Bohemian Pilsner

>> Saturday, May 30, 2015

Today I'm brewing a lager, something I rarely do, and it's the first time brewing this style, Bohemian Pilsner a.k.a. Czech Pilsner (a.k.a. 3B - Czech Premium Pale Lager per 2015 BJCP Guidelines). As you can tell from my posts, I tend to brew ales, but I've been wanting to try my hand at some lagers.

Another first, I decided to start tweaking my water profiles. I've done very rough tweaking in the cutting my carbon-filtered tap water with RO water in some of the pale beers I've made. These adjustments weren't really based on any specific measurements. This will be the first time using all distilled water and adding brewing salts to build up to a specific water profile.

The recipe is based on the Style Profile column from BYO magazine, adjusted for 83% efficiency. Since I've never brewed this style before, I'm sticking pretty close to the recipe. The recipe as I'm making it:

8.0# 11 oz. Avangard German Pilsner
9 oz Briess Carapils
34g Czech Saaz 4% AA (60 min)
41g Czech Saaz 4% AA (30 min)
20.5g Czech Saaz 4% AA (10 min)
20.5g Czech Saaz 4% AA (0 min)
2 packs of Wyeast 2001 Urquell Yeast in 2L starter
0.5 Whirlfloc
0.5t Yeast Nutrient

Mash at 154F for 90 mins, 90 minute boil, chill to 44F, aerate and pitch yeast. Raise temp to 50F over 36 hours.

Water Profile

  • Ca - 7.5ppm
  • Mg - 1.3ppm
  • Na - 2.8ppm
  • SO4 - 5.2ppm
  • Cl - 4.7ppm
  • HCO3 - 14.7ppm
Brew Water Recipe
  • 9 gallons distilled water
  • 0.5g Epsom Salt
  • 0.3g Calcium Chloride
  • 0.4g Baking Soda
  • 0.4g Chalk
  • 5 gallons of mash liquor acidified with 2.4ml 88% lactic acid
Brewing Notes
No real issues. I collected bit more volume in the BK than I'd planned, so the OG is a few points lower than I wanted (1.052 rather than 1.056). It's still within style guidelines, so no harm. I chilled down to 60F with my plate chiller then put it in the ferm chamber to continue chilling down to 44F. Hopefully it'll be there and I can pitch the yeast in the morning.

Update 5/31/2015
I was still a few degrees shy of 44F this morning so I had to wait a few more hours. Wort is now aerated and yeast is pitched. I'll gradually ramp up the temp to 50F over the next 36 hours.

Update 6/2/2015
Everything seems to be happily chugging along,with,this beer. I'm doing the final bump up to 50F today.

Update 6/21/2015
This beer spent the last week at 60F. Basically a diacetyl rest that also allowed me to ferment my Smoke & Wood Imperial Porter. I've now started dropping the temps for the lagering phase.

Update 6/27/2015
I went ahead and kegged this beer today so that I can clear out the ferm chamber for another beer. It has dropped very clear, but it has a little bit of haze. I treated it with gelatin so I'll let it work away on clearing the beer. I'll let it finish out its lagering phase in my keezer.

Not to toot my own horn, but in my opinion this turned out really well. Nice malt character with rounded bitterness, clean fermentation...I can't wait for it to carb up. The gravity finished out at about 6.8 brix (1.012). Definitely interested to see how this one stacks up against the competition.

Update 8/9/2015
The Beehive Brew-Off wrapped up today. This beer took gold in 3B Czech Premium Pale Lager. Not bad considering this is the first lager I've entered in a competition.


Berliner 2015

>> Friday, May 29, 2015

Berliner Weisse has become one of my favorite sour styles to brew. They're easy to make and the turnaround time is fairly short compared to most sour styles. I brewed my 2015 version on Memorial Day and it's been happily chugging along this week. I basically used the same recipe and process as I did in 2014 except for the following:
  • I used German Pils instead of Belgian Pils. 
  • For the souring, I decided to try a blend of Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus, Wyeast 5223 Lactobacillus Brevis, and White Labs WLP677 Lactobacillus Delbrueckii
  • For the yeast blend that I'll pitch after giving the Lactobacillus blend a head start, I'm using Wyeast 3191 Berliner Weisse Blend which is the blend I used on my first "successful" Berliner back in 2013. This is one of Wyeast's Private Collection blends, so it's not available every year.
  • My 2014 version scored very well in last year's Beehive Brew-off (42 or 44 if I remember correctly) and went to the mini-BOS for the Sour Ale category. It didn't end up placing (but my Flanders Red #2 took gold) and it got knocked out because one of the judges said they detected DMS. I never detected any in this beer, but I decided to try a more traditional boil this time, so this version got a 90 minute boil whereas the 2013 and 2014 versions used a short 15 minute boil.
I usually give the lactobacillus a head start of 5-7 days because I like my Berliners to be pretty sour. That can come at a price though because most beer judges have commented they think my Berliners are too sour for the style. They are sour, but I don't believe they're too sour, especially compared to some of the more modern commercial examples I've tried. I liken it to someone complaining that a West Coast IPA is too hoppy compared to a traditional English IPA. That may be true but I still love a good West Coast IPA. Regardless, if you try this recipe/process and you plan on entering it into a competition, consider shortening the head start by a couple days.

This is a 10 gallon batch and I'm toying with the idea of putting half on tart cherries for a Cherry Berliner Weiss. I'm also toying with the idea of shortening the head start for half the batch.

Here's the recipe as I brewed it:

8.0 # Avangard German Pilsner Malt
7.0 # Weyermann Pale Wheat Malt
1.0 # Rice Hulls 
2.0 oz Aged Debittered Hops (Mash hops, 0.0 IBU's)
Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus
Wyeast 5223 Lactobacillus Brevis
White Labs WLP677 Lactobacillus Delbrueckii
Wyeast 3191 Berliner Weisse Blend

Mash at 150F for 90 minutes, 90 minute boil, ferment at room temp.

Brewing Notes
No issues to speak of. OG came in at 11.4 brix (1.046), so kind of like my 2014 version, this is an Imperial Berliner. It's still going to have a pretty low ABV though.

Update 5/29/2015 I went ahead and pitched 3191 at day 4 for half the batch. The other half will get it a day 6.

Update 5/31/2015
I pitched the yeast blend into the second half today (day 6). Something kind of odd, the first half that got the BW blend on day 4, the krausen from the lacto completely collapsed. It was still showing signs of fermentation but I don't remember that behavior before.

Update 6/27/2015
Doing a whole bunch of brewing stuff today so I decided to pull a sample. I don't have a pH meter (yet) so it's hard to say with any degree of accuracy, but the pH is down in the 3.2 neighborhood on both. It's hard to tell in the pictures below, but there is a slight difference in the color of the test strips. Both samples smell the same, lactic and wheat, but the 6-day pitch is noticeably more tart than the 4-day pitch, but they're both quite tart. Both taste amazing so I'm really happy with the results. There seems to be some added complexity in this version...maybe from the blend of lactobacillus cultures. I'm definitely going,to enjoy this beer. Still trying to decide whether to do part on tart cherries. They're both so good, I'm not sure I want to mess with them.




CS Brett Expirement

>> Saturday, May 16, 2015

I've been on a brewing drought lately because I've been busy with a variety of projects. A buddy of mine moved to Denver earlier this year and was in town for my daughter's wedding (one of the things that kept me busy) and he brought me a vial of Brett Barrel III yeast from Inland Island. He got it at his LHBS in Denver and they indicated this is a brettanomyces strain from Crooked Stave.  Needless to say, I'm excited to brew a batch and give this yeast a try.

I'm a huge fan of all the CS beers I've been able to try, but I especially like some of the darker wild/sour beers (e.g. Nightmare on Brett Street, Motif Reserva, etc.), so I decided to go with a darker base beer for this experiment. Brett alone won't really sour a beer, so I'll probably pitch some dregs from one of my other sours once primary is done.

Here's the recipe as I made it:

6.0 # German Munich
3.0 # German Pilsner
1.0 # Chit Malt
0.5 # Flaked Oats
0.5. # Special B
0.5 # Carafa II
0.25 # Pale Chocolate Malt
28g Aged Hops (60 min)
INISBC-913 Brett Barrel III
Wyeast Nutrient
1.0 # D-180 Candi Syrup (rack onto syrup in secondary when pitching sour bugs)

Mash at 156F for 60 min. Ferment at room temp. I'll be saving this blend to use in other beers, so I'll rack to secondary, save the primary cake, then pitch some lactobacillus and pedio in the secondary.

Update 6/28/2015
I racked this beer to secondary yesterday. It has some really nice brett character, lots of stone fruit flavors in there. I added some yeast cake from my first Oud Bruin plus some from Chitty Bang Bang Oud Bruin. I also added two French Oak Medium+ cubes.

Update 7/22/2015
I recently picked up a pH meter that I plan to use for tracking progress of my sours as well checking mash pH. I decided to pull a sample and see where the pH was at after almost a month on the souring bugs. 

pH as of today is measuring 3.51. The beer is noticeably sour, but not quite as sour as most of my sours. Oak character from the cubes is subtle. Body is medium. I really like the direction this beer seems to be heading.

Update 10/27/2015
Pulled a sample today and this beer is delicious. It has a subtle oak character with just a hint of smokiness. Acidity is very nice, measured at 3.18 today. I think it's ready for kegging/packaging. I'm toying with the idea of treating it with potassium metabisulfite to halt the souring process because I really don't want the pH to drop any more.

Update 11/21/2015
This beer went into the keg yesterday.