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Old 05-12-2012, 12:15 AM   #1
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Default Can I make a passable German Pilsner

I have a German friend that is gluten intolerant, but only later in life. He fondly remembers drinking Real Pilsner, but now can only tolerate wine.

My first question is Can I make a Lager with different malted grains (thinking of Colorado malting, millet, buckwheat etc) that will taste close to a Pilsner BEER?

Second, what grains, GF ingredients would help best approximate a pale lager?

Third, I have an electric three vessel system with pumps etc. if I do a long, hot PBW cycle through the whole thing, and crush grains separate (not barley mill), glass -cleaned carboy, can I safely make the beer? Or does it have to be new equipment.

Thanks in advance. Just looking to make a friend's day, I mean a German that can't drink beer! God is certainly cruel.

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Old 05-12-2012, 01:29 AM   #2
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Generally speaking yes. Are you looking for specifically pilsner, or a pilsner style? Theres a no pils pils somewhere. Also Ive been told that the lager with just sorghum syrup and saaz hops tasted like a regular lager. The guy didn't know it was gluten free. And they tend to be beer snobs. He's German but I don't really know how much that counts into this anyways.

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Old 05-12-2012, 03:13 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.

I have never tried GF brewing but have a lot of experience in general brewing. I have read that an all sorghum beer has a twang and sourness that is un-beer-like and I assumed a lager wouldn't hide this.

My hop schedule would be FWH Hallertauer, magnum for bittering, and Hallertauer and Tettnanger for flavor / aroma.

Anyone with suggestions or experience with malted millet or buckwheat or the question on equipment contamination. Thanks.

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Old 05-12-2012, 03:22 AM   #4
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I would think you could pull it off. I'm just starting to drink a very light Helles mock-lager that I just made. It is very light, a really good summer beer. I would think you could produce a decent Pilsner with the right yeast and hops.

3 lbs sorghum extract (45 min)
2 lbs Honey (flameout)
1 lb 5oz Rice Syrup (45 min)
.5 lbs corn sugar (60 min)
4 oz maltodextrin (60 min)

This beer hasn't cleared up as well as others, and I'm wondering if it is a result of the high ratio of honey and or rice syrup...Next time, I'd try using 1 lb of honey and bump up the corn sugar to 1 lbs.

Your pick of Saaz for Bohemian Pilsner or a German hops...

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Old 05-12-2012, 04:50 AM   #5
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Definitely add some malted grains. I compared an Omission de-glutenized lager with a New Grist (my fave of the GF lagers), and it was a huge difference in mouthfeel and malt complexity. I had forgotten what barley actually tasted like, and there's a kind of sweet wafery roundness to it that kinda spreads out on the tongue, which the New Grist just didn't have. My first thought was, "I'll bet I could get close to this with millet". But I haven't tried yet, so I can't say for sure. In two weeks though I'll be brewing up an imperial blonde with 2 lbs of sprouted millet and about 2.25 oz of saaz hops in a 3 gallon batch, so I'll be sure to post my results! I may get some sprouted brown rice and throw that in as well.

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Old 05-12-2012, 02:34 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the responses. I am decided on getting some malted grains from Colorado Malting Company. Probably German Millet and Quinoa (might put a pound in the oven and follow a procedure to approximate Munich malt flavors. I will combine this with some flaked corn and rice, sugar and maybe maltodextrine.
I will do a mash at 150F, use the magnum and hallertauer/ Tett as described. use dry lager yeast and ferment at 50F.

I will probably fine with gelatin as well to help it clear. And my hope is the FWH which provides a lot of flavor will mask any odd flavors from the grains. This is so far from Rheinheitsgebot it's funny.

Any other thoughts? Thanks

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Old 05-12-2012, 04:30 PM   #7
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Sounds pretty good, but mind you--the GF grains, even when malted, don't have the same diastatic power as barley, so it's possible you will get little to no conversion of the flaked corn and rice. I'd probably leave them out, and use dorklord's sugar/grain bill with maybe 1 lb less of the sorghum and 1 lb less of the honey in anticipation of actually getting some sugars out of the malted grains. But honestly I have no idea what kind of PPG you can expect from malted millet and malted quinoa. I will say, your FWH idea is a good one, I'll have to try it myself!

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Old 05-12-2012, 04:53 PM   #8
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I left out that I plan on adding powdered amylase to the mash to help convert everything and I will use a long mash till it does. I want to avoid sorghum from all the comments on its twang and sourness.

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Old 05-12-2012, 08:26 PM   #9
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Fair enough! Good plan, mate. Haven't tried amylase yet, but probably will in the future if it seems necessary.

One thing I might add is that in the one beer that I used untoasted quinoa, it seemed to add a bit of sourness, not like sorghum but more kinda lactic, like a lambic almost. I like it in that beer, but I didn't have a specific style in mind and it would probably ruin a lager. You can taste it yourself if you moisten the quinoa enough to chew on. I'd say toast the quinoa to munich color, and use less of it than the millet. Millet is a nice pleasant sweet taste that should go perfect in your lager. And I trust you'll use appropriate yeast and temperature controls, since you clearly know what you're doing in terms of general beer technique!

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Old 05-12-2012, 08:46 PM   #10
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What you said about the sourness of untoasted quinoa makes me think it'd be perfect for a Guinness-like stout.

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