Off-flavour in Pilsner - could it be the water?

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eestisiin

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Hi guys, I'm banging my head against the wall here as I'm now chugging down another 18 liters of **** beer to punish myself.

So long story short, made a real simple pilsner, at least I thought it was simple

Recipe:
3.77kg Pilsen Malt
280g Best Munich Malt Dark

67c Mash for 60 minutes
78c Mash Out for 10 minutes

18l of mash water
Sparged with 14l of water

158g of saaz
48 first wort
55 at 10 min
55 at 2 min

Yeast was Lallemand Voss Kveik fermenting hot (30c) under pressure (a bit more on that later)

I hit all my numbers pretty good and brewing was done without problems since I'm new to all-grain i was worried about the yeast amount, Lallemand calculator said to use around 13g of yeast yet I only had 11g and no yeast nutrients. As I understand these are important for Kveik, so since I didn't have any, I googled and learned that you could use baker's yeast (used 1,5tsp and 15 min before boil was over) - never done that before, but I believe this isn't causing the issues.

So I transferred the wort into my Fermzilla added spunding valve, thought i set it to 15PSI, but accidentally somehow it was around 22PSI, so in the morning I saw a stuck fermentation - not what i usually see with kveik and a lot of weird krausen, off-white thick idk what - probably related to the baker yeast? Lowered the PSI and everything started moving again, but it wasn't what I was used to seeing with kveik. Day 4 it was done - FG was 1.010 and I cold crashed it overnight, transferred it into the keg, and had my first taster.

First, the taste is good, refreshing, and crisp, but mid-taste AWFUL plastic/medicinal taste kicks in - so I googled and found that it could be from chlorine and now I need your help - is it something with my Pilsners, or its the water?

1) Water pH was adjusted to roughly 5.6ish before adding malts. It is pure artesian water - soft, no chlorines - best I can get my hands on. I brought it home in plastic canisters - mash and sparge water is from that water
2) My home water is VERY much full of chlorines as we have really mineral and bacteria-filled well water, so it goes through 3 filters in my home and cant kill some of the things unless you add chlorine into it. So this water was only used to clean fermentor, soak equipment in starsan and so on - I don't rinse the equipment after starsan just kind of whip it in the air to get rid MOST of the foam - I mean the amount of water left in the fermenter after starsan is probably like 50-100ml? (I'm guessing, never measured it or anything)
3) This has happened to Pilsners (one was not pressure fermented, temp controlled, low temp, laggered for a month and whatnot and EXACT same mid-taste - recipe was different, but the taste was same). I didn't notice it in my Berliner Weisse and APA, but they are stronger flavored beers as well, APA perhaps had some come to think of it, but not as much.

So now my question - is it something I'm doing wrong with my Pilsners or its the water? I have yet to adjust water chemistry for beer styles as I'm waiting for the full inspection on the Artesian water so I know what I need to add, but the artesian water itself shouldn't be the issue.

How could I treat my home water for sanitizing my equipment? Have 20l of spare artesian water or treat home water with a Campden tablet? Can I even clean my equipment from all of that "chlorin" now?

A bit sad and worried as I have now drank almost 30+ liters of SHITTY pilsner and friends are hoping to have a taste sometime soon, but not with that :D

Thanks in advance,
E
 

tripeland

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I only read up to when you mentioned the tasting was done on day 5. Seems like it just needs more time. Although Kveik finishes fast it doesn’t mean it’s good to drink straight away. Let it sit for a week or two and it’ll change
 
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eestisiin

eestisiin

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I only read up to when you mentioned the tasting was done on day 5. Seems like it just needs more time. Although Kveik finishes fast it doesn’t mean it’s good to drink straight away. Let it sit for a week or two and it’ll change
Forgot to mention that now it has been sitting in keg for 2 weeks, flavour is getting worse and the other batch that wasnt done with pressure fermention was tasted at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 2 months and last bottle was perhaps 3 months after brewday.

They sit in my fridge at 2-3c

Also would recommend reading to the end to understand the off-taste and my suspicions
 

cubalz

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It sounds like chloramines causing that phenolic flavor. As far as water to clean your equipment, using the tap water should not be an issue, we all do that with not ill effects on taste. I do not know anyone that treats clean up water. The problem is probably your mash water. The night before, treat you water with a campden tablet and you will be fine by the new brew day. Remember that when brewing light lager styles, there is no where for off-flavors to hide. Good luck!
 
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eestisiin

eestisiin

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Yeah, I was afraid of that as well, that cleaning water should pay that much role. Odd thing is that our town Artesian water is famous and even a brewery moved here for the water, but perhaps there is something that causes the off-flavor and thats it. So Campden tablet should fix that situation hopefully then - ill give it another go and test it this way!
 
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Definitely have both waters tested to see what you dealing with in ppm versus high this or low that.
I don't think this is you flavor issue, but test ph after you start the mash rather than adjusting before dough in.
 
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eestisiin

eestisiin

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Definitely have both waters tested to see what you dealing with in ppm versus high this or low that.
I don't think this is you flavor issue, but test ph after you start the mash rather than adjusting before dough in.
Thanks, ill adjust pH different next time :) this has always been kind of a gray area for me!
 

RM-MN

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Yeah, I was afraid of that as well, that cleaning water should pay that much role. Odd thing is that our town Artesian water is famous and even a brewery moved here for the water, but perhaps there is something that causes the off-flavor and thats it. So Campden tablet should fix that situation hopefully then - ill give it another go and test it this way!
One Campden tablet is good for treating 20 gallons of water so use the appropriate amount for the water you will use.
 
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5 oz of hops for a five gallon pilsner seems like a lot.
Havent seen how long you boiled. Pilsner needs a long boil to remove DMS ( that can cause of flavor)
Have you tasted your water after the campden tablet? Maybe you need a special double dose of campden since your well water seem nasty. If your water does not taste good, your beer won't.
Starsan does not need to be rinsed, at all; Foam is good.
Bakers yeast is gross. Never use that in your beer. Ever. Can cause weird flavors.
 

Soulshine2

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Hi guys, I'm banging my head against the wall here as I'm now chugging down another 18 liters of **** beer to punish myself.

So long story short, made a real simple pilsner, at least I thought it was simple

Recipe:
3.77kg Pilsen Malt
280g Best Munich Malt Dark

67c Mash for 60 minutes
78c Mash Out for 10 minutes

18l of mash water
Sparged with 14l of water

158g of saaz
48 first wort
55 at 10 min
55 at 2 min

Yeast was Lallemand Voss Kveik fermenting hot (30c) under pressure (a bit more on that later)

I hit all my numbers pretty good and brewing was done without problems since I'm new to all-grain i was worried about the yeast amount, Lallemand calculator said to use around 13g of yeast yet I only had 11g and no yeast nutrients. As I understand these are important for Kveik, so since I didn't have any, I googled and learned that you could use baker's yeast (used 1,5tsp and 15 min before boil was over) - never done that before, but I believe this isn't causing the issues.

So I transferred the wort into my Fermzilla added spunding valve, thought i set it to 15PSI, but accidentally somehow it was around 22PSI, so in the morning I saw a stuck fermentation - not what i usually see with kveik and a lot of weird krausen, off-white thick idk what - probably related to the baker yeast? Lowered the PSI and everything started moving again, but it wasn't what I was used to seeing with kveik. Day 4 it was done - FG was 1.010 and I cold crashed it overnight, transferred it into the keg, and had my first taster.

First, the taste is good, refreshing, and crisp, but mid-taste AWFUL plastic/medicinal taste kicks in - so I googled and found that it could be from chlorine and now I need your help - is it something with my Pilsners, or its the water?

1) Water pH was adjusted to roughly 5.6ish before adding malts. It is pure artesian water - soft, no chlorines - best I can get my hands on. I brought it home in plastic canisters - mash and sparge water is from that water
2) My home water is VERY much full of chlorines as we have really mineral and bacteria-filled well water, so it goes through 3 filters in my home and cant kill some of the things unless you add chlorine into it. So this water was only used to clean fermentor, soak equipment in starsan and so on - I don't rinse the equipment after starsan just kind of whip it in the air to get rid MOST of the foam - I mean the amount of water left in the fermenter after starsan is probably like 50-100ml? (I'm guessing, never measured it or anything)
3) This has happened to Pilsners (one was not pressure fermented, temp controlled, low temp, laggered for a month and whatnot and EXACT same mid-taste - recipe was different, but the taste was same). I didn't notice it in my Berliner Weisse and APA, but they are stronger flavored beers as well, APA perhaps had some come to think of it, but not as much.

So now my question - is it something I'm doing wrong with my Pilsners or its the water? I have yet to adjust water chemistry for beer styles as I'm waiting for the full inspection on the Artesian water so I know what I need to add, but the artesian water itself shouldn't be the issue.

How could I treat my home water for sanitizing my equipment? Have 20l of spare artesian water or treat home water with a Campden tablet? Can I even clean my equipment from all of that "chlorin" now?

A bit sad and worried as I have now drank almost 30+ liters of SHITTY pilsner and friends are hoping to have a taste sometime soon, but not with that :D

Thanks in advance,
E
first of all. you need to keep a closer eye on your times ,temps and amounts. this isnt guesswork . you cant pinpoint anything that way to determine any issues. BUT, OTOH , yes its mainly your chlorinated water. You cant have any chlorine in a brew and have it turn out even remotely decent. campden tablets are good for 20 gallons each tablet. You could buy filtered and purified water but then you'll have to add back some minerals to get that right. You can try some of the RO water thats found from the vending machines in grocery stores . its cheap and for 8 gallons probably only around $4 buy the jugs and save on refills.
I've turned out a couple crap brews too, always been extract kits for me. the same taste as you describe but i use a campden tablet each and every time no matter if its a AG brew or the extract. I still havent figured out why for me its always the extracts. Ive been told its my water has too many minerals and the extracts already have the minerals they require so its over-mineralized....Idk. I just avoid them altogether .
 

Bobby_M

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There's a lot of bouncing around on different topics. Let's do one at a time.

1. Is it the water? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered first. Without knowing the salt concentrations on the bottled water you've sourced, you can't know what the resulting mash pH at all. Adjusting the water pH doesn't get you there. Try to get some pH test strips that are tailored to the 4-7 range for better accuracy. Test 15 minutes into the mash. The most reliable way to ensure the water is right is to start with RO filtered water (basically distilled water) and add some minerals and acid. Without knowing anything more about the water you use, probably the best bet with a light colored beer is to blindly add about 2mL of 88% lactic acid. All of this stems from the fact that a pH over 5.6 (pretty easy on a lighter beer) can cause tannic off flavors.

2. I've yet to have a Kveik fermented beer that doesn't taste off to me. Even Omega's Lutra Kveik, that is supposed to be capable of a passable pseudo-lager doesn't taste right. If you want to rule this out, try to source two packs of Saflager W34/70 or S-23. There's also Lallemand Diamond Lager.

3. Chlorine in your cleaning and sanitizing water probably isn't the problem unless you can smell chlorine in the fermenter even from the residue.

4. I think you probably stunted the yeast first via the high pressure and then crashed it out too quickly after FG was reached. Just because yeast have done all the fermenting already doesn't mean it's done working. If I had to pull a guess, you have acetaldehyde leftover from the ferment that didn't get processed because you cold crashed too fast. It's hard to recognize (internally categorize the off the flavor) acetaldehyde at first. Green apple, latex paint, and raw pumpkin flesh are all pretty good descriptors.

22psi is probably enough to cause some yeast autolysis also, but not a guarantee. If you got the same flavor before without over pressurizing, I'd probably rule this out.


Summary, try a recipe that is tried and true from a magazine like Zymurgy or BYO, start with Distilled water with 3 grams each Calcium Chloride and Calcium Sulfate and a few mL of lactic acid. Use a standard yeast strain using the pitch rate calculators to determine how much. Ferment at the lower end of the strain's listed range until fermentation slows, then raise the temp a few degrees and wait for another week before cold crashing. Skip the spunding or if you do want to use it, add it when you're raising the temp.
 
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eestisiin

eestisiin

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There's a lot of bouncing around on different topics. Let's do one at a time.

1. Is it the water? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered first. Without knowing the salt concentrations on the bottled water you've sourced, you can't know what the resulting mash pH at all. Adjusting the water pH doesn't get you there. Try to get some pH test strips that are tailored to the 4-7 range for better accuracy. Test 15 minutes into the mash. The most reliable way to ensure the water is right is to start with RO filtered water (basically distilled water) and add some minerals and acid. Without knowing anything more about the water you use, probably the best bet with a light colored beer is to blindly add about 2mL of 88% lactic acid. All of this stems from the fact that a pH over 5.6 (pretty easy on a lighter beer) can cause tannic off flavors.

2. I've yet to have a Kveik fermented beer that doesn't taste off to me. Even Omega's Lutra Kveik, that is supposed to be capable of a passable pseudo-lager doesn't taste right. If you want to rule this out, try to source two packs of Saflager W34/70 or S-23. There's also Lallemand Diamond Lager.

3. Chlorine in your cleaning and sanitizing water probably isn't the problem unless you can smell chlorine in the fermenter even from the residue.

4. I think you probably stunted the yeast first via the high pressure and then crashed it out too quickly after FG was reached. Just because yeast have done all the fermenting already doesn't mean it's done working. If I had to pull a guess, you have acetaldehyde leftover from the ferment that didn't get processed because you cold crashed too fast. It's hard to recognize (internally categorize the off the flavor) acetaldehyde at first. Green apple, latex paint, and raw pumpkin flesh are all pretty good descriptors.

22psi is probably enough to cause some yeast autolysis also, but not a guarantee. If you got the same flavor before without over pressurizing, I'd probably rule this out.


Summary, try a recipe that is tried and true from a magazine like Zymurgy or BYO, start with Distilled water with 3 grams each Calcium Chloride and Calcium Sulfate and a few mL of lactic acid. Use a standard yeast strain using the pitch rate calculators to determine how much. Ferment at the lower end of the strain's listed range until fermentation slows, then raise the temp a few degrees and wait for another week before cold crashing. Skip the spunding or if you do want to use it, add it when you're raising the temp.
Hey, thanks for a deep and orgnized answer

1)I have Milwauke digital pH meter and i got pH down using lactic acid just likeyou suggested, but I did make the mistake of doing that before grain in! Will adjust for future

2)My idea was to go for a fast beer, that is why pressure, heat and kveik! But the previous pilsner was with Lallemand Diamond and exact same off flavor!

3) Cant smell any chlorine on the water, no smell at all for the tap water

4) This was my mistake, but Iv seen guys pressure ferment from day 1 at 20PSI, but yeah I wasnt planning on doing that! Regarding the acetaldehyde I understood that pressure fermenting usually supresses these issues?

ill add as a comment from my first pilsner batch!

Primary fermenter for 2 weeks,lower end of temp like 8 degrees c or so - cant remember anymore. And then cold crashed it, bottled them and left for several weeks and some left for months!

Off flavor was exact same -I was also worried about maybe under pitching/stressed out yeast, but id say the off flavor is more plastic/medicinal than green apple, thenagain latex paint might be similar - hmm hard to say really.
Both times i was 2-4g below the recommended pitching rate as was low on yeast (like 11g instead of 13-15g recommended)

as a note i also wanna note that both times the boil time was 90 minutes.

I was just looking to make fast crisp Pilsner like beers within 2 weeks and im sure taste would be great for my liking if not the awful off-flavor and im 90% sure that its not related to how fast it was done, but I also understand its only my 10th all grain and I have screwed up 2 batches and both of them Pilsners -one traditional and the other pressure fermented, high temp kind of way :)

I will buy bittled clean water for next round as I dont have the RO water vending machines in our country and only thing i can get is filtered spring water in 5L jugs that are like 2$ a piece, but for test im a buy like 7 jugs and see if it results better taste :)
 

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There’s so many issues here. Pilsners are not to be rushed, take your time with them and you will get best results:

1. If your water is an issue, use store bought water and make mineral additions. If that is too complicated, use half distilled, half good quality drinking water like Crystal Geyser. Watch your mash pH, I usually add 2.5 oz of acidulated malt to my grain bill.

2. I use a long step mash with Pilsners, steps at 140-147-154F, then drop back to 147F. You want a really attenuated wort to avoid any residual sweetness. Use 90 minute boils when using Pilsner malt to reduce DMS.

3. Use a cooler sparge, don’t extract tannins. They can become phenolic tasting.

4. Overbuild your recipe, I finish at 6 gallons, and draw the cleanest first 5 gallons to to leave behind cold break.

5. You want a great Pilsner, use a great lager yeast. W34/70 is the worlds most used. I like WLP833 bock yeast. Build a 2 liter starter and decant it. I bring the yeast down to the same temperature as the wort, 46F to pitch. This reduces temperature shock to the yeast.

6. Add yeast prior to oxygenating. Ferment at 48-50F. Do not EVER use baking yeast in the boil or fermenting. Only place you might use it might be in de-oxygenating your brewing water prior to mash.

7. Let it ferment and leave it alone until done, usually around 2 weeks. Run it through a good D-rest at 68 degrees for several days and transfer to keg at ambient. Forget the cold crash unless you are controlling for air suck back.

8. Transfer to a keg and add a 4-4.3 ounce corn sugar carbonating charge and let the keg age at room temperature for a week, then lager it at 34F for 90 days. Yes 90 days. This turns a good beer into a GREAT beer. The corn sugar will both carbonate as well as give the yeast some help cleaning up any residual O2 in the keg.

9. Use whatever other O2 reducing measures you can along the way. There are many and would require a different thread.

Prost!
83667B36-024F-4AA1-9C7E-61E2187214B1.png
 
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Oleson M.D.

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2. I've yet to have a Kveik fermented beer that doesn't taste off to me. Even Omega's Lutra Kveik, that is supposed to be capable of a passable pseudo-lager doesn't taste right. If you want to rule this out, try to source two packs of Saflager W34/70 or S-23. There's also Lallemand Diamond Lager.
This.
 

Beavis740

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You say it gets worse as it sits.

as mentioned above, I would focus on oxegon exposure. Research minimizing O2 during process especially during transfers. Look into LODO method.
 

JohnDBrewer

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Water is easy to fix and rule out. My guess it's the yeast. Either change it or lower the fermentation temp and leave it on the yeast longer.

I would go with change the yeast.
 
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CascadesBrewer

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Forgot to mention that now it has been sitting in keg for 2 weeks, flavour is getting worse and the other batch that wasnt done with pressure fermention was tasted at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 2 months and last bottle was perhaps 3 months after brewday.
I had an infection about two years ago that produced beers with a strong medicinal/band-aid type flavor. The first was a Belgian Pale Ale. At first I thought the flavor was just part of the yeast strain, but as the beer sat in the keg the off flavor got worse. In the meantime I fermented an American Pale Ale in the equipment. At a week It had an off flavor that I thought might have been an issue with the hops or my dry hopping, but after a month it was strong band-aid and I ended up dumping the rest (though I drank about half the keg by that time).

I was able to recover after tossing some hoses, and treating my equipment with a deep clean + 190F soak in water + Iodophor sanitization cycle, followed up my normal brew day Star San sanitization.
 

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I was getting a band aid flavor and found the ball valve on my brewpot was filthy inside. After cleaning that it hasn’t come back. Last place you’d think something could hide, what with the pot being boiled and all that. But that was it.
i'll have to check into that. valves do hold goop. and they are affordably replaceable.
 

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I've had the same off-flavors you described before, and it occurred in both my tap and RO water. Here is what resolved them:

1. If using chlorinated water, use campden tablets. 1/2 tablet per 10 gal of water
2. Use acid malt or lactic acid to adjust the mash pH. Measure 15 minutes into the mash.
3. Take care of the YEAST. Temp control is crucial for lagers. Try S-23 between 50-58F for 10-14 days, and ramp up to 65F for a diacetyl rest. It produces great german lagers.
4. Avoid kveik yeast for lagers. They just don't have the same satisfying character as a true lager yeast.
5. Avoid oxygen exposure after fermentation is compete, do closed transfers when possible.
 
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eestisiin

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I've had the same off-flavors you described before, and it occurred in both my tap and RO water. Here is what resolved them:

1. If using chlorinated water, use campden tablets. 1/2 tablet per 10 gal of water
2. Use acid malt or lactic acid to adjust the mash pH. Measure 15 minutes into the mash.
3. Take care of the YEAST. Temp control is crucial for lagers. Try S-23 between 50-58F for 10-14 days, and ramp up to 65F for a diacetyl rest. It produces great german lagers.
4. Avoid kveik yeast for lagers. They just don't have the same satisfying character as a true lager yeast.
5. Avoid oxygen exposure after fermentation is compete, do closed transfers when possible.
Hey, i think you are correct - I have been doing some test batches here and my results kind of talk the same.

I did a lager - light one 4% ish with clean water, didnt adjust the salts or anything, just wanted a baseline (might have been a stupid move or not, dont know). Used Saflager 34/70 at room temp (21c controlled) and under pressure (10psi) for 7 days, then cold crashed for 2 days and kegged, where it was for 2-3 days before taking my first taster.

There still was a faint, like no-one else could tell, but since im paranoid of this flavour now, i could feel very very slight off-flavou, but it did get better after time - when beer cleared it was gone.

So this exactly matches your pointers.

1.For the campden tablets - unfortunatelly here we dont have tablets, have powder, so im assuming 1/4 of a table spoon would be enough for 6 gal (roughly my usual batch size)
2. Did this correctly this time around, overshot with pH a bit as the lactic acid is a strong fellow - did buy a syringe for next time
3. One thing that doesnt give me peace is that first ever pilsner that i cocked up was with 34/70, non pressure ferm and for 14 days in temp controlled fridge at 8c (46f) which was in the optimal range for the yeast (i might be remembering +/-1c wrong, but i did it by the book), but i didnt do diacetyl rest as I read that this yeast doesnt produce much of that and what ever. At that time I wasnt able to avoid oxygen exposure as i was bottling from the bucket, so maybe this was what screwed my first pils.
4. I really wanna try out the Lutra, but yeah for traditional clean beers im going to stay away from kveik - it seams its awesome for a fast strongly hopped beer, but not for clean crisp beers
5. Im now pressure fermenting (last 4-5 batches) and been purging with CO and close transfering :)

I think you are 100% right on the take care of yeast part and i think the lager having a faint off flavour still ,might have been due to fermenting in the upper end of what i have read from others - like pressure ferment 21c (70f) - so next time, ill still do pressure, but lower temp, like 18ish or smth and see if this produces cleaner beer!

PS! When pressure fermenting, do I still need to do diacetyl rest or its not necessary for pressure fermentation?

Thank you guys for all the help because im feeling hopeful again, after you mess up 2-3 batches that are semi drinkable it kind of gets your motivation low, but now i cant wait to continue on :)

Great community here!
 

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Pilsners and Helles are beers that benefit from fermentation temperature control, so use best practices each and every step of the way. I read once that you are brewing akin to producing a S-Class Mercedes, not a Ford F-150.

That being said, controlled fermentation temps should be adhered to. I would always ferment it at 46-50F, 7.7-10C and step it up 5F degrees per day near the end of fermentation for a D-rest. Cold crashing only if you have the ability to control for air-suck back, otherwise transfer at room temp after the D-rest, then chill the keg to 34F, 1.1C for lagering, I prefer 90 days.
 

VikeMan

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Just to make this thread safe for future googlers... the beer being discussed is not a pilsner. Blonde Ale, maybe.
 

marc1

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1.For the campden tablets - unfortunatelly here we dont have tablets, have powder, so im assuming 1/4 of a table spoon would be enough for 6 gal (roughly my usual batch size)
That is 100% wrong, be careful you could seriously overdose your beer! The powder is much stronger than the tablets, because the tablets have a lot of binder material in them to make it easy to measure.
 
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