Polishing my pils

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cactusgarrett

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Trying to improve my north German pils and was hoping for some insight. I'm homing in on what I'm looking for in my house pils, and my latest iteration was close but not exactly what I'm looking for. It seemed to have too round and full flavor that I'd like cleaned up to get more of a sharper, crisper flavor and hop bitterness.

Grainbill/Recipe
I'm not worried here. Pils is what I consider a process beer, so I'm not suspecting an issue here. 98% german pils malt and 2% melanoidin. Just finished with 34/70 fermented cold, but will be moving back to Augustiner (OYL-114 Bayern) as I like the flavor and clarity better. This went from 1.055 down to 1.008, so the roundness is kind of surprising with this in mind.

Process
Mash was a typical Hochkurz schedule (144F, 160F) via infusion. Nothing groundbreaking regarding fermentation - pitched cool (48F) then held at 50F until D-rest before kegging and lagering (3 months).

Hopping
I'm suspecting the more flavorful (not quite fruity) and round flavor/feel is stemming from this. I FWHed (60min to 7 IBU) with Crystal, then followed up with Magnum (60min to 33 IBU) and 14g Saphir at flameout. Did the FWH make this too full/round? Did the use of "new world" hops swing this away from what would normally result from Hallertau or the like?

Water
Despite doing a lot of research here, I'm not 100% sold I'm where I should be at with water. I did a 50% dilution of tap with RO to shoot for a 2:1 SO4:Cl ratio. Final results were:
Ca = 77ppm, Na = 30ppm, Bicarb = -29
SO4 = 100ppm, Cl = 52 ppm

Thoughts? Avenues for crisping this up?
 
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thehaze

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I don't think I have more pertinent additions to what you already are doing, and doing well at that. I can share my own experience with brewing lagers.

For Pils, I do like 100% Pilsner malt - I prefer Bestmalz Pilsner, Weyermann Barke Pilsner and recently, Crisp Hana ( heirloom/heritage variety, that they revived ). Single infusion at 63-65C / 145-149F for 70-90 minutes, boil for 70-80 minutes. Hopping schedule - I like more hops in mine: Mittelfruh, Tettnang, Spalter Select at 60, 40 and 20 minutes, and sometimes just a little WHP. I ferment with W-34/70, transfer to keg, condition for 3-6 weeks and drink.

Water profile - I go heavier on the sulfate - latest Pils had 170 ppm Sulfate, 80 ppm Cl, 125 ppm Ca ( helps with flocculation ) and up to 10 ppm each of Na, Mg, etc. Mash pH 5.3-5.4. IBUs were 38 at around 5.3% ABV. This turned out on the maltier side, which I am not a fan of. It still had some bitterness, but not enough for me. Was made to please a larger crowd.

North German Pils has more bitterness in general and a slightly more proeminent hop flavour ( apparent when trying commercial examples fresh within the first 2 months from packaging ) - this is why I am not afraid of throwing more hops at it. I usually go for 40-45 IBU only from german hops, 4.6 to 5.5% ABV, close to 200 ppm sulfate, mash pH always in range, with post boil pH close to 5, anything between 125 and 200 gr hops per batch ( 22-25 liters final ). Carbonation at around 2.5-2.7 vol. CO2 - low and lower carbonation will smoothen out the feeling of the beer, will increase the body and mouthfeel, or better said, the perception of these attributes. It needs to be perceived dry, fairly attenuated, crisp mouthfeel, crackling body, good carbonation level. So many commercial and even craft examples of Pils are way too sweet tasting, too malty, weak carbonation, showcasing a malt leaning beer, with hops fading in the background.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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For Pils, I do like 100% Pilsner malt
Yup. I previously relied on Avangard, but this was my first use with Best Malz; which I plan on using as my standard from now on. I do have a bag of Barke waiting in the wings for me to shore this recipe/process up a bit before using, as it took a bit of lead time to get it (2 months?) and that was in the summer before ships weren't parked outside of every port in the country.

Yeah, I thought I was on the higher end at 40 BU, but now I'm not so sure. Maybe my hop spider is lowering my utilization more than I think.
 
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thehaze

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What do you suspect caused yours to be maltier as opposed to crisp?
Most likely a combination of things: the Barke Pilsner malt base ( which is very flavourful ), the 1.011 final gravity ( OG was something like 1.051, so a tad higher than you would want ), lower IBUs ( it's definitely not easy hitting the exact IBUs on a homebrew level and you can't really test for it, unless you have expensive equipment ) which might have been lower than originally calculated.
 

thehaze

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1.055 is high. Alcohol does add body to a beer. 6.2% ABV is kind of Maibock territory, and you do need a bit more hops and IBUs, just to balance out the beer. I frankly did not notice the OG until monkeymath qouted the message above. More alcohol, more body, not enough hops - It could easily be why your perception of the beer leans towards " round/full ". I have brewed a couple of 6-6.5% strength blonde/*light coloured Lagers, and I can tell you that only the second came close ot what I was expecting from it. The first one was just tame...
 

madscientist451

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I'm homing in on what I'm looking for in my house pils, and my latest iteration was close but not exactly what I'm looking for. It seemed to have too round and full flavor that I'd like cleaned up to get more of a sharper, crisper flavor and hop bitterness.



Thoughts? Avenues for crisping this up?
I didn't see any mention of PH?
 

hottpeper13

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Who said pH? I found that the lower the pH in a lighter color beer makes it more crisp. If you go to 2017 NHC presentation by Annie Johnson (who spent time at the new Urkle brewery), stated they do a 4.9 pH mash. I set up my mash to get no more then 5.2, but i did score a 45 with a 4.9 mash.

the reverse is also true , in that darker beers mashed at 5.5-5.6 are smoother and ready to drink sooner.
 

Oleson M.D.

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Yes, the grain bill can (maybe should) be 100% Pils Malt. If brewing a true North German Bitter Pils.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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Do you mean to say that you brew your pils at an OG of 1.055?! I'm no expert on pils, but that seems very very high. I'd target 1.046.
Yeah, it wasn't on purpose. I'm suspecting the switch from Avangard to Best Malz increased my OG unexpectedly. I usually shoot for 1.050, so that'll be something to reel in on subsequent batches.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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Who said pH? I found that the lower the pH in a lighter color beer makes it more crisp. If you go to 2017 NHC presentation by Annie Johnson (who spent time at the new Urkle brewery), stated they do a 4.9 pH mash. I set up my mash to get no more then 5.2, but i did score a 45 with a 4.9 mash.

the reverse is also true , in that darker beers mashed at 5.5-5.6 are smoother and ready to drink sooner.
Good points. I think i'll try lower than 5.2, considering my water makeup doesn't seem out of line.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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Yes, the grain bill can (maybe should) be 100% Pils Malt. If brewing a true North German Bitter Pils.
I usually do 100% pils and 1x decoct, but I'm trying to optimize this recipe for when I make the jump to electric all-in-one, and decocting will take extraordinary measures.
 

bwible

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I’m new to the water chemistry game myself. Something I’ve been struggling with since I moved into a new house.

Got my report from Ward Labs. Been doing it for the past few months, as you said, cutting my tap water with distilled water 50/50 or enough to drop down the minerals so I can build back what I’m after.

I try to drop sodium under 20. I try to get calcium near 100. I read that sulfate accentuates bitterness, chloride accentuates maltiness. It says for lagers you want lower Sulfate and higher Chloride. And for hoppy beers like bitters, pale ales, and IPAs you want higher Sulfate and lower Chloride. The last lager I made, which was more of a golden Festbier type, I had 2:1 Chloride to Sulfate. I’m pretty happy with it.

Like I said I am new to the water chemistry game myself, still trying to figure it out too.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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It says for lagers you want lower Sulfate and higher Chloride
That's the catch, though - a pils is a hoppy lager. I think most typically shoot for a 2:1 SO4:Cl ratio, or something along those lines. Festbier is a more balanced, maltier beer, so the 2:1 Cl:SO4 ratio there is more warranted.
 

BigEd

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That's the catch, though - a pils is a hoppy lager. I think most typically shoot for a 2:1 SO4:Cl ratio, or something along those lines. Festbier is a more balanced, maltier beer, so the 2:1 Cl:SO4 ratio there is more warranted.

Hoppy does not equate with high SO4 content in a lager. Sulphate doesn't make a beer hoppy. It somewhat sharpens the taste perception but isn't going to change the IBUs. Very hoppy lagers such as Pilsner Urquell and most German pils are not high in sulphates. The exception is a Dortmunder which has minerally water not unlike a British pale ale.
 

monkeymath

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Yeah, it wasn't on purpose. I'm suspecting the switch from Avangard to Best Malz increased my OG unexpectedly. I usually shoot for 1.050, so that'll be something to reel in on subsequent batches.
Honestly I think that first and foremost you need to get that OG down. Only then it makes sense to start fine-tuning. I'm rather certain most commercial German pilsners are brewed to at most 12° plato, that is an OG of 1.048.

Given that you have a Pils that you're happy with except for the "fullness", I'd first brew the same recipe, but adjusted to landing at 1.046 (diluting further, if necessary). If it's still too full then, then we should start thinking about all the nitty gritty details. But I don't think it will be. Rather you may feel it lacking a bit in intensity.
Then you have two "extremes" and just need to find your own sweet spot somewhere in between.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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Honestly I think that first and foremost you need to get that OG down.
1000% agree.
I'd first brew the same recipe, but adjusted to landing at 1.046
That's what I've got lined up next, for sure. Thanks for the help. I had the FG blinders on for sure and didn't consider the contribution of the elevated alcohol from the higher OG.
 

BigEd

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Right, but i didn't explicitly state "high SO4". I just referenced the oft-used 2:1 SO4:Cl ratio.

I didn't mean to imply anything like a 200ppm SO4 content but twice as much SO4 as Cl is what a 2:1 ratio gives you. FWIW I'd shoot for 60/75ppm Cl and keep the SO4 no more than 20/25ppm.
 

Beermeister32

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I’m seeing a potential NEW PRODUCT here…. “Mineral packs” to blend with distilled or RO brewing water for the specific beer profile you are after.

Hey, they do it with different yeast packs. Why not different mineral packs. Cheaper too!

Send my commissions to this address….!
 

bwible

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Hoppy does not equate with high SO4 content in a lager. Sulphate doesn't make a beer hoppy. It somewhat sharpens the taste perception but isn't going to change the IBUs. Very hoppy lagers such as Pilsner Urquell and most German pils are not high in sulphates. The exception is a Dortmunder which has minerally water not unlike a British pale ale.
I’m still new to adjusting water minerals. I moved in 2019 and have been struggling with some beers, especially pale ales. Blonde ales and malty beers were so-so.

I had my water tested by Ward and found I have low calcium, high chloride and very low sulfate, which I guess makes sense for the results I’m describing. Ca = 24, Sulfate = 5 (15), Chloride = 84.

In general, I’ve been trying to get Ca closer to 100. For lagers, I’m trying to raise Sulfate to somewhere near 40 so I have about 2:1 Chloride to Sulfate. For Pale Ales, which I haven’t done one with adjustment yet, I’m thinking I need to dilute my tap water with distilled water and then try to go the other way - 100 Ca and 2:1 Sulfate to Chloride. Maybe same idea, 85 Sulfate to 40 Chloride.

Do I have the right idea?
 

BigEd

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I’m still new to adjusting water minerals. I moved in 2019 and have been struggling with some beers, especially pale ales. Blonde ales and malty beers were so-so.

I had my water tested by Ward and found I have low calcium, high chloride and very low sulfate, which I guess makes sense for the results I’m describing. Ca = 24, Sulfate = 5 (15), Chloride = 84.

In general, I’ve been trying to get Ca closer to 100. For lagers, I’m trying to raise Sulfate to somewhere near 40 so I have about 2:1 Chloride to Sulfate. For Pale Ales, which I haven’t done one with adjustment yet, I’m thinking I need to dilute my tap water with distilled water and then try to go the other way - 100 Ca and 2:1 Sulfate to Chloride. Maybe same idea, 85 Sulfate to 40 Chloride.

Do I have the right idea?
Just curious, does your water source get a lot of winter runoff from salted highways? Cl-2 at 84 with those others at very low numbers indicates that possibility. What is your Na+2 number?

For a pale ale, IPA, and such I'd add gypsum to raise your Ca+2 and SO4-2 to where you want them to be. For pale lagers you could go with that water as is or just add a touch of gypsum to get the Ca+2 up to 50ppm. The much loved "2:1" ratio does work for the most part and it's simple but I'm not a believer in one-size-fits-all.

Based on what your Na+2 number turns out to be dilution first might be the way to go on some beers.
 

bwible

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Just curious, does your water source get a lot of winter runoff from salted highways? Cl-2 at 84 with those others at very low numbers indicates that possibility. What is your Na+2 number?

For a pale ale, IPA, and such I'd add gypsum to raise your Ca+2 and SO4-2 to where you want them to be. For pale lagers you could go with that water as is or just add a touch of gypsum to get the Ca+2 up to 50ppm. The much loved "2:1" ratio does work for the most part and it's simple but I'm not a believer in one-size-fits-all.

Based on what your Na+2 number turns out to be dilution first might be the way to go on some beers.
57, which I think is high
 
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