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Black Pilsner

Posted by Ron Goodhew, August 26th, 2012 | 4 Comments

Our Black Pilsner is a dark lager that balances roasted yet smooth malt flavours with moderate hop bitterness.  Light to moderate malt flavour, which can have a clean, neutral character to a rich, sweet, Munich-like intensity. Light to moderate roasted malt flavours can give a bitter-chocolate palate that lasts into the finish, but which are never burnt. Medium-low to medium bitterness, which can last into the finish. Light to moderate noble hop flavour. Clean lager character with no fruity esters or diacetyl. Aftertaste tends to dry out slowly and linger, featuring hop bitterness with a complementary but subtle roastiness in the background.  Ingredients from our add on pack include 500 60° L Caramel Malt, Chocolate Malt and Hallertau hops.  I will be using Wyeast Bavarian Lager - when considering this yeast be aware that the lagering requires a temperature range of 9-13 C.

I have added the grains to the hop sock, tied a knot on the top, leaving the Hallertau hops for later.  I have activated the liquid yeast which will be added to my primary in 3 hours.




The water in the stainless steel pot has come to a simer (just before the boil) so I have added the hop sock. 




The hop sock was not entirely covered in water so I added some more.  I have turned the hop sock over and occasionally stir and use my spoon to try and get juice out of the hop sock.  You can see how quickly the water is turning dark brown.




While the pot simmers I prepare for the next step.  At 20 minutes I will remove the hop sack from the pot, putting it into this strainer.  I have put another pot on the stove bringing the water to a boil.  It will then be poured onto the hop sock getting all the dark joice out.




I have placed the hop sack in the strainer and will then pour hot water into the hop sack, will remove the juice and then do the same thing a second time.




I have poured the juice obtained from the strainer into the pot, I then simmer the liquid for another 20 minutes.  I then took the pot off the heat and added the Hallertau hops and then allowed to cool for a few minutes. 

To release extra enzymes from the grains shock cool the liquid by putting ice into the primary. Be careful with the hot mixture, pour it into the primary.



I have moved to my wine room.  When you open the Barons kits there is a package of bentonite, Saas Hops and dry yeast along with the dextrose that we provide for bottling.  Since I will be using liquid yeast I discard the dry yeast.  Pictured here is the sanitized primary and whip along with a bottle of reverse osmosis water.  With the majority of beer being water we recommend our water which is available in all of our stores.



I have added the malt to the primary along with the juice and added the bentonite.  The initial Specific Gravity was 1.050.  After using the whip on my drill for 3 different 5 minute intervals the SG raised to 1.055.  The instructions read that it should be 1.046 - 1.052.  I always take the extra time to stir the malt and obtain a higher SG.  I now add the Saaz Hops that came with the kit by sprinkling them on the surface.  The temperature of the malt is 23 C.  The liquid yeast is starting to bulge.  I am going to place the primary on the concrete floor so that the temperature will drop.  Remaing is the dextrose to be used at bottling as well as the discarded dry yeast.  Lid is on with the airlock half full of water.


The temperature of the malt has dropped to 21 C, the yeast has expanded in the package so I am ready.  I cut the corner of the yeast package and poured the yeast onto the surface. 




Day 1 - the SG has started to drop today, it is at 1.045 with a temperature of 68F/20C.  Now that the yeast has started fermentation I have moved the primary to my coldest location in a back storage area.  The liquid yeast is very robust, I am going to lager this beer so want to ferment cold.  Yeast ferments the natural sugar in the wort producing both alcohol and CO2, that is why foam is now visible on the surface.  Just by the way our Barons kits are 100% malt with nothing added.  Beer can kits often only contain 1/3 malt with 2/3 dextrose.  They also call for additional dextrose to be added in the primary.  This type of beer kit is not a good advertisement for home brew because you can't get away from the cider taste produced from fermenting so much sugar.


Day 5 - the SG is 1.020 the temperature is 16C.  I once fermented a Pilsner liquid yeast at 23C (it should have been 9-13C), the result was undrinkable.  When you use liquid yeast make sure that you keep within the correct temperature range.  If you don't have a cold spot then stick with the dry yeast.  The directions say after 3-5 days when the SG is 1.020 or less to rack the beer into a glass carboy.  It could be racked today but I always take extra time at each step.



Day 6 - the SG remains at 1.020 the temperature is 16C. 




Day 7 - the SG has dropped a little now at 1.018 the temperature is 16C.  I have sanitized everything that will come into contact with the beer.  Transferred the beer into one of my Italian carboys.  Here is a picture of the new carboy.  I am going to leave the carboy on the concrete floor to see if I can get the temperature down some more.  The instructions say that the next step will take 14 days, this has never been enough time for the fermentation process to finish.  As the yeast ferments the natural sugars it produces both alcohol and CO2.  I watch the surface,  when there is absolutely no activity then I check the SG which will be 1.009 - 1.016.  I will be looking for a low number.

Day 8 - looking at the rim you can see good CO2 bubbles - everything is a go.




Day 41 - the carboy has sat on the concrete in a cool room so the temperature has remained at 16C.  The SG is 1.010, the surface activity has stopped about 10 days ago.  Rule is never be in a hurry, never go by the number of days in the instructions, always go by the SG .  The beer could remain in the carboy for a few more weeks, protected by the yeast bed.  You will notice yeast dust on the rims of the carboy, also an inch yeast bed.  To allow the beer to totally clear I am moving the carboy into my main wine room, will rack it off the sediment and allow it relax for a few days.  Picture on the right shows the racked beer leaving the yeast bed and side dust behind.  The white wines are a Vintners Reserve German Mueller Thurgau on the left and a Limited Edition German Traminer Spatlese on the right.

Day 42 - Way to determine the final alcohol level - take your starting specific gravity, subtract your finished specific gravity and divide by 7.36. For example: Initial S.G. was 1.055; Final S.G. 1.010; drop in gravity .045.  Next, the figure obtained in this way is divided by 7.36. The result obtained is the % of alcohol by volume in the wine, i.e. 45 / 7.36 = 6.1% alcohol.

Day 43 - My wine room is a constant 20C.  Just to confirm I have a stick - on thermometer on the outside of my carboy,  Yep exactly at 20C.  Scheduling to bottle tomorrow night.



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Yogesh wrote on Jan 3, 2013 12:06 PM:

Have you always used a secondary fermenter, or have you made a batch just leaving the beer in the primary?  Right now I just have the plastic primary fermenter bucket and the priming/bottling bucket. Should I buy a carboy for a secondary. I'm really hoping to brew my first batch next in the next week or so. Though if I understand homejoy right, if I plan on bottling within 2-3 weeks it should be OK to use just a primary fermenter. Second question, how many gallons of wort do you boil. I've seen it suggested that you should boil 3 or 4 gallons, but I papazian says 1.5gallons of water plus malt syrup. If you have any tips or secrets that you have found while brewing and care to share them I would love it. I'll be sure to save you a bottle and bring it up in the fall.

Ron wrote on Jan 14, 2013 11:16 AM:
We use beer kits which produce 23 litres – there is no boiling required. 90% of fermentation takes place in the primary bucket in the first week. To protect the beer from oxygen we then transfer the beer into a glass carboy leaving the yeast bed behind. In Calgary it takes about 3 weeks at 23C for the fermentation to complete. Cooler temperatures will double the time. Go to our website and follow some of my step by step presentations.
David wrote on Jan 21, 2013 12:47 AM:
Hey Ron my black pilsner is at day 63. While there seems to be no activity, if I pump it with the vacuvin bubbles will come right up the the bung. Still fermenting then I assume? When I bottle it should I continue to lager it at 10 degrees?
Ron wrote on Jan 21, 2013 9:57 AM:
Using a vacuvin on beer will always produce bubbles. You want the CO2 to be locked in the beer. If there is no surface activity at all, and the beer looks clear then rack the beer into another carboy then in 3 to 7 days bottle it.

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