It’s that time of year again when my cellar reaches optimum fermenting temperatures for lager style beers. Over the past year, I’ve become more familiar with the various styles and I can’t wait to take a stab at some of them. I’ve researched and learned a tremendous amount since I started brewing, and along with that research comes, of course, many new beers to try.
There has also been countless hours spent talking with my father-in-law about all things beer, wine, and gardening. He is originally from the Czech Republic, and because of that, is always promoting the superb quality of the world’s only true Pilsner; Pilsner Urquell. The history of Pilsner Urquell and how it came to be is a wonderful, informative tale of brewing history. One that is too large for the scope of this post, but is touched upon in a fantastic article from Brewing Techniques titled: The History and Brewing Methods of Pilsner Urquell.
Up until this point, I’ve been brewing completely with a single infusion mash, which works for most styles of beer. (and keeps the brew day at a reasonable length) Recently I’ve become intrigued by the traditional decoction mash that is used by European brewers. Thus far, I’ve seen it as too advanced for me, but after coming across an excellent 3 part video from Braukaiser explaining in great detail the double decoction mash, (See video here) I feel I’m ready to give it a try. Every time I have a sip of the buttery golden yellow of a Pilsner Urquell at my in-laws, the more I want to discover how the heck they actually brew it.
I’m not going to pretend I know what I’m doing with a decoction mash as I’m a virgin in such territory. Braukaiser’s video is the one to watch, but I do want to learn what effect it has on the resulting beer. In order to do this, I’m going to do 2 things:
- Compile the information I have found on how to brew a true Bohemian Pilsner (Pilsner Urquell in particular), which is the following:
- use very soft water (I will dilute mine with distilled water)
- use bohemian pilsner malt
- use a triple decoction mash
- 120 minute boil
- use Saaz hops
- lager for a least 40 days
- Perform an experiment by brewing the same recipe twice. Using the same malt, hops, water, yeast and fermentation schedule, but changing the mashing style to see if I can detect the difference it may or may not make to the finished beer. I’ve heard from brewers, including the brewers from Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar, that the only way to get that rich, smooth, pilsner flavour profile is by employing a decoction mash. So let’s see what happens!
Based on the information in the Brewing Techniques article, I’ve been able to formulate this recipe:Carbonation and Storage
|Pilsner Urquell (decoction mash)
|Type: All Grain||Brewer: Hoptomology|
|Equipment: 7.5 Gallon Stainless Steel Pot + 5 Gallon Coleman Cooler Mash Tun|
|Est Original Gravity: 1.048 SG||Measured Original Gravity:|
|Est Final Gravity: 1.015 SG||Measured Final Gravity:|
|Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.4 %||Actual Alcohol by Vol:|
|Bitterness: 40.0 IBUs||Bitterness Ratio: 0.834|
|Est Color: 3.3 SRM||Calories: 0.0 kcal/12oz|
|Total Grains Used: 9 lbs 1.3 oz||Total Hops Used: 2.042 oz|
|Mash Style: Decoction Mash, Triple|
|Brewhouse Efficiency: 78.00 %|
|Sparging: Fly sparge with 4.55 gal water at 168.0 F to achieve 8.00 gal|
|Boil Size: 8.00 gal||Boil Time: 120 min|
|End of Boil Volume: 6.00 gal||Estimated pre-boil gravity: 1.035 SG|
|Batch Size (into fermenter): 5.50 gal||Measured pre-boil Gravity:|
|Final Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal|
|Fermentation: Lager, Single Stage|
|Primary Fermentation: 11.00 days (pitching yeast at 39.0 F and raising to no more than 48.0 F)|
|Carbonation and Storage|
|Carbonation Type: Keg||Volumes of CO2: 2.3|
|Pressure/Weight: 10.10 PSI||Age Beer for: 40.00 days|
|Keg/Bottling Temperature: 40.0 F||Storage Temperature: 40.0 F|
|Taste Rating: 0.0 / 50|
|www.hoptomology.com – A little about life, a lot about beer.|
Here is the recipe for the single infusion version:
Once I have the final results in my glass, I’ll be sure to post them.
Learn more about the exciting history of the Pilsner style…
Watch The Beer Hunter Michael Jackson explore “The Bohemian Connnection”: