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Types of Pils Malt for Different Lagers

After a few years of brewing I’ve finally got the equipment to do lagers. After doing lots and lots of ales I’ve got a good grasp of which malt I want to use with which beer style when it comes to ales but I’m finding I’ve got little clue on the variety of Pils malts and which lagers they could/should be used on. Next beer I want to do is a Munich Helles, after that I’ll probably do a Bohemian Pilsner. Obviously want to use a Pilsner malt but which one? Should I be using a different Pils malt for the Helles or can I use something like this Floor Malted Pilsner malt for both?


I’ll first put my answer to your question then ask a related one. If I were going to do a German lager, I would use a German lager malt if I could source it. I would also probably use German lager malt for the Bohemian Pils (mostly because I have never personally seen lager malt from the republic but if they have that I would use it).

Now for my question; I have about 20 pounds of Rahr two row lager malt, you know the U.S. stuff. Since I have never used this type of lager malt before (always used German or Belgian two row lager malt depending on what I was brewing) what styles do you think would be best for that type of malt? I am running under the assumption that U.S. two row lager malt is not as flavorful as the stuff from Europe, is that a reasonable assumption? I am also assuming that the difference between it and domestic two row ale malt is that the ale malt is kilned slightly higher, is that also correct?

I am somewhat afraid that the answer I am going to get will be “make light American lagers similar to MBC”. As you may have guessed, I would rather avoid doing that. If on the other hand I can swap the stuff in a recipe for domestic two row ale malt, I can think of plenty of beers which I would enjoy. Looking forward to suggestions.

I assume you’re talking about something like this?

If so you I’d think you can do pretty much any american style of beer with it. I add ~10% munich malt if I think I’m going to want to bump up the malt flavors a bit when I’m using normal 2-row, maybe you’d just want to use a bit more when using up the lager malt.

Rahr pilsner malt would be good for something with a lot of other grains (crystal, roasted, smoked) that take center stage and cover the base grain.

A couple of things came to mind actually. I was thinking that I could swap the domestic pils for domestic two row in a Robust Porter or perhaps do a Steam Beer (which has a fair amount of crystal in the grist). I guess I could do American Pale ales or IPAs and just supplement with some Munich if I wanted to. Thanks guys.

Headed to the NB Minneapolis tomorrow, will see if they know the difference between pils malts.

Pilsner malt is pilsner malt. Sure, different maltsters have different flavors, and some are better than others, but IMO you can use any pilsner malt in any recipe that calls for it. In other words, you can make american pilsner malt work in a german pils, and you can make european pilsner malt work in an american lager. You may need to get creative (for example, add a little munich or flaked barley to make american pilsner malt taste more german, or use more adjuncts with european pilsner malt to make it taste more american), but you can certainly make it work if you want to use what you have on hand.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that these recipes will be better. I usually think that using traditional ingredients is preferable. But if you want to use what you have on hand, you can still make something very good and drinkable.

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