Steve Piatz's Sterling Pilsner (Bohemian Pilsner)
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.056 FG = 1.014
IBU = 45 SRM = 3 ABV = 5.4%
Steve Piatz wrote "Lambic Brewing" in the October 2004 issue of BYO. Steve says, "Sterling Pilsner is a Bohemian Pilsner and is unique only in the use of all Sterling hops rather than the traditional Saaz hops. The first batch was the result of winning a sample of really fresh Sterling hops from HopUnion in a contest back when Sterling wasn't widely available. According to HopUnion Sterling was released in 1998 and is perceived as similar to a Saaz and Mt. Hood combination and is finding favor as a Saaz replacement. Since my water supply is extremely high in carbonates and Pilsen's water is very low in mineral content, I blended 0.5 gallons (~2 L) of my water with enough reverse osmosis water to make the batch."
11.25 lbs. (5.1 kg) 2-row Pilsner malt (US)
10.5 AAU Sterling hops (90 mins)(1.75 oz./49.7 g of 6% alpha acids)
1.2 AAU Sterling hops (15 mins)(0.2 oz./5.7 g of 6% alpha acids)
0.3 AAU Sterling hops (10 mins)(0.05 oz./1.4 g of 6% alpha acids)
0.3 AAU Sterling hops (5 mins)(0.05 oz./1.4 g of 6% alpha acids)
0.3 AAU Sterling hops (0 mins)(0.5 oz./14 g of 6% alpha acids)
White Labs WLP800 (Pilsner) or White Labs WLP802 (Czech Budejovice) yeast
0.75 cups corn sugar (for priming)
Step by Step
Mashed with 3.75 gallons (14 L) of water at 152 °F (67 °C) for 30 minutes (until converted). Sparge the mash with 168 °F (76 °C) water until you collect 6.4 gallons (24 L) of wort in the kettle. The 90 minute boil will reduce the wort to 5.7 gallons (22 L) before chilling and will yield the target 5.5 gallons (21 L) of wort after chilling. Add a tablet of Whirlfloc for the last 20 minutes of the boil. Alternatively, you can use Irish moss for the last 20 minutes. At the end of the boil, the wort is chilled to the fermentation temperature — 52 °F (11 °C) — and the yeast is pitched from a large starter. Ferment at 52 °F (11 °C). Once the fermentation is nearly complete, do a diacetyl rest by letting the beer warm up to around 60 °F (16 °C) and leave it at that temperature for a day or so to allow the yeast to metabolize the diacetyl and then start a slow (4 °F/2 °C drop per day) chill down to a lagering temperature of 30–32 °F (-1.1–0 °C). Even a couple of weeks of lagering will help mellow the flavors; but 6 to 14 weeks is even better. Tradition calls for lagering a light colored beer like a Pilsner from 3 to 7 days per 4 specific gravity points of the original gravity or, for a 1.056 OG, from 42 to 98 days.
At the end of the lagering, the beer should be clear and is ready to drink once carbonated. If you keg your beer just adjust the pressure to hit around 2.3 volumes of CO2. If you want to bottle condition your beer, you should consider adding a fresh lager yeast along with the priming sugar since there won't be much viable yeast left after the long lagering stage. An alternative approach for bottle conditioning is to bottle the beer after the diacetyl rest and then keep the beer at primary fermentation temperature (52° F) for a couple of weeks to allow the beer to carbonate, then you can lager the carbonated beer in the bottles.
If you can perform a full-wort boil, use 6.25 lbs. (2.8 kg) of very light colored dry malt extract in place of the Pilsner malt. Stovetop brewers could boil 3 lbs. 2 oz. (1.4 kg) of Muntons Light dried malt extract in 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) of water then add 4.25 lbs. (1.9 kg) of Alexander's Pale liquid malt extract for the final 15 minutes of the boil.