahr to Great Western for the malt made a difference?
  • Overall: 6.5/10