Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 German Pilsner 1.0

The only lager I've ever  brewed was a Ttopical Stout. Despite my best efforts with that one, it didn't do that well in competition. Judges noted yeasty notes they did not like, despite the beer never getting above the yeast's optimum temperature range. I suspect that was due to pitching only a single packet of dry lager yeast and not a large starter.

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,

Ingredients

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.

According to BeerSmith, the beer should have the following qualities:

  • 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)
The goal here is to brew a German Style Pilsner "to style" rather than anything fancy or unusual.

Mash Schedule

This one has a fairly simple mash schedule. Since I wasn't sure how well modified the Swaen malt would be (that's not a criticism of them, just some question on my part), I decided to include a 120F rest to break down beta glucan and ensure good conversion.
  • 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
Boil Schedule

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.

Fermentation Schedule

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.

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