Tmavé Pivo - Czech Dark Lager

>> Monday, January 02, 2023

First brew of 2023 and I’m getting an early start because I want to be done in time to watch the Utes in the Rose Bowl. Today I’m brewing a style I’ve never brewed before. This recipe is based on Tmavé Pivo from Pivovar Hostomice in the Czech Republic, and it’s a Czech Dark Lager. This style is much less common than the more iconic pale Czech Pale Lagers, but I'd argue they're every bit as drinkable. Locally, Offset Bier in Park City, Utah won a silver medal at the North American Brewers Association competition (part of the Mountain Brewers Beer Fest) with their version of the style, also named Tmavé Pivo.

Here’s the BJCP description of the style:

A rich, dark, malty Czech lager with a roast character that can vary from almost absent to quite prominent. Malty with an interesting and complex flavor profile, with variable levels of hopping providing a range of possible interpretations.

This style is a combination of the Czech styles tmavý ležák (11–12.9 °P) and tmavé speciální pivo (13–14.9 °P). More modern examples are drier and have higher bitterness while traditional versions often have IBUs in the 18–20 range with a sweeter balance.

Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today:

Target OG: 1.056 
Target FG: 1.012 
IBUs: 41 
ABV: 5.8% 

3.6625# Czech floor-malted pilsner 
3.6625# Munich I 
1.675# Weyermann Caramunich III 
1g BrewTan B in mash
2.2oz Weyermann Carafa III (added at sparge)
8.6g Magnum (60 min)
10.5g Magnum (30 min)
54.2g Czech Saaz (15 min)
4.66g BCAA
White Labs WLP800 Pilsner Lager

Keeping with tradition, I'm employing a double decoction mash for this session. If you don't want to go to the trouble of a decoction mash, I'd probably do a single infusion mash at ~149-150F.

Mash In
Mash in at 99F then raise temp to 126F and hold for 5 minutes before pulling first decoction. 

First Decoction
  1. Pull a one-third decoction, raise temp to 145F and hold for 5 minutes.
  2. Raise temp to 162F and hold for 15 minutes. 
  3. Bring decoction to a boil, and boil for 15 minutes.  
  4. Return decoction to the main mash and maintain at 144F. 
Second Decoction
  1. Pull a second one-third decoction, raise decoction temp to 162F and hold for 15 minutes. 
  2. Bring decoction to a boil, and boil for 15 minutes. 
  3. Return decoction to the main mash and maintain at 165F for 10 minutes.
Add the Carafa III at sparge. 90 min boil. Chill to about 46F then increase temp to 50F over two days.  Hold at 50F until primary is complete, then cold crash and lager for at least a few weeks.  

Water Profile
This is a super soft water profile as recommended by Gordon Strong via a BYO article.  
  • Add 2.26 ml of Phosphoric Acid per 10 gallons RO water. 
  • Add 2g calcium chloride per 10 gallons RO water.
Brewing Notes
No issues other than my arm was really tired from the constant stirring during the decoctions…I might even have a blister. For anyone interested, here's a short video I posted on Instagram for this brew session.
Gravity came in a little below target on this batch, but it’s still within guidelines. Decoction temps were pretty spot on. I love our cooktop, it provides really nice even heating. Also, my wife bought some wooden cooking spoon/scraper utensils called Spurtles and they work amazing for decoction mashes. The color on this beer is gorgeous. Hopefully it tastes as good as it looks. I chilled down to ~55F before transferring to the fermenter. I’ll continue chilling down to 46F before pitching yeast.

Session Readings
Beginning mash pH 5.24
Ending mash pH 5.29
1st running gravity 20.3 (1.082)
Pre-Boil gravity 8.8 (1.034)
Pre-Boil pH 5.32
Post-Boil gravity 12.5 (1.049)
Post-Boil pH 5.27

Update 1/2/2023 5:40PM
Yeast was pitched.

Update 1/4/2023
Fermentation was a little sluggish to get going, but I did pitch at 46F and the low temp on this yeast’s range is 50F. I finished ramping the temps up from 46F to 50F today and fermentation activity seems to be ramping up. This morning there was a glug about once every 10-ish seconds and this evening it’s closer to once every 5 seconds.

Update 1/23/2023
This beer was kegged tonight along with gelatin for fining.


Kellerbier 2022

>> Monday, December 26, 2022

I haven’t brewed a ton in 2022, so I figured I’d do one last brew before the end of the year. This will also allow me to fine tune this recipe in preparation for some upcoming competitions. 

Today I’m trying a slight variation of my Kellerbier recipe. I really like this beer because it's so easy to drink; great on its own after working in the yard, as part of a michelada, or just any time you want a nice drinkable beer. This beer is inspired by Russian River’s STS Pils and I was listening to a recent BN podcast with Vinnie Cilurzo where he mentioned they use Augustiner yeast. L17 is reportedly the same strain as Augustiner, so I figured I'd give it a try (in the past I've used Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager) and see how it compares.

Target OG 1.051
Target FG: 1.010 
IBU: 21
ABV: 5.4%

8.25# Root Shoot Pilsner
0.25# Weyermann Munich I
1g BrewTan B in mash
20g Hallertauer Mittelfruh (FWH)
14g Aramis (60 min)
24g Aramis (0 min)
4.66g BCAA 
Imperial Yeast - L17 Harvest 

Single Decoction Mash

Mash in at 132°F and hold for 10 minutes.
Increase mash temps to 147°F, then pull 1/3 of mash for decoction. 
Heat the decoction to 156–158°F, hold for 10 minutes.
Bring Decoction to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes.
Raise mash to 156–158°F.
Return decoction to mash and mashout at 168F.

90 minute boil, ferment at 50°F

Water Recipe - To 10 gallons of RO water, add:
  • 3g Epsom Salts
  • 3g Calcium Chloride
Brewing Notes
No issues, but I totally forgot to add the BrewTan B to the mash. I’m testing out a little pH meter accessory I designed and printed using my 3D printer. It’s basically a holder for a beaker and the two probes from the pH meter (temp and pH probe). I partially fill the beaker with water and ice, then I have a smaller beaker that I fill with the sample. The smaller beaker fits in the larger one and the sample gets cooled by the ice water to ensure accurate pH readings.

Session Readings
Beginning mash pH 5.36
Ending mash pH 5.29
1st running gravity 16.7 (1.066)
Pre-Boil gravity 8.9 (1.034)
Pre-Boil pH 5.34
Post-Boil gravity 12.7 (1.050)
Post-Boil pH 5.39

Update 12/26/2022 7:20PM
Wort temp was down to 50F so I aerated and pitched the yeast.

Update 12/27/2022 7:00PM
There are active signs of fermentation with a bubble out my blow-off tube, about once per 4-6 seconds.

Update 1/14/2023
I kegged this beer today along with 10ml of Biofine. I let this go for 24-48 hours before drawing off a pint or so. It should be carbed and ready to drink within a few days.


Spaghetti Pomodoro from The Bear

>> Sunday, December 25, 2022

This recipe is based on the red sauce as featured in the family dinners in the FX television series The Bear. Granted, I haven't made a whole lot of marinara recipes from scratch, but I really liked this sauce and it's way better than bottled sauces. This recipe is based on this YouTube video where real-life chef Matty Matheson and Courtney Storer from the show walk you through the process. I'd definitely advise checking out the video but if you're used to the typical step by step recipe instructions that you usually find on the Internet, it'll be a different experience. So, this is my attempt to translate the recipe into the more traditional format.

2 - 28oz cans Centro crushed tomatoes
6 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, halved
1 - 6oz can of Cento tomato paste
8-10 cloves garlic, chopped/minced/sliced 
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Fresh basil
1 box spaghetti (I actually like angel hair pasta more)

  1. Halve your onion and peel it. It's ok to trim a little off the top and bottom, but leave enough of the core on the bottom so that it holds together. You’re going to be removing the onion later, so this is why you want to keep it intact.
  2. To a medium/large pot, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium high heat.
  3. Add 6T butter to pot.
  4. Once the butter has started melting, add onion halves (flat side down).
  5. Add garlic and adjust heat as necessary so as not to burn the garlic.
  6. Add one or two "chef pinches" of kosher salt. (It's probably at least a teaspoon)
  7. Reduce heat to medium low.
  8. Add a pinch or more of crushed red pepper (more of you like some heat in your red sauce)
  9. Add anywhere from 3-6oz of tomato paste to the pot and cook it off for a few  minutes. This will help avoid the metallic character often associated with tomato paste.
  10. Tear a few basil leaves and add them to the pot. If you decide you want more basil, you can also add it later. 
  11. Add crushed tomatoes to pot. 
  12. Add about half a can (14oz) of water to the pot.
  13. Add a couple more chef pinches of kosher salt.
  14. Add black pepper to taste. I probably start at about 1 teaspoon worth, and go from there.  
  15. Stir to mix and taste.  If it's too acidic, add more salt (a little at a time).
  16. Continue to cook over low medium heat until the onions are fully cooked through and translucent.  I've let it go over an hour without any issues. Just remember to stir occasionally and make sure the heat is low enough that it doesn't burn/scorch the sauce.
  17. When the onion is cooked all the way through, remove the onions and discard. Taste the sauce again and add salt, pepper, and more fresh basil to taste. 
  18. Prepare your pasta per the package directions.
  19. In the video they combine the pasta and sauce then serve. I love a ton of sauce on my spaghetti but my wife likes less sauce on hers, so we add the sauce at serving time. 
I love meatballs and this sauce goes well with them for spaghetti and meatballs or for a meatball sandwich. One time I added some crumbled spicy Italian sausage and it also was really good.