Thursday, August 8, 2013

Recipe #46: CAPtain America (Classic American Pilsner)

I have been intrigued as of late with brewing more lagers, and specifically with making an American Pilsner.  This seems odd since I have been, typically, anti American Lagers.  It has been a long road to a place I thought I would never reach, but the truth is I need to be less overly-opinionated on things that are not founded on the infallible word of Christ.  It's like music, my buddy is very opinionated about how his music is the best music, and I find no enjoyment in his music, nor his claims that his music tastes are some how superior to those around him that don't agree with him.  In the same way I look at his claims concerning music and say, "In your opinion", I tend to be just as emphatic about beer choices.  According to my taste preferences, "in my opinion", Macro lagers aren't good beer, but to someone else they may taste great.  For all the "gospel" or "good news" or "evangelizing" Craft beer (all words I take issue with when used to reference an inanimate object with no power to save anyone from anything), it falls flatter than a Lost Abbey beer, it is all still based on conjecture and opinion.  Even with the recent decline in the sales of beer on the whole and the massive growth of Craft beer with increased sales, it is all still preference.  Whether it be the Pilsners that swept Europe, or the Pale Ales at the birth of Craft brewing, IPAs, Bourbon Barrel aged 25% ABV syrups, Super Sours, or the current rise of Session IPAs, one thing holds true, what constitutes "good beer" is totally subjective and shifts almost as quick as the smell of that red solo cup of PBR left out on the back patio.

All that to say, I am not planning on making anything in the BJCP style guidelines, category one: Light Lagers.  I am not attempting to clone PBR or Busch light.  I'm not trying to make a banquet in a glass.  I am shooting for category 2C, Classic American Pilsner, fuller flavor, higher (Noble) hop flavor and aroma, with a crisp, bitter, dry, refreshing finish, clean with a restrained malt, and sweet corn graininess.  Although I need to back off on how overly opinionated I am about "good beer", I am still brewing beer I would consider good.

As a tribute to the Classic American hero who my son loves so much and wants to be when he grows up, I named this one CAPtain America.  It was the first beer from a double brewday on two American Pilsners, this one, and one with new hop varieties.


4.5 gallons
OG 1.048
FG 1.010
ABV 5.0%
IBUs 34 Est
84% Extract Efficiency
60.2% Brewhouse Efficiency

4.0# Briess 6 row Brewers Malt
4.0# Weyermann German Pilsner
2.0# Flaked Maize
10 hours @152*F (Mashed for 10.3 gallons, split boil)

Boil (60 mins):
90 0.10 oz Magnum 16.4% AA (leaf)
20 0.70 oz US Saaz 4.5% AA (leaf)
20 0.80 oz Sterling 7.1% AA (leaf)
10 1.50 oz Liberty 4.9% AA (leaf)
WP 20 0.80 oz US Saaz 4.5% AA (leaf)
WP 20 1.20 oz Sterling 7.1% AA (leaf)

Kettle Additions:
Gypsum: 3/8t (mash), 1/4t (boil)
Epsom Salt: 3/8t (mash), 1/4t (boil)
Calcium Chloride: 3/4t (mash), 1/2t (boil)
Lactic Acid: 1ml (mash)
Whirfloc: 12 mins - 1 tab
Nutrient: 12 mins - 4 taps

Cooled to 58*F
WY 2000 Budvar - 1 pint slurry f/ Ninkasi
48*F - 7 days (6 gal BB)
51*F - 7 days (6 gal BB)
55*F - 7 days (6 gal BB)
57*F - 7 days (6 gal BB)
40*F - 10 days (6 gal BB)
65-68*F 2 weeks (bottled to carb)

06/21 Brewed by myself.  Mashed in entire grain bill for 2 batches, 10:00pm @ 152*F.  Wrapped  in heating blanket set on high and covered with sleeping bag.

6/22 Mash dropped to 138*F by 8:30am (12*F over 10.5 hours).  Heard a hissing sound in the garage and water splattering, came to find out my water heater had gone out (running at 185*F).  Shut off the water and the breaker and drained the tank.  Ran off my first runnings and double batch sparged to 14 gallons.  Split into 2 - 7 gallon batches.  Boiled separately.  Buddy came over to work on the water heater and we ran to get a new one during the boil; wife added 20 min hop addition.  Chilled while helping with the heater install, had to shut off the water main a few times during the chill.  Hop strainer clogged again, siphoned to fermenter, only got 4.5 gallons @ 68*F.  Put into fridge to cool to lager temps.  Helped finish tank install.  Pitched yeast at 10pm  @58*F

12 hours - down to 49*F.

32 hours - no krausen, positive pressure in airlock, a few bubbles.

48 hours - still no krausen

56 hours - small yeast colonies starting to show on top, positive airlock pressure

67 hours - added the other mason jar of Ninkasi Budvar yeast to the fermenter and roused the yeast up.  Small krausen ring starting to form by 72 hours.

1 week - bumped up to 51*F to keep the ferment going strong and to finish quicker.

10 days - noticed the airlock was close to dry, added more StarSan.

2 weeks - refilled the airlock again (summer heat and fridge cycles are evaporating it quick).  Down to 1.015, sample temp is at 55*F so I am leaving it alone another couple weeks.  Still lots of yeast suspended.  No DMS or Diacetyl.

3 weeks - upped temp on controller to 57, gravity down to 1.010.

4 weeks - decreased temp on controller over 2 days to 40*F to drop particulates out of solution and begin lagering.

7/27 - Transferred to bottling bucket via CO2 forced transfer and bottled 42 bottles.  Carbed at 65-68*F for 3 weeks, then placed in fridge.

8/6 - first pour, fully carbed, great head retention, sweet corn smell, light noble hops, light esters, fairly clear, needs lagering time to come together though.

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