Tag Archives: Pilsner

Homebrew: Wedding Pils – German Pilsner

I’m getting married in August, and of course I’ve planned to brew a range of beers for the wedding. I already have a big Imperial Stout ready, and it will probably be served together with dessert. It has been keg-aging for over a year, and it was tasting really nice a couple of weeks ago when I had a small sample. Yesterday I brewed the first batch of the ‘lighter’ beers: a German Pilsner. I’m also planning to make a Belgian Blond, American Pale Ale, American IPA, and a beer brewed with one of my recently developed hybrid lager yeasts.

I haven’t brewed for a while, since we are still renovating our brewing space, but everything went surprisingly smoothly: I was done in 5 hours and managed to hit all the numbers. I aimed for a hoppy and crisp Pilsner, in the style of Firestone Walker’s amazing Pivo Pils. The malt bill consisted of Pilsner malt and a hint of Cara-pils, and the original gravity was 1.048. For hops, I used Herkules at 90 minutes and Spalter at 30 minutes and flame-out (total IBU around 40-45). I will be dry-hopping with a slight amount of Saphir after the fermentation has slowed down. I’m fermenting with Fermentis’ W34/70, since I didn’t feel like making a huge yeast starter. I’ve had good success with it in the past, so it shouldn’t be a problem. I’m starting at 10C, but will be raising the fermentation temperature to 12C after a couple of days of fermentation. Hopefully everything goes well, and the wedding guests will be able to enjoy a clean, dry and crisp pilsner on a warm and beautiful August day!

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Tasting Impressions: Modern Pilsner

We also bottled the Modern Pilsner while bottling earlier this week, and today I decided to try the first bottle of this batch as well. This one only went down to 1.019 from 1.067, giving it an ABV of 6.0% and (at least at earlier sampling) a sweet finish. Compared to the New Year IPA, this one pours a very similar color (golden-orange), but is crystal clear. This time gelatin did its job. A slight white colored head is formed, but it collapses quite quickly leaving some lacing along the glass. A nice appearance for a Pilsner, but it could use a slightly more long-lasting head. The aroma is slightly citrusy, grassy and bready. There are some minor plastic-like tones hiding in the background as well. Not the typical clean and crisp aroma you would want in a Pilsner. The taste begins with some sweet and biscuity malt tones, that are joined by some grassy and slightly citrusy hop tones. The finish is relatively sweet and with a moderate bitterness. Somehow, the flavors don’t really go all too well together. This would have been much better if the beer had been drier, but I think some time in the bottle will improve it slightly as the flavors mend together. Not bad, but not completely satisfied either.

Homebrew: Modern Pilsner

Yesterday I brewed up another batch of lager. This time I attempted an IPA-like beer, but the twist is that it will be fermented with a lager yeast and at low temperatures. The malt bill was simple, with Pilsner, CaraPils and Melanoidin malt. During the boil I single hopped with Centennial to around 60 IBU. After fermentation and lagering, I will add some random dry hops based on what opened packages I have in my freezer. I pitched a large starter of WLP800 Pilsner Lager yeast, and set the thermostat at 10C. The brewday went well, and I collected 19 liters of wort and hit an OG of 1.067. I mashed at low temoeratures (~63C) to produce an easily fermentable wort. This one should be interesting!

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Homebrew: HG Pilsner

Last Friday we brewed a Pilsner, featuring a simple malt bill (95% Pilsner and 5% CaraPils), a single hop variety (Saaz) and W-34/70 yeast. The twist was that we decided to try out a technique commonly used by many (especially larger) commercial breweries: High Gravity Brewing. The idea is to brew the beer with higher original gravity (and increased hopping) than intended, and then after fermentation dilute the beer with boiled water to the desired ABV% level. The benefits of doing this, is that the brewhouse utilization is maximized and batch sizes can be increased past what the equipment allows for. Also, the amount of esters, higher alcohols and other (in a lager) undesired yeast flavors may be decreased in the final beer, compared to if the water addition would have been added prior to fermentation. We ended up with 40 liters of 1.070 wort, hopped with 350 g of Saaz for an IBU of around 50. We are hoping to dilute the final beer to around 60 liters of 4.5-5% ABV beer, depending on how dry the beer ferments. The beer is now fermenting along happily at 10C, where we will keep it for three weeks, before a 1-2 month lagering period.

Homebrew: Adding Oak Cubes and Vanilla to the Nightly Serenade Imperial Porter

Sorry again for the inactivity, last week I started working at the PBL Brewing Laboratory at VTT, where I will be writing my Master’s Thesis, so have mostly been busy with work. This weekend I thought I’d devote some time for my homebrews, so today I have been preparing some bottles for finally bottling the apple cider I brewed about 6 months ago, which has been bulk aging in a corny keg the last 5 months. Will hopefully have time to bottle it tomorrow. I have tasted it on a couple of occasions during the summer, and it is quite tart, but it is slowly mellowing fortunately. Hopefully it will become enjoyable in the upcoming months.

I also added 50g of French Medium Toast Oak Cubes (which had been soaking in bourbon) and 2 sliced up bourbon vanilla pods to the Nightly Serenade Imperial Porter. I took a gravity sample, and it had fallen to 1.023, giving the beer an ABV of 7.5%. With the bourbon it should rise to about 8%. I tasted the gravity sample, and the beer featured a combination of coffee and dark fruit tones. I think this will need at least a couple of months of maturing to reach its prime.

Took some small taste samples from the Unexpected Predator American IPA and Czech Mate Pilsner as well, which have been in kegs force carbonating and lagering. The IPA had a nice resiny hoppiness with a strong bitterness, coupled with a caramelly maltiness, but I think this will need a couple of weeks of maturing still. I will be bottling the IPA next week. The pilsner was a bit more interesting for me, since I haven’t brewed one before, and it featured lots of grassy and spicy hop flavours, coupled with a bready maltiness, and slight butterscotch tones (which I guess are from diacetyl). I guess I will leave this for 3 more weeks of lagering (it has been lagering for 3 weeks now, giving a total of 6 weeks of lagering).

Beer Tasting

A couple of weeks ago (yes, I have really postponed writing this), me and two friends gathered to drink some beer after work, and at the same time I could ‘get rid of’ / taste through some of my evergrowing beer stock to make place for more. We had nine beers on the agenda, with one of them being Lovecats, the homebrewed blonde ale, and many being beers I had tried before. The whole line-up from left to right was: Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, Alesmith X, Port Brewing Shark Attack, Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier, Lovecats, Green Glash Hop Head Red, Lindemanns Faro, William Bros Kelpie and Dark Star Espresso Stout.

We began by tasting Lovecats (left in picture below), Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier (center in picture below) and Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale (right in picture below). Lovecats poured with the usual hazy orange color and quickly-collapsing white-colored head. The aroma was citrusy, grassy and also featured tones of tropical fruits, and compared to the other two beers in the lineup (and actually also compared to the hoppier beers tasted later during the evening), it became evident that Lovecats has a really strong hop aroma. The flavor began with a slight maltiness, which was joined by a grassy and citrusy hoppiness, that lingered on to a bitter and slightly tart finish. The beer had a light body and quite high carbonation. Overall, Lovecats is an okay pale ale, have brewed better though.

Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier is  German Pilsener, apparently brewed with homegrown malts and hops. The beer poured with a crystal-clear golden-yellow color and a fluffy white head. The aroma was very mild, but featured sweet, malty, and perfume-like tones. The flavor was also quite sweet, with malty and bready tones dominating. There was almost no hoppiness nor bitterness present in the flavor. The beer had a light body and medium carbonation level. Overall, I didn’t really like this one. Very bland and boring.

Firestone Walker’s Double Barrel Ale is an English-style Pale Ale, fermented in oak barrels. The beer poured with a clear copper color and a fluffy off-white head. Nice looking beer. The aroma contained some herbal and earthy hops, combined with tones of oak, caramel and the slightest fruitiness. The flavor was similar to the aroma, with a caramelly and bready maltiness dominating together with a oaky woodiness and a herbal hoppiness. The finish was dry and quite astringent. The body was smooth and medium-full, and the beer had a medium carbonation level. Overall, a strange beer, but the oakiness went together quite well with the caramel and hops.

After this we moved on to the darker and (the only) sour beer: William Bros Kelpie (left in the picture below), Lindemanns Faro (center in the picture below) and Dark Star Espresso Stout (right in the picture below). Kelpie, which I have had a small taste sample of before, is a dark traditional ale that has been brewed with fresh seaweed in the mash tun. The beer poured clear and dark brown, almost black, with a quite long-lasting cream-colored head. The aroma was dominated by toasted and roasted malts, with slight coffee tones. There is also a minimal fruitiness present in the aroma. The flavor is also dominated by the toasted and roasted malts, and these are joined by a herbal hoppiness, and a minerally and dry finish. The beer has a quite light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, I was not really fond of this beer, as the flavors were a bit strange and the beer felt a little light. I couldn’t really detect any seaweed, but there was a saltiness present.

Next up was Lindemans Faro, a beer in a style that was new to me. Faro Lambics are lambic (i.e. spontaneously fermented sour beers) blends which have been sweetened with (usually brown) sugar. Bottled versions are usually pasteurized, to prevent bottle-fermentation of the added sugar. The beer poured slightly hazy, with an amber color, and almost no head. The aroma was sweet and sour, with a combination of candy, sugar, a cherry-like tartness, and some funkiness. The flavor featured sweet caramel blended with a citrusy and cherry-like tartness and acidity. The flavor reminded me of some kind of sweet and sour candies I’ve eaten as a kid. The finish was slightly dry, while the body was a light and the beer had a medium-high carbonation level. Overall, a very strange beer, that I found surprisingly enjoyable I must admit. I’m not a fan of sour beer at all, but this was surprisingly drinkable (probably thanks to the sweetness).

Dark Star’s Espresso Stout is also a beer I’ve had before, and it is a stout brewed with ground arabica coffee. The beer pours pitch-black, portraying slight red tones when held up against the light, and a tan-colored head is formed, that leaves lacing as it collapses. The aroma is dominated by coffee, but there are some roasted malt and caramel tones present as well. You can definitely tell coffee has been used when brewing this. The flavor featured tones of roasted malt, coffee, ash, and some chocolate. The finish is quite dry and astringent, and I’m left wishing for some more body to back up the roastiness. The beer has a light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a very coffee-dominated beer that is a little light on the body. Would really benefit from some more alcohol and rest sugars.

We finished off the evening with the hoppy beers, tasting through Green Flash Hop Head Red (left in the picture below), Alesmith X (center in the picture below) and Port Brewing Shark Attack (right in the picture below). I had tried two of the beers before, but Alesmith’s X was new to me. Green Flash Hop Head Red poured with a clear dark amber-copper color and a cream-colored head, that collapsed leaving drapes of lacing along the glass. The aroma has lots of hoppiness featuring floral, citrusy, fruity, and pineapple-like tones. There are also some tones of dark fruits and candy-like sweetness present. The flavor features tones of caramel, toasted malt, and a resiny and grapefruit-like hoppiness, that ends in a semi-dry and moderately bitter finish. The beer has a medium-full body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a nice beer, featuring some nice hoppiness (especially the aroma) and balance.

The next beer was Alesmith X, which is an American Pale Ale by the infamous San Diego-based brewers. The beer poured with a clear golden-yellow color and a white head, that collapsed leaving some slight lacing along the glass. The aroma was hoppy, featuring floral, citrusy, and grassy tones. The aroma also featured some mild caramel tones. The flavor featured a light maltiness coupled with a citrusy hoppiness, that finished in a dry and bitter finish. The beer had a medium-light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a better-than-average pale ale, but nothing very special. The hop tones were nice, but felt like the beer was lacking something.

The final beer of the evening was Port Brewing’s Shark Attack, previously tasted here. The beer had a very similar appearance to Hop Head Red, with a dark amber color and a cream-colored head. The aroma featured tones of dark fruits, raisins, red fruits, floral and citrusy hoppiness, and slight alcohol. I definitely remembered this being a lot hoppier and the last bottle I had was even much older (this one was only 3 months old). The flavor featured tones of caramel, dark fruits, malts, and a grapefruit-like hoppiness. The flavor finishes semi-dry and quite bitter. The beer featured a medium-full body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a nice imperial red, but this was a lot maltier and less hoppy than I remembered. Still very enjoyable and a nice end to the evening.

All in all it was a good evening, with some really nice beers. The last three beers were among my favorites of the night, and something really surprising was that Lovecats had the most hoppy aroma of the lot.

Homebrew: German Pilsener – Brewday

Tested our newly built Brew Kettle today by brewing up a batch of German Pilsener. Everything went surprisingly well, but had some small problems also. We will have to lower the inner kettle, as there was a lot of dead space with the current setup (which meant slower cooling with the immersion chiller as it wasn’t fully immersed). Also, the pump got jammed once during the mash. I brewed outdoors, which might not have been the smartest thing to do during the summer, as the sweet wort aromas attracted tons of insects. I managed to find a dead wasp in the kettle after I drained it into the fermenter, so hopefully the batch hasn’t got contaminated. I pitched two packets of W-34/70, and threw the fermenter into the fermentation fridge set at 10C. I got around 55-60% efficiency, so the prediction was quite correct. I ended up with a little less volume, but a little higher gravity, than expected. The new mill was working great, and will tighten the gap for the next crush, as I think the crush could definitely be finer. Hopefully this turns out nice! I’m hoping for a Prima Pils-like pilsner, with lots of floral hoppiness. Below are some pictures from the brewday and the recipe.

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Homebrew: German Pilsener

Tomorrow I will be trying out the new brew kettle by brewing up a batch of a German Pilsener. The malt bill will consist of 93% Pilsner malt, 3.5% Aromatic malt, and 3.5% Wheat malt, and I will be aiming for an OG of around 1.050-1.052. The aromatic malt will be used to mimic some decoction mash tones, while the wheat will hopefully aid with head retention. I will be hopping with Magnum (bittering), Saaz (flavor and flameout) and Hallertau Mittelfrüh (flavor and flameout) to an IBU of around 35. The beer will be fermented with Saflager W-34/70 in my fermentation fridge. I also just received a new Monster Mill MM-2, so am very interested in seeing what kind of efficiencies I will get with the new mill and no-sparge combo. I am expecting an efficiency around 60% to begin with, because of the no-sparge, but hopefully I’m wrong and the efficiency will be closer to 70%. I’ll post the recipe, details on the brewday, and hopefully some pictures tomorrow.

Pilsener Duel: De Molen Donder & Bliksem vs Victory Prima Pils

This evening I will be comparing two (quite highly ranked) Pilseners I just received in an order from Bierzwerg.

  • Brewery: De Molen
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Style: Bohemian Pilsener
  • ABV: 6.2%
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: Bierzwerg, ~3€
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer


Our first contender of the night is ‘Donder & Bliksem’, a Bohemian Pilsener, brewed by the Dutch craft brewery De Molen. This beer has been brewed with Pils and Cara malt, and hopped with Permiant and Saaz hops to an IBU of 36. According to the bottle, this beer was bottled on 18.07.2011, so it’s about 5 months old now. De Molen have a reputation of brewing some tasty beers, so am looking forward to this one.

[easyreview title=”De Molen Donder & Bliksem” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a pale golden-yellow color and a fluffy white-colored head. The beer is just slightly hazy. The head collapses leaving some drapes of lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”3.5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is mostly malty, featuring some tones of grain and light honey, with a slight touch of floral grassiness from the hops.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with a light maltiness, but the grassy and slightly citrusy hop tones soon dominate. The flavor ends with a dry and quite bitter finish, while the quite high alcohol level (for the style) lends some warmness.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium-light body and a moderate-high carbonation level. The beer is crisp, quite refreshing and relatively easy to drink.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”Overall a good beer, and a really good Pilsener, but felt it lacked something to make it stand out. On the other hand, Pilseners should not be complex, and this was a crisp, tasty and refreshing beer, so it definitely does what it should. Unfortunately this one isn’t available from shops in Finland, but if you are lucky, you can find it some well-stocked pubs (e.g. Pikkulintu & Beer Hunter’s). Let’s see how it compares with the American.”]

  • Brewery: Victory
  • Country: USA
  • Style: German Pilsener
  • ABV: 5.3%
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: Bierzwerg, ~3€
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer


The second contender of the evening is ‘Prima Pils’, a German Pilsener, brewed by the American craft brewery Victory. I’ve had Victory’s IPA, Imperial IPA and Imperial Stout before, and they were all very good, so expectations are high for this one. It also ranks number 4 on RateBeer’s Pilsener list, so it can’t be awful right? The beer has been brewed with German Pils malt, and hopped with Northern Brewer and Saaz hops. I found no information on the IBU, but rumors say it’s quite bitter. My bottle has a best before date in March 2012, so the bottle should be around 9 months old. Let’s see how it does against the Dutch!

[easyreview title=”Victory Prima Pils” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The appearance is very similar to ‘Donder & Bliksem’, with the beer pouring with a pale golden-yellow color and a slight white-colored head. The beer is also slightly hazy, and the head collapses leaving drapes of lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”3.5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is stronger in this one, and the floral hops are dominating this time. There are some fruity (peach-like), grainy and honey-like tones as well.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor also begins with a light maltiness, lending some sweet tones, and is quickly joined by a floral hoppiness, featuring some grassy and grapefruity tones. The hop flavor was a bit stronger in this beer, compared to ‘Donder & Bliksem’. The flavor ends dry and quite bitter again.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”This one also has a medium-light body and a quite high carbonation level, giving the beer a crisp and refreshing feel. Quite easy to drink, a would be perfect a warm summer day.” cat4rating=”3.5″ summary=”This was a really good beer, and in my opinion, slightly better than the Pilsener from De Molen. I really liked the stronger hop flavor, and combined with the dry and bitter finish, this was a very refreshing beer to drink. Wouldn’t mind trying this beer at least 6 months fresher, but this still packed a lot of punch in it. Unfortunately this isn’t available from Finland either.”]

The winner of this duel is Victory’s Prima Pils! It was a close one, but I really liked the stronger hop flavors in the American brew!

Stadin Panimo Bismarck Imperial Pilsner


  • Brewery: Stadin Panimo
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: Imperial Pilsner
  • ABV: 8.3%
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: Alko (Arkadia), 5.98€
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer

    Here is another one from Stadin Panimo. This beer was just released in the Arkadia Alko and is an Imperial Pilsner hopped with German Noble Hops to an IBU of 40 IBU. Batch 368. This beer seems to have had a recipe change, as it was previously 80 IBU.

    [easyreview title=”Stadin Panimo Bismarck” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer has a deep golden-amber color, and is slighty hazy (the beer is unfiltered and bottle-conditioned), with an almost minimal white head.” cat1rating=”3″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The beer has a malty aroma, with hints of biscuits and caramel. There are some fruity tones (peach) present as well.” cat2rating=”3″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavour is sweet and is dominated by malt (biscuits and caramel). There are also fruity tones present, with hints of peach, plums, and spices. The bitterness of the beer is not very detectable, and the flavour ends with a more sweet than bitter aftertaste. The alcohol is hidden quite well, but is just detectable. Overall the beer flavour is balanced towards the malt spectrum.” cat3rating=”3″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The body is medium full, with a slight oily texture, and the beer has a low carbonation level. The beer is a little on the sweet side, and not very refreshing, especially now in the hot summer weather.” cat4rating=”2.5″ summary=”Was disappointed with this one, as I expected a bit more bitterness and hop flavour, and less of a malt-centered beer. Probably would of liked this a bit more on a colder day, which would pair up with the sweet and malty flavour better. I got to admit that when I drank the beer it was a bit too warm, so I might have liked it better as well if the temperature of the beer was colder. A moderate beer by this Finnish microbrewery, that I unfortunately won’t be buying again. A little on the expensive side, and a bit too sweet for my taste.”]