Tag Archives: pilsner

The Pilsner Urquell Showdown: Decoction vs. Single Infusion… was it worth it?

Standing over my temperature controlled chest freezer, looking down at my 2 kegs of fully carbonated Bohemian Pilsner, is a very pleasant sight indeed. I used the exact same recipe and maintained the same fermentation schedule for both a single infusion and a decoction version to see what differences could be had. (See original post: Pilsner Urquell: Decoction mash or Single Infusion?) It’s been a long time in the making. Two separate brew days, with the decoction taking me a whopping 11.5 hours (!), 14 days in primary, and another 40 days of lagering. The fact that it is ready to bottle this week, lines up perfectly with us being at the height of summer.

So was it worth it?

Continue reading

Brewing a Belgian Style Witbier using an adjunct mash…

With the onset of summer and the occasional 40°C weather up here in Toronto, it’s about time I get a nice cold keg filled with a summertime favourite: a Belgian Witbier. There’s nothing like the refreshing taste of that orange infused bubbly goodness on a hot summer day.

Witbiers normally contain a large amount of unmalted wheat, either raw or flaked. When using such a large amount, it’s a good idea to give your mash a short protein rest around 122F to help loosen things up. I’ve just finished reading Randy Mosher’s book “Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass” in which he talks about “white beer” as being one of his favourite styles. He also talks about how it can be a difficult beer to brew well and offers some insight from his trials and errors. He suggests an American style “adjunct mash” (or a ‘double mash’ as it’s called in Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide) as the best way to get that real creamy, lubricious body that is a famous characteristic of good witbiers. After researching some historical brewing texts, he claims that this was similar to how some brewers would have made these greatly varied beers in the past in order to deal with the large amount of raw wheat in the grist.

The recipe I chose uses the following grains: Continue reading

The Pilsner Urquell showdown: Decoction Day

By not brewing this beer when I first posted my original article, I think I psyched myself out on the whole ‘decoction’ thing. “Single Decoction“, “Double Decoction“, “Enhanced Double Decoction“,”Hochkurz Decoction“, “Triple Decoction“, ahh!!! What have I got myself into!!

When I finally got up the courage and picked a weekend for this experiment, I had to watch and re-watch some videos on decoction mashing. Braukaiser’s video, which I had mentioned in my original post, was one I referred to a lot. I also came across a really good video on Brewing TV: Episode 34 – “Decoction Day”. In this video, Michael Dawson shows us how to do a double decoction on a Munich Dunkel. He was quite entertaining and demonstrated the steps wonderfully and clearly. So off I was to start boiling away!

Which decoction schedule did I decide to use? I decided to go with the Enhanced Double Decoction. This schedule pulls a large enough decoction from the acid rest to be able to hit the protein rest with part of the decoction, and with the remaining portion, you reach the saccrification rest. On the one side, I thought a single decoction would fail to bring out enough of the decoction character. On the other side, a traditional triple decoction really isn’t needed with today’s well modified malts, and the lengthy protein rest can actually be detrimental to head formation and mouth feel due to excessive protein breakdown. (See footnote at bottom) I modified the temperature steps slightly to hit those specified by the brewer from Pilsner Urquell in the Brewing Techniques article: The History and Brewing Methods of Pilsner Urquell. Continue reading

Pilsner Urquell – decoction mash or single infusion?

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: Continue reading

Falcon Town Pilsner

After trying my hand at lagering with the Caveman Kellerbier, I had a rare saturday night at home with my gal who had some freelance work to do. My daughter was in bed, so I thought “why not brew something up?”. So I decided on a simple extract recipe for a Pilsner that I snagged from John Palmer’s – How to Brew, which is a fantastic reference for learning how to make your own beer.

I’ve renamed it “Falcon Town Pilsner” in honour of my soon-to-be-father-in-law who hails from the town of Sokolnice, Czech Republic, (translates to “Falcon Town” as it is known for the falcons used in the area for hunting). Sokolnice is a mere 300km from the town of Plzeň, where on the 5th of October, 1842, the first cask of original Pilsner lager was tapped. (Read “The History of Pilsner Urquell“)

It’s been lagering in my fruit cellar for just over 8 weeks and I’ll be racking it into a keg pretty soon to welcome the summer beer drinking season. The buttery golden colour and the aroma of the noble Saaz hops create a rather otherworldly aura.

UPDATE: I ended up lagering it a bit longer than I expected, with pretty amazing results. I racked it into a 5 gallon keg at the end of May in order to filter it. (see post “How to filter your beer using a plate filter…”) That means it was lagering for a total of 11 weeks, plus the initial 4 weeks of fermentation. It’s just finished being carbonated and is the perfect beer to welcome the hot weather here in Toronto.

I’ll post a final picture when I have a frosty cold glass poured!!

Continue reading