Anyone have a solid Dark Czech Lager - Recipe

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Dgallo

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I’m Looking to see a few Dark Czech Lager recipes that people really enjoy before brewing one! Honestly I’m more interested in seeing grainbills more than anything.

Thanks in advance!
 

DBhomebrew

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Can't speak to this one in particular, but I've enjoyed many of this author's recipes. Likely not accurate to how Czech brewers brew, but tasty nonetheless.

 

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I’ve not made one, but if it’s similar in concept to a schwarzbier, I’d recommend both Briess Extra Special and Simpsons DRC. Then again, I’d recommend a little DRC in just about everything. I just put some in an IPA…
 
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Dgallo

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I’ve not made one, but if it’s similar in concept to a schwarzbier, I’d recommend both Briess Extra Special and Simpsons DRC. Then again, I’d recommend a little DRC in just about everything. I just put some in an IPA…

It practically between a dunkel and schwarzbier. More complex and malty than a Schwarzbier and roastier and smoother than a dunkel
 

Mark3885

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I found this , going to give it a try soon
 
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Dgallo

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Thanks folks! I’ve been able to piece together a recipe that will fit what I’m trying to achieve.

The beer I am actually brewing is a Smoked Dark Czech Lager. I’m going with the following for the grainbill ;

60% - Ger. Floor malted Pilsner
18% - Victory Malt
8% - Caramunich II
8% - Oak Smoked Wheat
3% - Chocolate Wheat
3% - Carafa Special II

I’ll be targeting 25 ibus from Saaz between - 60 min, 20 min, and 5 min additions
 

stevehaun

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Or you could use U Fleku's recipe:


I personally think it is too heavy on the caramunich.

I prefer the following grain bill:

60% Weyermann pilsner malt
30% Weyermann light munich malt
7% Weyermann caramunich II
3% Weyermann carafa special III

Saaz or other noble hop @ 60 and 20 min for a total of 25 ibu

Wyeast 2206 fermented at 50F
 
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Dgallo

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Or you could use U Fleku's recipe:


I personally think it is too heavy on the caramunich.

I prefer the following grain bill:

60% Weyermann pilsner malt
30% Weyermann light munich malt
7% Weyermann caramunich II
3% Weyermann carafa special III

Saaz or other noble hop @ 60 and 20 min for a total of 25 ibu

Wyeast 2206 fermented at 50F

Looks like I’m on a similar wavelength as you with what I intend on doing, besides the smoked malt obviously lol


Thanks folks! I’ve been able to piece together a recipe that will fit what I’m trying to achieve.

The beer I am actually brewing is a Smoked Dark Czech Lager. I’m going with the following for the grainbill ;

60% - Ger. Floor malted Pilsner
18% - Victory Malt
8% - Caramunich II
8% - Oak Smoked Wheat
3% - Chocolate Wheat
3% - Carafa Special II

I’ll be targeting 25 ibus from Saaz between - 60 min, 20 min, and 5 min additions
 

jerrylotto

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I just add 4 oz 60L Crystal and a couple of oz Munich to a 5 gal regular Czech Lager recipe. It gives a nice color without changing the taste all that much.
 

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Thanks folks! I’ve been able to piece together a recipe that will fit what I’m trying to achieve.

The beer I am actually brewing is a Smoked Dark Czech Lager. I’m going with the following for the grainbill ;

60% - Ger. Floor malted Pilsner
18% - Victory Malt
8% - Caramunich II
8% - Oak Smoked Wheat
3% - Chocolate Wheat
3% - Carafa Special II

I’ll be targeting 25 ibus from Saaz between - 60 min, 20 min, and 5 min additions
If that’s Weyermann oak-smoked wheat, the smoke is very mild. It’s noticeable at 100% of the grist as a Grodziskie, but I don’t think you’ll taste much smoke at all under 25% or so. You could try Weyermann’s rauchmalz, or Briess cherrywood; both are stronger. If it must be oak and wheat, Sugar Creek’s Grodziskie malt is wonderful stuff (and you’d only need a few percent), but you’d need to order 10 pounds from them direct.
 
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Dgallo

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If that’s Weyermann oak-smoked wheat, the smoke is very mild. It’s noticeable at 100% of the grist as a Grodziskie, but I don’t think you’ll taste much smoke at all under 25% or so. You could try Weyermann’s rauchmalz, or Briess cherrywood; both are stronger. If it must be oak and wheat, Sugar Creek’s Grodziskie malt is wonderful stuff (and you’d only need a few percent), but you’d need to order 10 pounds from them direct.
Thanks for the heads up. I had Helles that used Oaked smoked wheat and it was pretty noticeable and the guy used between 8-10% so that’s what i was basing it off. I’ll do some research on some of the different types of smoked malt tonight. I won’t be brewing this until late March. I want it to be a pleasant level of smoke without it coming off peaty or detracting from the subtle nuances of the other grains
 

AlexKay

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Well, to be fair I have a pretty high tolerance (and high taste threshold) for smoke flavors. 8% may well make sense: If you shoot for 8% and it’s too little, you’ll still have a perfectly nice dark lager.
 

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Thanks for the heads up. I had Helles that used Oaked smoked wheat and it was pretty noticeable and the guy used between 8-10% so that’s what i was basing it off. I’ll do some research on some of the different types of smoked malt tonight. I won’t be brewing this until late March. I want it to be a pleasant level of smoke without it coming off peaty or detracting from the subtle nuances of the other grains
People have different sensitivity to the smoke. So if you are brewing for yourself go light or heavy as you like. If brewing for a particular style for competition of course pay attention to guidelines. Just my two cents.
 
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Dgallo

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People have different sensitivity to the smoke. So if you are brewing for yourself go light or heavy as you like. If brewing for a particular style for competition of course pay attention to guidelines. Just my two cents.
It’s for serving at Winter Homebrew fest but other than that just because I think it would make for a very interesting and beautiful dark lager. If it comes out good I’ll probably enter it as 32.a
 

Beermeister32

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I find smoked beers really interesting. The smoke comes on strong in the first gulp, and then your palate adjusts and it becones less prevalent as you finish the pint, almost unoticeable by the end of it.

Only issue in the homebrew scale is 5 gallons is a LOT of smoked beer. Like I’d go through about 20 batches of beer before finishing off a keg of smoked beer. Maybe 30. Might be a candidate for bottling, could take a while to finish out a batch of smoked beer. I’m only in the mood for them once in a while.
 

Joe P

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I’m Looking to see a few Dark Czech Lager recipes that people really enjoy before brewing one! Honestly I’m more interested in seeing grainbills more than anything.

Thanks in advance!
 

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I threw an exteact recipe together in early Jan 2022 that i just tasted. Came out tasty. I even primed with Belgium Candi Sugar for the notes experience. Worked well.
5 gallon
6# Pilsner LME
1# Caramunich I
1# Victory Malt
12 oz Choc Malt
2oz Tettenag
1oz Saaz
German WLP 830
3oz dissolved B Candi added before bottling
Standard 60 min boil 2oz tet 60 min / 1 oz Saaz 15 min
Its an extract so I brewed as any extract. Simple, no frills, different ingredients but overall a very tasty dark Czech. The sugar was "iffy" because many Czechs don't do sugar. More a grain & hops tastes preferred crowd i guess. Like i mentioned, i just toyed with the Candi but it did produce the raisin notes i was looking for. Easy recipe really. I was going to post a pic but its a dark beer in a mug with a decent mildly foamy head.
Later
 

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I remember getting the following recipe in my inbox from a brewer retiring. This beer has been on-tap ever since I first brewed the recipe in 2018:

Fermentables
IngredientAmount%MCUWhen
Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt6lb 8oz53.6 %2.1In Mash/Steeped
Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Dark Malt3lb 9oz29.6 %3.8In Mash/Steeped
Weyermann CaraMunich II Malt1lb 0oz8.0 %7.2In Mash/Steeped
Weyermann Carafa Special II Malt9.63 oz5.0 %42.6In Mash/Steeped
Weyermann Carafa II7.20 oz3.7 %33.3In Mash/Steeped


Hops
VarietyAlphaAmountIBUFormWhen
US Sterling7.5 %1.13 oz27.9Loose Pellet HopsFirst Wort Hopped
Czech Saaz3.5 %1.00 oz

Yeast StrainAmountUsed
White Labs WLP800-Pilsner Lager1.0 qts

Mash Schedule
Mash Type:Full Mash
Schedule Name:Multi-Step (126-145-158) - Tmavé Pivo

Step TypeTemperatureDuration
Rest at126 ˚F15
Raise by direct heating to145 ˚F25
Rest at145 ˚F30
Raise by direct heating to158 ˚F20
Rest at150 ˚F20

Fermentation Temperature:50 ˚F
 

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I brewed this Tmavé Pivo for a club exchange in December and it was very well received.

OG: 1.052
FG: 1.014
IBU: 32
SRM: 22
ABV: 5%

Grains:
Bestmalz Pilsen 1.9L (52%)
Canada Malting Munich 10.5L (32%)
Caramunich 60L (12%)
Carafa Special Type II 425L (4%) (late mash addition)

Water:
Ca 20 Mg 0 Na 15 Cl 30 SO4 20

Mashed at 145F for 30 min and 158F for 30 min

Hops:
2.75g/L Saaz 3.3% (28 IBU) (60 minutes)
1.25g/L Saaz 3.3% (4 IBU) (10 minutes)

Yeast:
Mangrove Jack's Bohemian Lager M84
 

jdauria

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Make one every year that usually does well in comps.

This one made NHC finals in 2019 and was in final 12 competing for a medal:
5.5 gallons 75% Brewhouse, 1.055 OG 90 min boil
54.2% Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner
20.8% Floor Malted Bohemian Dark
8.3% CaraBohemian
8.3% Victory
6.3% Pale Chocolate
2.1% Carafa Special II

24.5 IBU Saaz First Wort
6.3 IBU Saaz at 20

Wyeast Bohemian Lager 2124

Step Mash
131F 20 min
145F 20 mins
158F 20 mins
170F 10 mins

This one is my current version on tap, which is based on last year's NHC winner. Has scored 41 in 2 comps so far this year, taking first in one.

5.5 gallons 72% Brewhouse 60 min boil 1.054 OG
58.6% Mecca Estate Grade Pelton (Pilsner)
14.6% Mecca Estate Grade Metolius (Munich)
8.7% Pale Chocolate
7.3% Carapils
7.3% Victory
2.3% Carafa Special II
1.2% CaraAmber

12.3 IBU Saaz FWH
10.8 Magnum FWH
5.2 Saaz at 20

Imperial Urkel yeast
152F Single Infusion.

Mecca malts can be ordered directly from their website or Steinbart in Oregon allows you to buy exact recipe amounts on their site.
 

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Several years ago I was searching for the same answer, and found a link:
Many moons ago I found this on a site that sold AG kits in the US.
The recipe claims to be from an actual brew day in a Czech brewery, so is an 'authentic' Czech style dark lager.
How true I don't know, and I haven't tried it yet, although it is on the list...

Moravian Dark Lager

This recipe is taken directly from the brewlog from the day I spent brewing in the Moravia.

44% Budvar malt
44% light munich
10% 55L crystal
2% black patent.

1 oz Saaz @90
1 oz Saaz @60
1 oz Saaz @20 minutes.
Budvar yeast, 1 cup corn sugar.

With that, I made an excellent Beer (I use non-standard volumes, so I give percent and IBUs instead of Lbs and Ozs):

MÄHRISCHES DUNKEL
OG=1.054
FG=1.015
ABV=5.2%
IBU=30
------------------------------
Raven Pilsner (1.5°L) - 50%
Viking Munich (6°L) - 38%
Ireks Karamell Teak (55°L) - 10%
Weyermann Carafa Spezial III (525°L) - 2%
------------------------------
Mash 15' @55°C
Mash 75' @70°C
Boil 2H
------------------------------
Saazer - 12 IBU @90'
Saazer - 11 IBU @60'
Saazer - 7 IBU @20'
------------------------------
Fermentis Saflager S-23
------------------------------
Primary @10-13°C - 14 Days
Lagering @0°C - 5 Weeks
------------------------------
Carbonation 2.3v
============================
 
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Wow, glad I found this thread as I am planning on brewing my first dark Czech lager. While I have not had any of the "authentic" versions from Ufleku or others, I have had some regional and HB versions before and I love the style. With that I have a couple questions that I would love everyone's input on:

1) Does anyone think there would be a difference between floor-malted bohemian pilsner vs Barke pilsner (both weyermann branded)? I have attached the sensory wheels for both and honestly they are nearly identical with exception that barke appears to have a little more pronounced caramel aromas and malty aromas. I know these sensory wheels aren't everything and the slight differences suggest to me that Im not sure I would even be able to tell the difference in a blind test of the malts. I don't have access to readily taste each malt and do all online orders, so any input on people who have used either or both malts, especially in this style would be appreciated. Seems a lot here focused on floor-malted varieties and I haven't seen any reference to barke varieties. It seems that if anything, the barke is just a more intense version in terms of aromas but taste on the sensory wheels appear identical.

2) victory vs biscuit malt? I have used biscuit a lot in other beers, but never any victory malt specifically. If anyone has tried/tasted both malts, can you enlighten me on the differences you have perceived?

Maybe Im splitting hairs with these questions, but just trying to put my best foot forward with this first brew of a dark Czech lager. BTW, this will also be my FIRST lager ever! lol. Thanks in advance!
Floor-Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt_Whole Kernel.jpg
Barke_Pilsner.jpg
 
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Dgallo

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Wow, glad I found this thread as I am planning on brewing my first dark Czech lager. While I have not had any of the "authentic" versions from Ufleku or others, I have had some regional and HB versions before and I love the style. With that I have a couple questions that I would love everyone's input on:

1) Does anyone think there would be a difference between floor-malted bohemian pilsner vs Barke pilsner (both weyermann branded)? I have attached the sensory wheels for both and honestly they are nearly identical with exception that barke appears to have a little more pronounced caramel aromas and malty aromas. I know these sensory wheels aren't everything and the slight differences suggest to me that Im not sure I would even be able to tell the difference in a blind test of the malts. I don't have access to readily taste each malt and do all online orders, so any input on people who have used either or both malts, especially in this style would be appreciated. Seems a lot here focused on floor-malted varieties and I haven't seen any reference to barke varieties. It seems that if anything, the barke is just a more intense version in terms of aromas but taste on the sensory wheels appear identical.

2) victory vs biscuit malt? I have used biscuit a lot in other beers, but never any victory malt specifically. If anyone has tried/tasted both malts, can you enlighten me on the differences you have perceived?

Maybe Im splitting hairs with these questions, but just trying to put my best foot forward with this first brew of a dark Czech lager. BTW, this will also be my FIRST lager ever! lol. Thanks in advance!
View attachment 769077 View attachment 769076
My understanding is Biscuit and victory are the same malt but from different grow areas and maltsters. Victory is the most pronounce in my opinion, both can have a big impact even at about 5-7%

My only suggestion is to be sure to balance your roast/dehusked grains. Mine was a little out of balance and it lacked the nice smoothness. I used 6% split between midnight wheat and Carafa special 3
 
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Joe P

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Scroll through the recipes from this Czech Brew thread. You'll eventualluy come to mine. Its been months sittting (roughly) and its very tasty. Now I don't want any confrontational incisive chromazone disections on gastric percentages or Co2 concentrations from the Beer Gods because I do what they advise anyway. To ME its really good stuff & i researched how the Czechs drink it. (when they're not falling down anyway) check it out (no pun intended) if you want to. And...I made it from extract. I just felt a lightning bolt fly by the back of my head. Good luck.
 

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1) Does anyone think there would be a difference between floor-malted bohemian pilsner vs Barke pilsner (both weyermann branded)? I have attached the sensory wheels for both and honestly they are nearly identical with exception that barke appears to have a little more pronounced caramel aromas and malty aromas. I know these sensory wheels aren't everything and the slight differences suggest to me that Im not sure I would even be able to tell the difference in a blind test of the malts. I don't have access to readily taste each malt and do all online orders, so any input on people who have used either or both malts, especially in this style would be appreciated. Seems a lot here focused on floor-malted varieties and I haven't seen any reference to barke varieties. It seems that if anything, the barke is just a more intense version in terms of aromas but taste on the sensory wheels appear identical.

I have tasted both malts side-by-side, just by eating the grains, and I can't tell any difference: this post.

I've also made four SMaSHes using Pilsner from different maltsters, and couldn't taste a difference: this post.

I'm not the most finicky taster. But as far as my taste buds are concerned: Pilsner malt is Pilsner malt. (This is emphatically not my experience with other base malts, include English pale, Munich, and Vienna.)
 

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I have tasted both malts side-by-side, just by eating the grains, and I can't tell any difference: this post.

I've also made four SMaSHes using Pilsner from different maltsters, and couldn't taste a difference: this post.

I'm not the most finicky taster. But as far as my taste buds are concerned: Pilsner malt is Pilsner malt. (This is emphatically not my experience with other base malts, include English pale, Munich, and Vienna.)
thanks for the info. This was my thinking. even though I don't have access locally to simply try these grains out side by side raw, Im not sure my palate is sophisticated enough to tell the difference between these pilsner malts, especially in a dark Czech lager which has other flavors coming out.

@Dgallo appreciate the heads up on the roasted grains balance too! Ive noticed quite a variety of %s of roasted grains from 2-8% which is a wide range in this style it would seem. My plan now is to keep roasted/dehusked malts below 5%. Will probably shoot for 4% actually.

Appreciate the tips as always folks!
 

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OK so this is what I have for grain bill that I think would be a good starting point for my first go round with this beer. I took from people here as well as from this post There's a Czech Beer Brewers Are Obsessed With, And It's Not Pilsner that someone posted earlier:

Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner, Weyermann - 50%
Floor Malted Bohemian Dark, Weyermann - 28%
Caramunich II - 8.0%
Biscuit or Victory (haven't decided yet) - 5%
Carapils - 5%
Carafa Special II - 2%
Chocolate wheat - 2%

Plan on using Imperial Urkel yeast and Czech Saaz hops targeting 25 IBU. Mashing at 152 for duration rather than my norm step mash of (150/162/170) to keep my FG ~ 1.013-1.014ish. Plan on boiling for 2hrs to get some Malliard reactions to emphasize toffee type flavors as well.

at 2% each, Im now considering just ditching the split between roasted malts and just going with Carafa Special II at 4%.

So I think this will get me in the ball park for the style for my first go around for the style.

Thoughts? I do appreciate all the input here and links y'all included to help with my research on this style.
 
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Looks really tasty! I agree on combining the roasted malts. I don’t feel Carapils has ever done anything for me, and I’d ditch it in favor of more Victory. (I prefer Victory to Biscuit.).
 

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ok folks, sorry if this is the wrong thread to post this but I haven't seen the type of info I was looking for elsewhere (perhaps due to my bad searching techniques lol) but since I will be doing this Czech dark lager this coming weekend, I thought it would be ok to post this here. Im specifically looking for fermentation info for those who have used the Imperial Urkel Yeast. I think Ive read here or elsewhere that @jdauria and/or @wepeeler have used Urkel in the past as well so Id appreciate any/all input from anyone really.

Pitch Rate: My Urkel is 72% viable based on brewers friend calculator and Im planning on using 1.5mil cells/ml/degree plato pitch rate for 1.057 OG. Brewers friend tells me a 2.5L starter at 1.036 would actually yield 480B cells for a 1.64M cells/mp/P pitch rate. Question: what pitch rates have peeps used? Ive seen 1.5, 1.75, or 2.0 (high gravity lager). Not exactly sure what qualifies as a high gravity lager though so, is my anticipated pitch rate OK?

Fermentation Temp Drive and Lagering: My plan is to stay in the "middle-high"end of the manufacturers temp range and hold this fermentation to 55-56F for the duration and raise it for diacetyl rest when I think there's a few points remaining. The Imperial Urkel website states: "This strain can be slightly sulphery during fermentation, but it cleans up during lagering. Fermentation at the higher end of the range will produce a beer with minimal sulfur and a light ester profile with that classic Czech edge you are looking for." Questions: 1) for those who have used this yeast, what's been your experience with the sulphur? Obviously want to avoid this myself but Im not sure if the reported sulphur is due to yeast stress (under pitching or poor temp control) or simply a characteristic of the yeast. 2) what temps do people do the diacetyl rest at? One source I read is 65-68F but another source simply states a couple degrees higher than Ferm temps. This has me confused as the temp range of the Urkel is 52-58 and while I know this is a guideline, not really a rule, 65-68F during the last few points of fermentation has me worried that it would be an "off-flavor extravaganza". So curious as to how others have used this yeast for fermentation temps--> diacetyl temps (and time) --> lagering temps and time.

As you can see from my questions above, I truly am a "Noob Brewer" as this is my first lager EVER and I have come to the conclusion that while grain bills and hop schedules are important, if I'm going to screw this up it will be because I screwed up the cold-side piece of it.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
 

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Hey Noob...your 1.64 M/ml/°P pitch rate is fine. I normally target anywhere between 1.5-2.0 depending on fermentation temps. If I ferment cold, like 48F, then I go closer to the 2.0 pitch rate. If I am closer to 52-54, I will be around 1.5. Cold fermenting at 48F needs more yeast and it's a good method as it prevents to precursor to diacetyl from forming, so no D-rest is needed. You just keep it at 48F until it's done.

When I used Urkel, I usually pitch at 50F, then let it free rise to 52, then after 2-3 days I raise it to 54 and 2-3 days later will start raising it 4° every 12 hours until I am at 68. Then I hold it there for 3 days and then slowly start bringing it down for a cold crash. If you pitch a proper pitch rate, a lager can easily be fully fermented in 6-7 days. If that happens, don't rush it off the yeast though, give the yeast time to clean up after itself. I try to keep my lagers on yeast for at least 14 days, sometimes up to 21. Then lager it for at least a month to clean up any remaining sulfur.

So being your first lager, just an FYI, don't expect a huge krausen like you get with ales. Many times with lagers, you will only get a krausen maybe 1 inch thick. Oh...and as to worrying about off-flavors from raising the temp to 68, it's not an issue...the yeast will have done most of it's work before you raise the temp and the risk of off-flavors will pretty much be gone by then.
 

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Hey Noob...your 1.64 M/ml/°P pitch rate is fine. I normally target anywhere between 1.5-2.0 depending on fermentation temps. If I ferment cold, like 48F, then I go closer to the 2.0 pitch rate. If I am closer to 52-54, I will be around 1.5. Cold fermenting at 48F needs more yeast and it's a good method as it prevents to precursor to diacetyl from forming, so no D-rest is needed. You just keep it at 48F until it's done.

When I used Urkel, I usually pitch at 50F, then let it free rise to 52, then after 2-3 days I raise it to 54 and 2-3 days later will start raising it 4° every 12 hours until I am at 68. Then I hold it there for 3 days and then slowly start bringing it down for a cold crash. If you pitch a proper pitch rate, a lager can easily be fully fermented in 6-7 days. If that happens, don't rush it off the yeast though, give the yeast time to clean up after itself. I try to keep my lagers on yeast for at least 14 days, sometimes up to 21. Then lager it for at least a month to clean up any remaining sulfur.

So being your first lager, just an FYI, don't expect a huge krausen like you get with ales. Many times with lagers, you will only get a krausen maybe 1 inch thick. Oh...and as to worrying about off-flavors from raising the temp to 68, it's not an issue...the yeast will have done most of it's work before you raise the temp and the risk of off-flavors will pretty much be gone by then.
Thanks I appreciate the input! My recipe is mostly all figured out now, just need to settle on my water profile I am targeting. From my research on water profiles it seems that everything is quite low especially Ca and Na and then Cl favored over SO4. Thoughts?
 

Miraculix

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Way too much crystal here in this thread. We continental Europeans didn't use crystal malt in our classic styles. Stay with pilsner, Munich, Vienna and roasted malts and you'll be good. No Cara something.
 

Joe P

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Way too much crystal here in this thread. We continental Europeans didn't use crystal malt in our classic styles. Stay with pilsner, Munich, Vienna and roasted malts and you'll be good. No Cara something.
Agreed. Try to lesson or remove the Crystal and use the malt suggested keeping your brew on the "crisp" side of mouthfeel & taste.
 

Noob_Brewer

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Way too much crystal here in this thread. We continental Europeans didn't use crystal malt in our classic styles. Stay with pilsner, Munich, Vienna and roasted malts and you'll be good. No Cara something.
Glad to see you chime in man! I'll be the first to admit that while I haven't had an "authentic" dark Czech lager from breweries like U fleku etc, I've only had some solid beers from American breweries on this style. Im also under the assumption that us Americans tend to overthink and overdo some of these recipes anyways lol. But what confuses me about your statement is that in my own research to this style, I stumbled upon this article: There's a Czech Beer Brewers Are Obsessed With, And It's Not Pilsner and in this article the former brewmaster from U fleku recommends up to 15% Caramunich for this style. I do concede that adding victory/biscuit seems to be out-of-line with what the Czech's do, but can you please enlighten me on the "No Cara something" statement? If there are other links or if you have other info from other breweries in Europe brewing this style, I'd geniunely like to see them. Seems to me this beer style has a very wide range, at least based on BJCP 2015 standards. Appreciate your comments!
 

Miraculix

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Glad to see you chime in man! I'll be the first to admit that while I haven't had an "authentic" dark Czech lager from breweries like U fleku etc, I've only had some solid beers from American breweries on this style. Im also under the assumption that us Americans tend to overthink and overdo some of these recipes anyways lol. But what confuses me about your statement is that in my own research to this style, I stumbled upon this article: There's a Czech Beer Brewers Are Obsessed With, And It's Not Pilsner and in this article the former brewmaster from U fleku recommends up to 15% Caramunich for this style. I do concede that adding victory/biscuit seems to be out-of-line with what the Czech's do, but can you please enlighten me on the "No Cara something" statement? If there are other links or if you have other info from other breweries in Europe brewing this style, I'd geniunely like to see them. Seems to me this beer style has a very wide range, at least based on BJCP 2015 standards. Appreciate your comments!
You are probably right about the Americanisation of almost everything European, beer wise. This does not mean that the result is a bad beer, APA is probably the one beer I would choose if I would have to choose only one beer style for live. But what it means is, that the result is different than the original.

I'm afraid I don't have any further links to anything related Czech dark lagers, I just know that Cara malts or crystal malts (same thing, just a different name) were not used in continental Europe back in the days when these beer styles popped up and up until today the main part of traditional breweries do not use them within their traditional styles, as they are quite.... Traditional.

You can make a sweet beer with basemalt only, and you can also make a dry beer with it, you got the whole spectrum of possibilities there, no need for crystal. For extra maltiness, look for different types of Munich or a dash of roasted malt. I'm not sure about this one but I think amber, brown and victory malts were also not a thing here in continental Europe a few decades ago, so probably also not a bad idea to ditch them as well.

European styles are all very very simple. One basemalt plus maybe another flavorful malt like Munich and if it's dark, then something roasted as well, that's it.
 
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jdauria

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Thanks I appreciate the input! My recipe is mostly all figured out now, just need to settle on my water profile I am targeting. From my research on water profiles it seems that everything is quite low especially Ca and Na and then Cl favored over SO4. Thoughts?

Yes definitely want soft water...I usually go with something like Ca 22, Mg 8, Na 0, SO4 32, Cl 40. Usually get there with just calcium chloride and some epsom salt where I use distilled water as my base. We all learn that you want at least 50 ppm Calcium for yeast health etc, but it's really not needed in lagers per Martin Brungard who created the Bru'n Water spreadsheet and knows water profiles like the back of his hand.

I know you have your recipe pretty much dialed in, but one other tip I can give you, comes from the owner of Notch brewery here in Mass, a lager brewery that make fantastic Czech and German lagers. He recommends that Czech Dark lagers should have some residual sweetness and not be super roasty and to target medium body. He suggests Pilsner malt, Munich and Vienna and then to get the color by using Sinamar, which is a coloring agent made from Carafa malts. He also recommends doing decoction for any Czech beers over 10° P or around 1.040, but a step mash is OK too. And lastly he stays if using Floor Malted pilsner to add a protein rest at 120F Now a lot of these tips come from a video interview from over ten years ago, so he may use different methods at the brewery now, but it will still help you make a great lager.
 
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Noob_Brewer

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Yes definitely want soft water...I usually go with something like Ca 22, Mg 8, Na 0, SO4 32, Cl 40. Usually get there with just calcium chloride and some epsom salt where I use distilled water as my base. We all learn that you want at least 50 ppm Calcium for yeast health etc, but it's really not needed in lagers per Martin Brungard who created the Bru'n Water spreadsheet and knows water profiles like the back of his hand.

I know you have your recipe pretty much dialed in, but one other tip I can give you, comes from the owner of Notch brewery here in Mass, a lager brewery that make fantastic Czech and German lagers. He recommends that Czech Dark lagers should have some residual sweetness and not be super roasty and to target medium body. He suggests Pilsner malt, Munich and Vienna and then to get the color by using Sinamar, which is a coloring agent made from Carafa malts. He also recommends doing decoction for any Czech beers over 10° P or around 1.040, but a step mash is OK too. And lastly he stays if using Floor Malted pilsner to add a protein rest at 120F Now a lot of these tips come from a video interview from over ten years ago, so he may use different methods at the brewery now, but it will still help you make a great lager.
really appreciate the input man! I will have a low "softish" water profile in mind but I use my tap water and adjust so the adjusted profile won't be as low as these specs but I think I'll be in the neighborhood anyways. Your input on Ca and Na is very helpful! I am planning on some residual sweetness due to FG targeting 1.014-1.015ish. Don't have Sinamar and will be using carafe special II and holding it at 4% only. For this first attempt at this recipe I am going with a step mash as I really don't want to try a new technique that Im not familiar with with decoction (plus I only have one burner). The protein rest recommendation "may" be outdated, not sure. But I did look up the floor malted pilsner and dark malts that I am using and according to Weyermann's specs these malts have Kolbach indexes between 36-45 which seems to fall in the "less-modified to well modified" malt categories from what I understand so I think I will skip the protein rest considering they don't seem to be "under-modified". If you think the benefit of protein rest that my "rookie" expertise did not detect, I'd be all ears. I use the anvil foundry so step mashing is easy but I ramp temps rather slowly so as to avoid element scorching as I don't recirculate that fast. Other benefits of the protein rest I am not anticipating?

Based on BJCPs comments on the style and my own experience with other dark Czech lagers (I loved CharlesTowne Fermentory version of Tmave Pivo) I am aiming for a slightly lower IBU range with sweeter balance vs the drier and higher bitterness Ive had with other versions. Seems that whenever I learn a new style, on the surface it seems easy, but then upon closer inspection there seems to be a much wider range within the styles lol. Overall though, as long as the yeast to their thang, I think this first go-round with this style, I will be in the neighborhood of the style and will modify for future editions to my liking. Not trying for a competition beer here, just a beer that mimics what I love about some of the ones that I liked to the style.

Again, I sincerely appreciate the input from you @jdauria and others.

EDIT: I have seen LOTS of peeps talking about IBUs in absolute terms ranging from 20-30IBUs, but to put it in context, what has been everyones BU/OG ratio you have been using for this style?
 
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