Czech Premium Pale Lager 2018

>> Sunday, June 10, 2018

Today I'm brewing my third Czech Premium Pale Lager. The first attempt at this style won a gold medal while the second didn't fare as well.  Comments on the second version indicated the judges thought it had a brett infection. Given how many sour/wild beers I brew, this is entirely possible and I thought I was also able to taste a little funk, especially after a few months in the bottle. I don't believe that brett and bugs are the bogeyman that a lot of people make them out to be, but it goes to show that you need to be careful. In my case, I believe it was picked up in my counter-pressure filler, so I've changed my sanitation procedure by incorporating a pasteurization step every time I use it (140F recirculation while submerged in the same 140F water for about 20 min; heated by my sous vide cooker).

So back to the Czech Pils/Bohemian Pils/Czech Premium Pale Lager. I'm gaining an appreciation for lighter, more delicately flavored beers. I tend to gravitate towards big bold flavors in beer (and food) but there's definitely a time and place for easy drinking beers. The key to brewing this style is very soft water, so I start with distilled water and use minimal salt additions.. Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today:

8.0# 11 oz Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian 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)
Imperial Yeast L28 Urkel
0.5 Whirlfloc
0.5t Yeast Nutrient

Mash at 154F for 90 mins, 90 minute boil, chill to 44F, aerate well and pitch yeast. Raise temp to 50F over 48 hours. Raise temps to 64F for the diacetyl rest. Cold crash after a couple days.

Water Recipe
10 gallons distilled water
0.55g Epsom Salt
0.33g Calcium Chloride
0.44g Baking Soda
0.44g Chalk

Brewing Notes
No issues in this brew session. I was working on some other projects at the same time, including putting up a trellis and getting started on my first attempt at homemade pastrami. I had to run to the store at one point and had to enlist my son to do the 30 minute addition. OG came in at 13.9P (1.055).

Update 8/5/2018
This beer went in the keg today along with some gelatine for fining.

Update 9/25/2018
So...this beer has a little bit of a problem. It tastes great right off the tap, but once it starts to warm up it's apparent there's some acetaldehyde. It comes across much more in the aroma than the flavor, but regardless, it's not good.

As for the cause, it's often related to one of three things:

  1. Poor yeast health - Acetaldehyde is naturally produced during fermentation. Towards the end of fermentation, the yeast converts it to ethanol. If yeast health is compromised, they may not be able to finish converting it.
  2. Transferring too soon - Even if the yeast is healthy, if you pull the beer off the yeast cake too early, it can result in acetaldehyde.
  3. Oxygen exposure - I've read that O2 exposure post-fermentation can result in ethanol being converted back to acetaldehyde.
In this case, I suspect that oxygen exposure is probably the culprit.


Berliner 2018

>> Friday, June 08, 2018

Just a quick post today. I'm brewing another Berliner, this time kettle-soured with GoodBelly SuperShots, then primary fermentation with Wyeast 3191Berliner Weisse Blend. This is by far my favorite blend for BW due to combination of the sach, brett, and lactobacillus in the blend. As I indicated, I'll be kettle-souring, so the bulk of the acid production will happen pre-boil, before the blend is pitched.

The process is mash, collect ~7 gallons, pre-acidify pH to 4.5 or slightly less, raise to 180F for about 15 minutes, chill to ~100F, transfer to my 1/4bbl Sanke and pitch lactobacillus. Then let it ride until pH gets where you want it, 3.2 - 3.4 in my case. Next, boil as normal, chill, ferment. Here is the recipe as i brewed it.

4.0 # Avangard German Pale Malt
3.5# Weyermann Pale Wheat Malt
Rice Hulls, as needed (usually about 0.5#)
1.0 oz Aged Debittered Hops (60 min, 0.0 IBUs)
0.5 oz Sterling (in Whirlpool when temps <170F, 0.0 IBUs)
GoodBelly SuperShot - 1 or 2, depending on freshness
Wyeast 3191 Berliner Weisse Blend

Mash at 150F for 90 minutes, kettle sour at room temp, 90 minute boil, no aeration, ferment at room temp.

Brewing Notes
Day 1 - Mash and Starting Kettle Souring - 6/4/2018
No issues. Wort was acidified to a pH of 4.42 using phosphoric acid. I was doing other things around the house in addition to brewing, so I think I held the temp at 180F for about 45 minutes. That's not a problem though as the purpose of this step is to pasteurize. Wort was chilled to just below 100F and GoodBelly was pitched. I did use two GoodBelly  SuperShots because they were not quite as fresh and I figured some of the cells had probably died off.

Day 2 - Boil - 6/8/2018
The pre-boil pH dropped down to 3.20. This is lower than I've ever gotten without acidifying to <4.5 for kettle souring. The end of boil pH is 3.27, probably due to the addition of hops, yeast nutrient, and/or Whirlfloc. No issues during the boil. Gravity came in exactly at 11P (1.043).

Update 6/9/2018
I'm seeing signs of active fermentation this morning with about 1 /2" of krausen. That's a good sign because this blend can be a slow starter and the smack pack didn't swell as much as most other strains.