Tasting Notes: Bohemian Pilsner (Beer #45)

January 13, 2013 by Jack

I brewed a Czech Pilsner in early December. It is terrible, but I think it can be saved.

Vital Stats:
Target OG: 1.055 Actual OG: 1.054
Target FG: 1.013 Actual FG: 1.012
ABV: 5.5%
Color: 3.7 SRMĀ (Calculated)
Bitterness: 39.8 IBU (Calculated)
Yeast: Wyeast 2001 Urquell Lager
Fermentation Temperature:50°F until 75% attenuated, then 67°F for 3 days

Aroma
Butter. Not artificial buttered popcorn, but straight up real butter. Behind the butter is a nice crackery Pilsner malt profile and floral, spicy noble hop aroma. The buttery diacetyl dominates.

Appearance
Light straw color with a huge bright white fluffy head. Good retention. Slight haze. (The picture is from before the beer really cleared up.)

Flavor
Much like the aroma, there’s a decent pilsner hiding behind loads of butter. You can taste the malt & hops, but the diacetyl really gets in the way.

Mouthfeel
Medium-light body. Medium-high carbonation. No astringency. No slickness.

Overall Impression
A deluge of diacetyl turns what could be a good beer into an undrinkable one.

Taken 3 days after kegging. It is less hazy now.

I have brewed seven lagers so far and all except for this one have had a very clean fermentation profile with no diacetyl. I follow the same fermentation temperature schedule for all of them: pitch at 48°F, ferment at 50°F until about 75% finished, then raise the temp to 67°F to allow the yeast to clean up the diacetyl while it finishes up. I crash-cool three days after it reaches terminal gravity, hold it there for three days, then keg. I usually use WLP830 and this schedule works well with that yeast. I used Wyeast 2124 for the Rauchbier I brewed the same day as this BoPils, and it has no diacetyl. It looks like the Wyeast 2001 used for the BoPils is a diacetyl producing monster and requires more of a rest. I have read as much online since running into this problem. An experienced brewer friend also said he won’t use 2001 because it creates massively buttery beer.

In the end, though, I do think I can save this beer. I have warmed the keg to room temperature and I am going to krausen it with a smalle 1/2 liter starter of 1056 after I harvest it from the Irish Red Ale next week. I performed this same procedure on a butterscotch bomb English Pale Ale last spring and it cleaned the beer up beautifully. That beer went on to win a silver medal in the TRASH competition. I will post follow-up tasting notes after this beer has been krausened and settled out to see if it helped.

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