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Looking to brew a Pilsner... do I need to cold crash?

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tjperry52

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Hi all,

I am attempting to rekindle my home brewing hobby after a year long hiatus due to work and life in general! If I'm pulling away any positives from the current state of affairs in the world, its that it will give me more time to home-brew! I have only done about 4 brews now, so I am still pretty inexperienced in my knowledge as well as my equipment.

After doing some thinking, I am looking to brew a pilsner from a 5 gallon extract kit. I noticed that they recommend that you cold crash lagers and pilsners, but unfortunately I live in a small apartment in the city (so no, i do not have an extra fridge lying around). I was reading up on things such as whirloc and was wondering if that could be a good alternative to cold crashing...

Bonus question: how necessary are yeast starters? would love to here your opinions.
 

jack13

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Whirfloc will help clear the beer, regardless of whether you cold crash. Cold crashing is nice, but only speeds up what will happen anyway, so it's not something to go out of your way to do. Nor should the inability to do it preclude you from doing a pilsner.

Your bigger issue is that the kit probably comes with a lager yeast (since pilsner is a lager), which should be at a lower temperature, say 50F.

So I'd say get an ale kit that's most similar to the pilsner you've been looking at (cream ale, maybe?), use whirfloc but don't worry about cold crashing.

As for the starter question, it really depends, so let us know when you've decided on a kit and what yeast it comes with, or what the yeast options are. Best thing would be to give us a link so we can get all the details.
 
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tjperry52

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Whirfloc will help clear the beer, regardless of whether you cold crash. Cold crashing is nice, but only speeds up what will happen anyway, so it's not something to go out of your way to do. Nor should the inability to do it preclude you from doing a pilsner.

Your bigger issue is that the kit probably comes with a lager yeast (since pilsner is a lager), which should be at a lower temperature, say 50F.

So I'd say get an ale kit that's most similar to the pilsner you've been looking at (cream ale, maybe?), use whirfloc but don't worry about cold crashing.

As for the starter question, it really depends, so let us know when you've decided on a kit and what yeast it comes with, or what the yeast options are. Best thing would be to give us a link so we can get all the details.
Thanks man! This is super helpful, appreciate the insight. Tbh I didnt even think of the lager yeast which was a big oversight.

I was initially thinking of doing something like this:https://www.northernbrewer.com/collections/5-gallon-beer-kits/products/czech-pilsner-extract-kit but you can see that it seems to be lager yeast as expected.

I drink mostly IPA's and stouts, but try to brew different things as I know whatever I brew is likely to be nowhere as good as what I can buy around me. Also its fun just to switch it up, so I'm open to just about anything.

Here's a cream ale kit as well:https://www.northernbrewer.com/collections/5-gallon-beer-kits/products/cream-ale-extract-kit

Its been a while since I've last brewed so looking for something relatively simple and straightforward just to get back in the game.

Thanks
 

jack13

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That seems to be the perfect kit for what you want. And I'd definitely get the US-05 yeast option. One packet is plenty.

Let us know if you have any more questions, but even if you don't report back how this turned out!
 

jtrux

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Mangrove Jack M54 might be a good option for yeast. It’s a lager hybrid that works best 64-68F
 

IslandLizard

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Welcome back to brewing!

Looks like you were put on the right track.

Whirlfloc:
Whirlfloc coagulates proteins from the hot break at the end of the boil. But that's mostly useful for all grain or partial/mini mash, extracts don't have a lot of hot break, most was removed at the malster when they boiled the wort, before condensing it.

Whirlfloc won't clarify hazy beer in the fermenter. But a dissolved teaspoon of (unflavored, Knox) gelatin, added after the fermentation is finished, together with cold crashing as low as you can get, does.

Yeast starters:
A pouch of dry yeast is generally fine for a 5 gallon batch. Lagers fermented at low (50-55F) temps benefit from a double size pitch (2 pouches).
A pouch or sleeve of liquid yeast should suffice for a 5 gallon batch, if fresh. The problem is you don't know her whereabouts and handling during that time. So most of us advice to make a starter to prove viability. It also ramps up the cell count (use a yeast pitch calculator) which is usually not a luxury, especially for lagers, and when made large enough allows you to save some out to make another starter for another brew, etc. Store the leftover yeast from the starter in a jar in the fridge. Use excellent sanitation practices, of course.

Fermentation:
You could ferment most ales (at 66-68F) in a cool area in your home.
If you don't have that, one way is to use a suitable size beverage cooler to put your fermenter in and surround with cool water. That water jacket helps to keep the temps even. If it needs to be colder, add a few frozen water bottles to that water jacket. Refresh once or twice a day. Cover the whole setup with a thick blanket or sleeping bag. You could ferment lagers that way, but it's pushing it to keep it down to 50-55F.

Except for most Belgian ale yeasts higher ferm temps (above 70F) can create off flavors and "hot alcohol" taste.

Kveik, a Norwegian yeast, likes it hot, 80-90F, and gives excellent beer that way. You'd need a heating pad and some insulation to keep it that warm. But they're generally done in 2-3 days. Something to consider too.
 

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Cold crashing settles out the yeast and proteins that cause chill haze so they don't end up in the bottle. If you lack the ability to do that, put several bottles in the refrigerator for a few days before drinking and pour carefully so the trub you settled in the bottle doesn't end up in you glass.
 
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tjperry52

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Thank you for all the helpful feedback and advice! I ended up going with a cream ale... hoping this will be a good starting point to hopefully reignite my old passion for home brewing! I will be sure to update you all with the final results.
 

AzOr

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If you’re bottling, add the dissolved gelatin along with your priming sugar. It’ll both clarify and help keep your trub compacted on the bottom of your bottles.
 
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