I decided to start 2019 by brewing another lager, a traditional German style Pilsner. This time I'll be pitching both a 1 liter starter and some dry yeast, plus plenty of yeast nutrient to ensure a healthy yeast population. I'll also be using a good quality temperature control system to ensure a consistent temperature,
10 pounds Swaen Pilsner Malt (the closest I had to German Pilsner)
1 pound Briess Pilsner Malt
4 ounces Cara-pils/Dextrine Malt
0.5 ounces Magnum hops @ 12.6% AA (60 min.)
0,5 ounces Hallertau hops @ 4.5% AA (10 min.)
1.0 ounces Hallertau hops @ 2.5% AA (4 min.)
1/2 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1 packet White Labs Pilsner yeast raised in 1 Liter starter
2 packets Saflager S-23 dry yeast pitched onto wort directly
1/4 tsp. Gypsum
1 Tbsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
4.2 gallons mash water (3/4 gallon distilled plus tap water)
2.9 gallons sparge water
Approximately 1 gallon of distilled water after brewing.
- BJCP Style: 5.D German Pils
- Batch Size: 5 gallons (actual was 5.3 gallons after dilution)
- Original Gravity: 1.053 SG (est. and actual)
- Pre-boil Gravity: 1.044 SG
- Final Gravity: 1.011 SG
- SRM: 4.7
- ABV: 5.5%
- BU/GU Ratio: 0.516
- Brew House Efficiency: 60% est. (67.2% actual)
- Mash in at 120F for 25 minutes
- Mash at 144F for 30 minutes
- Mash at 158F for 30 minutes
- Mash out at 168F for 5 minutes
- Sparge with 168F water for 10 minutes
Pilsner malt is known for high levels of DMS, so I'm employing a 90-minute boil to ensure that all DMS is boiled off. There was definitely a cooked corn smell during the early part of the boil. Magnum hops will provide clean bittering, with Hallertau in the flavor and aroma roles.
- 90 minutes: No hops added
- 60 minutes: Magnum
- 10 minutes: Hallertau, yeast nutrient
- 4 minutes: Hallertau
Post-boil, the wort will be chilled to 70F and pumped into a sanitized fermenter. I'll use my temperature control system to further lower that to 53F overnight before pitching the yeast.
The yeasts being used in this batch prefer temperatures in the 48-55F range, with a good middle ground temperature being 53F. My fermentation plan, therefore, is this:
- 1-5 weeks, until final gravity: 53F
- 1-2 days: Diacetyl rest at room temperature
- 4-8 weeks: Lager in mini fridge
After the lagering phase, we'll bottle with low to medium carbonation.
Post-Brew Notes and Observations
1/1/2019: The combination of mash and sparge water led to a brew kettle being nearly full. I actually added less than the amount I calculated that would have been needed to end up with five gallons. In the end, this left me with about 4.75 gallons of wort at a higher gravity (around 1.069 SG). I diluted this down to 1.053 SG and increased the volume to 5.3 gallons (20 Liters accord to fermenter markings). Adding the distilled water dropped the temperature down from 73F to 70F. I configured the temperature control system to drop the wort to 53F. I will pitch the yeast when the temp reaches that level.
Unfortunately, the Brewie computer system hung during the boil, during the last hour. I had to power the machine off and on, at which point it picked up from where it left off. I have no idea how this will affect the finished beer.
The longer boil did appear to be necessary, as there was a definite aroma of cooked corn during the majority of the boil.
1/3/2019: The temperature of the beer is down to 54F, so I've added two packets of Saflager yeast and the starter made with WLP800, to ensure that there is plenty of yeast available for fermentation.
1/4/2019: Gravity registered at 1.055 SG at the time I added the yeast. It's now showing 1.053 SG, so I'm hopeful that fermentation is starting.
1/6/2019: Gravity has dropped to 1.050 SG. That's 9% attenuation in three days, a much slower start than most ales, but not uncommon for lagers.
1/7/2019: Gravity is now 1.042 SG. That's 23% attenuation and 1.80% ABV.
1/8/2019: Gravity is now 1.038 SG. That's 30% attenuation and 2.35% ABV.
1/9/2019: Gravity is down to 1.032 SG, 41% attenuation, 3.16% ABV.
1/10/2019: Gravity is down to 1.027 SG, 50% attenuation, 3.68% ABV.
1/11/2019: Gravity is down to 1.024 SG, 54% attenuation, 3.94% ABV.
1/14/2019: Gravity is now 1.016 SG, 70.9% attenuation, 5.27% ABV, and only 5 points away from the expected FG of 1.011. I swirled the fermenter a bit this afternoon to help ensure that the yeast remain in suspension for a while.
1/17/2019: Gravity is down to 1.014, which is three points away from the expected final gravity. I turned off the temperature control so that the beer would get up to ambient basement temperature, which at this time of year is 63-66F, perfect for the diacetyl rest the beer needs now. As of this writing, the temperature has only increased to 55F.
1/20/2019: The beer has undergone a diacetyl rest for the last 2-3 days. I pulled a sample from the fermenter. It was pale and cloudy, but without any hint of diacetyl or other off flavors. I added a teaspoon of gelatin finings, then moved the fermenter outside into an insulated container with a temperature controller and heat wrap. The temperature controller is set to 30F based on a thermowell inside the fermenter. Outside temperatures are expected to range between 5F and 41F over the next 10 days, for the most part staying in the 20-30F range. The heat wrap and insulated jacket should keep the beer from freezing (though I'll have to monitor that) but should keep it nice and cold for the next few weeks without my having to use much refrigeration (and hopefully not much heating).
|The fermenter inside the black insulated bag with temperature controller on top|
10:20pm: Despite an outside temperature under 10F, the beer has remained at a good lagering temperature. As I write this, the outdoor temperature is 3F. The temperature probe in the fermenter's thermowell is reporting 34F, and the Tilt Hydrometer floating on top of the beer is reporting 37F.
1/26/2019: The beer has been outside for the last several days. According to the Tilt Hydrometer inside it, the temperature has varied between a low of 25F on January 21 and a high of 40F on January 24 (when outside temperatures were a bit warmer). I'm planning to take a sample of beer from the fermenter today to check the clarity. If it's nice and bright, I'll be bottling it. If not, it can lager for a while longer. According to Weather.com, temperatures over the next 10 days will vary between a low of -4F and a high of 44F, but for the most part in the 30's.
2/4/2019: After several days in some very cold weather, the beer was still cloudy. The weather now is much warmer, too warm for lagering, so I brought the beer in and placed it in my mini-fridge to finish out its lagering phase. As of today, the temperature is registering 42F.
2/5/2019: The beer is currently registering at 38F from inside the mini-fridge. I don't expect it to get much lower than this in the days to come, but I plan to leave it in the fridge for at least two weeks before checking clarity again.
2/9/2019: The beer is registering 35F inside the mini-fridge and has held that temperature for about two days. I'm going to check the clarity at the end of the month and see where we are. The beer was very hazy when placed in the mini-fridge so I'm not expecting much at this point.
2/12/2019: The beer continues to read 35F in the mini-fridge and the gravity has been holding steadily at 1.011 SG.
2/17/2019: A sample was removed from the fermenter. It's a little clearer than earlier samples but still appears to have a way to go before it's ready to bottle.
03/06/2019: A sample was extracted today. It's still fairly hazy, which is disappointing. This means that with four weeks in the fridge and about 10 days outside (roughly 5-6 weeks) it hasn't dropped clear yet.
03/16/2019: The beer was bottled last weekend. I chilled and opened a bottle tonight. It was pretty and clear, but not at all carbonated. I'm hoping more time will get it there or I am going to have to figure out another solution.