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Ken L.'s German Pils

I sent a PM, but it bounced back to me.

I agree, Czech pilsners are hands down some of the best beers on our tiny planet, but whenever you use Saaz hops, only wonderful things can happen.

The German pilsner is one that seems to plague me. I watch hours of German Bundesliga soccer every week and can’t seem to fathom that I can’t produce a German pils myself that looks and taste as good as the many many ads I see on tv or at the soccer stadiums themselves.

I’m picking up ingredients today for a brew next week. I’m following your recipe on your website for Biergarten Pils with a few tweaks;

  1. Using a higher AA FWH german hop like Magnum or Perle- think this will make a big difference over using a lower AA Hall/Tett? I heard that Germans like to keep hop matter to a minimum.

  2. Using Tettnang as the .5oz 5min hop additon- love that Tett

  3. Adding 8oz Vienna to the grist- slight flavor and color addition

  4. Lowering OG to 1.046. Most GP I’ve knocked back (and yes, that would be a lot :->), have abv of 4.7%-4.8%. But still keeping the ibus at 30.

  5. I’m not playing with my water at all. I recently made a Kolsch (with 4oz acid malt in the mash) that came out spot on spectacular. It was soo good, my wife had flashbacks of sitting at cafes back home on the Rhine.

In one of your post, you mentioned that the hop aroma was too pronouced early on. Did this mellow out, or would you cut any of the late hop additons?

Prost!! Thanks as usual Ken!!!

Not trying to muscle ahead of Ken in line here but here are a few thoughts re your questions.

With the small amount of hops needed for a homebrewed batch of German lager I think sticking to the low alpha Noble varieties for all additions makes sense. Besides knowing that the flavor will be good you won’t have to finely measure any small amounts of high alphas. Perle is more in the medium alpha range and does blend very well with the Nobles but a Hallertau, Spalt or one of the American Tripoids like Mt. Hood would be my choice.

If you want to cut back or subdue the amount of aroma consider adding the last hop addition @ ~15-20 minutes rather than the very end of the boil.

If you are using a good German pils malt as the base (and you should if you want this to taste right) I don’t see a need or reason for the Vienna. A little CaraHelles might be the way to go if you want a touch of background sweetness to support the pils malt.

That looks like a good ratio. You could go anywhere from 25-40 IBUs depending on the impact you want.

That’s fine as long as you are confident your base water is appropriate. Very low residual alkalinity with a modest Ca+ content is a good start. Ken has some water details for these beers on his site.

:cheers:

If you are using a good German pils malt as the base (and you should if you want this to taste right) I don’t see a need or reason for the Vienna. A little CaraHelles might be the way to go if you want a touch of background sweetness to support the pils malt.[/quote]

Thanks for all your replies. Makes sense all around.
How much CaraHell would you suggest for a 5gal batch if I drop the Vienna?

If you are using a good German pils malt as the base (and you should if you want this to taste right) I don’t see a need or reason for the Vienna. A little CaraHelles might be the way to go if you want a touch of background sweetness to support the pils malt.[/quote]

Thanks for all your replies. Makes sense all around.
How much CaraHell would you suggest for a 5gal batch if I drop the Vienna?[/quote]

Maybe a half pound, 3-5% of the grist.

I think my only hurdle is water at the moment (higher sulfate than chloride and 138ppm of bicarbonate). I think that acid malt is a good addition in this beer as is a good dose of hops because a German Pils is usually hopped up quite nicely, isn’t it? I am also looking for that fresh-cut grass flavor that you seem to get in a good, fresh glass of German Pils. My guess is that it’s a late-hop addition of something like Tettnanger or something in the Hallertau family. Also, I like WLP830 for a beer like this. I have been on vacation out of the country for the past 9 days so I apologize for not getting back. Looks like I have 3 PMs in my Inbox. :oops:

Here’s a take on this and I’m going to make this beer tomorrow with Wyeast 2278 Czech Lager yeast. I have it sitting at the bottom of an Amber Lager I made and I’m going to get one more use out of it. I have been trying to look at this/these style(s) from all angles so BD and BryanH, let me know what you think. First, I think that fresh-cut grass character is a combination of using a small amount of acid malt (or maybe just using some lactic acid), a dryness that you might get from a low mash temp and also some good Noble hops late in the boil. I sometimes play with the grain bill a little bit and it seems like there might be some wiggle room as long as you keep things relatively simple.

[b]7 lbs Best Malz Pilsner Malt
2 lbs Weyermann Vienna
4 ounces Carafoam
4 ounces Acid Malt
2 ounces Aromatic
1 oz Hallertau pellets 4.5% for 60
½ oz Hersbrucker 2.8% for 15 plus
½ oz Tettnanger 3.9% for 15
½ oz Hersbrucker 2.8% for 5 plus
½ oz Tettnanger 3.9% for 5
Wyeast 2278 Czech Lager yeast

OG: 1.052, FG: 1.012, IBU: 29, SRM: 5, ABV: 5.0%[/b]

I will use 50% distilled water (4 gallons mash, 4 gallons sparge) and add 2.5g of CaCl to the mash. Overall: Calcum will be 40, Masgnesium 6, Sodium 7, Choride 50, Sulfate 14, Bicarbonate 57. To offset the much-higher chloride (than sulfate), I will mash around 149° for 60 minutes (single-infusion) to create a dry finish. The 2278 seems to create a “crisp” beer anyway and the late hops will help with that as well. The Vienna and Aromatic are there just to add a bit of depth to the beer. I don’t think I will have to adjust the pH at all. EZ_Water suggests that this water plus the CaCl is good for beer in the SRM 6-11 range and with the acid malt thrown in, my guess is that the pH will be perfect and additional lactic acid will not be necessary. I am using the low-low-low theory for this style… low sulfate, low bicarbonates (I could go lower, I realize) and low mash temp to make up for the chloride-heavy water. Thoughts?

Well, Ken, I have no doubt it is going to be a tasty brew. I know we have tossed this around in the past and some of what follows may actually be serious thought although it will certainly be mixed with free association, random muddling and the occasional succumbing to a semi rant.

The fresh-cut grass character is something I’m not really sure about. I can’t say I have perceived it strongly in the German brews I’ve drank but my inclination would be to tie it to the hops more than anything else. Maybe there is a German type (Tettnanger?) that emphasizes that character in the same way that it is talked about with English Fuggles. That may also be a partial explanation for the fact that I am not particularly fond of either Tett or Fuggles.

Wyeast 2278 is one of my favorite yeast strains but I’ve never made a German style with it because I don’t think it tastes “German”. I love it in a Czech pils because of the complexity of its elements of maltiness, sweetness, hop zing and maybe even an infinitesimal amount of phenols that I often detect in draught Urquell. I like the Southern German/Bavarian strains for most German lagers for their general smoothness and malt/hop balance.

This is a vast oversimplification but to me it is the simplicity and smoothness combined with a clean but slightly rich profile characteristic of the best German beers that makes them so appealing. There are some very good German-style beers made in the US, but with rare exception I find it easy to discern just what side of the Atlantic on which they were brewed. One recently tasted exception was a Kellerbier brewed by Brooklyn Brewery. It was wonderful and you could taste the quality of the ingredients and care that went into making it. Even cutting a small corner in many of these styles will show up in the final beer IMO. Lately my local has been carrying Stoudt’s Pils on their pilsner tap. It’s a very good beer but one sip and you know it wasn’t brewed in Bavaria. Sorry, Carol. The specialty malt notes come through as, I suspect as Sam Adams often does, at least part of the base malt is domestic.

The 149F mash sounds good although as a member of the decoction underground I’d still prefer to do a grain boil or two here. The clean, dry finish is essential to that “Germaness” here. The middle should be malty and just a bit rich but the beer should end very clean and within a few moments have you ready for more. :cheers:

[quote=“BryanH”]
Wyeast 2278 is one of my favorite yeast strains but I’ve never made a German style with it because I don’t think it tastes “German”. [/quote]

Oh yeah, sorry about that. I did have some 830 up & running (another favorite of mine) where I made some pilsners that leaned more in the German direction. But I admit that I occasionally have something like 2278, 830, 2000, 2001, 2124, 2782, 800, 802 up and running and just make what I would call a “gold lager” or “European Lager” without assuming it’s Czech, German or otherwise. I will make specific beers where my Czech Pils has the Bohemian Pilsner malt, Saaz hops, 2278, etc. but occasionally it just comes out as a “Pilsner”. I suppose this particular one leans towards Czech because of the grain bill and yeast but towards “German” because of the hops. The mash has begun! Cheers!

I think your recipe looks great and will have that nice light golden color. You’re definitely going hop forward in the finish, but with that malt bill, it still seems balanced.
I’m certainly no water expert, but I do like that you’re cutting your water with 50% distilled.

With the added CaCl and relatively low ibu’s, will the overall impression be too round? With an OG of 1.052, I’d expect the ibu’s to be between 35-40.

But, I guess it is always in what you’re going for.

The IBUs of 29 are in line with my tastebuds. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be too round but we’ll see when the beer is ready. This is one of the reasons I have been looking at recipe formulation from so many different angles lately… everything you do can have an impact on the final beer. Yeast strain (and attenuation rates), water composition (sulfates creating a sharper beer, chlorides a rounder beer), mash temp, grain bill, hop selection and schedule, etc. Here, the things creating the ‘softer’ flavors are the vienna and aromatic (to a point) and the soft water with calcium chloride added. The sulfates should be low in a beer like this. The things creating a bit of an edge here could be the lower mash temp (which should result in a drier beer) and the hops. There is still sulfate in the water (14ppm) and also more bicarbonate than I would like (57ppm) and both of those can contribute to “sharpness”. I won’t say that I’m good enough at this to think I can use those ‘unwanted’ components to my advantage but the overall balance of the beer is ALWAYS foremost on my mind when I put a recipe together. I have been playing with German and Czech Pilsners for awhile lately because I had 830 and 2278 up and running at the same time. I have a Czech Lager in a keg right now that has been lagering since November and when I went to my notes to check the recipe and water composition… it was almost exactly the same as this one. Funny how my brain [doesn’t] works. Hopefully the beer is good because I pretty much have 10 gallons of it. If it’s too ‘round’, a small amount of boiling water with a small amount (½ gram?) of gypsum thrown into the keg will probably fix that. Cheers.

First a disclaimer then a couple of questions.

I have never made a “German Pilsner” however I have a bit of experience doing preprohibition CAP’s so I may not know what the hell I’m talking about.

Now for the questions. It is my understanding that a German pils is “sharper” than say a Bohemian Pils, due mainly to the use of harder water, is my understanding correct? If there is any truth to that then would you not be hurting yourself by using water that is too soft (but then you wouldn’t want to use Burton water either)?

I have seen recipies that include more than a little flaked barley in the grist. What would that do for a German pils(besides perhaps creating a somewhat creamy mouthfeel)?

Finally, do any of you guys mess with dry hopping? I do it when I make CAP’s because it has been my experience that if you can smell it you will surely taste it, any comments one way or the other on that?

Thanks in advance for the comments.

[quote=“Barley Water”]First a disclaimer then a couple of questions.

I have never made a “German Pilsner” however I have a bit of experience doing preprohibition CAP’s so I may not know what the hell I’m talking about.

Now for the questions. It is my understanding that a German pils is “sharper” than say a Bohemian Pils, due mainly to the use of harder water, is my understanding correct? If there is any truth to that then would you not be hurting yourself by using water that is too soft (but then you wouldn’t want to use Burton water either)?

I have seen recipies that include more than a little flaked barley in the grist. What would that do for a German pils(besides perhaps creating a somewhat creamy mouthfeel)?

Finally, do any of you guys mess with dry hopping? I do it when I make CAP’s because it has been my experience that if you can smell it you will surely taste it, any comments one way or the other on that?

Thanks in advance for the comments.[/quote]
Czech water is very soft. German water (depending on where it comes from) can have much higher water numbers especially when it comes to bicarbonate. A German Pils may come out tasting sharper but may use less hops because the water will accentuate the hops. OTOH, with very soft water you may need to use more hops because it takes more hops to come through in that soft water. I realize the topic of this thread is GERMAN PILS but because I keep hearing that a pale beer should have low sulfate and low bicarbonate, I cut my water (which is Ca 34, Mg 6, Na 7, Cl 21, SO4 27 and Bicarb 138) on almost every one of these batches. I have tried making 30-35 IBU Pilsners with my filtered tap water and they are not smooth and I attribute that to the bicarb. I have also seen recipes with flaked barley and some people say that it is to take the place of a German malt that is often used called “chit malt”. It’s unmalted (or malted very little) and adds some character to the beer. Flaked barley is similar. I believe there are some US suppliers who now carry Chit Malt. If I were to use all RO or distilled water and add back a small amount of CaCl, etc., I might consider being more aggressive on the hops including a dry hop. But I’m still working on the water profile for this style (Czech or German) and once I get that part down, the grain bill and hop schedule will fall in line next.

[quote=“Barley Water”]First a disclaimer then a couple of questions.

I have never made a “German Pilsner” however I have a bit of experience doing preprohibition CAP’s so I may not know what the hell I’m talking about.

Now for the questions. It is my understanding that a German pils is “sharper” than say a Bohemian Pils, due mainly to the use of harder water, is my understanding correct? If there is any truth to that then would you not be hurting yourself by using water that is too soft (but then you wouldn’t want to use Burton water either)?[/quote]

I’m not sure I would say “sharper” as much as “simpler” or “narrower” in that IMO the typical German pils compared with a Czech pils is less complex, less bitter (although this is not always the case), and perhaps “smoother” although this is not to imply that Czech pils are not “smooth”. While some of the differences stem from the malt (the Czech malt just seems to have that little bit of additional “depth of flavor”") I think the yeast also makes a big impact, especially in the case of Pilsner Urquell. The Urquell beer, at least to me, has a subtle complexity, that separates it not only from other Czech beers but certainly from the German pils. Disclaimer: I have not had the pleasure of sampling any artisanal Czech beers only the major players imported to the US like Urquell, Budvar and Staropramen. While the typical Czech water profile is very soft the generic German water may have a bit more sulphate although IMO the SO4 should always be lower in relation to the Cl- ion in the brewing water for any pils. A high SO4 water content is going to give too much of a “pale ale” edge to the hops. While the IBUs might be the same the overall perception is just not going to be on target.

For Northern German style brew like Beck’s as opposed to the Bavarian beers I have always included an addition of flaked barley to stand in for chit malt. This achieves the slightly grainy flavor I detect in such brews but not in the Southern versions.

I’ve never dry hopped a German-style beer because with rare exception I don’t sense that type of hop flavor or aroma profile. My basic hop additions for the German lagers is one addition at full boil time for bittering and one later addition at 20/15 minutes for flavor/aroma. :cheers:

Just pulled a sample after 14 days in primary. Gravity is at 1.011, so a couple points away, but usually at this point I can taste for bitterness and any fermentation/reçipe flaws.

Wow, what a wonderfully maturing beer! Quite possibly finally THE Pils I’ve been looking to brew.
Bitterness isn’t overwhelming, body is almost crisp even w/o carbonation.

Plan is to baby it for another 4 days and bring up to 60F for a day before cold crashing.

[quote=“brewingdan”]Just pulled a sample after 14 days in primary. Gravity is at 1.011, so a couple points away, but usually at this point I can taste for bitterness and any fermentation/reçipe flaws.

Wow, what a wonderfully maturing beer! Quite possibly finally THE Pils I’ve been looking to brew.
Bitterness isn’t overwhelming, body is almost crisp even w/o carbonation.

Plan is to baby it for another 4 days and bring up to 60F for a day before cold crashing.[/quote]
I have been in the habit of doing this lately and I just did it to BryanH on another board… share your recipe. Grains, hops, yeast, mash schedule, water composition, water additions, if any. I have everything I need to make a pilsner and I will be making it sometime this next week. Durst Turbo Pils, Weyermann Munich, maybe CaraFoam, Hallertau & Saaz hops, 2124 and 90% distilled water, 10% filtered tap and 3-4g of calcium chloride in the mash. Glad to hear yours came out nicely.

The recipe was as follows. We have really good moderately hard water here in north central Texas, but I did cut it with half RO for this particualar style to bring down the total alkalinity. I left the Cl/SO4 ratio even to not sway the ibu’s in either direction.

OG: 1.050 (slightly higher than usual efficiency)
IBU: 30
German Pils 6.5lb
Flaked Barley 1lb
CaraHell 8oz
Acid Malt 4oz

German Tradition 20g FWH 23.6 ibu 6.90%
Halletauer 28g 10 min 3.1 ibu 3.20%
Tettnang 14g 10 min 1.8 ibu 3.70%
Tettnang 14g 5 min 1.5 ibu 3.70%

wyeast 2141 4qt starter

Water Modification 50% RO

Mash Schedule ~Double Decoction
Hold Mash 142F 40 min
Remove 10 qts, Boil 10 min
Recombine rest to 158F 30 min
Remove 10 qts, Boil 10 min
Mash out 170F hold 15 min
170F ~ Sparge
90 minutes boil ~6.5 gallons

Details
Primary: 52F
D-Rest: 60F 2 days

[quote=“brewingdan”]The recipe was as follows. We have really good moderately hard water here in north central Texas, but I did cut it with half RO for this particualar style to bring down the total alkalinity. I left the Cl/SO4 ratio even to not sway the ibu’s in either direction.

OG: 1.050 (slightly higher than usual efficiency)
IBU: 30
German Pils 6.5lb
Flaked Barley 1lb
CaraHell 8oz
Acid Malt 4oz

German Tradition 20g FWH 23.6 ibu 6.90%
Halletauer 28g 10 min 3.1 ibu 3.20%
Tettnang 14g 10 min 1.8 ibu 3.70%
Tettnang 14g 5 min 1.5 ibu 3.70%

wyeast 2141 4qt starter

Water Modification 50% RO

Mash Schedule ~Double Decoction
Hold Mash 142F 40 min
Remove 10 qts, Boil 10 min
Recombine rest to 158F 30 min
Remove 10 qts, Boil 10 min
Mash out 170F hold 15 min
170F ~ Sparge
90 minutes boil ~6.5 gallons

Details
Primary: 52F
D-Rest: 60F 2 days[/quote]
Is 2141 actuallt 2124? Either that or you have a new yeast I hadn’t heard of. Also, 8¼ lbs of grain got you to 1.050? Hmm. Seems like good efficiency. I actually forgot about using flaked barley in the pils recipe. I had done that a few times but at that time I still wasn’t up to speed on the water. Do you know what your final water numbers were after you diluted? Cheers!

Well Brewingdan, I trust you will be entering your pils in the Bluebonnet. Make sure to get your entries in quickly as they are caping entries at 1,500 this year and I think it will fill up. I just bottled my last three entries and as is the case every year, I’m optimistic; hopefully my hopes will not be dashed. I would love to compete against you but I didn’t make a pils this year, I did do four lagers though, an Octoberfest, Munich Helles, Munich Dunkel and Double Bock that I think came out really well. I’ll probably do another CAP late spring (although ceral mashing those grits is a big pain) and this year I am going to try and dial in a German pils as well so this topic has interest for me.

You live in or around the United States of Texas?

[/quote]
Is 2141 actuallt 2124? Either that or you have a new yeast I hadn’t heard of. Also, 8¼ lbs of grain got you to 1.050? Hmm. Seems like good efficiency. I actually forgot about using flaked barley in the pils recipe. I had done that a few times but at that time I still wasn’t up to speed on the water. Do you know what your final water numbers were after you diluted? Cheers![/quote]

Yes sorry, wyeast 2124

Water used:
Bicarbonate ppm 55
Calcium ppm 60
Chloride ppm 12
Magnesium ppm 3
Sodium ppm 9
Sulfate ppm 15
Total Alkalinity as CaCO3 ppm 55

yeah, typically I get 78% efficiency, but wasn’t too surprised when I got more since I was decocting. But 1.050 was quite unexpected.

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