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Light American Pilsner

A buddy was over yesterday for a couple beers and he said I should brew a lower abv beer so he could drink more without worrying about driving home…a lawnmower, poolside pilsner kind of thing…Got me thinking.

My current pils recipe comes in just a little below 5 abv. I could easily reduce the grain bill by a couple pounds to get it under 4 abv…thinking something in the 3.5 range.

Has anyone done something like this? I guess my concern is that it will be TOO light bodied, flavorless, bla bla…but when we were talking about it I realized it would still be better than your average commercially available BMC lite american pils.

Any thoughts or experiences appreciated…

I’ve actually done this for a beer I make for the wife. I used Munich malt I believe let me look up the recipe.

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Brew Cat
Method: All Grain
Style: Light American Lager
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 5.5 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.030 (recipe based estimate)
Efficiency: 80% (brew house)

Original Gravity: 1.033 Final Gravity: 1.008 ABV (standard): 3.35% IBU (tinseth): 25.36 SRM (morey): 7.75 Mash pH n/a
Amount Fermentable PPG °L Bill %
3.5 lb German - Munich Light 37 6 63.6%
1.5 lb American - White Wheat 40 2.8 27.3%
0.5 lb American - Caramel / Crystal 60L 34 60 9.1%
5.5 lb Total
Amount Variety Type AA Use Time IBU
0.24 oz Magnum Pellet 15 Boil 45 min 15.03
0.25 oz Magnum Pellet 15 Boil 20 min 10.33
Hops Summary
Amount Variety Type AA
0.49 oz Magnum Pellet 15
0.49 oz Total
Mash Guidelines
Amount Description Type Temp Time
3.4 gal Temperature 156 F 60 min
4 qt Sparge 170 F 10 min
Starting Mash Thickness: 1.5 qt/lb
Other Ingredients
Amount Name Type Use Time
0.22 oz Irish moss Fining Boil 15 min.
Fermentis / Safale - Saflager - German Lager Yeast W-34/70
Attenuation (custom):
Optimum Temp:
48 - 72 °F
Fermentation Temp:
50 °F
Pitch Rate:

Session # 3
This recipe is not shared.


I use wheat in my small brews and they have some “mouth feel”… The ones I do without aren’t as drinkable…I do something like this, a bit bigger, with ale yeast… I think thats a great looking small brew… Brew Cat! Sneezles61

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The wheat is an interesting idea…would help alleviate one of the issues I considered…

what do you think is the minimum you could use to get an improvement in mouth feel? I’ve seldom used wheat and since this is a pils I want it simple, clean and sparkling clear.

How about some flaked corn. Should add some mouthfeel and traditional in a pils.

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I probably wouldn’t use less than a pound of wheat. I think I did use pilsner once. She seems to like this one. More of a bock lite

Maybe a heavy dose of carapils?

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Too much wheat and it doesnt clear up… Leaves a bit of haziness… Since you’ll brew this a few more times… why not creep up on how much to use… Sneezles61

I’m leaning towards the carapils. I already use a few ounces in my pils. Maybe I’ll increase that a bit. I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to ingredients as you guys mostly know. So rice makes the most sense to me. I’ll brew 5 gals with heavier carapils and see how it is…go from there.

I believe the kids are calling it “crushable” these days.

I did this with my pils recipe. I scaled it back to about 3.8% ABV, and same IBU’s. I also subbed in some flaked rice for authenticity. :wink:

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resurrecting this thread because I’m going to brew a light pils this week. Aiming for something like a corona :wink: so pilsner, flaked corn, a little carapils, acid malt shooting for about 3.8abv.

So bitterness? Planning on using some of the Premiant hops I have. They’re a 7.5 AA saaz hybrid, spicy and floral. I feel weird taking the bitterness as low as beersmith wants me to go for an american light pils, 8-12 IBU but it is a much smaller beer and light pils isn’t that bitter.

@voltron what IBU did you end up with in your 3.8 abv pils?

In my Mexican lager I use Vienna vs. carapils. I target around 18-20IBUS.
For light American Lager it is odd targeting such a low IBU but you have too. It’s a hard style to hit. 8-9IBUS is to little and 11-12IBUS is too much!its really about dialing in those hops to your grain bill to your system. I know BMC gets a lot of flack but think about doing that consistently…


Uffda! Making me dig up an oldie?

If it’s the recipe I was referring to back then, it appears I landed with a calulated 15 IBU. I used Lemon Drop hops (6.0% AA), with 6.1 IBU coming from FWH; 3.4 IBU @ 20 mins; 5.5 IBU @ WP.

It was a crushable beer!

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Thanks guys very helpful. I’m only doing 5 gals of this one because I can’t get my head around the low IBU and it will make a nice yeast starter for 10 gals of bohemian pils up next. I’ll shoot for something in the 11-12 range first attempt.

How much Vienna?

Sipping on my Corona Pils right now and it’s very light on mouthfeel. At first I thought it was flavorless but I’ve been drinking pretty bitter beers recently so I had to settle in to it. Nice foamy white head after just a few days on gas. Decent retention, great lacing. Very pale yellow color, still a little hazy but again only a few days in the keg so no lagering time yet. It’s got a good pilsen malt aroma. I don’t pickup the corn in the nose at all. Mouthfeel is decent for the style. Very light flavor though. Bitterness is about right I think and should come out with cold conditioning. Looking forward to seeing what this is like in a couple weeks. I think it will be decent. Just hoping the pilsen malt flavor comes out a little more. Contemplating what a stepped mash or decoction could do for this beer…maybe some vienna would help.

Here’s what I brewed. 1.039OG, 10.010 FG

6 lbs Avangard Best Malz Pilsner Malt (1.9 SRM) Grain 1 84.6 % 0.47 gal
8.0 oz Acid Malt (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 7.0 % 0.04 gal
8.0 oz Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM) Grain 3 7.0 % 0.04 gal
1.5 oz Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM) Grain 4 1.3 % 0.01 gal
0.35 oz Premiant [7.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 10.5 IBUs -
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 6 - -
0.25 oz Premiant [7.50 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 7 1.5 IBUs -
1.0 pkg German Lager (White Labs #WLP830) [35.49 ml] Yeast 8 - -

Mash Schedule: BIAB - Danny’s
Total Grain Weight: 7 lbs 1.5 oz

Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash in Kettle Add 18.00 qt of water at 155.4 F 149.0 F 60 min
Sparge Add 16.00 qt of water at 191.3 F 168.0 F 10 min


37% Pilsner, 21% 2 row, 21% Vienna, 21% flaked maize.

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