Author Topic: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)  (Read 4583 times)

Offline braufessor

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2013, 03:02:15 PM »

Brewing in a bucket means your beer can get exposed to some oxygen.  This is going to show up more in a light delicate beer like a pils where there are no bold flavors to cover the flaws. ....

..... you might focus on all aspects of the process, not just water.  I'd do it all at once, including an assessment of water.  I've found that you have a much better chance of improving a process if you redouble efforts on several fronts.  Yes it prevents you from knowing exactly what the culprit was, but doing things one at a time can take forever and you may never figure out what changed before it changes again.

Lastly, a harshness or slightly off flavor can also come from a low level infection of your brewhouse.  I'd give everything a good cleaning and soak, and maybe consider replacing plastic lines as much as possible.

Thats my two cents, worth most of that anyway.

Those are all great points.  And, you are right - I think I do just need to redouble my efforts in all areas and really look at the details and make sure I am hitting all the details.  To be honest, would be interesting to look back a little more closely and see if some of these brews came at times of year where I was busy/maybe rushed things.  I think your point about flaws showing up more pronounced in this beer than most others is a good one.  There could be some similar flaws that would be hard to detect in a brown ale or a hoppy IPA.  Light lagers are tough to brew - and everything from ingredients, to water, to yeast quality, temp., process etc. can have a profound effect on the finished product.  Frustrating to have beers that are seemingly easy to repeat..... and then others that are still hit and miss.

I also have two new SS brew buckets coming..... so, just in case O2 would be an issue, that should help.

Thanks for the input. 

Offline braufessor

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2014, 02:59:36 PM »
I went back through all of my notes in B'run Water and in my batch notes in iBrewmaster and noticed a few things.  One thing could be the answer to my problem.  It very well may be a book keeping mistake on my part that is the source of my problem.  I am now leaning toward the fact that it is the sulfate levels (gypsum) that likely caused my problems. 

Below is a chart of each of 5 batches, water info for each batch and my "grade" of each batch.  Essentially, every recipe was very similar in grains - Pilsner, carapils, acidulated, maybe a pound of 2 row, maybe 4 ounces of melanoiden... but nothing significant.  Every recipe was pretty similar in hops.  4-5 ounces total. I did use a bit of magnum to bitter one, pearle to bitter several, sazz 100% in the fifth batch.

*Note on hops - batch #2 I dry hopped with sazz - very grassy.  Horrible.  Likely a big reason (with sulfate) this one was so bad.
*Yeast - czech pils on all except #4 (Budejovice).  Starters on stirplate.  Some could have been better than others, but all should have been pretty good pitches.  Temp. control.

****My major find - I found a conflict in my B'run Water and iBrewmaster for batch #1.  I posted what I had in B'run water.  However, I had less gypsum added in my recipe notes than I did in my B'run water sheet.  This is significant.  My recipe notes would have resulted in Ca, Sulfate and Chloride all in the low 40's for batch #1......... similar to batch #4 - but would have maintained the higher bicarb value of 80% RO water.  This very well could be the explanation of all my troubles.  If my original recipe actually had lower values for Sulfate - it could likely that the higher sulfate levels I transferred to batches 2 and 3 were a major downfall for them.  However, I am not positive a year+ later what I actually used in that initial batch - was it the B'run water #'s or was it the #'s in iBrewmaster.  Worth noting - previous batches of pilsner were recorded by hand, and I have handwritten notes that indicate that I had, indeed, used higher gypsum that would equate to the #'s I have listed in Batch #1...... I had brewed some good pilsners using this higher sulfate levels.  However, #1 was definitely the best Pilsner I had brewed.  And, I am now thinking that perhaps I had actually used the lower numbers.

I kegged batch #5 last night after D-rest.  I did ferment it a bit warmer (52-54).  It was a brand new bucket, brand new plastic tubing for transfer to purged keg.  I know it had a very good czech pils starter - 2L on stir plate, decanted and another 2L added to build up on stir plate again.  All Sazz.  100% RO - low levels of all minerals with almost no Sulfate.  It was very good at transfer.  I drank about 10 ounces from the fermenter, and it was quite good.  Hopefully it continues to improve over the next 8 weeks lagering.

Here are the water numbers for each batch:
                        Ca   Na   Sul.   Chlor.Bicarb  RO         Grade
Nov. 2012        51     8     77        29   62   80%            A *(were these #'s actually correct?)
Mar. 2013        51     8     77        29   62   80%            F
Aug. 2013        60     8     81        35   62   80%            D
Sept. 2013        41     8     45        42   16   100%         C-
Dec.  2013        37     8     1        67   16   100%         B/B+ (at 18 days)

With batch #5 tasting as good as it did at this point, I think my idea that my hops were "off" is not valid.  I am leaning quite a bit toward the idea that the interplay of Sulfate, Bicarb# and Saaz hops is the problem (or mishandling/infection/Oxidation on my part).  I will be brewing it again in upcoming weeks and will go with profile of batch 5 and possibly reduce Ca and Chloride even further to see what happens there.

Thanks for the thoughts on this and the suggestions to look back at various aspects.  I appreciate the input everyone.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 06:24:50 PM by braufessor »

Offline beerstache

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2014, 10:23:36 PM »
Just noticed this topic in the forum and wanted to say this is not an isolated incident.  My last 2013 Bo-Pils also had a wierd off flavor, somewhat chemicle or cleanser taste?  My previous batch in 2012 was right on.
I'm pretty sure it is a bad batch of hops.  Hopefully no problems in 2014!

Offline punatic

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2014, 01:32:11 AM »
I bet it's related to the wierd quirks that keap happening with the forim software.   ;)
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Offline scottNU

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2014, 07:20:51 PM »
Thanks for the thoughts on this and the suggestions to look back at various aspects.  I appreciate the input everyone.

braufessor - please keep us informed of your recent observations.  I have a Bo-pils going now with a similar profile and I am interested in your learnings and wondering what I will end up with for my batch.  Thanks for sharing.

Offline braufessor

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2014, 07:51:34 PM »

braufessor - please keep us informed of your recent observations.  I have a Bo-pils going now with a similar profile and I am interested in your learnings and wondering what I will end up with for my batch.  Thanks for sharing.

Will do.  Like I said, I am cautiously optimistic about my most recent bo-pils.  I also just brewed a german pils with Pearle and Tettnang - both with the same water, so essentially the hops will be the key flavor difference in the two beers.  We will see where they go over the next month or two and I will check back.

Offline beersk

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2014, 08:06:33 PM »
I just kegged a boh pils yesterday, so I'll see what that's like in about 6 weeks or so. It was a 4 gallon batch with Best pils, a little carapils, and a little acid malt for pH adjustment. RO to about 50ppm calcium, around 60 or 70ppm sulfate, and around 50ppm calcium chloride. Bittered with perle, and finished with an ounce of Saaz at 10 and an ounce at 5. Samples tasted good. But it'll taste different with carbonation and colder. I don't think it's a true bohpils though. It was fermented with Wy2206, OG 1.056, FG 1.015. So...I don't know. Should be good though.
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Offline bwana

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2014, 04:12:58 PM »
I'll be keging my Bo-Pils on Sunday. Hopfully no issues. From everything I have read I should not be able to brew a pilsner with my well water. My pilsners are always good. My calcium is 19 however my Bicarbonate is 215. I do not treat my water with anything no matter what I brew.

Offline shales

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2014, 07:41:09 PM »
Years ago before I learned about sanitation I was losing a lot of beers to sourness - not that I'm suggesting that is your problem - the point is I had several bad beers in a row. I brewed another beer and didn't even bother to siphon it off the yeast because it seemed bad again. I didn't dump it right away and tasted it over the next couple of days. After a while I realized the beer was actually just a fine, but green, beer and it was my hypersensitivity to flaws that was causing me to doubt it. Since it was a pale ale and supposed to be flat I just kept drinking it out of the "Keg" (fermenter). After a while it got low and I boiled up some more malt and hops and threw it in!

  Have you checked your perception recently? Maybe you're just shell-shocked and the beer is OK. You mentioned earlier that judges had tasted it, what do they say now? Maybe you just had a bad batch or two.

Offline braufessor

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2014, 11:24:45 PM »

Well, I am declaring pilsner success once again.  First pilsner of 2014, using new batch of 2013 hops.  I brewed this on 4-26-14, so it is only 5 weeks old.  3 weeks fermenting, 10 days in fridge, and I put the gas on it at 12psi about 5 days ago.  Poured a sample a little bit ago.....and, well, this is sample #2.  It really turned out well.  None of the weird harshness I had been getting before.  Hop bill was:
1oz. Pearle @60
1oz. Saaz @30
1oz. Saaz@20
2oz. Saaz@0

Mash Water= 5 gallons of 100% RO with 1 gram of Gypsum and 1 gram of CaCl. 
Calcium, Sulfate and Chloride were all 27-30ppm ..... So, very low mineral content.

This beer is very good for 5 weeks old.  I fear it may have trouble seeing 8 weeks old:)

The one critique I would give it, and I think it would get in competition, is that I think it could use a bit more hop presence. Maybe a bit more bittering (39 IBU's calculated) and perhaps another .5 ounce at flame out and a bit of a hops stand maybe.  Otherwise, it is really good.  Nice to have a pilsner on tap again that does not suck.  Think I will be making a starter with the saved yeast (Urquell) and putting this on the brew list again in the next 10 days.

So..... what was the problem?  I don't know if I am any closer to identifying it now than before.  But, whatever the issue is, it is not in this beer.  No harshness. No weird grassy flavors.  Pretty clean, moderately hopped with a rounded flavor, VERY drinkable. Was it the hops????  I can't say for sure.  It could have been my process.  Could have been my water.  Could have been who knows what......  I am just glad to have a decent pils back on tap. 

Hopefully I can find someplace to get some good feedback on it in the next month or so.  Like I said, I think the main critique of this one is going to be to up the bitterness, hop presence a bit more.

Thanks  for the input folks had provided.  Hopefully I can rebrew it and bring out the hops a bit more.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2014, 11:34:04 PM »
I have a BoPils on tap with almost identical water chemistry that is a couple weeks older. I bittered with Magnum and used 3 oz Saaz at FO (as opposed to 2), but hop schedule is otherwise the same (40 IBU calculated on mine). It has great classic Saaz character - I've never had the issue you described. All things being equal, it definitely seems to be a hop issue on the ones you used before. Hopefully it's just a blip on the radar - I've always found Saaz to be very consistent.
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Offline brewsumore

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Re: Bo-pils frustration (saaz problem??)
« Reply #26 on: June 04, 2014, 02:43:52 AM »
I recently brewed 10 gal of Czech Pils AKA Bo Pils, and while doing a bit of research listened to The Jamil Show episode on Bo Pils.  I believe it was there that I heard the comment to avoid acidulated malt due to a harshness it can impart.

I use phosphoric acid to acidulate my brewing water, as they also recommended (or lactic acid) for Bo Pils.

Still, when I brewed basically the same beer a year ago, one of my two fermented buckets of beer tasted better at kegging and after lagering.  Both last year and this year I used 2012 Czech saaz at 100% of the hops used, from Hops Direct.

I would not be surprised if as Lennie suggests, that part of the problem could have been due at least in part to oxygenation in the bucket.  Maybe, maybe not.

Last year, at kegging, the worse tasting one also was noticeably darker in color than the really tasty one, so I conjectured that I carried over too much hop sludge and break material from the kettle into the darker one.  So this year I brewed a slightly bigger batch so as to leave more "spooge" behind.

This year at kegging three days ago, although only one tastes great and what I'd hoped for, there is less difference in taste between the two than last year, and both have the same, correct yellow/gold (IIRC 6 SRM) color.

I used 50% RO water, very low in Total Dissolved Solids (< 3 ppm), and only calcium chloride to obtain 50 ppm calcium, with no sulfate (gypsum).
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 02:51:19 AM by brewsumore »