The Effin Brewery

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2nd November 2008 - Bohemian Pilsner

The archetypal lager, malty and bitter with a crisp finish. Following a tour of Southern Germany Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia I realised that lager is not a pale frozen fizzy tasteless beverage but something that really needs to be cherished. I then set about attempting to brew a clone of Pilsner Urquell of the 1980's, the beer now is nowhere near the beer of the communist era, who were to inefficient to fiddle with something if it was working. Following three years hard brewing I had got somewhere close but still never quite right . . . and then it dawned, I had got a great recipe for a generic Bohemian pilsner, it wasn't Pislner Urquell but it was a damn fine beer, and one well worth repeating.

The typical pilsner would be made with just pilsner malt and saaz hops, but the addition of some Munich malt mimics the melanoidins produced during a decoction mash, and the New Zealand Saaz and Pacific Gem reduce the amount of hops required for this style of beer.

13Kg Pilsner Malt
1.5Kg Munich Malt
0.5Kg Wheat Malt (Only used for its head retention properties)

200g Czech Saaz Pellets (1.92% Alpha - First Wort Hops)
25g NZ Pacific Gem Hops (18.3% Alpha - 75 minutes)
100g NZ Saaz B Hops ( 8.2% Alpha - 20 minutes )
50g NZ Saaz B Hops ( 8.2% Alpha - 70ºC Steep )

What I was aiming for with this recipe was 80l of a beer around OG 1.048, a bitterness of 1.040, and a very pale yellow colour. Having run the figures through Promash the estimated bitterness using Tinseths formula is 47IBU . . a little higher than intended
HeatingMashLiquor Ok, well for once I managed a decent nights sleep, and didn't get the burners on till 06:45, having filled the copper the night before, I had to get the temp up from 6C . . . This is after 10 minutes
PreheatingTun It took just over an hour to heat the 35L of strike liquor up to temperature . . . then having transferred it over thought that there was too much So left a few litres behind. . . also the liquor got too hot. . . . and it took over an hour to cool to the strike temp . . . not that I was bothered, as it made for a relaxing brewday
Here's one of the Pico system all set up to go . . And the grain bill . . . all 15 kilos of it is in the grain sack
FullTun When I mixed it in, I had a much stiffer mash than I like, but there just wasn't enough room in the tun for any more liquor . . . Before doing another batch I need to commission the 80L thermobox Tun Undecided
StrikeTemppH Still Strike Temp was where I wanted it . . .pH was a bit low at around 5.0, and the temperature is a bit cooler at the top of the tun which favours beta amylase, so I should end up with a nice crisp balanced beer.
FWHops So far things have gone well . . . . . I have managed to crack the carbon seal in my mash pump, but only lost a couple of hundred ml of wort so that's not really a problem, especially as the March May arrived on Friday :D.

I have 91l of wort at 10.6 Brix so approximately 1.041 which is spot on 75% efficiency, which is what I base my recipes on.

First lot of hops are in (100g of saaz pellets in each fermenter, only around 1.6%aa)
Sparging While I was removing wort from the tun, I had to sparge the grain . . for this I use a really hi-tech piece of equipment . . . Note the recirculation Manifold left in place
preboil I needed to collect around 90L of wort . . . . which gave me my second problem . . . The coppers only hold 50L max . .. it was a bit full as they came to the boil, I was concerned in case it boiled over.
RollingBoil However, I was fairly lucky, and soon achieved a rolling boil . . . one benefit of FWH it does tend to make boil overs a little less likely. Not too sure about the colour of that wort though, who ever heard of green beer ?
HopCharge This stack of hops is still waiting to go in. 25g of Pacific Gem on top. At 18% alpha they are very powerful and replace about 235g of Czech Saaz
HotBreakFormation After 90 minutes of boiling I cooled the wort in each copper down to 35C . . . Note the formation of a good 'Hot Break' . . I do of course use a protofloc or whirlfloc tablet to encourage this 10 minutes from the end of the boil
SpentHops Then the brewday was interrupted by the Brazilian Grand Prix, followed by a very nice roast Lamb Henry dinner . . . meant I resumed brewing at around 9 PM, so a quick transfer of the cooled wort (which had dropped to 25C at this time). After transferring the wort to the FV I was left with this, even using 'super high alpha' hops there is a lot of spent hops.

4th November 2008

YeadHead25Hours This is being fermented as a true lager . . . currently fermenting at 10C . . . you can see the cooling coils in the wort in this Picture, after leaving the wort with no yeast pitched for 18 hours, They took a bit of time to get working. This is it after 25hours (from pitching)

5th November 2008

FermentingWell This morning (about 39hours after pitching it is fermenting well
YeastHead39Hours And who says Lager yeast doesn't form a thick yeast cap . . . All you need to do is to pitch sufficient yeast in the first place . . .39 hours after pitching

10th November 2008

After 7 days of fermentation at around 10C

It looks to be finishing, so the temperature controller has been set to 15ºC (+/- 1ºC Ish) for a diacetyl rest. . . . . It has fermented quicker than expected (12 days) but that could be down to the amount of yeast (125g) that was pitched.

13th November 2008

9 Days into fermentation and the Gravity is 6.13% Brix (~1.010) I'd say that was done, so today I've started to turn down the temperature from its current 15ºC (Diacetyl Rest) to ultimately 2ºC, which will take place over the next couple of days. It will then sit at 2C for a few days to allow any yeast to drop out, before being transferred to kegs for the lagering period

4th December 2008
Minor hiccup in plans really and this beer has sat in the primary a lot longer than intended. This can cause 'soapy' flavours but as its very cold I expect it to be fine. Racked into kegs today, managed to fill 3 full sized kegs and one 9L keg (for sampling purposes ;) ) While the kegs would now go into a lagering chest normally we are having a bit of a cold snap so I'm taking advantage of the free cold weather to do the initial phase

3rd January 2009

Happy new year! Following a rebuild on the Kegereezer (TM) The 3 full sized cornii were transferred to ultra low temperature lagering today. They are going to sit at -2ºC for a week or so to really help drop the sediment. Initial taste samples are showing a very bitter beer, but that could well be the result of the high yeast load in the small corny, once the beer has cleared I'll be able to do a definitive taste analysis. At the moment I'm getting an marmalady cooked oranges taste, which could well be from the Pacific Gem hops . . . if that is the case I'll be dropping them from this beer in future, and using just the NZ Saaz