Czech Premium Pale Lager 2017

>> Sunday, June 11, 2017

Today I'm brewing a Czech Premium Pale Lager. I brewed one a couple years ago that went on to win a gold medal at Beehive Brew-off. This recipe is slightly different and will be a 2.5 gallon batch size. Regarding process differences, I'm planning on doing a triple decoction mash. This isn't necessarily required with the well modified malts we have nowadays, but you definitely get a different and hard to replicate malty profile from doing a decoction mash. This is a bit more of an advanced technique, just an FYI in case you stumbled across this post looking for a quick easy Bo Pils recipe. I'm also using a Imperial Yeast's L28 Urkel which is described as follows:
A traditional Czech lager strain, Urkel allows for a nice balance between hops and malt. This strain can be slightly sulphery during fermentation, but it cleans up during lagering. Fermentation at the higher end of the range will produce a beer with minimal sulfur and a light ester profile.
Temp: 52-58F, 11-14C // Flocculation: Medium  // Attenuation: 71-75%
For process differences, I'm trying the fast lager method as outlined on This method can result in grain to glass times as short as 2 weeks.

4.5 # Avangard German Pilsner
1.0 oz Crisp Crystal 77
15g Saaz (FWH)
22g Saaz (30 min)
13g Saaz (10 min)
12g Saaz (0 min)
Imperial Yeast Urkel L28 in 1L starter
0.25 Whirlfloc
Wyeast Nutrient

Infusion mash resulting in rest at 100.4F for 30 min. Pull 1st decoction (1/3 of mash, as little mash liquid as possible) and raise in steps as follows:

First decoction
  • 10 min @149F
  • 10 min @ 161.6F
  • 10 min @ boiling
Return to mash to raise mash temp to 149F. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Pull 2nd decoction and raise the temps in steps as follows:

Second Decoction
  • 10 min @ 161.6F
  • 10 min @ boiling
Return to mash to raise mash temp to 161.6F for 10 minutes. Pull 3rd decoction as follows:

Third Decoction
  • 5 min @ boiling
Return to mash to raise temp to 170.6F. Sparge and collect boil volume.

90 minute boil, chill to 48F then raise temp to 50F over 24 hours. When gravity is around 1.034, raise temps by 5F every 24 hours until temps reach 65F. Maintain temps at 65F until fermentation is complete, then reduce temps by 5-8F every 12 hours until it's at 30-32F.

Water Profile - to 7 gallons of distilled/RO water
0.38g Epsom Salt
0.23g Calcium Chloride
0.31g Baking Soda
0.31g Chalk

Brewing Notes
No issues during the decoction mash. This definitely adds time to the brew day although it's faster when doing it on a smaller sized batch.

No issues with the remainder of the brew session. OG came in at 13.8 (1.055). I'm currently chilling down to 48F before pitching yeast.

Update 6/12/2017
Yeast pitched this morning.

Update 6/22/2017
Pulled a sample today. I don't detect any acetaldehyde or diacetyl. I'm not getting sulfur either. The refractometer measured 6.4P, so the corrected gravity is around 1.007. That's lower than I expected, but the body doesn't seem thin at all. The hop bitterness seems a little high to me, but that will mellow after a few weeks. Malt character is very nice and bready. There's definitely something a little richer than the last time that I would attribute to the triple decoction. Clarity is surprisingly good considering I haven't cold crashed yet (still at 65F). Yeast profile is very clean, definitely a lager. I was a little worried because I was out of town when it was time to start ramping up the temperature, so I showed my daughter how to do it and she ended up starting it a little early (brulosophy prescribes at 4-7 days for a <= 1.060 beer with liquid yeast). I told her to start ramping on day 5, and I believe she started on day 3, so I'm relieved that it seems to have worked well.


Pork Belly Burnt Ends

>> Sunday, May 28, 2017

I thought I'd post about a dish I made back on Mother's Day that everyone liked so much, I decided to make it again for a Memorial Day BBQ we're going to. If you're a fan of BBQ, you've probably had burnt ends, which comes from the fattier cut from the brisket point. Usually they're made by separating the point from the flat when the flats are cooked and good to go. The point is returned to the smoker and continues to cook to render more fat and to continue to break down the collagen. The bark continues to develop as well and you end up with a delicious cut of meat that is definitely different from the leaner flat of the brisket. This recipe is essentially a take on burnt ends style but using pork belly instead of brisket.

I stumbled across this recipe on Instagram. It was one of those "you may like" videos. Like I said, we gave it a try on Mother's Day along with some smoked chicken and ribs and this was by far the crowd favorite...we definitely liked. And as far as smoking meats go, it was a pretty easy process. Because of the high fat content, this is a forgiving meat to smoke. I want to point out, this stuff contains a lot of fat...a lot! It's probably something you should only make every once in awhile, and you should probably pair it with something healthier like a salad. As most people know, pork belly is where bacon comes from, so eating a half pound of this is essentially the same as eating a half pound of bacon. Ok, enough on the warnings.  

I found a couple recipes out there, but the one I followed was from Vindulge. It's documented very well with easy step-by-step instructions and it's worth checking out. The first time I made it, I used half a pork belly because I'm always cautious when trying out new recipes and I figured my health-conscious wife would rather eat the smoked chicken I made along with the pork belly. This time there's a larger group so I'm making a full belly. The first time I made it, I went with Weber's Chicken 'N Rib Seasoning. This rub used to be sold under the Durkee brand as Chicken 'N Rib Rub and is one of my favorite dry rubs. For this second batch, I decided to try Rufus Teague Spicy Meat Rub; not because I didn't like the Weber rub, just because I wanted to try a different rub. For the sauce I went with Famous Dave's Sweet and Zesty as it's always been a favorite of my wife. For smoking wood, I used a blend of hickory and apple wood.

Recipe and Process
  1. If your belly comes with skin on, trim it off along with any excess fat from the skin side. 
  2. Cut your pork belly up into 1.5-2" sized cubes.
  3. Season each piece with your rub making sure to coat all sides.
  4. Bring your smoker up to 230F.
  5. Lightly oil your smoker's grates to prevent sticking and arrange the cubes leaving space between them for the smoke to circulate (make sure they aren't touching).
  6. Smoke for about three hours at 230F.
  7. Transfer cubes to disposable aluminum pan.
  8. Add about 1 cup BBQ sauce, 2T honey and stir to mix and coat cubes.
  9. Add about half a stick of butter cut into squares.
  10. Cover with foil and return to smoker for another 60-90 minutes.
  11. Remove foil and cook another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the cubes are evenly coated.
  12. The sauce should have thickened a bit at this point, so remove from smoker and serve.
Before adding sauce


Russian River Consecration Kit from MoreBeer

>> Sunday, April 23, 2017

While I do brew a fair amount of beers based on commercial examples, I don't do kit beers all that often. Well, that's changing today, at least for this brew session. MoreBeer recently had a sale on their clone of Russian River's Consecration, one I've definitely been wanting to try. The recipe is out there and if you go through my posts you can see that we did a version in my brew club's barrel a while back. The recipe for today's version is slightly different than the one my club used, but it's not too far off. One cool thing about this kit, it includes barrel chunks from Russian River. Here are instructions from MoreBeer's site:
Vinnie recommends fermenting down to around a 1.016-1.018 with Abbey Ale yeast. He recommends the temperature to be 72°F during the first few days of fermentation, and then lets it free rise to 76°F until the target gravity of 1.016 is reached.
After hitting this target gravity, he'll transfer to barrels to start the aging and souring process (a secondary fermenter will be necessary - a barrel would be preferred!) Currants and Brettanomyces are added at this point.
After approximately 7-8 weeks, you'll want to add your Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. To kill two birds with one stone, we recommend pitching Roeselare (WY3763) which contains both bacterium.
The souring process can take anywhere from four to twelve months. Once the desired sourness level is achieved, you'll want to add the Consecration barrel oak chunk(s) until desired oak character is achieved.
Vinnie uses Belgian bottles when bottling Consecration, and bottle conditions using wine yeast. He mentions that he'll never bottle if the gravity is over 1.008.
 I made some minor changes compared to the recipe sheet from MoreBeer, but it's pretty much the same. Here's the recipe as I made it today.

11.0 # Rahr 2-row
0,5 # Weyermann Acidulated Malt
0,25 # Castle Special B
0,25 # Weyermann Carafa Special II
1.0 # Corn Sugar
1.0 # D-90 Candi Syrup - I'll be adding this in secondary rather than during the boil
14g Styrian Goldings (90 min)
28g Sterling (30 min)
28g Sterling (1 min)
Yeast Nutrient
WLP530 Abbey Ale - Primary fermentation
Wyeast 3763 Roeselare - Secondary fermentation
Russian River barrel chunks - Secondary
2.0 # Bob's Red Mill brand Black Currants - Secondary

Mash at 160F, 90 boil, ferment at room temp.

Brewing Notes
No issues with this batch. OG minus the Candi Syrup came in at 1.069.

Update 4/25/2017
Fermentation was very active yesterday morning and by late afternoon I had to hook up a blowoff tube.

Update 6/8/2017
I racked to secondary on top of black currants and the Candi Syrup then pitched Roeselare. I have a bottle of Consecration in the fridge, so the dregs will go in here at some point.

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