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Old 12-05-2011, 10:38 PM   #1
damashiuchi
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Default attempt pilsner on second batch too ambitious?

hello - i'm very new to this (first batch of pale ale still fermenting!)
i am a huge fan of pilsners and would love to attempt one, but eveything i've seen on the subject suggests that lagers and pilsners are alot more difficult than ales to get right for the home brewer ... i have no real form of temperature control like a dedicated fridge or anything like that ... would attempting a pilsner be too ambitious for a beginner or is there a more or less 'foolproof' recipe for a good crisp pilsner out there?

thanks

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Old 12-05-2011, 11:12 PM   #2
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... i have no real form of temperature control like a dedicated fridge or anything like that ...
That should answer your question. Unless you have a way of keeping at a consistent temperature in the 50 degree range then I think it'll end up being a disappointing Pilsner.

I'm sure some will tell you to go ahead, it'll be great, ya ya ya, but my suggestion would be to stick with styles that can be fermented at room temps until you have a way to control a lager ferment.
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Old 12-05-2011, 11:13 PM   #3
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Saflager S-23 can produce crisp lager flavors at higher temps (no higher than 60 though, I've read about some estery disasters with it too; light clean beers really showcase your mistakes!) so you might get away with it in the basement if you are in a cold climate.

The real defining thing about a lager though, is cold aging (thats what lager literally means) so you cannot make a true lager without that. However, you can make a very clean, crisp, easy drinking steam/California common beer without exacting temperature controls.

Aside form the temperature, you'll definitely want Saaz hops for your aroma hopping at the end, that'll really give you the European Pils aroma and flavor your looking for.

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Old 12-05-2011, 11:17 PM   #4
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Yeah you're probably not going to be able to lager without good temp controls, typically you want it just slightly over freezing...

I did see this recipe for a Pilsner ale in the recipes section that might serve well:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f58/german-pilsner-ale-221631/

I've yet to try this myself but it might be your best option for now.

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Old 12-05-2011, 11:21 PM   #5
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Pilsners aren't really "hard" compared to many other beers but without strict temperature control, pilsner malt (usually best in all-grain set ups), soft water, etc, it can be challenging at best.

I guess I could liken it to making fancy pastries. Not really "hard" for experienced pastry chefs, but for a beginning cook it could be more than a little challenging!

Do you have any commercial beers in mind that you'd like to clone or attempt to come close too? Maybe we can come up with some alternative ideas.

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Old 12-06-2011, 12:05 AM   #6
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thanks guys - i was kind of afraid of the answer before i asked the question, but decided to give it a go anyway!

commercially, i'd say urquell and stella are probably my year round favorites - though i always look forward to spring when sam adams noble pils is out!

i never thought of brewing a steam - that may be a good option ... don't get me wrong, i have nothing against a good heady ale, but i keep having heavenly visions of enjoying my own refreshing lager on a hot summer day!

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Old 12-06-2011, 12:09 AM   #7
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You might also consider a Kolsch. Certainly not as hoppy as a Pilsner Urquell or SA Noble Pils, but it's a nice refreshing "lager-like" hybrid that can be femented up to the upper 60's.

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Old 12-06-2011, 12:33 AM   #8
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You might also consider a Kolsch. Certainly not as hoppy as a Pilsner Urquell or SA Noble Pils, but it's a nice refreshing "lager-like" hybrid that can be femented up to the upper 60's.
I second this. Here's a great recipe...

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f62/bee-cave-brewery-koelsch-33548/
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:41 AM   #9
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Kolsches are a great intermediate to lagers, but you will still need to ferment them pretty cool. This is a lot simpler than you think- if you live in a dry climate like I do, it's as simple as a towel wrapped around the fermentor that you keep wet 24/7. Otherwise a swamp cooler with a muckbucket and some frozen water bottles will get you there every time.

You'll be ahead of 90% of all home brewers if you can brew your first beer with some modicum of temperature control, and your beers will be better than most first timers. My first brew was a DISASTER thanks to no temp control. Everything went surprisingly well for a first timer all-grain batch, and it WOULD have been a very tasty beer if I hadn't pitched at 80F and fermented in my closet at 85.

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Old 12-06-2011, 02:54 AM   #10
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Go for it....Read Noonans book on brewing lagers to get a better idea on how to brew them. Start out with a small three gallon batch. The small grain bill would be easy to handle using a decoction mash schedule. Budvar or Urquel liquid yeast are good. S-23 is a good one, that works real fast. I use the liquid if I'm going to "age out" the beer. I use the S-23 when using fiters. To make a from the fermenter to the keg, carbed beer.

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