Keller Heller

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I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks planning my brew schedule for the next few months.  Then, last Friday at work, I had this idea and decided that I had to do it and threw the whole schedule out of whack.  But this is homebrewing, so that’s okay.

The idea really started a couple days earlier when Iron Hill Lancaster sent out a Tweet asking a couple local beer writers and some of the people who placed in their recent Iron Brewer Competition what their favorite styles for the Spring were.  Lew Bryson replied that Maibock was obvious answer and I agreed.  Then I missed my N.E. Maibock from last year and lamented the fact that I didn’t have time to make one before this Spring.

I was thinking about that and then remembered Kellerbier.  I drank a few Kellerbier’s while on vacation in Germany a few years ago without knowing what the term meant.  After getting home, I looked into it.  It turns out that Kellerbier isn’t really a style unto itself, but more of a process that can be applied to any lager style.  From what I gather, a Kellerbier is basically an un-lagered lager. 

It is a beer fermented with lager yeast, at the appropriate temperature for that yeast, but then instead of racking it off the yeast and dropping the temperature down to around freezing and aging it for a few weeks or months, you package it.  Basically, like an ale fermented with lager yeast.

According to a few unknown sources on the internet, this process is most often applied to the Märzen, or Oktoberfest style.  My experience is mainly with Helles style Kellerbiers, though.  Oktoberfest is in between, but both are lower in gravity than the bock beer I’m planning.  I don’t know if this is a good idea.  Will the 7ish% ABV be more noticeable and harsh without the mellowing lager period?  I would think at least to some extent, but I’m hoping it isn’t too harsh.

In addition to the fermentation related experiment, I’m also going to be testing out a hopping technique.  It is actually one that I’ve done a few times before, but this batch will serve more as a control group to the ongoing experiment.  I’m going to first wort hop this beer with all Tettnang hops and then not add anymore hops.

I’ve used first wort hopping before, but it has always been on hoppy beers, normally IPAs, that have a whole lot more hops added later in the process.  Supposedly, adding hops as you collect wort from the mash, before boiling, will result in all the bitterness of adding the same hops when you reach boil, but will also maintain some of the flavor and aroma, somewhere along the lines of adding those hops fifteen or twenty minutes before the end of the boil.

Maibock is not a terribly hoppy style, though it is more hopped than any other bock beer.  I would normally go closer to the lower end of the bitterness scale and the higher end of the flavor/aroma hop range for the BJCP style guide for this beer.  To test this hopping technique, though, I’m going to aim for the upper end of the bitterness chart for the style and hope that that will translate to more flavor and aroma as well.

Since this is a last minute addition to my brewing schedule, I’m going all out on the science experiments.  Fermentation and hopping are not enough.  This beer’s grain bill is very similar to N.E. Maibock’s from last year, but the mash is totally different.  N.E. Maibock was my second, and first successful, attempt at a decoction mash.  I hedged my bets and included some Melanoidin malt in the grist.  Melanoidin malt is basically intended to imitate the character achieved by conducting the somewhat archaic and laborious (that is not to say invalid) technique of decoction mashing.

This time, I’m going to do my standard, English style single temperature infusion mash and include the Melanoidin malt to see if I can still achieve that complex maltiness associated with German lagers.  The percentages are slightly different because I rounded the grains to full pounds, but this is basically the same grain bill as last year’s beer just scaled down slightly to make up for the better efficiency I’ve been getting.

I will be brewing this beer on Saturday and putting it on top of the cake from one of the two carboys of Elkland Lager after I rack them together into my new giant plastic fermenter.  I will ferment it in the basement for about two weeks, depending on how long it looks active.  When it seems to have wrapped up, I’ll move the carboy upstairs to warm up for a few days and see if anymore activity is apparent, if not, I’ll bottle it.

I’ve seen some recommendations to bottle lagers at this stage anyway and then keep the bottles cold for the lagering stage so that enough yeast stays in suspension to carbonate the beer.  I’ve never had an issue with my lagers carbonating, even after extended lagering.  Anyway, I may still end up with part of the batch achieving full lagering, but I plan to start drinking the beer two weeks after bottling, not in time for the beginning of May, but well before the month comes to an end.

My recipe is below.  For reference, here is my original post, including recipe for last year’s N.E. Maibock.  That was a favorite beer for me and I’m sorry that there is none left to compare to this year’s rendition of the Maibock style.

Keller Heller

Style: Maibock/Helles Bock

OG: 1.074

FG: 1.02

ABV: 7 %

IBU’s: 42

Fermentation Steps

Name Days / Temp

Primary 12 days @ 54.0°F

Rest 2 days @ 70.0°F

Bottle/Keg 14 days @ 74.0°F

Grains

Amount Percentage Name

10.00 lbs 62.50 % Pilsner (2 Row) Ger

5.00 lbs 31.25 % German Light Munich Malt

1.00 lbs 6.25 % Melanoiden Malt

Hops

Amount IBU’s Name Time AA %

3.00 ozs 39.02 Tettnang First Wort 4.50

Yeasts

Amount Name Laboratory / ID

1.0 pkg Saflager W-34/70 Fermentis W-34/70

Mash Profile

Full Body Infusion In 45 min @ 158.0°F

Add 20.00 qt ( 1.25 qt/lb ) water @ 170.0°F

Sparge

Sparge 13.64 qt of 170.0°F water over 60 mins

Elkland Lager (2015)

IMG_0425I brewed this beer on March 18.  I’m not keeping up with my goal of posting before brew day, but I did write most of this before brewing and tried to finish off the post without acknowledging anything that happened on brew day.  I will say now that overall, everything pretty much went as planned.

In 2013 I brewed Elkland Adjunct Lager.  Last year I brewed Elkland Golden Lager and Elkland Amber Lager, then re-brewed the latter as Elkland Amber Ale.  So this year, the Golden version is just Elkland Lager.

This is my attempt at the Light American Lager.  Not Lite Lager.  Light as in pale, it is actually a Premium American Lager because the alcohol content will be north of 5%.  I got into all that last year, though.  Let’s get down to this specific beer.

There are several changes from last year.  The biggest one probably being that I’m switching back from rice to corn.  My original, 2013, batch was brewed with corn, then in 2014 I decided to try rice and use corn in the amber version.  I’ve preferred the corn, though.  This beer’s grist will be made up of a whopping 28% flaked corn.  My other recent corn beers, Sheriff Cluster’s Salvation at 16% and Elkland Amber Ale at 21%, were both much lower.  I’ve heard stories of some commercial lagers going as high as 40% corn, but breaking the one quarter barrier seems like pushing it far enough to me.

The base malt is also changing this year.  Previously I’ve used six row pale malt.  My experiment in using Pilsner malt with an adjunct on Sheriff Cluster worked out, so I decided to go with Pilsner this time, too.  Briess, the maltster responsible for this malt, discontinued their production of 6-row Pale Malt this year.  My homebrew shop still sells 6-row and I’m not sure if it is leftover Briess product or if they got it from a different producer.

Anyway, the Pilsner malt seems to do fine in helping convert the corn’s starches to sugar and it is much lighter in color and crisper in flavor.  In a move that may seem to be going against everything I just said, I again included some light Munich Malt to help give the beer some degree of body and bready malt flavor.  I upped the corn quite a bit this year, so I also upped the Munich. 

Again, this might seem like I’m working in different directions at the same time, but I think it is going to work out great.  The two pounds of Munich in this ten gallon batch will not be enough to make up for all that corn, this will still be a very light bodied and colored beer.  It should give it a little twist and at the very least, set it apart from other beers in this style.  This is not going to be a super complex beer, but hopefully it will have enough character to be not be too boring to drink in large quantities on hot days.

I feel like I should address a somewhat related topic here.  This is NOT a session beer.  I have written about my love of session beers before and I feel like saying that this beer will be consumed in large quantities is enough for some people to think that I’m making a session beer.  This stuff should be between 5 and 5.5% ABV while still maintaining drinkability.  Session beer is lower (4.5% or less) ABV and I believe that they should have more complexity than this.  The idea is for session beer to be interesting and conducive to conversation without leaving you too inebriated after a few pints.  The idea for this beer is to not get in the way of conversation.  To be drinkable in large quantities and not worry about inebriation because you’re at the cabin, or at home working in the yard or watching a parade during a cook out.

IMG_0426This may seem subtle to some people, but they are worlds apart for me.  I love that session beer is getting more attention in craft beer circles, but I’m extremely frustrated with the push by some people to count beers up to and over 5% ABV in the category.

Anyway, I haven’t mentioned the hops yet.  This beer is not highly hopped, but again, as with the Munich addition, it should have more character than the industrial versions.  It is hopped to about 25 IBUs in the kettle, which is right on the edge of the BJCP’s acceptable limit for the style, the alcohol is right there too, though so I think that keeps things balanced.

In addition to raw bitterness, the flavoring hop additions are much higher than macro lager, albeit still much lower than your average craft beer.  As with previous years, all hopping in this beer is done with Cluster.  An ounce of which is added twenty minutes before the end of the boil along with another ounce in the last five minutes.  Along with the bittering charge, that means that only three ounces are used in the full ten gallon batch, however those last two additions should still leave a bit of flavor and aroma behind.  This is up from last year’s batch, which only had half an ounce at twenty and no later hopping.  The new additions are a little closer to being inline with Elkland Amber Ale, which seems to be generally better liked.

I am skipping the extra Champagne yeast step I have done in previous years.  I don’t think it helped get last year’s batch get any drier and I think it more than likely just exposed the almost completed beer to more of the elements and possible spoiling bacteria or just oxidation.  I’m pitching a more appropriate amount of yeast this year and I will try to keep after the temperature better.  We have recently placed a thermometer in the basement.  As simple and possibly stupid as that may sound to mention, I think it will make a big difference.  If it is as easy as checking the thermometer, I will be much more likely to keep an eye on the temperature and take steps to keep it in line.

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I debated also skipping the high gravity brewing, but ultimately I ended up sticking with it.  Despite having success with Sheriff Cluster, I was still nervous that all that corn might not convert without any six row malt.  Since I’m finishing this post after brew day, I can confirm that it did convert just fine, though.  Had my efficiency taken a hit, I could have just bottled this without added water, as it is though, the ABV will be too high.  I’m not exactly sure how much water I’ll be adding yet, but I recently acquired fifteen gallon plastic container that originally held liquid malt extract from my local homebrew store and I plan to figure it out and add that much water to the container before racking the two six gallon carboys I’m doing primary in on top of the water and lagering in there.

That pretty much covers my brewing plans for this beer. Beyond that, I’m planning to enter it into the Mount Hope Brewfest homebrew competition again.  I got second place in the Light Lager category last year and I was honestly a bit disappointed with that beer.  I’m hoping to do better this year, at least as far as score.  Bottles are due on April 25, but judging isn’t until May 9.  That doesn’t give me a lot of time for lagering, but that is normal for this style.  Since the judging is a couple weeks after collection of bottles, I should be okay as long as I get it bottled before the due date and I plan to push it fairly close.

My full recipe is below, however the original gravity and final ABV and IBUs are not adjusted for the water that I plan to add after primary fermentation.

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Elkland Lager (2015)

Style: Premium American Lager

OG: 1.054

FG: 1.01

ABV: 5.80 %

IBU’s: 23.46

Grains & Adjuncts

Amount

13.00 lbs 61.90 % Pilsner (2 Row) US

6.00 lbs 28.57 % Maize, Flaked

2.00 lbs 9.52 % Munich Malt – 10L

Hops

Amount IBU’s Name Time AA %

1.00 ozs 11.92 Cluster 60 mins 7.00

1.00 ozs 9.16 Cluster 20 mins 7.00

1.00 ozs 2.38 Cluster 5 mins 7.00

Yeasts

Amount Name Laboratory / ID

4.00 pkg Saflager W-34/70 Fermentis W-34/70

Single Hop #5: Calypso and Lancaster Brewers SMASH Experiment

IMG_0295My next batch is going be part of my homebrew club’s next experiment.  I’m also going to go ahead and count it as number five in my single hop series.  The club bought a bunch of newer varieties of hops and came up with a recipe.  Everyone was given the opportunity to pick one of the varieties of hops and brew the recipe with them.  I ended up with Calypso hops.

The recipe is a SMASH beer, with a single type of malt and one variety of hop.  The malt is Briess 2 Row Pale Malt.  This is a pretty basic base malt.  It is definitely not without character and flavor, but it isn’t something that is normally given center stage.  Despite being the only malt here, that is still the case.  While we’re calling this a SMASH experiment, the real goal is to test out these different hops and the single malt is just an attempt give them as much room as possible to shine.

As with seemingly all new American beers, I’d call this beer, by default, an IPA.  It is on the lower end of the gravity scale for that style, but otherwise it fits in pretty neatly.  The hop schedule is the same for each version, which makes me nervous for mine.

These Calypso hops are listed at 15.4% Alpha Acid.  With the schedule called for in the recipe, that calculates to a crushing 114 IBUs.  While realistically, I won’t get nearly that much efficiency, this is still going to be a very bitter beer for the approximately 5% ABV provided by the malts.

These hops are described online as having aroma similar to pears and apples.  It was bred through some other experimental hops and Nugget.  I will admit to not knowing much about the hop breeding process, but yes, Nugget.  That is about all I got out of reading a few paragraphs about the breeding of this hop.  Nugget was in there somewhere.  Nugget is definitely not known for fruity, pear and apple like flavors and aromas, so those other, unreleased hops must have contributed most of the final character.

I am planning to brew this beer tomorrow, March 4.  The club will be sampling all of the different versions at our meeting on April 29.  I don’t have much else to say about this beer until then.  Once my version is ready, I’ll try to post tasting notes for it before the meeting, before I am influenced by the other versions.  Then, of course I’ll have a big post about all the different versions.  The recipe, in the form of a phone pic of the handout, is below.

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NOT Ebony and Ivory and Whiskey Porter… Brown Ale

IMG_0163To start with, I haven’t kept up with my plan for the blog this year so far. I brewed this beer on Saturday, February 7 and Sunday, February 8. I will catch up before my next batch, but I am writing this after brew day. This brew has been unconventional since the start, though so it seems appropriate that the blog is unconventional.

The start of this recipe was in an aborted plan to brew a traditional Irish Red Ale as a companion to Day of the Red. The plan was to use the same grain bill with a more standard hopping rate and no oak. When I went to buy the grains, the British crystal malt from that recipe was sold out. I realized this after already measuring out the Maris Otter and roasted barley.

As I waited for the opportunity to buy the rest of the ingredients, I had second thoughts about the beer. I like Day of the Red a lot, but I don’t think a less hopped version was necessary, with Elkland Amber Ale and Mount Hoodie already in the works. Red ales and amber ales (and lagers) aren’t the same, but they’re similar enough that I don’t need four variations on the theme this close together. What could I do with a whole lot of Maris Otter and a little bit of roasted barley, though?

How about a porter?

But that would require a lot more specialty malts. And I have a self imposed ban on strong beers since I brewed a barley wine, a tripel, a quad and PROOF in fairly quick succession and still have quite a bit of each of them.

How about a double batch of porter?

But I didn’t want ten gallons of the same beer. I needed to come up with an idea to differentiate the two five gallon carboys. With Day of the Red still on my mind, my favorite previous batch of porter, CVP (Cherry Vanilla Porter) also came into the thought process.

How about a bourbon barrel vanilla porter?

Maybe that would be too much, especially with my requirement for a lower gravity beer. Oh well, it sounded like a challenge. Could I make a 6% ABV or lower porter with bourbon, oak and vanilla beans that maintained some balance and drinkability mainly from a complex grain bill?

IMG_0168Turns out, maybe not. Not because the beer is turning out bad, though. Not at all (as far as I can tell so far). Just because this beer turned out much lighter in color than I intended.

It has, based on my sample when I racked it and added the bourbon, oak and vanilla beans, a lot of character and complexity, it just looks much more like a brown ale than a porter. The problem is that I overestimated the color contribution of the roasted barley. I think I forgot to take into account the switch from a five gallon batch to ten.

I normally try to avoid roasted barley in my porter recipes because I think that it is one of the vague distinctions between stout and porter. I have most often used Chocolate malt for the majority of the color. Munich and Crystal malts are my other go to choices to fill out a porter grain bill. I kept them this time, but I knew I’d need more color and I wanted additional depth of character to compliment the bourbon, oak and vanilla.

Brown malt was the direction I decided to go. In my limited experience with the grain, I’ve found it contributes a strong, coffee like aroma with hints of smoke and a dry, biscuity graininess. There is a lot going on and it can be overpowering. I’ve heard that given time, the flavors will blend more with the rest of the malt, though I still found it to be the dominant character in my Old Old Man Old Ale, which aged for several months before bottling.

With the relatively low alcohol content and all of the additional flavors, I needed something to kick back. I also thought the subtle smokiness would work well with the oak and bourbon. So I was liberal with my brown malt.

To add these flavors, I started soaking a medium toast American oak spiral in 8 ounces Old Gran Dad 100 Proof Bonded Whiskey in my extra hydrometer flask a week before brew day. I let it continue to soak until a week after brew day, when I dumped it into a carboy before racking the beer on top of it for secondary. I also sanitized two vanilla beans, chopped them up and added them to the carboy. That was two weeks ago.

I just took another sample and both of these beers are turning out great. The plain batch is about ready to bottle. The bourbon, oak and vanilla version is going to sit for another couple weeks. In my small samples, the regular one really tastes like a standard brown ale. There is lots of coffee aroma without the bitter roasted character in the flavor. The special version shows a ton of vanilla character with some smooth whiskey aroma but no burn and just a subtle hint of oak.

I could not be happier with that version. The other version, I have to be honest, I’m a bit surprised about. I’m excited to try the finished product, but I haven’t been this surprised by a batch in a long time. Had I planned this to be a brown ale, it would be perfect. Considering that my plan was for a porter, it is a little disconcerting. My original plan was to call the oaked version Ebony and Ivory and Whiskey. Since the beer didn’t turn out to be ebony, I had to come up with something else. My new idea is to call the regular version Busybodies and the other version Idle Minds. Here is the recipe.

IMG_0228Ebony and Ivory and Whiskey Busybodies, Idle Minds
Style: Robust Porter Brown Ale
OG: 1.060
Type: FG: 1.015
ABV: 6%
IBU’s: 32
Batch Size: 10 Gal
Boil Time: 60 minutes

Grains & Adjuncts
Amount Percentage Name
14.00 lbs 60.42 % Pale Malt, Maris Otter
5.00 lbs 21.58 % Munich Malt – 20L
3.00 lbs 12.95 % Brown Malt
1.00 lbs 4.32 % Crisp Crystal Dark 77L
0.17 lbs 0.73 % Roasted Barley

Hops
Amount IBU’s Name Time AA %
2.00 ozs 28.13 Cascade 60 mins 6.90
1.00 ozs 3.70 Goldings, East Kent 10 mins 5.00

Yeasts
Amount Name Laboratory / ID
1.0 pkg Safale US-05 Fermentis US-05

Additions (to half)
Amount Name Time Stage
4.00 oz Bourbon 3 weeks Secondary
2.00 each Vanilla 3 weeks Secondary
1.00 oz Oak “Beer Stick” 3 weeks Secondary

One Year

IMG_0261Today is the one year anniversary of this blog. I think I did enough looking back when I ended my daily posts to last a good long while, but I did want to acknowledge the anniversary for my own records.

I am behind. I brewed a couple weeks ago and have yet to post about it. The good thing about not posting every day is that I have time to edit my posts and get them to a point that I actually like them. The downside is that without a deadline, I am probably overthinking things. I will get that recipe post up this week, though.

Tasting notes are still coming as a weekly feature, but I want to bank several of them beforehand to make sure that once I start, I can actually stick to the schedule. That will probably take another couple weeks. I have plenty of beers to cover.

There are some other posts I’ve been thinking about, not directly tied to any of my batches. I haven’t started writing of them, but I’m hoping to get some of these ideas down soon. I feel like I’ve spent the last few months posting “stay tuned, more content coming soon!” But really, stay tuned, more content coming soon!

Legend Recognize Legend Raspberry Hard Lemonade

IMG_0182Yes, I have returned to hard lemonade. No shame in my brew game. This time, I brewed the lemonade for one of my favorite hip hop super producers, Lazerbeak of the legendary Doomtree crew. I’m going to see Doomtree on their All Hands Tour in Philly on Friday and I plan to bring a twelve pack of this stuff to share with them. I’ve been planning this ever since I missed their Philly stop on the No Kings Tour a few years ago due to work.

Lazerbeak is not only the super producer, he is also more or less in charge of public relations for the band because of his weekly Tuesday’s With Lazerbeak blog on doomtree.net. It is from that blog that I know that he’s a long time devotee of Mike’s Hard Raspberry Lemonade. With all due modesty, I must admit that I’ve always thought that I could do better with a homebrewed raspberry hard lemonade. Well, I’m finally putting my private opinion to the test with this fine alcoholic beverage.
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On brew day, I mixed six pounds of sugar with five gallons of water to get an OG of 1.050. I added six cups of lemon juice. Last time I posted about one of my batches of hard lemonade, I mentioned that I was considering waiting until after fermentation to add the lemon juice. I decided to just add some instead. The lemon juice drops the pH of the liquid below the optimal range for the yeast, making fermentation more difficult. If the fermentation does work out, it seems to blow out a lot of the flavor, anyway. I didn’t want to totally shock the yeast afterwards, as I planned to carbonate this stuff. That is how I came to this decision.

Since even the smaller amount of lemon juice made for a less than ideal situation for fermentation, I decided the use the staggered yeast nutrient method I previously used on Amy and Mitch’s Third Anniversary Mead. I added the nutrient, energizer and two packets of wine yeast and then set the fermenter somewhere warm (under my desk), and let the fermentation run its course.
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Once the active fermentation died down, I checked the gravity. It was down to .995 so I added fifty ounces of frozen raspberries, ten cups of Splenda and six more cups of lemon juice. That was the low end of how much Splenda and lemon juice I thought it would take. I decided to add this stuff with the fruit, a week before bottling, so that I would have more time to taste test. I find that after a couple samples, my palate is pretty shot and blending becomes inconsistent.

As soon as I sampled the lemonade, I knew it needed more Splenda and more lemon juice, but I waited. A week later, I racked the lemonade off the raspberries and onto four more cups of Splenda and six more cups of lemon juice, plus a four ounce bottle of Brewer’s Best Raspberry Flavoring.

I was afraid that I’d overdone the Splenda, but I gave Amy a sample and she said it was still too tart. I took this into consideration and added some clearing agent before tucking the carboy away for a another couple days before bottling.
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Once the clearing agent had done its work, I racked the lemonade again, onto two more cups of Splenda this time, and started bottling. I used my usual sugar cube method to bottle condition. I wasn’t sure if the lemonade would carbonate, between the acidity and clearing agent. Even if it doesn’t, the extra sugar in this already sweet concoction won’t hurt. I have already opened a couple bottles and gotten a light pop, about a week after bottling, so I’m hopeful that some crisp carbonation will form soon and make this even more refreshing.

I’m very happy with how this turned out. It is not my style and I struggled with the decision to add as much Splenda and lemon juice as I did because it just sounds like too much. I’m glad that I broke up the additions and that I enlisted Amy to show me the need to sweeten the deal that last little bit.

Now the bad news. Lazerbeak is not actually coming along with the rest of Doomtree on the All Hands Tour. I was excited to interact with him via Twitter after being disappointed by this news. He told me that I should entrust the lemonade to his fellow International Touring DJ, Paper Tiger. Lazerbeak is flying out for the show in New York next week and Paper Tiger is apparently the man to trust in keeping the rest of the group from drinking all of the hard lemonade before Beak arrives.

I will try to update on the situation after I have given my package of Legend Recognize Legend to the band and hopefully gotten some kind of feedback. For now, the simplified recipe, summing up all additions into total numbers is below. I’m not sure how much, if any difference the drawn out process above changed the final character.

Legend Recognize Legend
5 gallons water
6 pounds cane sugar
18 cups lemon juice
16 cups Splenda
50 oz frozen raspberries
4 oz raspberry flavoring
2 packets wine yeast + nutrient and energizer

OG: 1.050
FG: .995
ABV: 6% (adjusted for added lemon juice)

Sheriff Cluster’s Salvation Pre-Prohibition American Pilsner

IMG_20130415_192841I’ve been wanting to brew something like this for a long time. My only other Pilsner was a Czech style brew from my first year of lager brewing. I wanted to make a German style Pils last year but ran out of time. While enjoying last year’s batch of Elkland Golden Lager last Summer, I realized that while I use Cluster hops in that beer every year, I don’t really know what they taste or smell like.

I have used these hops several times but it has always been in very low hopped beers. Clusters are the original American hop variety. I’ve heard that they are the only variety that grew wild in America before other hops were brought over from Europe or created through breeding. I’m not sure if that is completely true, but they were certainly one of the first hops that were used in early American brewing.

While they aren’t nearly as popular as they once were, they are still used by a lot of brewers. Yuengling uses them here on the East coast and Anchor utilizes them in the West. These are both brewers that have been around for a long time and have a reputation for brewing classic American beers, so it should not be a surprise that they use the classic American hop.

As I said, I don’t know from experience what kind of character these hops have. I can tell you from the package that they are known to be “pungent and spicy.” Smelling them as I opened the bag, that seems accurate. I have heard people accuse them of being too harsh. I have heard that about a lot of varieties, though and they all seem to have their admirers.

I’ve read so many times that Nugget hops are too harsh for anything but bittering additions. The only thing I’ve read more of is rave reviews of Tröegs’ Nugget Nectar, which uses Nugget in the hopback and dry hop. Others claim Simcoe is unusable while it is the highlight hop in some of the most acclaimed IPA’s on the planet.

Anyway, my main goal with this beer is to shine a spotlight on Cluster hops. My original plan was to brew a very traditional American Pilsner with all Cluster hops. As I researched what a traditional recipe would entail, I decided to change it up a bit. Basically, it should be six row pale malt and a very large portion of corn with a moderate hopping rate (of either Cluster or a Noble variety).

I’ve been wanting to try out Briess Pilsner Malt since I realized that it was a thing and my local homebrew store carried. I used some in this year’s Mount Hoodie, but there is a lot of other specialty grain in that beer, which makes it hard to tell much about the base grain (and it still isn’t ready to drink, anyway). Popular wisdom seems to be to use at least twenty percent corn, but I wanted to bump that down to give the Pilsner Malt more room to shine.

This is pretty similar to the grist of a Light American Lager, such as Elkland Golden Lager. That was another reason I wanted to use less corn, to differentiate it a bit more from that beer. I do add Munich Malt to that one and I decided to add Victory to this.

Victory is an American toasted malt, similar to Belgian Biscuit or British Amber malts. I find that it adds a dry, grainy character. I only used half a pound to keep the color down and still keep the focus on the Plisner Malt.

This is my first time using flaked corn without adding six row barley. In the past, it was necessary to use six row when using adjuncts like corn because the corn does not have the enzymes required to convert it’s starch to sugar. Six row malt has more of these enzymes than two row, but modern malting has increased the enzymes in two row base malts to a level that most people seem to agree is sufficient for a moderate amount of adjuncts to be used. Two row barely is generally considered to have a better flavor than six row.

I’m trying this out this time, and if it works I may switch to all two row in future adjunct brews. To be safe, though, I upped my grist size and assumed a low level of efficiency, just in case. If it converts, I figure that early American brewers were likely to have made higher gravity Pilsners just because of their primitive equipment and inconsistent ingredients.

This beer will be fermented on the cake left from Mount Hoodie. For that beer, which was only a two and a half gallon batch, I bought two “past prime” vials of White Labs 802 – Czech Budejovice Lager Yeast. I haven’t used this yeast before, and I’ve never bought discounted, past prime yeast before, either. The yeast was still at least somewhat viable and I figured with two vials in a small, low gravity batch, it would work well. That fermentation was a bit slow to start, but then seemed to do well.

I left the beer on the yeast cake much longer than I normally would, as I initially intended to brew this Pilsner much sooner. Rather than try to wash the yeast, I decided to just let Mount Hoodie sit on it until brew day for this beer. It was only a few extra weeks, so I don’t think it will be an issue.

After the initial fermentation, I plan to rack this beer, give it another few weeks and then dry hop it. I have heard mixed reports of how often commercial Pilsners are dry hopped, but it seems to be a rare but not completely unheard of practice. I want the Cluster hops to really shine, though, so I’m going to refresh them just before bottling.

As for the name, it is inspired by the classic Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon comic book, Preacher. Volume seven of the comic, titled Salvation, chronicles the main character, Jesse Custer’s adventure as he becomes sheriff of a small town in Texas called Salvation. It is a section of this epic comic that could seem like a one off, side story, but it ultimately is very important to the evolution of the character. The name obviously fits and classic “old” American theme fits, too. This was one of my favorite stories in the acclaimed comic, so this seemingly strange name actually feels somewhat obvious to me.

My recipe is below.

Sheriff Cluster’s Salvation
Style: Classic American Pilsner
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.011
ABV: 5.11 %
IBU’s: 38.67

Grains & Adjuncts
Amount Percentage Name Gravity
10.00 lbs 80.00 % Briess Pilsen 1.037
2.00 lbs 16.00 % Corn, Flaked 1.037
0.50 lbs 4.00 % Briess Victory Malt 1.034

Hops
Amount IBU’s Name Time AA %
1.00 ozs 24.75 Cluster 60 mins 7.00
1.00 ozs 8.98 Cluster 10 mins 7.00
1.00 ozs 4.94 Cluster 5 mins 7.00
1.00 ozs 0.00 Cluster 0 mins 7.00

Yeasts
Amount Name Laboratory / ID
1.0 pkg Czech Budejovice Lager White Labs 0802

Additions
Amount Name Time Stage
1.00 oz Irish Moss 15 mins Boil

Mash Profile
Medium Body Infusion In 60 min @ 154.0°F
Add 15.62 qt ( 1.25 qt/lb ) water @ 166.0°F
Sparge
Sparge 16.19 qt of 170.0°F water over 60 mins