Palaeotis Pils 1.1

Time for another batch…this time, a retool of my German pils. Compared to the last round, I have changed just about everything, although the overall base malt is basically the same. To speed my brew day along, I’m not doing a decoction. Instead, I’m rounding out the malt bill with a little bit of melanoidin malt.

Palaeotis Pils

  • 8.5 lbs. floor-malted Bohemian pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 5 oz. melanoidin malt (Weyermann)
  • 3 oz. acidulated malt (BestMalz)
  • 0.3 oz. Warrior hop pellets (15.0% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Liberty hop pellets (4.9% alpha), 30 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Tettnang hop pellets (3.5% alpha), 30 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Liberty hop pellets (4.9% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Tettnang hop pellets (3.5% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 2 packages lager yeast (Fermentis W34/70)

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 150°. 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.
  • 1.048 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 4.9% abv, 34 IBU, 4 SRM, 5 gallons into fermenter

Procedure

  • For this recipe, I built my water to match the “Pilsner Water” profile on Braukaiser. For the 3.1 gallons of mash water, I added 1.2 g of gypsum, 1.2 g of epsom salt, and 1.5 g of calcium chloride. For the 5.5 gallons of sparge water, I added 2.1 g of gypsum, 1.7 g of epsom salt, and 2.7 g of calcium chloride.
  • I mashed in with 3.1 gallons of water at 160° to hit 150°, and let it rest for 60 minutes. After 35 minutes, the mash temperature had fallen to 148°.
  • After a 60 minute mash, I added 1.75 gallons of water at 200° to raise the mash temperature to to 160°. I 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 remainder of the runnings.
  • In total, I had 7.1 gallons of mash runnings at a gravity of 1.039, for 82% efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, and added the hops and other ingredients per the schedule.
  • After 90 minutes, I chilled the wort down to 75°, transferred the wort while aerating, put the fermenter into the fermentation chamber, and let it cool down to 50° before pitching the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.048, nearly precisely on target. I started fermentation at 50°, and raised it to 54° after four days. I brewed the beer on 20 May 2017.

Competition Results: Palaeotis Pils and Take Two Vienna Lager

I submitted my recent Vienna lager and German pils for the 2017 Romancing the Beer Competition, hosted by Thousand Oaked Homebrewers. I was pretty happy with these beers, and was pleased to see that the judges agreed! Take Two Vienna Lager earned an honorable mention in the Amber and Dark Euro Lagers category (out of 15 entries), and Palaeotis Pils placed third in the Euro Lagers category (out of 18 entries).

Let’s take a look at the overall results, and see how they stack up against my own tastings!

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Take Two Vienna Lager

This beer averaged 37.5 (from scores of 37 and 38), falling at the upper end of the “very good” range by the BJCP guidelines.

Overall, the judges thought it hit most of the notes for the style. Hops were noted as nicely balanced against the malt. I was curious to see that the judges were split on mouthfeel–one thought it was pretty much perfect for the style, and the other scored it as slightly thin and watery. Similarly, the judges were split on the maltiness–one thought it was right on point, and the other thought it a bit lacking.

One judge picked up slight estery notes (or possible acetaldehyde). I suspect that this corresponds with a brief period in early fermentation when I lost temperature control due to a power outage.

Based on my tasting, it’s interesting that the recipe doesn’t terribly fit what I like in a Vienna lager (in terms of just a little bit too malty and roasty) compared with what the judges liked in a Vienna lager. I won’t likely brew this recipe again, but I am tempted now to brew something for competition more in line with my preference and see what happens!

Palaeotis Pils

I’m really proud of how this beer turned out. It came across really well on my personal tasting, and was absolutely enjoyable when it was on tap. It may not have won top tier in the category, but the judges comments make me feel like I’m on the right track. The beer averaged 38 (individual scores of 37 and 39), right at the base of the “excellent” score range.

Aroma scored well, although both judges said they were looking for a little more malt character. In terms of the hop aroma, both seemed okay with it (but one noted their perception of a tiny hint of vegetal character and that the overall hop aroma was a bit heavy). Appearance was nailed, and flavor was also pretty solid, with a balance between hops and malt. Interestingly, one judge noted perfect carbonation and the other thought it was a bit low. One thought the finish could be a touch more crisp.

So, if I brew this again, what should I change? I might add a touch of melanoidin malt, or else I might perhaps lengthen the overall decoctions. Another option might be to use a different base malt–perhaps one of the “standard” offerings from Weyermann rather than the Bohemian floor-malted version. I would probably also reduce my late hop just a touch, to about 2/3 or 3/4 of what it was originally. And, I suppose I would reduce the bitterness a tiny bit, too–maybe down to 28 or 30 IBU rather than 34. This would let the malt shine through a bit more. Another alternative (and something I might try) would be to up the overall malt bill and initial gravity a tad. I suppose I could carbonate more strongly or package more carefully, too, but given the split judging assessment, I’m not too worried about it yet.

I’ll be trying a slightly modified version of recipe again soon!

Lager / Pils Update

vienna_lagerThings have been moving along on my latest Vienna lager (Take Two Vienna Lager) and German pils (Palaeotis Pils). The two beers are in the same fermentation chamber; because the pils was brewed most recently, the temperature control regimen has been dictated by that batch.

For these brews, I elected to use a fast lager schedule. The pils was brewed on 9 December, with a starting gravity of 1.048. When I checked the beer on 16 December, the gravity was down to 1.020. At 57% apparent attenuation, this exceeded the recommended 50% threshold for temperature ramp-up, so I was clear to go. I didn’t bother to check on the Vienna lager, because it had been in there for a week extra and high krausen had long since passed. So, I figured it was more than safe to ramp that one up too.

At this point, I turned off the fermentation chamber to let things free-rise for the first day. Because my garage temperature was fairly cool, the temperature in the fermentation chamber hadn’t exceeded 55° after 24 hours. So, I added the heating pad and set the temperature for 68°. The temperature probe was loose, so that it would sense ambient temperature in the chamber, for a slower rise in the fermenters themselves than if the probe was attached to a fermenter directly.

I checked the pils again on 24 December, at which point the gravity was 1.011, and this was unchanged two days later (5% abv, with the 1.048 starting gravity). The Vienna lager (depicted in the photo) was at a final gravity of 1.013 (5.1% abv, following a starting gravity of 1.052). So, on 26 December I set the fermentation chamber to 34°, still leaving the temperature probe loose so as to ensure a slower temperature drop in the fermenters. I filled the airlocks with vodka, to avoid having the sanitizer water sucked in as things cooled.

After 24 hours of cold-crashing, I added gelatin, with 1/2 tsp. in a half cup of water for each batch. I’ll let things settle for a few more days before kegging and carbonating.

Palaeotis Pils

pilsner_maltOn my continued quest to learn brewing grains in depth, I recently purchased a 55 lb. sack of Weyermann’s floor-malted Bohemian pilsner malt. This is the same stuff I used for my Lithographica Pilsner, and is cool on a scientific level because the grains are malted on floors made of Solnhofen Limestone (more details here).

For my first brew with this sack of malt, I elected on doing a German pils. That’s a new style for me, and also can be brewed with a minimum complexity of ingredients (I’m really gravitating towards those sorts of simple recipes).

The name for the batch honors an important fossil bird from the Messel pits of Germany, around 47 million years old. Palaeotis is potentially an early ratite, a member of the group of birds including ostriches and emus.

Palaeotis Pils

  • 8.5 lbs. floor-malted Bohemian pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.21 lb. acidulated malt
  • 0.6 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. German Hallertau hop pellets (3.2% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • German lager yeast (White Labs WLP830), prepared in 1.7L starter

Target Parameters

  • Double decoction mash, 10 minute rest at 122°, infusion to hit 60 minute rest at 148°, thick decoction to raise temperature to 154°, 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.
  • 1.045 o.g., 1.008 f.g., 4.9% abv, 34 IBU, 3 SRM, 5 gallons into fermenter

Procedure

  • Five days in advance (4 December 2016), I made a 1.75 L starter for my yeast culture. After two days on the stir plate, I cold-crashed the starter.
  • For this recipe, I built my water to match the “Pilsner Water” profile on Braukaiser. For the 3.6 gallons of mash water, I added 1.4 g of gypsum, 1.1 g of epsom salt, and 1.8 g of calcium chlorie. For the 5 gallons of sparge water, I added 1.9 g of gypsum, 1.6 g of epsom salt, and 2.5 g of calcium chloride.
  • I mashed in with 2.25 gallons of water at 134° to hit 126°, and left it for a 10 minute protein rest.
  • Next I added 5.25 quarts of water at 197°, to hit a mash temperature of 149° (after a bit of stirring).
  • After 50 minutes, I pulled a thick decoction of 7 quarts. I heated it to 154°, let it rest for 10 minutes, and brought to a boil for 10 minutes. The decoction addition brought the mash up to 156. I let the mash rest for 10 more minutes.
  • Next, I pulled 1 gallon of wort for a thin decoction, boiled it for 10 minutes, and returned it to the mash. This raised the temperature up to around 168°.
  • I pulled the first runnings, and added the 5 gallons of sparge water. After 10 minutes and a vorlauf, I collected the remainder of the wort. I had around 7 gallons, so added 0.25 gallons of water to bring up the volume to my target.
  • In total, I had 7.25 gallons of mash runnings at a gravity of 1.038, for 84% efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, and added the hops and other ingredients per the schedule. I added 0.25 gallons of RO water during the boil, to top things up and keep the gravity from getting too high.
  • After 60 minutes, I chilled the wort down to 70°, transferred the wort while aerating, put the fermenter into the fermentation chamber, and pitched the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.048, a touch above my target of 1.045. I will be fermenting this at 52°. I brewed the beer on 9 December 2016.

Beer Tasting: Packrat Porter

  • The Basics
    • Starting gravity = 1.054; final gravity = 1.017; abv = 5.1%; estimated IBU = 38
  • Aroma
    • Lots of malty aroma, with a grainy and roasty character to it. I don’t pick up much in the way of hops or yeast esters.
  • Appearance
    • The beer is deep brown in gross examination. When held up to the light, a deep ruby tinge is quite apparent, as well as excellent clarity. It’s very pretty! The head is beige, fine, and moderately low, with excellent retention during the course of consumption. 
  • Flavor
    • The beer is malt-forward, with a primarily grainy and chocolate character backed up by roasty notes (in the overall same ballpark as the aroma). The bitterness is moderate and smooth, but not overwhelming.
  • Mouthfeel
    • The beer has a moderate body and a pleasant, fine carbonation with a slightly creamy sensation. The finish is relatively dry and tasty. 
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! For something that was thrown together from odds-and-ends, it turned out exceptionally well. Although I am unlikely to duplicate this exact recipe ever again, I think the overall ‘feel’ is a definite winner. The beer is a solid improvement on my last porter, most probably in my choice of a less attenuative English ale yeast as well as a healthy addition of flaked oats, which added some needed body over the previous recipe. I would note that this probably is best classified as a “hybrid porter”–the starting gravity is a bit higher than conventional for an English porter and the graininess is apparently slightly out of character, but it’s not quite aggressive enough to be an American porter (no ‘burnt’ characteristics and the hops are fairly tame). Ignoring the BJCP, though, it’s a great beer! I would definitely brew a simplified version of the recipe (cut the micro-additions of various grain sample packs), or perhaps even switch it up by using Maris Otter for the base malt.
  • Overall rating
    • 8.5/10