Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Czech Pilsner Tasting

It is commonly thought that clean, lightly hopped, pale beers are the hardest styles to brew.  The thinking is that, in a beer without too much character of its own, any flaws are easily noticeable. After my first attempt at a pale lager I can easily understand where this thinking comes from, and, while I tried to avoid many of the flaws that can occur by pitching a heavy amount of yeast and fermenting at a cool temperature, I still wasn't able to completely nail this one.

A- Pale gold (looks lighter than pictured) with a moderately tall head that fades to a thin layer.  Fairly, though not brilliantly, clear.  Looks like a pilsner, though the clarity and head retention could be better. Gelatin in the keg might fix the clarity and a touch of wheat in the mash might help with the retention, though I don't know that either is necessary.

S- A bohemian Pilsner should have some malt, balanced by some spicy Saaz, and maybe a touch of diacetyl on the nose.  While all three components are here, they are not in the proper balance with the buttery diacetyl showing first and heaviest, the sweet malt also coming through, and the Saaz hops being just perceptible.  Serving at nearly 50F might accentuate the diacetyl, but it's higher than it should be regardless.

T- Grainy, lightly buttery, sweetness is swept aside by a refreshing, spicy, moderate bitterness that lingers for just a moment on the tip of the tongue.  Again, a little bit high in the diacetyl though not as noticeable and better balanced by the hops than in the nose.

M- Moderate carbonation with a moderate to light body.  The diacetyl here seems to be adding to the body, keeping it from being overly thin.  No complaints with the mouthfeel of this one.

O- For my first attempt at this style, and for lagers in general, I'm fairly happy with this beer but can see a few obvious flaws.  Not doing a diacetyl rest until after fermentation had fully completed clearly detracted from the overall character of this beer.  Other than the one (moderate) flaw the beer is well rounded, and really pretty tasty.  This is a beer that I could see both BMC drinkers and beer nerds drink, but not rave about.  If I were to brew it again I would only make slight changes to the recipe (maybe a touch more finishing hops) and a slight tweak to the fermentation process (diacetyl rest before the end of fermentation) but all around I'd say this is a winning recipe, and the water chemistry, grain bill, and yeast definitely worked well.

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