Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

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spook100
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Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by spook100 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:46 am

I know I'm going to get shot down in flames by the style guardians for even suggesting this, but please hear me out first.

I have been trying to mail down a real good Bohemian Pilsner for a couple of years now but just don't seem able to get it right. I am fortunate in that I travel to the Czech Republic several time each year so have got to know the style pretty well. Whenever I go I bring back a few samples and taste them alongside my efforts. The real Czech lagers have a more pronounced cereal malt character and are slightly sweeter, the body is quite a lot fuller and the hop bitterness is rounder and softer. While the lightness of the colour is similar, the hue is slightly different - mine is sort of straw yellow while theirs has a touch of amber to it. My recipe is fairly straight forward: 95% floor malted pilsner malt; 5% munich malt; all saaz hops. I have tried various water adjustments to lower the mineral contents of my water and get the chloride/sulphate ratios right but still find these differences.

All in all I think mine, although a good beer, is more like a German Pils than a Bohemian Pilsner. I use an infusion mash and I believe that most German breweries have moved to infusion mashing for their lagers too. Dedoction mashing is still pretty ubiquitous in Czech. I read an interview with the head brewer of one of the major Czech breweries (Pilsner Urquell or Budvar, I think) and he said that they had experimented with infusion mashing but had found that the beer had come out thinner with a sharper hop bitterness; much like mine. So, I have come to the conclusion that the reason that mine don't really taste like the real deal is decoction mashing.

I could go down the decoction route but I struggle to find time to do all the brewing that I want to do as it is, and certainly don't have the time to do double or triple decoctions. So I'm looking for a 'cheat' that will get me *similar* results without extending my brew day. My thinking is that the heat of decoction mashing produces melanoidins which give their beers the richer, malty, slightly sweet flavour; improved body and richer colour. I'm guessing it could be responsible for rounding out the hop bitterness too. Crystal malts are rich in melamoidins, so if I added a touch of crystal malt to my recipe could I not achieve a similar result?
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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by orlando » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:34 am

Try it and tell us.
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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by PhilB » Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:48 am

Hi spook
spook100 wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:46 am
So I'm looking for a 'cheat' that will get me *similar* results without extending my brew day.
... I believe the more traditional "cheat" for getting those effects is to use a small proportion of Weyermann's Melanoidin Malt, which is kilned specifically to have more melanoidins, without the caramelised carbohydrates that crystal would provide :? ... as they say over there (link), but of course other retailers are available (online or otherwise) ... "Melanoidin malt is a great way to add the depth and complexity that comes from melanoidin compounds without resorting to traditional, time consuming and difficult methods such as decoction mashing or extended boil times." ... I don't know whether it would give you the effects you're looking for in your Bo-Pils, particularly, but it's certainly helped me make my wheat beers more "bready" :?

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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by Silver_Is_Money » Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:48 pm

I think that for infusion mash to come closer to the Bohemian Pilsner flavor about 7% of your grist by weight should be 20L (52 EBC) crystal or caramel malt, so I'm in full agreement here.

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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by steviebobs83 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:48 pm

Not sure if this is useful to you or not but I just recently made this one:

https://www.speidels-braumeister.de/en/ ... lager.html

It uses quite a lot of carahell and it's turned out far too sweet for my liking. I now have 20l of the stuff to work my way through. I think if you dialled it back by half, it would work quite nicely.

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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by Hanglow » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:26 pm

Yeah that's loads of carahell. I've used a bit of it in pale ales and saisons to add a touch of malty sweetness, up to 8% I think. Also why are they using cascade and hallertauer hops in a bo-pils? Bags of saaz only please :D
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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by steviebobs83 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:31 pm

Hanglow wrote:Yeah that's loads of carahell. I've used a bit of it in pale ales and saisons to add a touch of malty sweetness, up to 8% I think.
I used about 8% of Melanoidin malt in my last saison and it was splendid. I like a touch of sweetness but this pilsner went a bit too far. I should've seen it coming really Image

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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by spook100 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:29 pm

Thanks for all the useful suggestions. I'm going to try the melanoidin malt because it seems to be designed to dowhat I'm looking for. For those that have used it before, would around 150g in a 5 gallon batch be perceptible?.
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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by steviebobs83 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:14 pm

Assuming you're aiming for 5%ABV, I make that roughly 3% of the grain bill. I reckon that's ample.

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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by An Ankoù » Sun Mar 03, 2019 4:27 pm

[quote=spook100 post_id=841697 time=1551404805 user_id=5492]
I know I'm going to get shot down in flames by the style guardians for even suggesting this, but please hear me out first.

I have been trying to mail down a real good Bohemian Pilsner for a couple of years now but just don't seem able to get it right. I am fortunate in that I travel to the Czech Republic several time each year so have got to know the style pretty well. Whenever I go I bring back a few samples and taste them alongside my efforts. The real Czech lagers have a more pronounced cereal malt character and are slightly sweeter, the body is quite a lot fuller and the hop bitterness is rounder and softer. While the lightness of the colour is similar, the hue is slightly different - mine is sort of straw yellow while theirs has a touch of amber to it. My recipe is fairly straight forward: 95% floor malted pilsner malt; 5% munich malt; all saaz hops. I have tried various water adjustments to lower the mineral contents of my water and get the chloride/sulphate ratios right but still find these differences.

All in all I think mine, although a good beer, is more like a German Pils than a Bohemian Pilsner. I use an infusion mash and I believe that most German breweries have moved to infusion mashing for their lagers too. Dedoction mashing is still pretty ubiquitous in Czech. I read an interview with the head brewer of one of the major Czech breweries (Pilsner Urquell or Budvar, I think) and he said that they had experimented with infusion mashing but had found that the beer had come out thinner with a sharper hop bitterness; much like mine. So, I have come to the conclusion that the reason that mine don't really taste like the real deal is decoction mashing.

I could go down the decoction route but I struggle to find time to do all the brewing that I want to do as it is, and certainly don't have the time to do double or triple decoctions. So I'm looking for a 'cheat' that will get me *similar* results without extending my brew day. My thinking is that the heat of decoction mashing produces melanoidins which give their beers the richer, malty, slightly sweet flavour; improved body and richer colour. I'm guessing it could be responsible for rounding out the hop bitterness too. Crystal malts are rich in melamoidins, so if I added a touch of crystal malt to my recipe could I not achieve a similar result?
[/quote]e
I love Czech pilsner, it's quite different from all other lagers for the reasons you mention above. My favourite is Urquell. I've made 2 batches this winter, the first with Bohemian pilsner malt and some Vienna, and this was clearly too light. In my second attempt I've used some Munich instead of Vienna. While I haven't tried the second one yet, I'm coming round to the idea that ithe decoction mash accounts for the colour and a lot of the roundness of flavour and that's the way I'm going to go next winter. It's too warm for lager brewing now.

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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by MTW » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:12 pm

I have a friend who makes a pilsner with 2% caramalt, 4% carapils and 10% Munich. I find that really tasty, with a nice malt backbone. Plenty of saaz on top.
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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by Silver_Is_Money » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:33 pm

My best guess is that the color of Pilsner Urquell is roughly 10.8 EBC (or 5.5 SRM), and it may even be a tad higher than this.

My experience has also been that a single infusion mash makes for a thin and dull tasting Pilsner (albeit with harsh bitterness) vs. the complexity and mild bitterness of Pilsner Urquell. For my next single infusion attempt I'm considering adding flaked oats and CaraRed for some mouthfeel and some hint of golden red color, and some wheat malt or flaked wheat for a bit of breadiness. Achieving what they do from the decoction of a grist consisting of straight Pilsner malt via. the application of single infusion mashing of a similar straight Pilsner malt is simply not possible (in my opinion). I've tried Melanoidin, and it just has not gotten me anywhere close to Pilsner Urquell.

Their water is very soft. 20 Liters of distilled water with only 1 gram of calcium chloride added to it (and no other minerals) should get you close. This is likely a big part of it also. It certainly is why they can get such a smooth bitterness from what technically measures at a whopping 40 IBU.
Last edited by Silver_Is_Money on Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by Silver_Is_Money » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:46 pm

If you insist upon single infusion mashing a SMaSH (single malt and single hop) Bohemian Pilsner, going with a roughly 9 EBC (4L) Vienna Malt and Saaz hops and adding only 1 gram of CaCl2 to every 20 L. of distilled water, and mashing at 68-69 degrees C. might be your best bet. This should bring you to essentially the right final beer color range (although lacking the red hue), keep the bitterness on the mild side, raise the FG a bit, and bring a bit more bready complexity into a single infusion mash. I'm going to have to try this sometime.

And since the choice of yeast makes the beer, it is a necessity that you use a real Bohemian Lager liquid yeast.

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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by spook100 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 6:15 pm

This is the recipe I'm going to go for. The only change to my previous recipe is to substitute 150g of Munich malt for Melanoidin malt. I'll brew it next weekend and let you know how it turns out.

Ingredients
17.00 L Home tap water
17.00 L Tesco Asbeck bottled water
5.00 kg Pilsner, Bohemian Floor Malted (Weyermann) (4.0 EBC) Grain 3 90.9 %
0.35 kg Munich II (Weyermann) (16.7 EBC) Grain 4 6.4 %
0.15 kg Melanoidin (Weyermann) (70.0 EBC) Grain 5 2.7 %
65.00 g Saaz [3.00 %] - First Wort 90.0 min Hop 6 24.7 IBUs
40.00 g Saaz [3.00 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 7 9.9 IBUs
0.75 g Protofloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 8
25.00 g Saaz [3.00 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 9 2.9 IBUs
2.0 pkg Saflager Lager (DCL/Fermentis #W-34/70) [50.28 ml] Yeast 10

Gravity, Alcohol Content and Color
Est Original Gravity: 1.051 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.0 %
Bitterness: 37.6 IBUs
Est Color: 10.3 EBC

Mash Steps
Saccharification - 68.0 C for 60 min
Mash Out 75.0 C 10 min
Sparge: Fly sparge with 16.01 L water at 75.0 C

The 50% tap water, 50 % ashbeck bottled water mix should give me a mineral profile of:
Calcium 29ppm
Sulfate 21ppm
Sodium 9ppm
Chloride 14ppm
Magnesium 4ppm
Bicarbonate 75ppm
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Re: Crystal malt in a Bohemian Pilsner

Post by spook100 » Tue Mar 05, 2019 8:34 pm

I was rushing and screwed up the water profile in the previous post. Correction as follows...

Mash water(18l) is 50% tap water, 50% Tesco Ashbeck; to which I add 1g Calcium Chloride and 0.6g Gypsum to give me the following water profile for the mash:
Ca 52
Mg 4
Na 9
SO4 40
Cl 41
HCO3 75
This gives the recommended 50ppm calcium for yeast health and a 1:1 Chloride:Sulfate balance

I sparge with 100% Ashbeck (16l) water to give me a final water profile of:
Ca 32
Mg 3
Na 9
SO4 26
Cl 27
HCO3 51
A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it's better to be thoroughly sure.

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