Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: redzim on January 12, 2011, 09:11:31 PM

Title: Pilsner brewing
Post by: redzim on January 12, 2011, 09:11:31 PM

With spring hopefully on its way, the brewing mind turns to Pilsners. As is probably the case with many homebrewers, I’ve never been able to achieve that great crispness of even run-of-the mill Bohemian Pilsners that are a dime a dozen over in Germany, never mind something stellar like Pilsner Urquell.  One might ask, why bother to even try to match them; they’ve had almost 2 centuries of head start, and I’ve only done 3 or 4 batches of German and Bohemian Pils. But I’d like to give it a shot and get better beer. 

Last summer my Pilsner attempts were consistently too “sweet” and “bready”.  I might also be tasting diacetyl, but I did do diacetyl rests on these beers, and anyways I don’t really know what diacetyl really tastes like, when it comes down to it….  (is there some commercial beer that has diacetyl issues…. I’d buy some just to learn what it tastes like !)  I’ve narrowed it down to 3 things to improve on, and would love some suggestions… 

1)   Malt. I brewed both JZ’s “Myburger” (1.054 to 1.009) and BoPils (1.057 to 1.014) recipes last year with Crisp Euro Pils as the base malt, because that is what I can get cheap from my local brewpub.   Would paying almost twice as much for something like Weyermann make a huge difference?  I’ve done other lagers (Maibock and Helles come to mind) using this Pils malt as the base and got good results, and even placed in some competitions (the Helles took a gold, and the Maibock a silver, at New York State Fair last summer)…. The breadiness is not so out of place in those styles.

2)   Yeast. I brewed both these Pilsners with S-189 dry Swiss lager yeast which has good recommendations from people like Denny…   I would love to keep using dry yeast – would W-34/70 be better?  I’ve heard nothing good about S-23 though.  Unless you all tell me that I will NEVER make a decent Pils without a liquid yeast and a monster starter…. I started brewing that way but just kind of slipped over to the quick and easy “pitch dry yeast into the fermenter and hit it with the mix-stir” method (with encouragement from folks like MullerBrau) and never looked back

3)   Water. This is the  one I don’t really want to deal with, but will if I have to. I’ve never modded my water, and get good ales, stouts, as well as good amber and dark lagers. So I guess I may be on to something, I just don’t know how to fix it.  Here’s my water profile: pH 7.4.  Na 14ppm, K 1ppm, Ca 54ppm, Mg 9ppm, Total Hardness  173ppm, Chloride 25ppm, Carbonates <1ppm, Bicarbonates 166ppm, Total Alkalinity 136ppm.  From my limited research it seems this is not good Pilsner water… what can I do to fix it?

I know this is a pretty involved query, but if anyone has ideas on even part of my question, I’d appreciate it. Or if you need more info, let me know.

-red
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: majorvices on January 12, 2011, 09:40:21 PM
1) Grain bill should be simple. 100% pils malt. Anything more than that is most likely unecessary (with the exception of acidulated malt and perhaps cara-pils) . I like Best German Pils but Rahr makes an exceptional substitution.

2) The S-189 is a decent lager strain. I prefer the liquid lager strains though. Regardless, in either case, are you pitching enough yeast? You need (at least) 2xs the amount of yeast for a lager as for an ale. See the pitching calc at www.mrmalty.com. You need to aerate longer as well. Are you cooling to pithcing temps before pitching? Pitching warm and starting fermentation off, then cooling, is not an ideal way to make a lager.

3) Water is going to be essential. As is pH. You must have soft water and you must check pH. In the case of your water I would start with RO water and add some calcium back in. You will want about 50ppms of calcium in your brewing liquor.

Pilsners, Helles', and Kolsches are very difficult to brew. But it you dot all your t's and cross your i's you can do it. Errrr.... I mean the other way around. ;D
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: denny on January 12, 2011, 09:57:03 PM
2)   Yeast. I brewed both these Pilsners with S-189 dry Swiss lager yeast which has good recommendations from people like Denny…   I would love to keep using dry yeast – would W-34/70 be better?  I’ve heard nothing good about S-23 though.  Unless you all tell me that I will NEVER make a decent Pils without a liquid yeast and a monster starter…. I started brewing that way but just kind of slipped over to the quick and easy “pitch dry yeast into the fermenter and hit it with the mix-stir” method (with encouragement from folks like MullerBrau) and never looked back


S-189 is a great dry lager yeast, but probably not the best choice for pils (although not terrible either).  34/70 would be better if you want to stay with dry yeast.  I'm using WY2124 this lager season and I think it's really a great pils yeast.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on January 12, 2011, 10:03:10 PM
I just brewed a N. German Pils last weekend. I used 99% German pils and 1% melanoidin. Any problem with that grainbill?
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: denny on January 12, 2011, 10:12:05 PM
Doubtful there's anything wrong with that!  Most of the time I go all pils, but every once in a while I'll throw in about 5-10% Munich.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: tomsawyer on January 12, 2011, 10:19:46 PM
I just brewed a N. German Pils last weekend. I used 99% German pils and 1% melanoidin. Any problem with that grainbill?

I used nearly this same grain bill (2% mel) on my first lager in my new ferm chamber.  It didn't come out great, a bit sweet and slightly bready like red complained of.  Maybe its a touch of diacetyl (I too did a good long d-rest), I know what diacetyl tastes like but its hard to tell in this brew.  Maybe it just needs more lagering, maybe I didn't use enough yeast, but my second try is sans melanoidin.  Its in the lager fridge, I'll report in a few weeks.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on January 12, 2011, 10:30:11 PM
Doubtful there's anything wrong with that!  Most of the time I go all pils, but every once in a while I'll throw in about 5-10% Munich.

Do you ever do a step mash for pils?  If you're only doing a single infusion, at what temp are you mashing and for how long?

tomsawyer, I get that bready flavor in my Helles. I've always attributed it to the small amount of Munich and melanoidin I use in that grain bill (I actually enjoy that flavor in my Helles). But I don't think it's as appropriate in a N. German Pils, from what I understand. So, I may try a 100% pils recipe in the future. It depends on how my most recent pils turns out.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: denny on January 12, 2011, 10:41:18 PM
Do you ever do a step mash for pils?  If you're only doing a single infusion, at what temp are you mashing and for how long?


Yeah, I do sometimes.  I have doubts about how much difference a step mash makes, so I go back and forth doing and not doing them to try to decide what I think.  If I step, it's 146 for 60 and around 158-160 for 30.  For a single infusion I do 147-148 for 90.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: jeffy on January 12, 2011, 10:53:22 PM
I've been very happy with the W34/70 dry yeast for German lagers.  I've also been shooting for lower mash temps (148) to keep the beer as dry as possible.  It's working out pretty well both in my Dortmunder Export and my N. German Pils. 
I usually use 100% Wyerman Pils malt.  I tried a couple bags of Briess Malteurop, but the efficiency dropped pretty significantly and I didn't get the breadiness of the German pils malt.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: majorvices on January 12, 2011, 11:34:55 PM
I just brewed a N. German Pils last weekend. I used 99% German pils and 1% melanoidin. Any problem with that grainbill?

What I should have said is that anything more than 100% pils isn't really necessary. Same with a beer like "kolsch", and yet  find myself putting munich in my grain bill from time to time, and I always add wheat.

IMO for a Bo Pils cara-pils is important for the mouth feel, but I know a lot of people disagree with that.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: Malticulous on January 13, 2011, 12:26:06 AM
I made a German pils and a Bo pils recently. The German pils was all Castle Pils, the Bo pils had 5% Best caramel pils. The German pils was with my water and the Bo pils I cut my water with RO 50%. My water is softer than yours is. Both were made with double decotions.

I used one pack S-34/70 in the German pils and pitch slurry in the Bo pils.I think I hit the spot with both of them. With the German pils the  bitterness lingered into the dry finish. It didn't with the Bo pils even with more hops.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: tschmidlin on January 13, 2011, 05:48:29 AM
I just brewed a N. German Pils last weekend. I used 99% German pils and 1% melanoidin. Any problem with that grainbill?

What I should have said is that anything more than 100% pils isn't really necessary.

You say that, but you haven't tried mine made with 105% pils. ;)
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: Kaiser on January 13, 2011, 06:03:46 AM
Last summer my Pilsner attempts were consistently too “sweet” and “bready”.  I might also be tasting diacetyl, but I did do diacetyl rests on these beers, and anyways I don’t really know what diacetyl really tastes like, when it comes down to it….  (is there some commercial beer that has diacetyl issues…. I’d buy some just to learn what it tastes like !)  I’ve narrowed it down to 3 things to improve on, and would love some suggestions… 

Start doing a fast ferment test (http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Fast_Ferment_Test) for your lagers. The test itself won't fix anything but it gives you one vital piece of information -> the fermentability of your wort. If your beer seems too sweet, chances are that there are too many residual fermentable sugars left. I know from experience that getting the yeast to ferment those last sugars can take a while but you won't get a crisp tasting beer if the yeast doesn't go all the way.

Quote
1)   Malt. I brewed both JZ’s “Myburger” (1.054 to 1.009) and BoPils (1.057 to 1.014) recipes last year with Crisp Euro Pils as the base malt, because that is what I can get cheap from my local brewpub.   Would paying almost twice as much for something like Weyermann make a huge difference?

I like Weyermann a lot,m but many of my recent beers have been brewed with Best Malz Pilsner and they are fine too. I don't have any direct comparison though.

Quote
2)   Yeast.

Is key. I have little experience with dry yeast. Judging by the name, 34/70 is the German brewing yeast. However, when I used the s34/70 strain the results were too sulfury for my taste. I have good success with WLP830, which I think is the W34/70 strain that is so widely used in German brewing. You'll need a large amount of healthy and young yeast. Anything not healthy enough and you'll have problems getting those last fermentable sugars (Maltotriose in most cases) fermented. In its last step I raise my yeast with constant aeration and try to brew within 2-3 days of the last propagation step being complete.

You want to be able to ferment the beer at 46-50 F. How long does your primary fermentation take now?

Quote
3)   Water. This is the  one I don’t really want to deal with, but will if I have to. I’ve never modded my water, and get good ales, stouts, as well as good amber and dark lagers. So I guess I may be on to something, I just don’t know how to fix it.  Here’s my water profile: pH 7.4.  Na 14ppm, K 1ppm, Ca 54ppm, Mg 9ppm, Total Hardness  173ppm, Chloride 25ppm, Carbonates <1ppm, Bicarbonates 166ppm, Total Alkalinity 136ppm.  From my limited research it seems this is not good Pilsner water… what can I do to fix it?

That water needs fixing when using mostly pilsner malt. I'd start with a 50/50 dilution with reverse osmosis or distilled water and  3% acid malt to the grist. Also add about 0.4g gypsum to each gallon of water and use a mash thickness of 2 qt/lb.

There are ways to reduce the bicarbonate in your water even further. One of them is to use all RO water and add salts and another one is to treat the water with slaked lime. But that may take you too far at this point.
 
Quote
I know this is a pretty involved query, but if anyone has ideas on even part of my question, I’d appreciate it. Or if you need more info, let me know.

Getting a Pilsner or Helles that matches up with German beers is one of the driving forces in my brewing. I can tell you it is not easy at all, but maybe those tips will get you a big step closer. In particular the fermentation is key. There don't seem to be enough differences between step mashing (145 to 160F for example) over a single infusion mash that you should not worry about that at this point.

Kai
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: tomsawyer on January 13, 2011, 01:21:10 PM
Anybody got a review for Global pils (and any other Global malts)?

I've personally wondered if there aren't custom made malts being used by the established German breweries.  And I worry that freshness of malt is contributing to my inability to replicate these things, but I doubt that.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: majorvices on January 13, 2011, 02:10:57 PM
I just brewed a N. German Pils last weekend. I used 99% German pils and 1% melanoidin. Any problem with that grainbill?

What I should have said is that anything more than 100% pils isn't really necessary.

You say that, but you haven't tried mine made with 105% pils. ;)

Now thats something I have to try!  8)
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: tomsawyer on January 13, 2011, 02:22:23 PM
You might even get 115% efficiency.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: dcbc on January 13, 2011, 05:30:13 PM
I have been on a quest to get something remotely close to Pilsner Urquell for the last several years.  On my most recent attempt, I feel like I absolutely nailed it.  My next goal is to see if I can recreate it with something less than the 12 hour brew day it took to get this truly excellent result.  

Here is what I did.

Recipe (off the top of my head)
91.3.% Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt
8.7% Carapils/Dextrine

Double Decoction (modified Hochkurz schedule). Mashed in at 143 for an hour, pulled a decoction, held at 158, boiled for about 12-15 minutes, raised to 158 for another hour. Pulled another decoction and boiled for 12-15 minutes to reach mash out. Batch Sparged.

120 min. boil. 3 hop charges, each 3.5 oz of Saaz at 4.0% AA. FWH (IBU calculated as 30 minute addition), 80 min. 30 min. Total IBU was estimated at about 41.

WLP800 Pilsner Lager yeast pitched at 39 F and let rise to 45 F. Let it rise to 50 F toward the end. About 3 weeks in the primary and a week in a bright tank with gelatin.  Then to the keg.

For best results, age for at least 8--10 weeks This is the real trick, I'm convinced.  I was happy with the beer at 3 weeks on draught.  I was overwhelmed with how great it was at 9 weeks.  Huge difference.

Water.  My water is pretty soft.  Cutting it with distilled (50%) gets everything into single digits.  I adjusted the mash with lactic per Palmer's spreadsheet (yes, I know there are plenty who thinks this spreadsheet goes to far at this end of the SRM spectrum).  I adjusted my water in the boil so that the final product would have 50 ppm Ca and 50 ppm SO4 with everything else in single digits.  I know that is counterintuitive for this heavily hopped, yet malty beer, but I've tried it with heavy chlorides and it just doesn't taste right to me.  I took some advice from a guy over at the NB forum on this one.  He claimed that this is what the folks at PU were doing to their water, which we all know is extremely soft.  As far as I'm concerned, this advice was very good and I will use this water profile going forward.

For next time, I may try to do either a single infusion mash at 154 with all other variables the same or a step mash between 143 and 158.  I may still do a single decoction to see if it makes a difference.  In the end, if I can get this same beer without decoction, I'll be glad to shorten the brew day.  But, if future batches don't bear this out, I'll just have to set aside time for the long brew day because the product is worth the trouble to get the results I got.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: richardt on January 13, 2011, 06:05:27 PM
Double Decoction (modified Hochkurz schedule). Mashed in at 143 for an hour, pulled a decoction, held at 158, boiled for about 12-15 minutes, raised to 158 for another hour. Pulled another decoction and boiled for 12-15 minutes to reach mash out. Batch Sparged.
Can you clarify this, please? 
I understand you to mean mash in at 143 F x 1 hr, pull a decoction, hold [the decoction?] at 158F [for unknown period of time?], boiled the decoction x 12-15 minutes, raised [the mash?] to 158 F x 1 more hour. Pulled another decoction and boiled for 12-15 minutes [then added it back to the mash] to reach mash out.

Quote
WLP800 Pilsner Lager yeast pitched at 39 F and let rise to 45 F. Let it rise to 50 F toward the end. About 3 weeks in the primary and a week in a bright tank with gelatin.  Then to the keg.
What is the Wyeast equivalent? Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils?  Wyeast 2007 Pilsen Lager Yeast?

Quote
For next time, I may try to do either a single infusion mash at 154 with all other variables the same or a step mash between 143 and 158.  I may still do a single decoction to see if it makes a difference.  In the end, if I can get this same beer without decoction, I'll be glad to shorten the brew day.  But, if future batches don't bear this out, I'll just have to set aside time for the long brew day because the product is worth the trouble to get the results I got.
  For a single infusion mash, I'd think the temp should be lower, like 150-151 F max given the desire to get it more crisp and dry.  You've got plenty of residual sugars with your 8.7% carapils/dextrine.  Not doubting your results, but your 2+ hour mash essentially gave the enzymes more time to work on your sugars before the sugar profile was fixed at mashout.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: paulhilgeman on January 13, 2011, 06:30:37 PM
I'd start with the yeast and mash temp issues.

First, Even using a 4L stirplate starter, I have NEVER made a lager off the stirplate that tastes as good as directly re-pitching from a batch moved to a keg the same day as the brew session.

Second, err on the side of low mash temps.  When updating some of the items in my system, I did a mash that was all screwed up... mashed in at 142, raised to 148, fell back to about 138 (Stuck Sparge and RIMS system dont work well together), I steam-infused up to 153 for 20 minutes just to ensure that I completed conversion.  The beer turned out great, and went from 52pts to 10pts. 

As for your actual pils malts.  Wyermann is great, can get those authentic cracker/whitebread flavors, the final product tastes a lot like chewing on the kernels do.  Rahr however always tastes sweeter and simpler to me, so it is great for things like BGSA or Tripels where you want some underlying sweetness (even when they finish at 6pts or so).  Castle is nice too if it is any cheaper for you, a lot like Wyermann, but just has less overall 'graininess' as opposed to Wyermann... never tried Best, Durst or Dingemanns
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 13, 2011, 07:46:10 PM
Double Decoction (modified Hochkurz schedule). Mashed in at 143 for an hour, pulled a decoction, held at 158, boiled for about 12-15 minutes, raised to 158 for another hour. Pulled another decoction and boiled for 12-15 minutes to reach mash out. Batch Sparged.
Can you clarify this, please?  
I understand you to mean mash in at 143 F x 1 hr, pull a decoction, hold [the decoction?] at 158F [for unknown period of time?], boiled the decoction x 12-15 minutes, raised [the mash?] to 158 F x 1 more hour. Pulled another decoction and boiled for 12-15 minutes [then added it back to the mash] to reach mash out.

Quote
WLP800 Pilsner Lager yeast pitched at 39 F and let rise to 45 F. Let it rise to 50 F toward the end. About 3 weeks in the primary and a week in a bright tank with gelatin.  Then to the keg.
What is the Wyeast equivalent? Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils?  Wyeast 2007 Pilsen Lager Yeast?

Hochkurz is explained here on Kai's site.  Did one last week for a German Pils.  It translates to "High brief", as you mash in high compared to a tripple decoction and it saves time.
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Decoction_Mashing#Hochkurz_Double_Decoction

Wyeast 2001 is the PU H-strain, and the 2278 is the PU D-strain.
Those are on the stirplate now.  Will do 5 gallons of each, then blend back together after fermentation.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: dcbc on January 13, 2011, 10:45:56 PM
Double Decoction (modified Hochkurz schedule). Mashed in at 143 for an hour, pulled a decoction, held at 158, boiled for about 12-15 minutes, raised to 158 for another hour. Pulled another decoction and boiled for 12-15 minutes to reach mash out. Batch Sparged.

Can you clarify this, please? 

Your understanding of what I said appears to be correct.

Mash in at 143 F for 1 hour, pull a decoction, raise the temp of the decoction to 158 and hold at 158F for about 20 minutes IIRC, boiled the decoction for 12-15 minutes, added it back to the the mash, which raised the mash to 158 F.  Mash rests at 158 for another hour. Pulled another decoction and boiled for 12-15 minutes then added it back to the mashto reach mash out.

This was my first decoction.  I added some boiling water to the mash after adding the first decoction back in to get to 158 since the decoction I pulled (around 3.5 gallons IIRC) wasn't enough.

WLP800 Pilsner Lager yeast pitched at 39 F and let rise to 45 F. Let it rise to 50 F toward the end. About 3 weeks in the primary and a week in a bright tank with gelatin.  Then to the keg.

What is the Wyeast equivalent? Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils?  Wyeast 2007 Pilsen Lager Yeast?

According to mrmalty.com, it is the Wyeast 2001 strain.

http://www.mrmalty.com/yeast.htm

Forgot to mention.  I think I did about a 6L starter for this 11 gallon batch.  Probably undersized, but did the trick.

For next time, I may try to do either a single infusion mash at 154 with all other variables the same or a step mash between 143 and 158.  I may still do a single decoction to see if it makes a difference.  In the end, if I can get this same beer without decoction, I'll be glad to shorten the brew day. But, if future batches don't bear this out, I'll just have to set aside time for the long brew day because the product is worth the trouble to get the results I got.

For a single infusion mash, I'd think the temp should be lower, like 150-151 F max given the desire to get it more crisp and dry.  You've got plenty of residual sugars with your 8.7% carapils/dextrine.  Not doubting your results, but your 2+ hour mash essentially gave the enzymes more time to work on your sugars before the sugar profile was fixed at mashout.

You may be right on the money there.  The only thing I can think is that the higher level of sulfates versus chlorides might give it a bit of crispness.  The dextrine level is really high in this recipe, but it doesn't come off as too sweet.  Part of me wants to bump it down slightly, but the flavor seems to be right on.  So I must resist.  I have done JZ's Bopils at 154 before (roughly the same recipe, but with about 5.8% carapils) and have never been satisfied with the mouthfeel or malt flavor.  I know I am only supposed to do one change at a time if I want to know what made the biggest difference.  The above recipe was a complete departure from just about everything I have done before.  So I still have a lot of questions about what made the biggest difference.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: dcbc on January 13, 2011, 10:51:38 PM
What is the Wyeast equivalent? Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils?  Wyeast 2007 Pilsen Lager Yeast?
Wyeast 2001 is the PU H-strain, and the 2278 is the PU D-strain.
Those are on the stirplate now.  Will do 5 gallons of each, then blend back together after fermentation.
[/quote]

Just for the sake of mentioning it, my understanding is that the current incarnation of Urquell only uses the H-strain whereas it used to be a blend of multiple (5 IIRC) strains.  I'm not saying one method is superior to the other.  More power to you for blending.  I'll bet it turns out great!
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: richardt on January 14, 2011, 12:22:41 AM
Hmmm.... looking over the Wyeast packs in my fridge; I've got 2124 Bohemian lager, 2206 Bavarian lager, and 2782 Staro-Prague. 
Trying to figure out which style of beer to make with each one.
Which one would you recommend for which beer style?  My next beer will be a pilsner, so I'm following this thread with interest.
I know I want to make a pilsner, a helles, and a bock/doppelbock, and a schwarzbier (my goals for this winter/spring).
Open to suggestions.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 14, 2011, 12:33:05 AM
Hmmm.... looking over the Wyeast packs in my fridge; I've got 2124 Bohemian lager, 2206 Bavarian lager, and 2782 Staro-Prague. 
Trying to figure out which style of beer to make with each one.
Which one would you recommend for which beer style?  My next beer will be a pilsner, so I'm following this thread with interest.
I know I want to make a pilsner, a helles, and a bock/doppelbock, and a schwarzbier (my goals for this winter/spring).
Open to suggestions.

2206 = WLP 820, good for the Helles as it lets malt shine.
2124= WLP 830 = 34/70 and this is the one for a German Pilsner or the Schwarzbier.
2782 Staro-Prague would be good for a Bo-Pils.

I like the WLP-833 for bocks and Doppelbocks.  That is the Ayinger strain, and no Wyeast equivalent that I know of.

 
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: redzim on January 14, 2011, 07:04:11 PM
Last summer my Pilsner attempts were consistently too “sweet” and “bready”.  I might also be tasting diacetyl, but I did do diacetyl rests on these beers, and anyways I don’t really know what diacetyl really tastes like, when it comes down to it….  (is there some commercial beer that has diacetyl issues…. I’d buy some just to learn what it tastes like !)  I’ve narrowed it down to 3 things to improve on, and would love some suggestions… 

Start doing a fast ferment test (http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Fast_Ferment_Test) for your lagers. The test itself won't fix anything but it gives you one vital piece of information -> the fermentability of your wort. If your beer seems too sweet, chances are that there are too many residual fermentable sugars left. I know from experience that getting the yeast to ferment those last sugars can take a while but you won't get a crisp tasting beer if the yeast doesn't go all the way.



 I actually did do your FFT procedure on some of my lagers last summer… definitely did it on a Helles that worked out nicely…   so I am confident that I am fermenting my beers all the way out
Quote
Quote
1)   Malt. I brewed both JZ’s “Myburger” (1.054 to 1.009) and BoPils (1.057 to 1.014) recipes last year with Crisp Euro Pils as the base malt, because that is what I can get cheap from my local brewpub.   Would paying almost twice as much for something like Weyermann make a huge difference?

I like Weyermann a lot,m but many of my recent beers have been brewed with Best Malz Pilsner and they are fine too. I don't have any direct comparison though.

Quote
2)   Yeast.

Is key. I have little experience with dry yeast. Judging by the name, 34/70 is the German brewing yeast. However, when I used the s34/70 strain the results were too sulfury for my taste. I have good success with WLP830, which I think is the W34/70 strain that is so widely used in German brewing. You'll need a large amount of healthy and young yeast. Anything not healthy enough and you'll have problems getting those last fermentable sugars (Maltotriose in most cases) fermented. In its last step I raise my yeast with constant aeration and try to brew within 2-3 days of the last propagation step being complete.

You want to be able to ferment the beer at 46-50 F. How long does your primary fermentation take now?


my Bo Pils was pitched at 50F, and stayed in primary at 50F for 11 days, then I raised temp quickly to 60F, left it for 48 hrs, then transferred to glass carboys and lagered at 33F for 5wks, then kegged and started drinking it after 10 days in the keg.

Quote
Quote
3)   Water. This is the  one I don’t really want to deal with, but will if I have to. I’ve never modded my water, and get good ales, stouts, as well as good amber and dark lagers. So I guess I may be on to something, I just don’t know how to fix it.  Here’s my water profile: pH 7.4.  Na 14ppm, K 1ppm, Ca 54ppm, Mg 9ppm, Total Hardness  173ppm, Chloride 25ppm, Carbonates <1ppm, Bicarbonates 166ppm, Total Alkalinity 136ppm.  From my limited research it seems this is not good Pilsner water… what can I do to fix it?

That water needs fixing when using mostly pilsner malt. I'd start with a 50/50 dilution with reverse osmosis or distilled water and  3% acid malt to the grist. Also add about 0.4g gypsum to each gallon of water and use a mash thickness of 2 qt/lb.

There are ways to reduce the bicarbonate in your water even further. One of them is to use all RO water and add salts and another one is to treat the water with slaked lime. But that may take you too far at this point.
 
Getting a Pilsner or Helles that matches up with German beers is one of the driving forces in my brewing. I can tell you it is not easy at all, but maybe those tips will get you a big step closer. In particular the fermentation is key. There don't seem to be enough differences between step mashing (145 to 160F for example) over a single infusion mash that you should not worry about that at this point.

Kai

I guess I still don’t know what the problems will be if I brew pils with my water, or to put it another way, do you think my water is the primary culprit in making the beer taste this way? (I still have a few bottles of the BoPils and the Helles from last summer, I can send them to you if you want to taste them) 

I think what I’m going to try is to switch to Weyermann or Best Malz, add the acidulated malt to the grain bill, mix 50/50 distilled water with my water and treat with gypsum, then see what I get… I’ll still stick with a dry yeast (I’ll try 34/70 instead of S-189 though)

So to that, I have a few more questions:

1.   When using 3% acidulated malt, does this replace an equal amount of the pils malt? Or is it in addition to the full amount of pils malt….

2.   Do I modify all my water with gypsum (mash and sparge) or just the water that will be used for mashing?  And do I add the gypsum to the water, or to the mash… (I already  mash at 2.0 qts/lbs)

3.   On some of these online water calculators, it seems like if I add the gypsum you recommend to a mix of 50/50 distilled water and my water, it bumps the sulfates up a lot too, is this a problem?

4.   Side question:  will this water also work for a Bitburger-style German Pils??

5.   And a final side issue: any hints on the diacetyl question… what beer (or what food product) tastes like diacetyl?

thanks,
Red

Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: blatz on January 14, 2011, 07:36:10 PM
I like the WLP-833 for bocks and Doppelbocks.  That is the Ayinger strain, and no Wyeast equivalent that I know of.


VSS Wyeast Hella-bock, which is out right now, is supposedly the same one.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 14, 2011, 07:39:27 PM
I like the WLP-833 for bocks and Doppelbocks.  That is the Ayinger strain, and no Wyeast equivalent that I know of.

VSS Wyeast Hella-bock, which is out right now, is supposedly the same one.

Thanks Blatz, will add that to my memory banks.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: blatz on January 14, 2011, 07:41:16 PM
1.   When using 3% acidulated malt, does this replace an equal amount of the pils malt? Or is it in addition to the full amount of pils malt….

well, yeah, cause then you'd have 103% of the grist  ;D ;)

you'll get gravity out of the acid malt, so it should be 97% pils/3% acid malt.

Quote
2.   Do I modify all my water with gypsum (mash and sparge) or just the water that will be used for mashing?  And do I add the gypsum to the water, or to the mash… (I already  mash at 2.0 qts/lbs)

IMO, add to the mash.


Quote
3.   On some of these online water calculators, it seems like if I add the gypsum you recommend to a mix of 50/50 distilled water and my water, it bumps the sulfates up a lot too, is this a problem?

you want the sulfates high to accentuate the hop character a bit.

edit - actually, how is that possible that adding distilled bumps up a salt - explain a bit here  ???

Quote
4.   Side question:  will this water also work for a Bitburger-style German Pils??

higher carbonates in Bitburger - that's one of the key differentiating factors over Bo-pils

Quote
5.   And a final side issue: any hints on the diacetyl question… what beer (or what food product) tastes like diacetyl?


the butter in movie/microwave popcorn.


Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: dcbc on January 14, 2011, 10:51:08 PM
Soft water is probably as key of an ingredient in a bohemian pils as saaz hops are.  It's as crucial to this style as high carbonate water is to Guiness.  If you have high or moderately high carbonate water, cutting it by 50% may not be enough to get down in the ridiculously low range that is traditionally used with this style of beer.  You can surely make a great beer while not using the extremely soft water.  But it will be different than what you may be expecting.  If cutting it by half with distilled doesn't get you down into single digits with your minerals, you may just want to use all distilled and build your minerals from the ground up with salts.  I am fortunate (for this style anyway) to have pretty soft water.  So a 50/50 blend gets me there. 

Adding the gypsum is something I did on advice from someone who claimed that that's what they do at Urquell.  It seems to have worked well.  But I'm doing it with a 50 ppm target in mind.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: malzig on January 15, 2011, 04:01:33 PM
Hmmm.... looking over the Wyeast packs in my fridge; I've got 2124 Bohemian lager, 2206 Bavarian lager, and 2782 Staro-Prague.
2206 = WLP 820, good for the Helles as it lets malt shine.
2124= WLP 830 = 34/70 and this is the one for a German Pilsner or the Schwarzbier.
2782 Staro-Prague would be good for a Bo-Pils.
Pisner beers aren't really typical of Prague, and Staropromen gets a lot of ribbing for their yellow beers over there.  Most pubs carry Urquell or Budvar Pilsner, with Staropromen relegated mostly to supermarkets.  Not that I'd blame their yeast for that, and it probably could make a fine Pilsner.

Prague, however, is more of a Dunkle town, historically, since it has hard water more like Munich and the OPs than Pilzn.  This is probably the yeast used by U Fleku to make their famous Dunkel.  I'd use 2782 yeast to make a Dunkel or Schwarzbier,
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 15, 2011, 06:27:00 PM
From Wyeasts web site.  Looks like we are both right.

Wyeast 2782-PC Staro Prague Lager Yeast
Beer Styles: Bohemian Pilsner, Munich Helles, Vienna Lager, Oktoberfest/Marzen, Munich Dunkel, Schwarzbier, Traditional Bock, Maibock/Hellesbock, Dopplebock, Eisbock
Profile: This yeast will help create medium to full body lagers with moderate fruit and bready malt flavors. The balance is slightly toward malt sweetness and will benefit from additional hop bittering. A fantastic strain for producing classic Bohemian lagers.

Alc. Tolerance 11% ABV   
Flocculation     medium
Attenuation       70-74%             
Temp. Range   50-58°F (10-14°C)
 


Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: malzig on January 15, 2011, 06:45:25 PM
From Wyeasts web site.  Looks like we are both right.
I was giving you a bit of a hard time.  I'm sure this yeast could make a great Bohemian Pilsner, I just haven't had one that I knew was made with this yeast.  I know it makes a fantastic Dunkel/Schwarzbier, though!
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: richardt on January 15, 2011, 06:55:12 PM
Good to know because I like both types of beers!  Maybe I'll start with a Pilsner, then use the cake for the Dunkel or Schwartzbier.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 15, 2011, 06:58:17 PM
I was in Prague for a few days in '99.  Loved the beer, light and dark.  My wife actually liked the Staropamen.  The only poor beer we had was at U-Flecku.  It had gone sour, and was not good at all.   A year later a guy from the club brought some U-Fleku back from a Europe tour, and that was an entirely different beer, not sour at all.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: malzig on January 15, 2011, 07:06:46 PM
My hotel in Prague had a Budvar pub on the first floor.  I drank a lot of Budvar Dark and Kozel Dark, and an occasional Urquell, but I never saw any Staropromen on tap, so I only had a warmish bottle I bought at the local convenience store.
Good to know because I like both types of beers!  Maybe I'll start with a Pilsner, then use the cake for the Dunkel or Schwartzbier.
Now that sounds like a plan!
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: Kaiser on January 16, 2011, 04:41:21 AM
Despite having done the FFT I wonder if your beers are actually done fermenting. 11 days primary and 2 days at 60 can work but not in most of the cases I have seen in my brewing. Maybe you should try the extended primary where you keep the beer in the primary for 3 weeks at 50 F before kegging it.

With the water I was not aiming for a Bohemian Pilsner water but mor for a German Pilsner water.

You would modify all the water in this way. But on a second thought you can also mash with your water, add all the Gypsum to the mash and sparge with distilled or reverse osmosis water if this is easier for you. I don't think that this would make much of a difference. 

Kai

 
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: redzim on January 16, 2011, 04:17:09 PM
OK so for German Pils, mix my water 50/50 with distilled, at 0.5g gypsum per gallon, and mash and sparge with that water (or rather add that amount of gypsum to the mash.....)   Alternatively mash with my water with added gypsum, and sparge with distilled would be the same?? 

How would the additions change for a Bohemian Pils?

And I will certainly try a 3wk primary at 50F, I'm willing to wait for an improved product.....

-Red
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on January 16, 2011, 09:57:44 PM
Pisner beers aren't really typical of Prague, and Staropromen gets a lot of ribbing for their yellow beers over there.  Most pubs carry Urquell or Budvar Pilsner, with Staropromen relegated mostly to supermarkets.  Not that I'd blame their yeast for that, and it probably could make a fine Pilsner.

Prague, however, is more of a Dunkle town, historically, since it has hard water more like Munich and the OPs than Pilzn.  This is probably the yeast used by U Fleku to make their famous Dunkel.  I'd use 2782 yeast to make a Dunkel or Schwarzbier,

I am sorry to tell you that you are wrong.
Pilsner style beers are brewed all over the Czech republic and are as native as Hamburgers for good old US of A.
Praha/Prague included.

If you could not find Staropramen on your visit there, may be you should have walked off tourist track and find out where and what native are drinking.
U Fleku is a tourist trap and for 60 crowns a pop you will not find too many natives there.

By the way water for Bo - Pils should be from soft to moderate.
You adjust your recipe based on your water.
If you have soft water you can add more hops.
If you have moderate water you use less hops.
You should have NO lingering bitterns regardless of water hardness.
Also Bo - Pils should not be too bitter.
Pilsner Urquell is 34 IBUs.

Hope this help.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: malzig on January 17, 2011, 12:35:34 AM
Pisner beers aren't really typical of Prague, and Staropromen gets a lot of ribbing for their yellow beers over there.  Most pubs carry Urquell or Budvar Pilsner, with Staropromen relegated mostly to supermarkets.  Not that I'd blame their yeast for that, and it probably could make a fine Pilsner.

Prague, however, is more of a Dunkle town, historically, since it has hard water more like Munich and the OPs than Pilzn.  This is probably the yeast used by U Fleku to make their famous Dunkel.  I'd use 2782 yeast to make a Dunkel or Schwarzbier,
I am sorry to tell you that you are wrong.
Pilsner style beers are brewed all over the Czech republic and are as native as Hamburgers for good old US of A.
Praha/Prague included.

If you could not find Staropramen on your visit there, may be you should have walked off tourist track and find out where and what native are drinking.
U Fleku is a tourist trap and for 60 crowns a pop you will not find too many natives there.
Wrong about what?
Historically, Dunkel was the dominant style in Prague, just as it was in Munich.  There's a lot more to Dunkels than U Fleku, so I hope that's not the only one you tried.  I never said that Pilsners aren't now brewed in Prague, but like many great brewing cities in the world, Prague makes passable Pilsners because there always seems to be a demand for yellow beer.  

Staropromen is fine and all, but I've tried quite a few Pilsners over my last last 35 years of traveling around and near Germany, well off the "tourist track" and I wouldn't place Staropromen near the top.  Czech natives that I talked to considered it the Miller of Czech and a bit of a joke.
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: redzim on January 17, 2011, 09:26:39 PM


You would modify all the water in this way.

 

I'm a little confused... I would add gypsum at 0.4g / gal to the mash tun when mashing in, that much I understand.  but then when batch sparging, would I again add 0.4g gypsum for every gallon of sparge water I use, and add that gypsum to my mash tun as well?  in other places I've seen people say they add those salts directly to the boil.... please advise.

-red
Title: Re: Pilsner brewing
Post by: Kaiser on January 18, 2011, 04:09:33 AM
I don't think it matters much if all the water is treated the same way or if you add the sparge water salts to the boil or even in the mash tun. If the goal is to emulate a particular local brewing water, it seems logical that you would want to treat all the water the same way since that local brewing water would be used for mash and sparge. Since we are adding salts to the water we do have a bit more freedom than that brewer who is using the water we are trying to emulate. Hence the discussion when and where to add the salts. I tend to treat all the water the same way,  thinking it would be more compliant with the Reinheitsgebot (German purity law), but that doesn't matter much and the subject of water treatment and RHG may also be a bit more complex than that.

Kai