Keller-rado Kellerbier

>> Saturday, July 27, 2019

First runnings - Pre-boil - Post-boil
Today I'm brewing a Pale Kellerbier, first time brewing the style. We recently went to Denver for my youngest daughter's grad trip, and while there, I picked up some Pilsner Malt from Root Shoot Malting. I think it's fun to mix in unique ingredients when I can get my hands on them, so this malt will be the basis for my Kellerbier.

The BJCP guidelines describe the style as follows:
A very common seasonal summer beer brewed by many of the Munich area breweries and served in the beer gardens, where they are very popular 
A young, fresh Helles, so while still a malty, fully-attenuated Pils malt showcase, the hop character (aroma, flavor and bitterness) is more pronounced, and the beer is cloudy, often with some level of diacetyl, and possibly has some green apple and/or other yeast-derived notes. As with the traditional Helles, the Keller version is still a beer intended to be drunk by the liter, so overall it should remain a light, refreshing, easy drinking golden lager
Most Pale Kellerbiers are young, unfiltered, unpasteurized versions of Munich Helles beer, although Pils or a different, custom golden lager beer designed specifically for serving young could also be used. The best examples are served only on tap at many of the Munich area breweries. Bottled versions are not likely to have the freshness, hop character and young beer notes exhibited by the draft versions.
Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today, which is based on Homebrewer Chris Allen's award-winning recipe. I'm upping the hops a bit by adding a 0 minute addition, hoping it comes out close to STS Pils from Russian River.

OG: 1.048
IBU: 17

8.70# Root Shoot Pilsner
0.25# Weyermann Munich I
1g BrewTan B in mash
17g Hallertauer Mittelfruh (FWH)
11g Blend of Aramis and Saphir (60 min)
17g Blend of Aramis and Saphir (0 min)
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager
Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (Dissolved in water or wort, 5 min)

Single Decoction Mash - Decoction mashes add a level of complexity to the brew day. Fortunately, this recipe only employs a single Decoction.
  1. Mash in at 132°F and hold for 10 minutes.
  2. Increase mash temps to 147°F, then pull 1/3 of mash for decoction. 
  3. Heat the decoction to 156–158°F, hold for 10 minutes.
  4. Bring Decoction to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes
  5. Raise mash to 156–158°F.
  6. Return decoction to mash and mashout at 168F.
90 minute boil, ferment at 49°F

Water Recipe
This is a very soft profile. To 10 gallons of distilled water, add:
3g Epsom Salts
3g Calcium Chloride

Brewing Notes
No major issues. Similar to when we brewed with Solstice Malt, the Root Shoot malt seemed a little smaller or less plump, so I had to tighten up my mill gap. I didn't adjust the grain bill for my efficiency, so my OG came in a bit high at 1.056.

The BCAA was hard to dissolve the first time I used it in the Czech Pils so, this time i dissolved it in warm RO water in a coffee mug. It was still kind of a bitch, but it was better than trying to dissolve it on the fly in the boil kettle.I

Wort was chilled to ~62F and will continue to chill down to 49F before the yeast will be pitched. I'm essentially pitching the whole yeast cake from the Czech Pils.

Update 7/28/2019
Temps were down to 49F this morning, so I went ahead and aerated then pitched the yeast.

Update 7/29/2019
As I mentioned above, I pitched the yeast cake from my Czech Pils for this beer. Because of the high cell count, there really wasn't much of a lag phase. Per Tilt, my gravity is down to 1.039 this morning.

Update 7/31/2019
Per Tilt, gravity is down to 1.022 this morning. I'll begin ramping the temps up to mid-60s for the diacetyl rest. Even the the style guidelines indicate a bit of diacetyl and acetaldehyde are ok for the style, I prefer my beers without either. Here's a screen capture of the fermentation graph so far.
Update 8/7/2019
I've started cold crashing to get as much yeast to drop out as possible. Some haze is appropriate for the style, so I'm not too concerned about clarity. Gravity is down to 1.010 (from 1.056) putting this beer at ~6.17% ABV.

Update 10/14/2019
Just a quick note, this beer took 3rd place Amber Bitter European Lager in the 2019 Beehive Brew-off.


Czech Premium Pale Lager 2019

>> Sunday, July 07, 2019

Today I'm brewing a Czech Premium Pale Lager. I've brewed this beer three times now, with somewhat mixed results. The first time I brewed it, it won gold in competition. The next time, it got a brett infection from my counter-pressure bottle filler (the reason why I now always pasteurize the bottle filler before and after using). The third attempt had an acetaldehyde issue, a problem I had on a couple beers I was trying to rush to get ready for competition last year. For this beer, I'm hoping for a return to the gold medal example.

I'm changing the recipe slightly, using a different base malt and different yeast this time. I always like to experiment with new I'm ingredients, so that's the reason for changing up the malt.  Yeast-wise,  I want to try out 2124 in a few beers, so I'm hoping to reuse the yeast cake. I'm also doing a little experimenting based on comments in a recent Brewing Network podcast.

In S1 E12 of Hop and Brew School from The Brewing Network, Nick mentions using a small amount of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) as a yeast supplement to reduce the chance of diacetyl in finished beer. The only problem is he didn't provide much info with respect to usage/dosage. I sent a question to The BN on this subject, but it will likely be a while before their next Q&A show. I also posted a question about this subject on Reddit, and I was directed to a research paper titled, Influence of valine and other amino acids on total diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione levels during fermentation of brewer’s wort.

Assuming I'm interpreting the findings correctly from this paper, supplementing between 100-300mg Valine per liter of wort, can reduce the overall amount of diacetyl produced, and seemingly increase the uptake of diacetyl at the end of fermentation. In my layman's interpretation, it basically means extra insurance against diacetyl issues and it could shorten the turnaround time when brewing lagers.

I went ahead and ordered some unflavored BCAA 2:1:1 from MyProtien and I'm going to try using it in this recipe. I'm planning on shooting for the low end of the 100-300mg/l dosage. Per the nutrition label on my package, each 7g of BCAA 2:1:1 contains:

  • 2.5g Leucine
  • 1.25g Isoleucine
  • 1.25g Valine
  • 2g Carbohydrates
That means at a dosage rate of 560mg/l BCAA, we're getting 200mg Leucine, 100mg Isoleucine, 100mg Valine, and 160mg Carbohydrates. A 5 gallon batch is ~19l, so 19*560 = 10640mg/5 gallons or 10.64g/5 gallons of BCAA would be the proper dosage to yield 100mg/l Valine. I could only find one other reference of a Homebrewer using BCAA, and that was with gluten-free brewing. The dosage rate mentioned was 0.5 tablespoon per 5 gallons. I weighed 0.5T and it came out to 4.66g. I decided it would be better to be a little low than too high, so on this first round, I'm going with 1T (9.32g).

If you're brewing a Czech Lager, you definitely want soft water. If you're in the same situation as me and your tap water is hard, plan on getting some distilled or RO water Here's the recipe as I'm making it today:

5 Gallons

8.0# 11 oz. Weyermann Barke Pilsner
9 oz Briess Carapils
1.0g BrewTan B in mash
34g Czech Saaz (60 min)
41g Czech Saaz (30 min)
20.5g Czech Saaz (10 min)
20.5g Czech Saaz (0 min)
Wyeast 2124
Wyeast Nutrient (5 min)
9.32g BCAA (5 min)

Mash at 154F. Start fermentation at 45F, ramping temps up to ~50F over 5 days. Start diacetyl rest when gravity is down to around 1.020. For the d-rest, I tend to bump it up a couple of degrees morning and night until I got about 65F. I leave it there for a couple of days before I start cold crashing.

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

Brewing Notes
No major issues. I was also kegging my latest batch of NZ Pilsner and had a very minor boil-over while attending to that. I would guesstimate I lost about 6-12 ounces of wort. I was only able to chill down to 70F, so it'll have to chill a while before I pitch the yeast. Gravity measured 1.055 per the Tilt.

Update 7/9/2019
I aerated and pitched the yeast last night. I also finally got logging working on my Tilt Hydrometer. I'm not sure exactly what the problem was, but I could never get it to write to the Google Sheets when I was hosting it on my own Google account. I ended up doing a couple things. First, I did some tweaks on my Nexus 6P to enable Always On Display and prevent it from going into sleep mode when charging. Then I upgraded to the Tilt 2 app, and now I'm successfully logging to the cloud using the default logging option. It'll be nice to be able to check gravity and temp from anywhere, especially with lagers and timing the diacetyl rest.

Update 7/10/2019 AM
I'm starting to get a little worried, I haven't seen any change to gravity yet and no signs obvious signs of fermentation. I'm crossing my fingers that we see something tonight.

Update 7/10/2019 PM
When I got home from work tonight, I was finally seeing signs of fermentation.

This is pure speculation, but I'm wondering if the higher concentration of amino acids could have contributed to an increase in the lag time as the yeast were trying to absorb all of the available nutrients. It would be impossible to confirm that at home without access to specialized equipment. About the only option I have is to repeat the conditions as closely as possible on another batch, and see if I experience similar results.

Update 7/12/2019
Gravity is down to 1.041 this morning.

Update 7/16/2019
Gravity was down to 1.020 yesterday, so I started ramping the temps up. Gravity is down to 1.014 today.

Update 7/27/2019
This beer went into a keg today along with gelatin for fining. The gravity finished at about 1.007, putting the ABV at 6.3%.