One of my initial goals for opening a brewery was to use local and/or domestic products exclusively in the beers I offered. The main issue with sticking to that mantra was my love for Australian Galaxy hops, trouble finding an equally delicious replacement for East Kent Goldings in my English bitters, and my most recent infatuation with noble hops. This noble hop obsession is a long time coming for me, as I used to vehemently despise the delicate floral, spicy, herbal, and earthy qualities they’re known for. I think it was the ignorance of an accelerating homebrewer caught in the relentless exploration of new flavors and aromas for hoppy American styles. I never stopped to appreciate what made the classics so successful. There is beauty in a German or Czech pils brewed with a few quality ingredients and attention to detail that is often lost on doe-eyed homebrewers like my (younger) self. That’s why I decided to bastardize the elegance of a German pilsener and solely use American ingredients like a true brute.
Finally get to use this glass that is terribly hard to clean.
I approached this batch with German simplicity and principles of the Reinheitsgebot. Briess Pilsen as a base and domestic carapils for a little body/mouthfeel boost. I opted for the Hochkurz infusion mash after reading that it was the standard mashing procedure in modern German breweries. It employs two different saccharification temps to satisfy both beta and alpha amylase enzymes which may possibly lead to enhanced mouthfeel and prolonged foam stability. Finding suitable American hops to replace the noble German stalwarts would be the key factor in replicating a true pilsener. I picked Sterling for bittering (high alpha acid) followed by Liberty (later switched to Crystal only because I ran out), and US Tettnanger. I think Mt. Hood could make an appearance in a later iteration of this recipe and fit in very well.
The final piece to the puzzle was choosing a yeast strain, which ultimately was my downfall in achieving my goal. After pouring over yeast profiles, there wasn’t a good “American” lager strain that I thought would give me a true German pils profile. I’ve had good luck using the Cal Lager 2112 strain in standard American lagers but it didn’t seem to fit this style. I have had very good luck with the dry Saflager strains and wanted to remove the yeast variable and focus on the grain, hops, and lagering techniques.
Appearance. About as light-colored and pale yellow as you can get. Brilliant clarity after extended aging, Did not choose to filter this for hippy reasons.
Overall Impressions. Very pleased with this beer. Seems to hit every style marker for the category, and I can’t think of what I’d change. I served one batch of this at the NYCHG 25th Anniversary Party at Brooklyn Brewery and had people coming back to wait in line. A former NYCHG friend John Moxey (now brewing at Perennial) gave my beer to Brooklyn’s brewmaster Garrett Oliver and he liked it so much he promptly went into the cellar and to pull a fermentor sample. He brought me Halfling, a very low ABV (like 3.2% or something) German style pils they were working on. I couldn’t really focus on tasting because I was so amped but I’m sure it was good.
One final thing for my fellow beer nerds to geek out on, I bought a few bottles of this along with me to Sierra Nevada Beer Camp and ended up getting it tested during a slow day in their QC lab. Which is awesome. Here are the results, which varied slightly from my calculated Beer Tools recipe below.
Haydts American Pils 2-A German Pilsner (Pils) Date: 12/22/13 Size: 6.31 gal @ 68 °F Efficiency: 88.0% Attenuation: 80.0% Original Gravity: 1.051 (1.044 – 1.050) Terminal Gravity: 1.011 (1.008 – 1.013) Color: 1.74 (2.0 – 5.0) Alcohol: 5.24% (4.4% – 5.2%) Bitterness: 45.7 (25.0 – 45.0) Ingredients: 10 lb (93.0%) Pilsen Malt – added during mash .75 lb (7.0%) Cara-Pils® Malt – added during mash 33.0 g (28.0%) Sterling (7.6%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m 1 oz (24.0%) Tettnanger (6.1%) – added during boil, boiled 30.0 m .5 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – added during boil, boiled 10.0 m .5 ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 10.0 m .5 oz (12.0%) Crystal (3.2%) – added during boil, boiled 10 m .5 oz (12.0%) Sterling (7.5%) – added during boil, boiled 10.0 m .5 oz (12.0%) Tettnanger (6.1%) – added during boil .5 oz (12.0%) Crystal (3.2%) – added during boil 2.0 ea Fermentis W-34/70 Saflager W-34/70 Notes Hochkurz mash dough in 145F (30 mins) in kettle, heat to 158F and transfer to mash tun. 5.2 pH @room temp 11.6 preboil (7.25 gals) = 1.047 5g gypsum (boil) [Next batch 3 gypsum, 2.5g CaCl from Water book rec] Gravity too high, added .5 gals cold water @ 20 mins. Grain crush maybe too fine? Switched crystal for liberty hop additions. Swapped in Briess Pilsen for Rahr 2-row Chilled to 56F, will chill further in fridge overnight to 48F, 90 secs O2 Rehydrated yeast (78F) for 30 mins, swirled and pitched into 48F wort on 12/30 48F for 4 days, raised to 53 for 8 days, diacetyl 64F Cold crashed for 4 days, kegged with gelatin on 1/20 FG 1.010