10 Day Pilsner (Mermaid Pilsner Clone)

For a pilsner brewed in 10 days – from grain to keg – this is a crushable little beer. It’s not the best beer I’ve made – after all, it’s a pilsner for God sakes – but it’s just fine to drink and I sort of like it. I wouldn’t dare enter this into competition, and it has flaws. If you look at the recipe, it’s more like a pale ale really; it’s hoppy and lemony, soft and creamy. My brewer friend said it had a slight DMS thing going on, which I don’t detect. I believe him. Probably the short, 30 minute boil, is to blame for that. My family liked it. My wife doesn’t. I do believe that controlling the mash pH would help this beer significantly, something I didn’t do; giving it a crispness and acidity that I like in beers. Also I would mash less (15 minutes), to allow for a slightly longer boil (40 minutes). Time is money baby.

The process was the same as always: 30 minute mash (15 maybe?), 30 minute boil, no yeast starter. Normally “lagers” are fermented at 50 for several weeks. This beer was fermented for 7 days at 66. It has a California Common character, I’ve been told, which makes sense.

Based on the recipe alone, I wouldn’t brew this beer again. Too hoppy. Before dry hopping, I actually really like the beer; it tasted like a good lager. Interestingly, the first 10 pints were hazy and cloudy. After 4 more days, it cleared up real nice:

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I got the recipe from a book (can’t remember what one).

Mermaid Pilsner Clone
brewed: ?
8.3 2-Row
1 lb Vienna
.4 lb Carapils
.6 lb Rye malt
.5 lb white wheat malt
.2 lb flaked wheat
.1 lb Carm/Crystal 10
——————————
1 oz Crystal FW (30 minute boil)
.3 oz Tettnag FW
.5 oz Amarillo FW
.5 oz Crystal FO
.5 oz Amarillo FO
.5 Crystal DH (3 days)
.5 Amarillo (3 days)
———————————
W-34/70 (dry lager yeast, sprinkled on top)

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Beer 29: My First Good Lager (oh wait…Diacetyl)

Not only did I copy the recipe from brulosophy.com, but the process too. This is a nice, clean, bready German lager. It’s almost black, with a brownish hue, but color can be deceiving. This is not a big, chewy, roasty beer. It’s a sluggable, low-alcohol beer with a hint of chocolate flavor and a nice malty aroma.

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Oh crap!

A week after I wrote the above paragraph I began noticing a slight “buttered popcorn” aroma. Still drinkable, but Diacetyl was obviously present. I brought it to my local homebrewers meeting for feedback: yes, diacetyl indeed. Common causes can be a weak pitch of yeast (not enough) or not letting the beer “clean up” (sit on the yeast long enough). I cut corners on both, but my money is on the latter – I clearly rushed this beer through the process, even faster than the accelerated ‘brulosophy’ method. In other words, I should have gave it a couple more days to ferment at 58F, and a few more days to rest at 72F (to clean up). That’s what I’ll try next time.

And the stakes couldn’t be higher. This beer was actually judged by the owner of Territorial Brewing in Battle Creek, Michigan. On camera! With me right there! This is part of a new homebrewing web series I’ve been helping out on with a buddy of mine. So picture me, sitting across from an experienced professional brewer, swirling around my diacetyl black beer, waiting for him to hate it. Assuming he was telling the truth, he actually enjoyed the beer, but he also noticed the diacetyl. I lost the competition to a delicious Kolsh IPA.

Diacetyl, turns out, can slowly express itself and become stronger. This explains why it took about a week before I noticed it.

Hunting Camp Lager

In 10 days, I will find myself with a bunch of guys, at deer camp, drinking beer and shooting deer. This is what I’m bringing. It’s my first lager. Clean, crisp, refreshing. It tastes like….a lager. It’s not my favorite beer, but it’s pretty good. The only thing my dad and uncle will possibly drink.

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The recipe comes from the Brulosopher’s Munich Helles:

Munich Helles Lager
8.3 lb. Pilsner (BE)
1. 3. lb. Munich (BE)
2 oz Melaniodin
1oz German Hersbrucker FW
WLP029 German/Kolsh yeast

I’m surprised this beer turned out fine, no infection or off-flavors. After cooling it to about 90 degrees in the bath tub, I put the beer in a fermentation chamber, which, at the time, was set at 70 degrees.

Mistake.

It took over 24 hours to get to the pitching temperature of 58 degrees — and that’s after adding 1 gallon of ice cold water and a bunch of ice from freezer. Anyway, I pitched at 58 degrees for 5 days, then 65 for a couple days, then 75 for a couple days, then cold crashed, fined with gelatin, and bottled 16 days after brewing.

Then I waited. And waited. And…what the fuck?

It took over a month for this bitch to carbonate. This is why people use forced air kegging systems. The waiting is simply too much. Oh well. At least there is some left for hunting camp, which I why I made it to begin with.