Thursday, 8 March 2012

Tasting/Recipe : Doomsday Pilsner

I seem to be on a bit of a lager-roll lately, what with the posting of several lagers I've brewed in the past, and the recent brewdays of both a Munich Dunkel and a Doppelbock. Despite all this, I actually have very little experience homebrewing lagers; however, having a fermentation chamber really opens up the door to a whole new section of brewing that is just downright difficult, if not impossible to do otherwise.

One of the last homebrewed lagers I have left to mention is a Bohemian Pilsner that I brewed last spring. Probably the most well-known and readily available of this style is Pilsner Urquell, originally brewed in Pilsen, Germany since the 19th century. Bohemian Pilsners are generally quite balanced between a complex malt-profile and a soft bitterness. Their FG is higher than German Pilsners, which generally feature a crisper bitterness. I've had several of this style of beer over the past couple of years, and I was interested in trying to homebrew one of the same. I find beers of this type much more difficult to brew compared to your IPAs and other hop-heavy beers; such a clean and refreshing style really doesn't have too much to hide behind if there are any flaws.

A fairly simple recipe, it featured a high majority of Bohemian Pilsner malt, with a touch of Carapils for added body. Several Czech Saaz hop additions provide the hop flavor and bitterness... Saaz is definitely the go-to hop for the majority of Pilsner recipes. I was able to special-order the Wyeast 2001 Urquell Lager, which is the house strain for Pilsner Urquell - well, at least as close as you can get without propogating a yeast culture from the actual beer yourself.

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-sized, white, dense head that lasts for awhie before fading to a thin film. Body is a light-golden color, with very-good clarity.

Aroma: Nice light, bready malt aroma, with a floral Saaz background. The Saaz isn’t as up-and-center as I’d like it to be, but it’s still noticeable and restrained. Clean, no diacetyl.

Taste: Grainy flavor from the Pils malt, with some light maltiness present. Could be richer and more complex. Clean, no diacetyl noted. Some light spicy/floral flavor from the hops, and a moderate-light bitterness in the finish. Could be a bit more bitter, but the bitterness that is there IS rounded, as the style calls for.

Mouthfeel: Body is medium-light, with medium carbonation.

Overall: A pretty-good representation of the style, I think. If I brewed it again I'd probably add a bit more Saaz in the late addition for some more hop aroma, and maybe even a bit more in the bittering addition as well. A beer like this would also probably benefit from the addition of some sort of fining agent, to get that crystal-clear clarity you expect to see.

Recipe: (5.5 gallons, 78% efficiency): OG 1.055, FG 1.013, IBU 44.3, SRM 3.7

4.43 kg Bohemian Pilsner
341 g Carapils

Saaz - 30 g (5.5% AA) @ 60 min
Saaz - 37 g @ 30 min
Saaz - 28 g @ 10 min
Saaz - 28 g @ 0 min

1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min
1/2 tab Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 2001 Urquell Lager (PD March 29/11) (with a 1.75 L and 2 L starter)

- Brewed May 3rd, 2011, by myself. 60 minute mash with 16.8 L of strike water, mashed in at 154 F. Sparged with ~5 gallons of 180 F water for final volume of 7.25 gallons in the kettle. 90 minute boil.

- Chilled down to 50 F with immersion chiller. Poured into Better Bottle. Pitched decanted yeast starter, aerating by shaking for several minutes before and after. Set BB in fermentation chamber with temp set at 50 F. After 10 days or so of fermentation, took carboy out of freezer to raise temp for a diacetyl rest (got up to 68 F).

- Racked to secondary and began slowly decreasing fermentation chamber temperature to final lagering temp of 38 F. Lagered for two months before bottling with 119 g table sugar, aiming for 2.5 vol C02 for 5 gallons.

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