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Comparing Two Czech Pilsners Brewed A Year Apart

As one of my goals for 2018, I wanted to rebrew a Czech Pilsner to correct a flaw I had in the one I brewed in 2017. The big difference in the 2018 beer was eliminating the water chemistry tinkering that I tried out last year. Get our thoughts as we sit down and compare two Czech Pilsners brewed a year apart and see if I improved things or not.

Notes On The 2018 Process

So lagers are still fairly challenging for me even though I have won awards in homebrewing competitions for the ones I have brewed.

Well, maybe I should revise that statement – I don’t feel link I have brewed light-colored lagers to my satisfaction.

As most homebrewers know, light lagers are difficult because the simple ingredient list accentuate flaws that may be hidden in a more complex beer. You have to hit all the notes perfectly for it to really be excellent.

For Czech Pilsners, the commercial ones I had in Europe had a flawlessness that I wanted to replicate at home. I remember the dry, minerally, crisp aftertaste of those beers and thought I could achieve this flavor aspect by adding brewing salts to my water in 2017. I felt it gave the beer a real chalky taste. In 2018, I brewed with just spring water and hoped that would solve the flaw and to achieve the aftertaste I wanted.

Taste Comparison

Well, tasting the year old pilsner revealed its flaw to me very quickly. I was happy to report that the 2018 one did not have it but, this year’s beer wasn’t perfect either.

My fermentation in 2018 was really slow. I bought 4 packets of White Labs WLP800 because I didn’t have time to build a starter before I brewed. I really should have made that starter – my fermentation didn’t kick in fully until 1 week after the brew session. It was a horrible lag time.

The resulting beer was fine but it could be better.

The other thought I had was about the Saaz hops. The hops didn’t taste fresh in either beers. Knowing that I need a large amount, I may seek out another source for this variety since it seems to me that the packages I have been getting from the old local homebrew store are probably old.

To sum up, I am going to brew this beer again. Here are the tips I need to remember:

  • Use Spring Water
  • Find Fresh Saaz hops
  • Plan ahead and make a yeast starter

I know others have mentioned adding a bit of acidulated malt to my grist to lower the pH. Since I don’t know what my mash pH is, maybe I need to get the ph meter going.



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  1. This is a very timely post/video for me! I have been working on perfecting a Bohemian lager recipe too, with mixed success so far. Hops (both quality and hopping rate) have been a major challenge. The worst set I got smelled like the mashed grass you scrape off the underside of a lawnmower…silly me, putting it into my beer. That batch got dumped, because it was just waaaay to grassy. My most recent batch (detailed here on my blog here: https://andybrews.com/2018/07/07/beer-tasting-try-again-bohemian-pilsner/) is closer to my goal…I think I need to increase late hop additions, in order to really get the prominent Saaz aroma that I like!

    For water, I’ve gone to RO (virtually no minerals) with a sniff of calcium chloride added. That’s done well by me, and might be something to consider if your spring water doesn’t test out low on the mineral side of things.

    Good luck on your future iterations–and please post if you find a stellar hop supplier for Saaz!

  2. Thanks Andy – your comment is very helpful. I will post again when I get the third try going. I bought some UK hops from http://www.yakimavalleyhops.com and I am hopeful that their Saaz hops will be good too. I have yet to try them out though but that’s my best bet so far.

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