The pils lives!

My first lager attempt, a German pilsner, which wreaked of butter when I bottled it, appears to have taken a turn for the better. After two weeks at room temps, carbonating in bottles, I put them in the beer fridge to being the lagering period. I assume 3-4 weeks lagering at around 40°. I couldn’t help but pull a bottle after just one day and crack it open, though, to see if the bottle carbonation had helped with the diacetyl/butter smell. I got a loud pop when opening the bottle, indicating they had definitely carb’d up. Poured into a Stella Artois glass and the head about reached the top of the glass. I didn’t get any butter from the aroma or the taste. There’s definitely a bit of that pilsner malt flavor coming through, and a good amount of noble hop bitterness.

After having had a few (granted old) bottles of Prima Pils this week, I wouldn’t say the hop flavor is quite the same, nor is the crispness in the finish, but, theses honestly haven’t been properly lagered yet. So I am going to see how they respond with more time in cold storage. If this one bottle is any indication, I shouldn’t be dumping a batch of buttery beer!

The color is as it should be, and I’m hoping the time lagering will improve the beer’s clarity as it has more time for yeast and sediment to drop from solution. I’ve never done a beer this light in color before, and it’s good to see I seem to have pulled it off.

What I learned along the way that I may do differently is… source a higher quality German pilsner malt; find Czech Saaz (don’t settle for US Saaz); plan on a longer diacetyl rest, at a higher (as high as 70) temperature.

Regardless, I really thought the level of butter aroma when I racked to my bottling bucket was indicating a wasted batch. And being told more than once that a German pils might be the hardest brew I’ve attempted, I wasn’t shocked. But I think I’ve at least got myself 2 cases of decent German lager right now.


The pils cleared noticeable after just 5 or 6 days lagering in bottles at 40°:


4 comments on “The pils lives!

  1. A few more days in the 40° beer fridge and the pils poured MUCH clearer than my first tester. I am still picking up a little funk in the aroma initially, but it goes away. I’ve gotten similar aroma from commercial pilsners (like Brooklyn Brewery’s Pislner) so I’m not sure if it’s just something indicative of the style, if it’s an off-flavor thing, or is it’s a little skunk.
    The crispness isn’t quite where I want it to be, nor is the hop bite. As this batch continues to lager in bottles, I will see if any of that changes, and how.

  2. The funk I was finding previous was likely a bit of sulfur. It dissipated after poured into a glass. I am finding less of this now that the bottles have had a couple more weeks lagering in the beer fridge. Hop bitterness and flavors are a bit more pronounced. A subtle difference though. The pils malt offers up a little graininess, and some malt sweetness. Not as crisp as some commercial pilsners I’ve had, but still more dry in the finish than a Czech pils. Overall I’m quite happy with the results. May even put aside 4 bottles to enter into the Portsmouth Brewery’s homebrew challenge (winner gets their recipe brewed/served at the brewpub, and entered into the GABF’s pro-am competition. 😉

  3. Hi,

    We have recently launched a new magazine called Craft Beer Magazine:

    Any way I could reach you?


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