Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Saphir-Hopped Pilsner (and Saison)

I often daisy-chain similar batches by harvesting the yeast from one and repitching into the next. While this can be convenient and cost-saving for any strain, it is especially valuable for 100% Brettanomyces and lagers where the pitching rates are higher than ales. After brewing this tmavé, I wanted to brew a brighter and hoppier lager.

Pilsner has long been my favorite pale lager. Clean, hoppy, and delightfully drinkable. I've brewed more of the rounder-maltier Czech-style than the bitter-crisper German-style, but I enjoy both. I've been looking for the right hop (Saaz, Perle, etc.), but traditional European varieties don't have the high aromatic oil content that IPA drinkers are accustomed to (hops like Citra and Simcoe have total oils over 2% compared to many noble-leaning cultivars which hover around 1%). Compound that with no dry-hopping, and you get a Pilsner that doesn't have the hoppy aromatic profile that I'll aiming for!

Pilsners don't travel well, so I tend to buy American when I don't have my own on tap. Firestone Walker Pivo is one of my favorites (along with Victory Prima Pils and Hill Farmstead Mary). I decided to take a cue from Firestone-Walker's Matt Brynildson and dry hop with Saphir (they add Spalt for late-boil additions, but I wanted to feature the new-to-me variety). Saphir has a total oil content of 0.8-1.4%, not bad considering alpha acids are under 3%. The aroma reminds me most of Crystal, with some citrus mixed in with the herbal.

Rather than imitate the classic water profile or techniques used by German brewers, I employed a similar water profile and hop timing that I would for an IPA. Although rather than blend sulfate and chloride, I focused on chloride as advised by the December BYO story Firestone Walker Fever, which included the recipe/process for Pivo. I dry hopped at 50% apparent attenuation, the same time I started ramping up the temperature.

One of the advantages of blogging is that occasionally I get free stuff! I received a Javelin Pro thermometer (order on Amazon and I get a cut) courtesy of LavaTools! It is a more reasonably priced ($55 compared to $99) alternative to the Thermoworks Thermapen. It even has a few added features like magnets embedded on the back, and a back-lit display. Sadly it shares the Thermapen's hinged design, which I find to be an annoying less-sanitary two-handed mechanism to turn the unit on and off (despite being splash-resistant a hinge is also a liability where sticky wort is involved - which killed my Thermapen). In comparing the Javelin Pro side-by-side to my five-year-old $19 Thermoworks Super-Fast Pocket the response time is slightly faster going from room to mash temperature, although the saved second is more valuable for finding the coolest spot in the center of a roast. Luckily the readings of the two were within a couple tenths of a degree; accuracy is by far the more important factor when it comes to brewing! If you have lusted after a Thermapen, the Javelin Pro is a nice budget pick, but I wouldn't suggest either if you are buying it specifically for brewing. (Post-script: the Javelin Pro's hinge snapped after about a year of use).

The wort (pale, hoppy, and fermentable) seemed perfect for a funky saison as well, so I pitched Wyeast 3031-PC Saison-Brett Blend into the other half. I even did the same dry hopping. Should make for an interesting tasting later this week!

Saphir German Pil/Belgian Saison

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 6.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.38
OG: 1.052
SRM: 2.9
IBU: 34.3
Brewhouse Efficiency: 82 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

98.8% - 10.25 lbs. Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsener
1.2% - 0.13 lbs. Weyermann Acidulated Malt

0.93 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Saphir (Pellet, 2.60% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Saphir (Pellet, 2.60% AA) @ Dry Hop

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min.

White Labs WLP800 Pilsner Lager
Wyeast 3031-PC Saison-Brett Blend

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, Hoppy

Mash Schedule
Sacch 1 - 20 min @ 146 F
Sacch 2 - 30 min @ 156 F (Direct)

11/14/15 1.25 L stir-plate starter of two-month-old Wyeast 3031-PC Saison-Brett Blend.

Brewed 11/15/15 - Brewed 12.5 gallons, but all ingredients/process details scaled so it can be brewed as is for 6.25 gallons of Pilsner or Saison wort at the end of the boil.

Mash: 2 gallons distilled, 2 gallons spring, 3 gallons filtered tap. 7 g CaCl. Weyermann Floor-malted Bohemian Pilsner. Measured pH at 5.27 five minutes into the mash. 2 gallon cold/distilled untreated sparge water. Collected 7.5 gallons of 1.045 runnings. pH=5.45 five minutes into the boil.

Allowed the flame-out hops to whirlpool for 10 minutes and settle for 20 minutes before chilling.

Saison: Chilled to 72F, settled for 10 minutes post-chill, ran off 5.5 gallons. 30 seconds pure O2, pitched the entire starter, and left at 71F ambient to ferment.

11/19/15 Dry hopped with 2 oz of Saphir, fermentation was beginning to wane

11/26/15 Keg conditioned with 3 oz of table sugar.

12/20/15 Moved to kegerator. FG 1.002 (96% AA, 6.6% ABV)

1/28/16 Tasting notes, nicely balanced between the yeast, Brett, and hops. Not a wow beer, but solid.

Pilsner: Switched to recirculating with 10 lbs of ice, chilling to 48F. Settled for 10 minutes, and ran off 5.5 gallons. 60 seconds pure O2, pitched a little over 1/2 cup of thick slurry from the Tmave Pivo (WLP800) which had been settling at 32F until the morning, then allowed to warm closer to pitching temperature. Fermented at 52 F ambient to start.

11/19/15 Only down to 1.036 (31% AA). Nice krausen, surprised it is so high. Upped temperature to 53F to make sure it doesn't stall.

11/21/15 1.026 - 50% AA, added dry hops (2 oz of Saphir) pellets and upped fridge to 59F.

11/22/15 24 hours later, up to 64F ambient.

11/29/15 Kegged into flushed Corny, moved to 50F to begin crashing. Gravity 1.012 (77% AA, 5.3% ABV). Held at 32F after dropping 10F every 12 hours.

1/12/16 Hooked up to gas.

Managed to plug the poppet immediately on the first pull. No issues after that.

1/28/16 Tasting notes, wonderfully hoppy, crisp, clean, lager!


Unknown said...

When you say IPA profile, I interpret that as having a high sulfate level, but you also mention focusing on chloride. Do you know what PPM your chloride levels were? What impact do you feel that had on the beer?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I generally don't publish the profile because I don't want to encourage people to add carbonate if their water is lower than mine! Chloride accentuates the fullness on the palate and "maltiness" rather than the drier/bitterness of sulfate.

This was the approximate profile (averaged over mash and sparge, not knowing what the spring water added):

Ca 75
SO4 22
Cl 120
Carbonate 52
Mg 4
Na 14

Enda said...

When you say carbonate do you mean HCO3? Also what do you feel is the upper threshold for pale lagers? Thanks again, huge fan.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Yes, although looking at the newest water report it was likely closer to 40 PPM.

The more carbonate you have the more effort it'll take to bring the pH down to the ideal range for mash, boil, fermentation, and finished beer. There is no distinct upper limit, but for pale beers the less carbonate the better. Try a few profiles out and see what works for you!

Trevor said...

Just made my first pilsner on Monday, fun winter project.

Also just had the new Shiner 107 Birthday Pilsner, pretty good and worth a try.

Unknown said...

Do you tend to ferment all your sours at ambient or do you ever use a temperature controlled fridge? If so, is the fridge you ferment mixed culture and sour batches in separate from the fridge you ferment clean beer in? Thanks for the inspiring posts.

Unknown said...

You say the Brett Saison is Bone-Dry, just curious about the FG's of both beers. The Pils sounds delightful btw, I'll have to give it a try.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

My beer room is held to ~66F in the summer, so it's rare that I need to primary them in the fermentation fridge. I don't worry too much about proximity for clean and sour beers. These microbes don't tend to be airborne unless they are aerosolized (and airlocks are designed to stop that anyway). Shared equipment is the much bigger concern!

Just posted updated FG numbers: 1.012 for the Pils, 1.002 for the saison.

CRUSADER1612 said...

do you allow and IBu's for the 0min addition?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

ProMash assumes them as 0. I recently started using BeerSmith, and don't trust how many IBUs it is suggesting my 0 min hops provide. I assume the truth is somewhere between.

Unknown said...

Hey Mike, thanks for the great content, what’s your process for adding the table sugar to the keg for conditioning? Is that just to do a final clean up of sugars? I’d like to brew something very similar to your split batch, would scaling back up to 10 gallons adjust the malt/hop amounts?


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I prime so that the beer is carbonated when I put it on tap, no shaking or waiting once it is chilled!

It also gives a chance for the Brett to work under pressure, which I find helps to bring out its funky character sooner.

Yep, this was a 12 gallon batch just scaled to be brewed either one. Adjust the malts and hops for your volume and system efficiency/losses etc.

Best of luck!