a dark, bold American Stout, I found myself staying up into the wee hours of the night to brew something on the complete opposite side of the beer spectrum - a "classic" German Pils.
I went simple with the grist - just Pilsner malt and a little acidulated malt to help with the mash pH. However that was about the only part of the brew that I decided to go simple with. I ran a three-step mash - infused the first step to 131°F for a protein rest for 20 minutes, stepped the mash up to the saccharification rest of 148°F for 45 minutes and then pulled a thin decoction, boiled for 10 minutes, to get me up to mash out at 170°F. I also tried first wort hopping for the first time - hoping to get some of the smooth bittering and lingering hop flavor that some folks say you get with this technique. I'm still pretty confused about the proper technique - do the first wort hops replace some hops in the recipe? And if so, which ones? Or are they used in addition to the other hops? And how much bittering do you really get from them? In the end I used them as an addition and treated their IBU contribution like a regular 60 minute addition - bascially following Gordon Strong's advice in Brewing Better Beer.
I ended up using 100% New Zealand Pacific Hallaertau hops...not exactly a classic hop to use for a German Pils, but I had them in my freezer and wanted to use them. A lot of places suggest that they are similar to the quintessential German noble hop, Hallertau Mittelfrüh, so I am optimistic that they will work just fine. I pitched a stepped-up starter of White Lab's German Bock yeast (WLP833) and have the beer fermenting in my mudroom which has an ambient temperature between 48-50°F. We had a warm front come through today, so I am a little nervous that the temp will climb a bit...but another cold snap is forecast starting tomorrow night, so I am thinking it should be OK. I plan on letting the fermentation go for a couple weeks or so and then rack to a carboy and lager it in my garage, which is currently at an ambient temp of 38°F.
I'm excited about this, but, as my first lager, I am feeling very rookie-like. I haven't stressed like this over a beer in quite some time!
brewed on 1/27/13
Batch Size: 3.50 gal
Estimated Color: 3.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 37.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
OG: 1.053 SG
6 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner malt - 98 %
2.0 oz Acidulated malt - 2 % (for mash pH)
14 g NZ Pacific Hallertau [4.50 %] - First Wort
14 g NZ Pacific Hallertau [4.50 %] - 60.0 min
9 g NZ Pacific Hallertau [4.50 %] - 15.0 min
9 g NZ Pacific Hallertau [4.50 %] - 1.0 min
German Bock Lager (White Labs #WLP833)
Protein Rest @ 131°F - 20 min
Sacch. Rest @ 148°F - 45 min
Decoction (10 minute boil) for mash-out @ 170°F
Water - estimated
Ca: 57 ppm
Mg: 11 ppm
Na: 3 ppm
Cl: 56 ppm
SO4: 94 ppm
Alkalinity: 20 ppm (as CaCO3)