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Pilsner Recipe

Now that I am living in a place big enough to brew more beer, I have done just that. My “new” (moved in July) place has an unfinished basement that is perfect for all of my brewing supplies. One of the other benefits that I have found to having a basement was that it stays at a consistent 55 degrees in the winter, perfect temperatures for lagers. In my 5+ years of brewing, I have only attempted one lager before, but in 2012 alone I have brewed 3 and have plans for a few more before the weather warms up.

One of the first lagers that I brewed this year is a pilsner. I’m a big fan of a well done pilsner . I’ve only reviewed one pilsner on this site, but I have a few in the pipeline that need to get posted. Victory and Stoudts both make an excellent pilsner and I wanted to try my hand at making one. I also had a few lovely pilsners while I was in Germany last summer, so my intentions for this recipe is to make a mix of the examples that I enjoy with the southern German examples that I had.

There are many ways to do a pilsner, but I wanted to keep it simple with only two malts: pilsner and Munich. The idea behind the Munich malt is that it gives many of the same characteristics to a pilsner as what a traditional decoction would, without all of the work. I wanted to use only a touch of Munich so that the pilsner would retain its light color. I also wanted my pilsner to be a slightly more hops and ABV than a traditional one. I managed to stick within style, but on the extreme high side of the style. My recipe is below:

  • 9.5 lbs. Pilsner Malt
  • 1/2 lb. Munich Malt
  • 2 oz. Hallertau (3.3% AA) @ 60 minutes
  • 1 oz. Sterling (7% AA) @ 15 minutes
  • WLP 838 Southern German Lager

The expected outcomes for this beer are:

  • 5.2% ABV
  • 37 IBUs
  • 4.75 SRM

I really like Hallertau hops, but I wanted something a bit “punchier” for the aroma hop addition. Sterling is basically a strong version of Hallertau and has all of the same characteristics, but just intensified. I wanted to stay traditional with the ingredients as well, so I kept everything in line with that thinking.

The main reason I went with the Southern German Lager yeast is because I had a yeast cake of it from a previous batch of beer ready to go and I also like the flavor profile that it gives. The bready flavors seem to really come out with this yeast strain, and I thought that they would compliment the recipe. I also wanted to emulate the southern German pilsners that I had last summer.

 

San Antonio Breweries: Blue Star Brewery

This is my first full day back from my trip to San Antonio. I really enjoyed the city, did not enjoy the heat or the humidity. As with any new place I go, I look to see what breweries are around so that I can visit them and taste what they have to offer. The first stop on San Antonio’s brewery list (of 2) was Blue Star Brewery. The brewery opened in 1996 and is located in the Blue Star Arts complex, which is essentially converted factories.

The general vibe of the place is pretty simple. There is a simple menu, none of the decorations are super complex, and the staff’s attire isn’t fancy. It is the kind of place I dig. My wife and I walked there as it was only 3/4 of a mile away from our hotel but my wife swears it was over a mile. All I have to say is that the GPS doesn’t lie. Win! When you walk into the place you are greeted by a line of stainless steel tanks and a seating area to the right. Behind a glass wall at the back of the building is the actual kettle and all of the “hot” parts of the brewery. The bar is backed with the stainless steel tanks.

The had eight different beers on tap when we were there, including one on cask. They had everything from a pilsner to a stout to an English IPA (cask and keg versions). Each sample glass we had came in at about $1.25 with a few of the higher ABV beers costing up to $1.99. Pretty standard prices from my experience.

The pilsner was solid with a nice light but flavorful body and a slight hop crispness at the end. The pale ale was on the more pine side of the hop flavors but it was solid. It also leaned a bit more towards the hop end of the balance. The amber was my wife’s favorite beer and was a solid amber with a nice malt component an a bready aftertaste. The stout was a real treat, very straightforward but balanced and a great, smooth roast flavor on the backend. The English IPA was more hoppy than what I was expecting. If was an American IPA it would of fit in better, but it did have a wonderful malt backbone that fully supported the hops. They also had a cask version of the beer which was excellent and really toned down the hops and brought out a nice malt complexity. The final beer was the King William Barley Wine which rocked in at 11% ABV. It was good, but I think there was too much heat in there to make it a smooth drinking barelywine.

Overall I really enjoyed the Blue Star Brewery. Since I have lived in Texas I have noticed that service at restaurants has been lackluster to say the least. The Blue Star staff was wonderful (our server was Allen) and always made sure that we had what we needed. My only real complaint was that their menu is very limited. We did commit one crime in ordering according to The Naked Pint, and that was that we ordered a pitcher of their amber. According to the book you should never order a pitcher. I don’t think it really matters and that’s why we did so. The beers were solid, the food was pretty good, and the service was outstanding.

Need to homebrew

I haven’t done any homebrewing in a few months. It may actaully be the the longest stretch I have ever going without brewing since I started. I miss it. I want to do it. I need to decide on a beer to brew. The last time I brewed was the weekend after Thanksgiving where I did a take on a Rouge’s Dead Guy Ale. My buddy Pete came down from Colorado to help in the brewing. That beer finally got bottled yesterday so now I have open fermenters, open space, and a bit of open time to brew.

I have narrowed down my choices to be either an amber, pale ale, or I was also thinking a pilsner. As strange as all of those may sound together, those are the styles of beer that I have been digging recently. I was thinking about an English ale, as I have been on an English ale kick for the past few weeks, but decided against it as I am getting burnt out.

For my next batch(s) I am also not going to be brewing the standard 5 gallon batch, rather I am going to half it and brew more often. I generally don’t like to brew until I am almost out of my previous brew. The simple reasons for that are time and the lack of bottles. While I do have a nice set of new cases from bottling yesterday, I suspect that is going to be gone by the time my next brew is ready to go. I am also going to be a lone wolf (the Hangover anyone?) at the end of next month as my wife and my friends will be going tornado chasing for six weeks. Yeah. Sadly I do not get to join in that experiment as I am not a PhD or Masters student in the Texas Tech Atmospheric Science or Wind Engineering departments. So I need to cut it back on the homebrew so I don’t have cases upon case just sitting around my dog and I. I’ll get an update on what I decide when I decide it and as always I’ll post my recipe and brewing plan. Any other ideas on what I should brew.

Beer Review #48 Noble Pils

Ever since I have been drinking craft beer, Sam Adams has been in my drink lineup. They released a new spring seasonal this year taking the place of the White Ale of last year. For this spring Sam decided to go with a Pilsner, a “nobel pilsner.” The reason they call it a Nobel Pils is becasue the hop varieties used in the making of this beer are said to be noble. You know how the periodic table of elements has the noble gasses, well hops also have a noble lineage.

The beer pours a nice golden in color and is perfectly clear. There is a bit more of a hue in it than a typical Light American Lager, but there isn’t a huge difference in how the two look. It also pours with a nice white fluffy head. The nose on this beer is actually somewhat complex for how simple a Pilsner really is. There is a sweet, honey-like malt with a splash of hop in there as well. It isn’t stale or sulfery smelling like a light of light colored lagers tend to have.

On the tongue the sweet malt is on the front and then there is a good hoppy finish. Some might compare this beer to a Light American Lager based on looks, but the malt is more complex and there is actually a hop finish. The hop finish might surprise some, but it is not overpowering and really complements the drink. Noble Pils is light in mouthfeel and has the perfect amount of carbonation.

I find this beer super drinkable. It is great for a warm spring day or on a hot summer day. I think this beer would appeal to a lot of beer drinkers crossing into the craft beer for the first time. As I have said before on this site, Pilsner is not a style of beer that I enjoy, but Sam Adams Noble Pils was a winner in my book. (more…)

Styles that don’t agree with me

10-20-01Look a that, my first rhyming blog title. Anyway, I was thinking the other day about beers that I really just do not enjoy. No matter how good they are, I just can’t seem to like them. I think I got the idea while reading Pennsylvania Breweries 3rd Edition by Lew Bryson during my break at work. Lew seems to really enjoy a quality Pilsner and often recommends them while doing his write-up about a brewery.

My problem is that I really don’t like Pilsners at all. Maybe it was from my early college days when the American Light Lager ruled my drinking choices. That type of light, watery, sometimes hoped beer just isn’t for me. I’ve had plenty of well regarded Pilsners, and I can get the flavor differences and all of that, I just don’t like it that much. Stoudt’s Pils is probably my favorite of the style that I have sampled, but I would much rather have any host of other beers in front of me.

For my wife she can’t stand too many IBUs. Well let me correct that, she can’t stand anything that doesn’t have a malt backbone to support the IBUs. In particular she is always wary of IPAs because so few actually offer a good balance. A hoppy stout or porter will also leave her wanting something different. I’m also not really a Labmic guy. I’ve have three of them in my short beer experience, but the sourness just doesn’t do anything for me. If I had a homebrew that turned out like that, I would be very disappointed. I am not one for Warheads or any of that candy stuff that is super sour either, so that might be partly to blame.

Will I steer away from styles I generally know that I don’t enjoy. The answer I want to is no, that I will try any new beer, just to try it. The real answer is that I probably would steer a bit away from styles I don’t really like. That is why there are not many Pilsner reviews on here or American Light Lagers. I don’t enjoy them so I refuse to spend money on them. At a brewpub, I am a bit more willing to try things I don’t like becasue I always get a sampler. And if I don’t care for a particular beer, I only have to drink 4-5 ounces of it. Is anyone else like me in avoiding beer styles they don’t care for or are you one to try anything even if you know you will not like it.