Classic American Pilsner

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Classic American Pilsner

Postby Aleman » Tue Apr 08, 2014 00:08

I have banged on about this style a good bit :D and a couple of brewers on here have had the opportunity to taste my take on it. Unfortunately due to the variety of homes the UK Homebrew has had in the past we have lost some (most) of the archives, so I have had a couple of requests for recipes and a guide for Cereal Mashing, and as its a beer that I will be doing in the near future (I was hoping for today but an URTI and She have put paid to that :( ), I thought why not.

Firstly most of what I have to say is take from Jeff Renners work on recreating the style (Particularly WRT Pre Pro CAPS) and there are a couple of articles on the HBD Archive that may be of Interest HBD 1687 and HBD 3361 are probably the best. Jeff clearly quote Fix and Jankowski as being the originators of this 'extinct' beer.

First off is the cereal mash, this technique was used to dilute the high nitrogen content of the US 6 Row malt, and you can use up to 20-30% Corn or Rice grits in a mash with few problems. However if you try and mix a 30%Corn grit/70% Malt grist with water you end up with a thick gloopy mess. Another thing that has to be borne in mind is that corn starch gelatinises at higher temperatures (72-75C IIRC) than barley starch (62C IIRC) and so if the starch in the corn is to be available to the mashing enzymes then the mash must take place at greater than 72C . . . Not going to work is it? The answer to the problem came in the form of the cereal mash.

The Cereal Mash
Take the cereal grits (Cornmeal/polenta - I use Natco Fine Cornmeal purchased from Tesco Asian Foods aisle), and add to it 20% by weight barley malt, then dough it in with water at 65C I use 3L/Kg. It will go gloopy and sticky and be almost impossible to stir. Put the lid on and rest it for 15 minutes at 65C, at the end of this rest a miracle will have occurred, the mash is now runny :!: Apply heat to the kettle, and stir until it all comes up to boiling, then boil for 20-30 minutes, you may or may not need to stir, and certainly should keep it topped up with boiling water additions so that it does not stick and burn. While you are resting the cereal mash, get the main mash doughed in, to hit a mash temp of 64C (You ideally want a well attenuated beer).

Once the boil has been completed then carefully pour the cereal mash into the main mash and stir to mix in, hopefully the mash should hit 68C and that is where the mash should sit for the remainder of the 90 minute main mash.

So for 25 Litres of CAP at 1.058 and 35IBU

4600g Pilsner Malt
1450g Polenta

Cereal mash for 90 minutes as described above

then lauter and sparge to collect sufficient runnings to yield 25L in the FV and boil for a total of 90 minutes with

20g Saaz (3.5% aa FWH)
45g Cluster (6% aa 60 Minutes)
15g Saaz (3.5% aa 15 Minutes)

Cool and rack off the hops, Aerate well and pitch with a Large Yeast Starter (Jeff likes Whitelabs 838 South German Bock which is the Ayinger strain). Generally treat it like a lager, so 14 days in primary at 10C, then chill to just above freezing for as long as you can bear it, Jeff reckons 6-7 weeks, which isn't bad. Serve chilled with moderate carbonation, it is a really good crisp beer.


I like a bit of Munich in the grist, up to 20% of the Pilsner, and if I wasn't doing a cereal mash then you are looking at adding around 5% Melanoidin malt AS WELL as the Munich. Replace the Corn Grits with flaked maize.

I tend to bitter with Pacific Gem and Use NZ Saaz B as my flavour/noble hop, and add an aroma addition when cooling the wort.

The correct yeast that Jeff loves using in this style because it is so clean is WLP833 German Bock Yeast which is the Ayinger strain (allegedly :D). This was originally released as a platinum series, but within a couple of months was released to general availability such was the demand. It is an incredibly clean well behaved yeast, that both attenuates well and yet allows the malt profile to promote itself. I'm not sure that I would use it in a German or Bohemian pilsner, but it is perfect for a CAP.

Starch Gelatinisation
Starch is a long chain molecule of single sugar units (In our case maltose, but they can be glucose and or fructose) in the order of 250000 units long. Now due to attraction and repulsion between the different atoms within the molecule these chains twist and turn, and the whole chain simply ends up coiled into a tight ball. When you add them to water (eg our rest at 606C), they absorb a bit of water and swell, but the mash enzymes are restricted to working on the bits of the molecule that are stuck outside of the ball on 1-4 or 16 branches. As you heat the mash you reach a point where the ball suddenly 'bursts' and the chain unfolds (The gelatinisation point) Interactions then form between adjacent chains which stops them coiling back up if it cools (eg If you were making Flacked maize/rice). This releases a lot more points for the enzymes to attack, unfortunately because all the grains don't do it at once and to ensure that you have made all the starch available you heat to boiling and boil for a time. Then you add the cereal mash back to the main mash where the majority of the amylase enzymes are.

The 65C rest allows the amylase enzymes from the small amount of malt to loosen up the cereal mash. When you first mix it, it is really thick and gloopy, and thickens (as the starch balls swell), then the enzymes work their magic and it all loosens up and becomes really runny, thats when you can boil it.

I do my mashes at 63-64C and then raise to 68-70C, why? Well quite simply that the volume of mash that I add to my main mash only raises the temperature by that amount. If I had a bigger cereal mash then I might get more of a temperature increase. Steve is quite right in that the traditional mash rest temps are 60 and 68C. Jeff now does his cereal mash in a 22qt pressure cooker, and once raised to boiling, he adds an additional amount of boiling liquor and pressure cooks the cereal mash for 10-15 minutes. This encourages melanoidin production, but also gives him more of a temperature rise. . . . . Not having had access to a large pressure cooker here in the UK I've not been able to try this to verify it.

Of course different tun setups respond in different ways, this works well in my mash tun but I can't say that you will get a bigger or smaller increase in your brewery.

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