Czech Out My Pilsner

For my second lager, I decided to go with the Czech (or Bohemian) Lager from Brewing Classic Styles. The Czech’s invented the Pilsner style of beer in Plzn, Czech Republic in 1842. It was called Pilsner Urquell and it is still around to this day. Since my wife is part Czech, I decided that this would be my next brew in homage to her heritage.

czech boil
4 gallons of Czech wort boiling away

According to the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program):

Aroma: Rich with complex malt and a spicy, floral Saaz hop bouquet. Some pleasant, restrained diacetyl is acceptable, but need not be present. Otherwise clean, with no fruity esters.

Appearance: Very pale gold to deep burnished gold, brilliant to very clear, with a dense, long-lasting, creamy white head.

Flavor: Rich, complex maltiness combined with a pronounced yet soft and rounded bitterness and spicy flavor from Saaz hops. Some diacetyl is acceptable, but need not be present. Bitterness is prominent but never harsh, and does not linger. The aftertaste is balanced between malt and hops. Clean, no fruity esters.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied (although diacetyl, if present, may make it seem medium-full), medium carbonation.

Overall Impression: Crisp, complex and well-rounded yet refreshing.

Comments: Uses Moravian malted barley and a decoction mash for rich, malt character. Saaz hops and low sulfate, low carbonate water provide a distinctively soft, rounded hop profile. Traditional yeast sometimes can provide a background diacetyl note. Dextrins provide additional body, and diacetyl enhances the perception of a fuller palate.

History: First brewed in 1842, this style was the original clear, light-colored beer.

Ingredients: Soft water with low mineral content, Saaz hops, Moravian malted barley, Czech lager yeast.

Vital Statistics: OG: 1.044 – 1.056
IBUs: 35 – 45 FG: 1.013 – 1.017
SRM: 3.5 – 6 ABV: 4.2 – 5.4%
czech chilling
Bringing the wort down to pitching temp

Czech Out My Pilsner 2.5 Gallon Batch

  • 4.5lb German- Bohemian Pilsner
  • 0.5lb American Crapils
  • 11.4 g Sterling 7.4AA 60 min boil
  • 25g Czech Saaz 2.6AA 30 min boil
  • 10g Czech Saaz 2.6AA 10 min boil
  • 10g Czech Saaz 2.6 AA 0 min boil
  • 2 packages Saflager German Lager Yeast

SG= 1.040

OG= 1.051

FG= 1.009

ABV = 5.47%, SRM = 3.48, IBUs = 40.04

Mash temp 154

As with all my 2.5 gallon batches, I collect 4 gallons of wort from the mash, boil off one gallon in an hour, leaving me with 3 gallons of wort. After chilling, I drain the wort to my fermenter leaving .25 gallons of mostly trub in the kettle and 2.75 gallons in my fermenter. After fermentation, there is usually a loss of .25 gallons due to trub and yeast, so I net about 2.5 gallons of beer or 1 whole case.

The yeast was rehydrated in 8oz sterile water at 74F per Saflager instructions

czech ferment2
Fermenting at 54F

The beer was fermented at 54F for 12 days, then brought up to 70F over the course of two days for a diacetyl rest. The hydrometer reading at that time showed it had reached it’s Final gravity of 1.009. At which point it was racked to a fermenting bucket and placed in my beer fridge at 34F.

My only dilemma now is how long to let it lager? The purpose of lagering is to clarify the beer and let all the sediment and yeast to drop out of suspension, as well as to age it some. For a 1.050 beer, I’ve read and heard anywhere from 2 weeks up to 6 weeks, with the consensus being 4 weeks. Mine was already crystal clear when I took a hydrometer reading and when I racked in to a secondary fermenter. I know I can’t wait 6 weeks. Probably not 4. Maybe three? Maybe in the name of science and pushing the brewing boundaries and the dogma of how things MUST be done, maybe I’ll just go 2 weeks….

Update 7/9/18

Well, for some reason I forgot to post this blog. Turns out I’m a little short of patience and I went ahead and bottled this on Saturday which puts it at 2 weeks of lagering. I netted one case or 24 12oz bottles. As always, there’s just a little bit left over in the bottling bucket that just won’t drain out and wouldn’t fill a bottle anyway. I typically pour it in a glass and stick it in the fridge and drink it after I’m done capping my bottles and cleaning up my mess.

Little sample pre-carbonation

It gives you an “idea” of what the beer is going to taste like once its done. Now keep in mind, this is before it carbonated so it’s not 100% what it will taste like, but just an idea. I think this is going to be a pretty nice beer. It’s a little spicy from the Czech Saaz hops as to be expected. It doesn’t taste “crisp” yet as that will come with carbonation, but still pretty good and you can see how clear it came out.

In another two weeks, I’ll pick up a sixer of some Pilsner Urquell, the original pilsner beer and one this was designed to compare to, and see how my stacks up. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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