Is it a BoPils…a Helles…German Pils? Nope its a British Pub Lager!?!?

A glass of helles

A glass of helles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Pilsner/Helles Recipe…sort of

I love the tradition of beer brewing but I love to change it up. The recipe I brewed this weekend was an “in between” type of beer. Not quite bitter enough for a text book Bohemian Pilsner (BoPils) or a German Pilsner. But also not quite as light as a Helles. My brewhouse efficiency was pretty good too- (Meaning the total percentage of sugars extracted from the grain (…among other things). The higher the percentage, the better job of mashing you did). I was able to hit an 85% extraction which is high when my average is around 76% to 80%. I normally don’t complain about that ,BUT when you don’t plan on a higher efficiency it is bitter-sweet to not hit your projected numbers, high or low. I don’t get caught up in those numbers but I like to get most batches close and consistent. It doesn’t matter to me if I hit 60% or 85% , just so long as I hit the same number consistently. I hate surprises! But at least this wasn’t one of those cases when it hit too low. So i’ll shut up now and try not to anger the beer gods.

I projected to hit 1.056, (that’s specific gravity to you and ended up with 1.062. Ended up with 30 IBUS for an IBU/SG ratio of 0.498 which should be slightly on the maliter side of the balance. However I did add some Saurmaltz or acid malt to the recipe. Since I have never used this grain before, why not say F- it and go all in like Texas Hold ’em and kick in a full 5% of the grain bill with acid malt. My local water is pretty close to Pilsen water hardness so adding a little acid will benefit with lowering the PH and helping mash conversion as well as helping add a little snap or crispness to the final beer….hopefully.

Calling it a British Pub Lager

It’s not really that British except for the fact the base malt is grown and malted in England. Everything else is either German or American. But then again, what is an English lager? I know that Sam Smith makes a few.  Quoted directly from the website:

“The History of Pure Brewed Lager

Samuel Smith is most famous for classic ales, but it also offers what is described as “England’s finest lager.” The all-malt beer is brewed with a softer water and fermented in separately-housed stainless steel lager vessels using bottom-fermenting yeast.”

Wikipedia’s article on Beer in England in the lager section:

“Despite the traditional English beer being ale, more than half of the current English market is now lager in the Pilsener and Export styles. These lighter coloured, bottom fermented beers first started gaining real popularity in England in the later part of the 20th Century.

Carling, which is owned by the American/Canadian brewing giant Molson Coors Brewing Company is the highest selling beer in England and is mainly brewed in Burton upon Trent. Meanwhile the largest brewery in Britain today, Scottish & Newcastle, which has three main breweries (ManchesterReading and Tadcaster) brews Britain’s second highest selling beer which is the lager Foster’s.

Other lagers popular in England include Kronenbourg (which also belongs to Scottish & Newcastle) and Stella Artois (which belongs to the Belgian brewery InBev and in Britain is brewed in South Wales and Samlesbury near Preston).

Indian cuisine is very popular in Britain, and special lagers such as Cobra Beer have been developed to accompany it.”

So here it goes:

12lbs UK Pale Malt (3.0 SRM)    90%

12oz Acid Malt (1.8 SRM)            5%

8oz Light Wheat Malt                   5%

1.5oz Mt Hood (5.2%AA)               First Wort Hop

.5oz Mt Hood (5.2% AA)                Added sparingly between 7mins to flame out

1.00oz Sazz (2.6% AA)                   Added sparingly between 7mins to flame out

White Labs 830 – German Lager Yeast with starter 

Mashed low at 148 degreesF for 90mins for a drier beer. (Again, looking for a crisp profile and a more fermentable beer means a drier, snappier beer. Fermented at 50 degrees F.

My intent in writing this recipe is to make a very drinkable,flavor full clean lager. I do realize that its really not that English. But my hopes are to get the toastiness of the English Pale malt to come through. I also want some hop flavor and aroma in there as well. I felt that a dry hop addition would overwhelm the delicate malt flavor so I kept the hop additions to kettle additions only. In retrospect I should have went with English hops as well. I might try that next time.(I tend to like British hops better than any other). Between Challenger,Fuggles,East Kent Goldings, and First Goldings, they could make a true English lager. As always I’ll keep you posted.


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