Friday, April 29, 2016

First Tasting: Hoppy Pilsner

I’ve only brewed one lager in the past so this was my second attempt at a lager. Pilsner is one of my favorite styles of beer, but it is also one of the more difficult styles to get right. Since it’s so light there is no easy way to hide flaws, they will be noticeable. I decided to brew something similar to Firestone-Walker Pivo Pils. It’s clean, bright, very drinkable and hoppy. It is probably my all-time favorite pilsner.

I’ve read in the past that the base malt you choose is crucial to the overall flavor of the beer. While this is true for all beers, it’s particularly important for Pilsner because it makes up anywhere from 90-100% of the malt. The lack of specialty malt is part of the reason that pilsners are so light colored. I’ve also heard that for the best malt character you have to use Weyermann Pilsner Malt. Unfortunately I only had Briess malt on hand, but I figured I’d give it a shot and see how it turns out.

Appearance: Slightly hazy very pale yellow in the beginning, probably from the dry hopping, since it clears up as it sits in the glass to become very clear.  The beer has a rocky white head, with what I consider poor retention for a pilsner. I’ve never brewed a beer this light looking before. I have no idea how it ended up that light.

Aroma: Slight grassy note and a hint of acetaldehyde with little to know malt character. I can’t figure out if I’m getting off fermentation notes or if it’s from the hops.

Flavor: More of the grassy and acetaldehyde in the flavor. Over time the acetaldehyde has died down, so it could have just been a young beer characteristic or I’ve become use to it over time. Very little malt character, which is disappointing. A slight acetic tinge on the back end, not off putting, nor is it from an infection. It might just be carbonic acid.

Mouthfeel: Light and crisp with high carbonation and a dry finish. Despite the other aspects I’m not pleased with, I’m very happy with the mouth feel. Since I don’t have a dual regulator on my CO2 tank I worry about having beers with different levels of carbonation.

Overall: There are definitely parts of the beer I don’t like, but there are other parts I do like. I have acquired a bag of Weyermann pilsner malt so in the future I will use this instead. I feel like a lot of flavor and aroma that I’m getting is due to the base malt. I might also dry hop during diacetyl rest instead of during my ramp down. I feel like the character of the dry hops will be less grassy if I let them sit at 70F instead of 50F, but that could be all in my head. Assuming the malt will make a big difference I’ll probably stick to a simple malt bill like before, however, I’m also contemplating adding some melanoidin malt for color and added maltiness, since I don’t perform a decoction mash.

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