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Style of the Week: Pilsner!

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February 20, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Typical Bohemian Pilsner beer in a footed conical glass with great head!

Typical Bohemian Pilsner beer in a footed conical glass with great head!

One of the first truly pale beers produced was the style we today call Pilsner. It’s called that because the first brewery to brew this beer was in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, hence the name Pilsner. What’s really intriguing about this beer is in its simplicity. It’s basically just pilsner malt, European style noble hops, and lager yeast. While there are several styles of Pilsner around nowadays, I find myself drawn to either the Preprohibition Pilsner or the Bohemian style Pilsner, which is the original. Below is a recipe of mine that makes a fairly representative Pilsner of the Bohemian style. While it’s not 100% Bohemian malt, it does taste like a Bohemian Pilsner, and that’s really all that matters, right? Hope that you enjoy making, and drinking it as much as I do.

Extract:

8 lbs. Alexander’s Light LME (2 cans)

½ lb. Carahell Malt

½ lb. Melanoidin Malt

2 oz. Liberty Hops (Bittering)

2 oz. Liberty Hops (Flavor)

2 oz. Liberty Hops (Aroma)

Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss

Wyeast 2124 , WLP820, or Fermentis Saf-Lager34/70 Dry Yeast

Procedure:

  • Heat ¾ gallons of water to 165°F.
  • Add steeping grains to kettle and steep for 30 minutes.
  • Remove grains, and rinse with 165°F water
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to Heat, bring to boil for 5 min. then add bittering hops.
  • At 20 minutes remaining, add the flavor hops.
  • At 15 minutes remaining, add the Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss.
  • At 7 minutes remaining, add the aroma hops.
  • At knockout, cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. Add the mixture to the fermenter, removing the hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using distilled, bottled, or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 65°~68°F for 7 to 10 days.
  • Allow to age an additional two to three weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain version:

11 lbs. 2-Row Pilsner Malt

½ lb. Carahell Malt

½ lb. Melanoidin Malt

2 oz. Liberty Hops (Bittering)

2 oz. Liberty Hops (Flavor)

2 oz. Liberty Hops (Aroma)

Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss

Wyeast 2124 , WLP820, or Fermentis Saf-Lager 34/70 Dry Yeast

¾ gm. Calcium Chloride Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in the mash and in the boil.

Procedure:

  • Infusion mash at 150°F for 90 min with the Calcium Chloride Salts.
  • Sparge until 6~6½ gal wort has been obtained.
  • Add the rest of the Calcium Chloride salts after the boil commences.
  • Boil for 1 to 1½ hours total time.
  • Add the bittering hops after 15 minutes boiling and continue to boil for 60 more minutes.
  • Add the flavor hops at last 20 minutes.
  • Add Whirlfloc or Irish Moss at last 15 minutes.
  • Add the aroma hops at last 7 minutes.
  • Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 100 gms. corn sugar (approx. ¾ cup), or kegged to 15 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 55°~60°F in a Pilsner style conical glass, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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