Pils-ish Ale

IMG_0925I’m always looking for new techniques, especially when they save you a little time and still allow you to produce delicious beer.  I did a Marzen lager once and tried just fermenting it like an ale. It produced beer, but didn’t come out so well. I was treating the lager yeast poorly by fermenting too warm and got subpar results, so that shortcut didn’t work.  I’m craving a good pilsner but don’t have the fridge space to lager at the moment. So I decided to build the recipe as a standard pilsner and pitch a big dose of clean ale yeast and see how things turn out after cold conditioning it for maybe 2 weeks or so.  Sure, it most definitely won’t be exactly like using a lager yeast, but maybe it can get me 90% of the way there in 3 weeks instead of 3 months if the yeast character is clean enough. Also I did this as a 5 gallon BIAB, which is sort of in between my normal 10 gallon outdoor setup and 3 gallon indoor stovetop BIAB setup.

  • 11 lb Avengard Pilsner malt
  • 1 oz Perle (8.5% aa) FWH
  • 1 oz Tettenager (2.4% aa)
  • 1 oz Spalt (2.4% aa) 10 min
  • 1 oz Spalt (2.5% aa) 5 min
  • 2 packets Safale S-05

Brew in a bag, 5 gallons outdoor on the propane burner. Pulled the bag out and dunked in a pot of sparge water. used a smaller pot to transfer the sparged wort bag into the boil kettle.

// Mash-in 1.5 qt/lb at 132 for 10 minutes, 154 for 60 minutes. Dunk in 5 gallons of sparge water at 180F (settled at 165F) for 5 minutes. Collect 8 gallons of 1.037 wort. Boil 90 minutes. Chill to 85, collected around 4.5 gallons of 1.050 wort. Brewed 7/2/15. //

// Water:  2 tsp CaCl2, 1/2 tsp gypsum to mash, 2.5 tsp CaCl 3/4 tsp gypsum to sparge. //

Brew in a bag left a TON of sediment in both the mash and sparge. This, plus all the hops left around 1.5 gallons of trub in the boil kettle.

Good fermentation by the next morning.

7/6/15   Airlock slowed to a bubble every minute or so. Opened up the carboy and saw a 1/4″ layer of frothy yeast on top of the beer, and it’s still real cloudy but appears to be done fermenting. Gravity at 1013.  Great malt flavor – grainy, bready, just what I was hoping for. Little hop finish as well. Hopefully the yeast settles out nicely, otherwise i might add some finings to help clear it up. Went ahead and moved the carboy to the fridge at 28F.


I was up and down about this batch but in the end I enjoyed how it turned out. It wasn’t very  close to a true pils lager, but it was good in its own way.

Visual: Pale yellow, slightly cloudy but not nearly clear enough for any standard of a pils. Medium density pure white head that lingers for about 30 seconds after pouring.

Smell: Bread, pils malt, and just a hint of noble hops. Some apple/fruity notes that almost remind me of an English pale beer, but not quite that much.

Taste:  Clean breaded malts with a touch of hops. Fair amount of sweetness which I think may be due to the yeast not fully finishing out on this one. There’s some yeast character, but it’s not off putting.

Mouthfeel: Prickly carbonation helps to bring out some of the bitterness, which does linger on the palate for a few seconds after swallowing.

Overall: I think this recipe could be really good with the right treatment of the yeast and proper fermentation. I really like beers that showcase a clean pilsener profile, especially ones like Steam Whistle from Toronto.


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Filed under All-grain, Experimental, German, Pilsner

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