This year, I bought all the ingredients to brew four lagers to see if I could nail some styles down. Some of them came out well and others not so much. In this video, I discuss my pilsner fail and my plans to improve it when I brew it next time.

Getting Cute With Water Chemistry

Pilsner beers are brewed with water that have “soft” profiles. Although our water here in the Northeast region of the USA has soft water, it doesn’t exactly match the Pilsen water profile. With that in mind, I planned to create the water profile using distilled water and adding ‘brewing salts’ to the water.

Even though I used a calculator (thanks Brewer’s Friend), I got cute on the brew day. I added too much gypsum. I really wanted to get a strong Saaz bitterness going but instead, I got a really chalky taste in my finished beer. I should have stuck with the original plan of just adding a bit.

Tips To Brew a Better Pilsner

Next time, I won’t plan a big chemistry experiment to get my water just right. Instead, I am going to use spring water. I have gone on some big spring water companies sites and they have the water chemistry published there. Those profiles are in line with Pilsen water. I believe that is step one in a better finished beer for next time.

I think the other ideas I have are as follows:

  • Fresh hops
  • Big Pitch of Yeast
  • Longer Fermentation Time

I need to source the freshes Saaz hops I can. The ones I got – who knows how long they were in the LHBS’ fridge. Maybe I can see if I can get some Czech company to buy them from.

Yeast management is key for this beer. I am going to plan out my starter wort a week ahead of my true brew session so that I have the yeast I need for the Pilsner.

After that, it is about letting the beer ferment in my fridge for as long as it takes. It may take a month – who knows – but I will wait until it is done.

Brew on!