Author Topic: fix my Bohemian Pilsner  (Read 1462 times)

Offline redzim

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fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« on: August 12, 2011, 05:17:42 PM »
I am having trouble brewing a Bo Pils that tastes anything like a Pilsner Urquell. 

My darker lagers (Vienna Lagers, Oktoberfests, Schwarzbiers) have worked well, & taste close to what they should, and have placed (and won)  in some local contests. Even my most recent Helles (brewed to Kai’s Edel Hell recipe) was very nice and quite close to Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold in a side-by-side tasting.

So I think my process is good for lagers in general, but obviously I’m missing something, because I can’t get a nice crisp Urquell-ish beer.  Urquell has way better hop aroma, flavor and bitterness. It just tastes like it has more “pop and zing”. Mine is a nice smooth lager but lacks the bite of the Urquell. Mine actually tastes pretty close to a canned Heineken, oddly enough.   Mine is also a lighter pale yellow compared to Urquell’s rich gold.  My buddies all love it (reminds them of Heineken, I guess ) but it disappoints me.

Here is my 10 gallon recipe: (scaled from Jamil’s book)

18.80 lbs Best Malz Pils
1.15 lbs Weyermann CaraPils
0.20 lbs Acidulated Malt (this is 1% of the total grain bill)

Single infusion mash at 155F for 90mins.  For mash and sparge, I used 100% distilled water with additions of gypsum, Epsom salts, and CaCl2 to get the following profile: 58ppm Ca, 8ppm Mg, 0ppm Na, 89ppm SO4, 63ppm Cl, RA of -47.

My mash pH was 5.2 to 5.3 (I was still figuring out my new Milwaukee meter but I am confident this is a decent reading). Collected 16gals to boil down to 11gals.

Did a 60min boil with Saaz additions at 60min (2.20oz), 30min (3.00oz), 10min (1.50oz) and flameout (1.50oz).  60min addition was 5.5% AA, the rest were 4.0% AA.  Hops were all pellets, tossed loose into the boil.

Used a huge immersion chiller to get all 11 gals of wort below 100F in 3.5mins. So I’m confident I shut down pretty much all DMS/SMM stuff (not sure I have all the acronyms correct) and captured that late hop flavor and aroma.  Entire batch chilled to 48F in 11mins.  OG of 1.059.  Possibly I boiled it down a little too hard here, 1.055 was what I was shooting for.

Pitched 22 grams of dry S-189 yeast into each 5 gal fermenter at 48F.  Fermentation was active within 28hrs (good airlock activity). Fermented at 48F-50F for 23 days. Then raised temp to 65F for 48hrs (a maturation or diacetyl rest), then crash cooled at 34F for 48hrs, then racked into kegs, and lagered under 10psi CO2 for 5wks, at 34F.   FG of 1.014.

One possible thing is that I was travelling between day 10 and day 23 of fermentation, and there was no visible airlock activity  when I got back, so it’s possible that the yeast was done prior to that, and that the maturation rest didn’t really do anything if the yeast was done…

Any obvious flaws in this thing?  Or subtle hints for next time?

Thanks (and sorry for the long post)
Red

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2011, 08:48:22 PM »
I am no expert, but here are a few comments from my attempts to do a Bo-Pils.

My sulfate level was much less, but judges dinged the beer for sulfate.  Will just use CaCl2 next time to get the Ca up to 50 ppm.

I used the Weyermann Bohemian Pils malt, and will try to find the floor malted Bohemiam malt next time. A hochkurtz double decotion was used, I got some of the flavor I associate with a Czech Pils, but it needed more.  Don't know if I want to do a tripple decoction.

I boiled for a little over 2 hours to get to my gravity, and develope flavors in the kettle. 

Yeast is important in this one, I used the Wyeast PU D and H strains in seperate fermenters, then blended the beer after it was finished lagering.  Lager it for a long time, it kept getting better.

Another lager that I have to brew again, and tweek to make it better.









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Offline blatz

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2011, 04:40:11 AM »
all of what Jeff said - he knows this style better than I, but two things jump out at me - one is to cut with some RO to bring the minerals down and soften the water further.  the second is that you'll develop that color with decoction or a longer boil - if you don't want to do that you can add a pound or two of munich, and that will darken it into the 5-6SRM range which is where PU is IMO.

And the yeast is key as Jeff said - I make all of my lagers with 830 (liquid version of what you used) and while my bo pils is close to PU, its definitely missing something that I believe the PU strains would bring.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2011, 04:43:21 AM »
Since this beer is not decocted, it may be unwise to drop all the way down to a very low Pilsen mineral content in the brewing water.  But, I would consider dropping the Ca and Mg content.  For Ca, try reducing the concentration to about 40 ppm.  That is about the barest minimum that the fermentation can handle.  For Mg, try deleting it all together.  I suggest that 5 ppm is a good goal, but in a Boh Pils there isn't much to hide behind and the hint of astringency that Mg might produce may be a difference.  The malt bill will still provide some Mg to the wort, so its not like there won't be any in there.

The sulfate level is too high for a Boh Pils.  I suggest that mineral additions focus on obtaining the Ca from CaCl addition with a possible slight addition of gypsum to taste. Try it without the gypsum first.  Pils is about the only style that AJ Delange brews and he is adamant that you must have low sulfates when using Noble hops.  I take him at his word on this one.

The amount of water boil off is pretty high in your system compared to my typical results.  You may be over caramelizing the wort by the excessive boiling intensity.  You want to have a gentle boil that is moving the water surface modestly and you can see that hops and trub are actually moving from the boil action.  You don't need to have a boil 'volcano' in your pot.  I agree that when using Pils malt, driving off SMM from the wort is important.  But, I think you over did it here.  

Enjoy
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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2011, 06:58:53 PM »
I agree with Jeff and Paul.

I did not try floor malted bohemian pilsner malt yet but none of the malts available here taste like malt in Czech republic.
You could blend two pilsner malts together to get you a bigger depth.

Yeast strain is importand. Use Czech yeast strain.

Water should be soft to medium hardness.

If you do not decoct at least do the step mash.

If you step mash Munich or Caramunich will give you melenoiens of decoction mash.

And finally. Czech pilsner is not crisp. German pilsner is crisp.
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Offline sharg54

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2011, 01:43:15 AM »
I would say dump the single step mash and go with a multi step with a long boil or do a decoction to pull out the malts. The last Zmurgy had a good mash schedual listed for a clone of just what your attempting. Also I would tweak your hops schedual a bit too. Flavor hops at 30 min. is leading more in the bittering range. Anyting over 20 min starts to burn off the flavor. I would also cut down the amount of hops your using to flavor with as this style of beer is lending more in the direction of a balance between the grain and hops and yours looks a little over powering on the hops side.  When I make mine I do 2 oz  at 60, 1 oz at 40 1 oz at 20 and .5 oz at 5 . You still get the nice hops flavor and aroma but the malt is able to come through nicely as well. You deffently need to have soft water to really pull it off but your water looks good to me. Nice thing about living in the Rockies is it's perfect pilsner water and I don't have to jack around with it.  ;D Good luck
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Offline redzim

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2011, 09:01:27 AM »
Thanks for all the input. I guess I'll try the following water: add 10ppm Gypsum and 140ppm CaCl2 to distilled water which will give me 40ppm Ca, 5ppm sulfates, and 68ppm Ca, with zero Mg and Na. Should still hit pH 5.4 or so, with 1% or 2% acidulated malt in there. What does that sound like, Martin?

And it also sounds like I need to try a step or decoction mash.  I just did my first step mash with a Wit last week and it did not go super smoothly but I need to do it again I guess.  Any good articles or links on step mashing for beginners would be appreciated.

Thanks also for the tips on adding Munich or something to add color; I was just following Jamil's recipe....

Martin, regarding kettle caramelization: I boil in a round-bottom 30gal stainless jacked steam kettle, so my caramelization is zero (basically impossible to burn anything in there because it is heated by low pressure (12psi) steam.) And because the surface area is so huge (about 30" in diameter at the top) I lose a lot to evaporation, even with a gentle boil as you describe....  anyone else have experience with the sort of kettle? It is definitely different geometry than your standard cylindrical brew kettle or keggle.

thanks
red

Offline denny

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2011, 09:21:34 AM »
Martin, regarding kettle caramelization:

There is no such thing as kettle caramelization.  You can't achieve the temps needed for caramelization in a kettle.
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Offline sharg54

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2011, 02:18:40 PM »
There is no such thing as kettle caramelization.???... Most likely but a longer boil brings out the malt flavor. I know this because I have done a pilsner and a few other brews in this fashion and it gives a deeper malt flavor than a standard 60 min. boil. Is it caramelization? Most likely not .... Does it bring out the malt? Most definitely. Who cares how it works it works and that is all that matters. An extended boil pulls the malts out.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2011, 03:07:41 PM »
It does cause Malliard reactions. 
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Offline redzim

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2011, 04:33:38 AM »
All semantics about "caramelization" aside (it seems obvious to me that a direct-fired kettle has a lot more capacity for darkening or even scorching/burning the wort than does a jacketed steam kettle - if this is not technically "caramelization", then fine...)

What do you BoPils experts think of this water recipe:
add 10ppm Gypsum and 140ppm CaCl2 to distilled water which will give me 40ppm Ca, 5ppm sulfates, and 68ppm Ca, with zero Mg and Na. Should still hit pH 5.4 or so, with 1% or 2% acidulated malt in there.

-red

Offline blatz

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2011, 06:16:45 AM »
red - with that water, aren't your chlorides through the stratosphere?  ???
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Offline redzim

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2011, 06:22:16 AM »
I don't think so.... I made a  typo above, it should be 40ppm Ca, 5ppm sulfates, and 68ppm Cl, (not 68ppm Ca as in previous post) with zero Mg and Na.   At least this is what Kai's spreadsheet tells me..... 

BUT maybe 68ppm Chloride is though the roof for Bo Pils..... in which case, what salts do I add to get my Calcium up to 40ppm (what Martin suggested) while keeping everything else close to zero...... remember I'm starting with 100% distilled....


Offline redzim

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2011, 01:07:36 PM »
anyone have input on this water recipe:

Add 10ppm gypsum, 20ppm CaCl2, and 150ppm undissolved chalk to distilled water to get 38ppm Ca, 5.6ppm sulfates, 9.6ppm chlorides, and use 2% of mash weight acidulated malt to get RA of -31 and ph around 5.5.....  I've never used undissolved chalk and it seems counter-intuitive to be adding alkalinity here but I am scratching my head trying to figure out how to build a water with enough calcium but basically no chlorides and no sulfates, which is what I'm hearing from you guys that I need. or am I missing something here?

and I am still undecided about whether to do a single decoction or a stepped infusion for this baby... what would be better?

Offline blatz

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Re: fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2011, 01:44:16 PM »
add 10ppm Gypsum and 140ppm CaCl2 to distilled water which will give me 40ppm Ca, 5ppm sulfates, and 68ppm Ca, with zero Mg and Na. Should still hit pH 5.4 or so, with 1% or 2% acidulated malt in there.



Now accounting for the typo (or just my own lack of following what I was reading), yeah, this looks decent to me.

Don't go with the chalk route you just posted - that is the wrong direction you want with this beer.  
« Last Edit: August 15, 2011, 03:11:43 PM by dbeechum »
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