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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > Bohemian Lager: Critical success factors?
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Old 06-25-2009, 07:54 PM   #1
stoutaholic
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Default Bohemian Lager: Critical success factors?

I'd like to get some recommendations from anyone who has brewed a Bohemian Lager and has been really impressed by the results. What would you say are the keys to really brewing this style right? What recipe did you use? I've read Designing Great Beers, but I would like some first-hand feedback from anyone who has brewed this style. Especially interesting would be to hear from anyone who has brewed more than one, and has learned what NOT to do, as well as what TO do. Thanks for any help.

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Old 06-25-2009, 08:05 PM   #2
menschmaschine
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1. Use continental pilsener malt, preferrably Bohemian or German.
2. Use Saaz hops... at least for flavor and aroma additions.
3. If AG, do a Hochkurz-style step mash (like, ~142°F for 45 min, ~158°F for 30 minutes, mashout at ~168°F.)
4. Make a properly sized starter (big) well in advance and decant starter beer before pitching.
5. Pitch yeast cold (~ </= 50°F... wort and yeast at same temp)
6. Ferment at 47 to 52°F
7. Lager near freezing for ~ 7 days for every 8 points of gravity.

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Old 06-30-2009, 01:23 AM   #3
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Sorry for the late reply! I have tried batch after batch of true-to-style Bohemian Lager, and I would add that you MUST use very, very soft water to brew with. If you can get spring water with low ppm's (50 or so) of hardness you're off to a good start. Harder water will not give you the soft bitterness you need even if you hit 40-45 IBU's. My best Bohemian lagers were around 32-36 IBU's. If you step-mash, obviously use German malts since Czech malts are no longer available. Try Weyermann's Bohemian pilsner malt, and if you want a bit of soft malt character and a beautiful deep gold color add some Weyermann Cara-Hell malt.

I'm a huge proponent of decoction mashing when using German/Czech malts, but if you step/infusion mash, you may need to add a bit of light munich malt for some sweet malty notes this style demands. I'll leave the mashing regimen up to you!

I typically first-wort hop with 1/3 of the hops, add another 1/3 for bittering, and 1/3 for the last 20 min., which is how the Czechs do it. As for aroma, this is where I fall short, but I just bought and read something very, very interesting that's buried in Greg Noonan's New Lager Brewing on page 160. He says to add a hop tea extract from 1/2 oz of hops per 8oz of wort (not water) added post-primary for aroma. This, he claims, adds a milder and spicy aroma instead of a weedy/grassy aroma if dryhopped. This is exactly what I pick up from fresh Czech pilsners. I haven't brewed a lager in 3 years thanks to divorce/move/newly married/no lager chest, so I'm anxious to give it a whirl.

Finally, I love the Budvar #2000 Wyeast. It's malty, clean, easy to use and a good fermenter. When St. Patrick's of Texas introduced it they recommended the temperature be crashed from 50F to 32-37F without a diacetyl rest or gradual ramp-down. This crashing of temperature locks in the malty sweetness of the beer without any detriment of flavor/aroma, and I have done so numerous times with this yeast with great results. Don't think I'd want to try it with other lager yeasts, however!

Hope this helps!!! Sorry I'm windy tonight.

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Old 07-01-2009, 01:18 AM   #4
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Agree in general with the above posters. Keep the recipe simple. Use lots of active lager yeast, keep an eye on the fermentaton temp and use all your patience on the lagering. This beer is all about good pilsner malt and Saaz hops. My basic recipe is 97% German Pilsner malt and 3% CaraFoam malt. I have used all Saaz as well as mixing some Saaz with Northern Brewer for the bittering addition. Do use one of the Czech lager yeasts. I prefer the Urquell yeast strains because IMO the Budvar is bland in comparison. Keep the main mash rest on the low side. My preference is a decotion mash 129F @ 20 minutes, 149F @ 60 minutes and 168F @ 10 minutes. The other mashes suggested are also very good. If you are into simplicity do a single infusion at 148/150F. Very soft, low mineral water is definitely the H2O you want. Some calcium chloride to get the Ca+ up to 50-75ppm is what I do. Bohemian pils is surely one of the world's great beers and there's no reason you can't do a great version of it at home.

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Old 07-01-2009, 04:16 PM   #5
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Wow, great information. Noonan's hopping suggestion sounds very cool. I'm reading that book right now, but haven't gotten to that part. A lot of clone recipes suggest Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils, but I haven't been completely happy with this one. I think I'll give the Budvar or Urquell a shot for the next batch.

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