Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Midwest Pils - Brewday and Tasting Notes

For the second round of testing the accelerated lager fermentation trials, I brewed a Pilsner with traditional German ingredients and some local, organic sweet corn. The beer's name is a nod to my opinion of the Reinheitsgebot

Since its flavor contribution is very subtle (at best), I roasted the sweet corn on my gas grill to add a unique layer of flavor. After roasting to a golden color, I boiled the kernels in water for gelatinization. 

I followed the same procedure as the first go-around, recording daily gravity readings and adjusting the temperature per the schedule.

Much like the previous trial, the beer fermented cleanly and completely in approximately 10-12 days (I did not take a gravity readings between 1.020 and when I kegged the beer). Samples were cloudy and a bit harsh for the first week or two, which I attribute to yeast in suspension. I did not fine on the cold side, but the harshness declined as the beer dropped clear.

Although the beer was crisp and nearly flawless from a fermentation standpoint, I found it lacking in flavor. My wife enjoyed its simplicity, comparing the drinkability to that of Industrial Lager. I wanted something worth a return visit to the tap, so I added an ounce of Nelson Sauvin hops in the keg.

Mittelfinger Midwest Pils

Brewday: 08/11/13
Batch Size: 5.5 gal
Estimated Mash Efficiency: 56.7%
Est OG = 1.048

12 lbs Weyermann Pilsner (88.2%)
1.1 lbs Roasted Organic Sweet Corn (8.1% - approximated in BeerSmith with Flaked Corn)
8 oz CaraPils (3.7%)

1.00 oz Perle (approximated at 8.5% - store gives 9.4%) – 60 min
0.75 oz Hallertauer – 20 min
0.50 oz Hallertauer – 0 min

Wyeast 2206 – Bavarian Lager. Slurry from Munich Helles (08/04)

Kroger RO + Gypsum (~7g, per BCS, added in kettle)

Corn Prep:
Dehusked corn and roasted on grill (on tin foil) until golden and fragrant. Started on direct heat, then moved to indirect due to charring. Some charred kernels were used (not too many).
Cut kernals off cobs and boiled with 1L of water for 5 minutes. Ground using immersion blender (medium grind, much like a thin creamed corn).

14:50 - Mashed in with 4 gallons at 160F – T = 148F
14:55 - Added corn at 152F
15:10 – pH 5.5-5.8, added ¼ tsp lactic acid (88%) – pH 5.3-5.5 (strips)
15:30 – T = 144F – added ~ 2qts boiling water – T = 148F;
Added ½ of ¼ tsp lactic acid – pH = 5-5.3

Sparged with 3.3 gallons at 165F
Collected 6.7 gal at 1.044

17:30 – started the boil
18:00 – Added 1 oz (28.4 g) Perle at 9.4% (estimated 8.5%) & 7 g Gypsum
18:40 – Added 0.75 oz (21.7 g) of Hallertau, Wyeast Yeast Nutrient, and Whirlfloc tablet
18:40 – SG = 1.056 (~15% evaporation)
19:00 – KO. Added ~ 1 gallon water to bring gravity to 1.050.

Cooled into carboy at 90F. Stored in kegorator at 50F.

Racked out of carboy into bucket (lots of cold break left in carboy). Oxygenated for 1 minute, then added ~300mL of slurry from Munich Helles (11 PM).
Fermentation activity by next morning.

OG = 1.043 (7:30 pm)

OG = 1.032 (evening)

Morning – set temp to 58F

OG = 1.020 (10 am) – set temp to 60F
59F by 13:00

08/18/13 – set temp to 65F

08/26/13 – Kegged. FG = 1.006 (5.8% ABV). Expected FG = 1.009.

09/14/13 - Tasting Notes:

Not much in the aroma – perhaps a touch of bread, and I might be picking up a hint of green apple.
The flavor is also light. A touch of saltine, a hint of sweetness, finishes crisp with a wisp of bitterness. The roasted sweet corn adds the smallest hint of caramel, but I don’t think I would pick it up blindly. There is a slight touch of alcohol in the finish (or possibly CO2 bite).

This beer doesn’t really fit into a BJCP category – too bitter to resemble any of the American lagers, too light in malt flavor to resemble a German or American Pils. I believe it is closer to a German Pils, but the higher ABV and low level of malt/hop character is detracting. It’s a nice beer, but not extremely flavorful, and (in my opinion) not worth the ABV tradeoff.

I would like to see more of a hop component in the flavor, and I may dry hop a portion of this batch for fun.

Angela really enjoys its light-flavored nature, but I don’t think the corn makes an overall better beer. Replacing some or all of the corn with Pils malt and keeping the SG in check will help this beer hit the mark. If American Light Lager is the target, this beer would be right on with a significant reduction in bittering.

The beer is very clean despite the accelerated fermentation schedule. I want others to confirm, but I could not discern (with any certainty) fruity esters or fermentation flaws in the flavor or aroma.

Added 1 oz Nelson Sauvin hops to keg (in muslin bag)

The Nelson hops add flavor complexity and a bit of resinous mouthfeel to the beer: grapefruit, fresh cut grass, and a bit of chardonnay grape. A very nice addition!

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