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.