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Austrian Pilsner

Time for my second lager of the summer, or what's passing for a summer here in England. What with all the rain at the moment you'd definitely be forgiven for thinking it's autumn already.

I had planned this lager to be brewed with 100% pilsner malt and Saphir hops but my malt order got delayed so, although I was short on the pilsner malt I was able to make up a decent recipe by topping up with some torrified wheat and some brewing sugar.

Ahead of brew-day I made up a 2 litre starter of Wyeast Labs 2278 using the 500ml of yeast that I'd saved back from my previous Summer Refresh brew. 500ml of that 2 litres will go back into the fridge for next time and 1.5 litres will be used to ferment this brew.

Brew day

Unfortunately my Magnum bittering hops were also in the delayed grain order so I'm using the unauthentic CTZ for bittering.

Recipe Specifications
Recipe: Austrian Pilsner
Date: 16 July 2023
Batch Size (fermenter): 24.00 L
Estimated OG: 1.042 SG
Estimated Color: 5.5 EBC
Estimated IBU: 32.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Finished water profile: Ca:46, Mg:3, Na:9, SO4:10, Cl:76

Amt         Name                                                 Type          %/IBU    
29.51 L     Tesco Ashbeck                                        Water        
2.50 ml     Lactic Acid (Mash)                                   Water Agent   80%      
2.50 g      Calcium Chloride (Mash)                              Water Agent           
3.900 kg    Weyermann Eraclea Pilsner Malt (4.5 EBC)             Grain
0.50 g      Calcium Chloride (Sparge)                            Water Agent           
0.20 ml     Lactic Acid (Sparge)                                 Water Agent   80%      

0.300 kg    Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil] (0.0 EBC)               Sugar         6.9 % 
15.00 g     Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus (CTZ) [14.30 %] - Boil 60 min Hop           24.9 IBUs
12.00 g     Saphir [4.10 %] - Boil 15.0 min                      Hop           2.8 IBUs 
16.00 g     Saphir [4.10 %] - Boil 10.0 min                      Hop           2.8 IBUs 
1.00 Items  Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 7.0 mins)                     Fining                
22.00 g     Saphir [4.10 %] - Boil 5.0 min                       Hop           2.1 IBUs 

1.0 pkg     Czech Pilsner Lager (Wyeast Labs #2278)              Yeast         

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.350 kg
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time  
Mash In           Add 24.51 L of water at 70.4 C          65 C        60 min    

Sparge: Dunk sparge with 5L of 75C water.

Brew day went fine. The brewing sugar was spooned in to the boil at around half an hour when I had some free time. As long as it gets boiled to sterilise it then it doesn't matter when it goes in. Spooning it in reduces the risk of it clumping and hitting the kettle element where it would burn. It also means that the boil doesn't temporarily stop due to the reduction in temperature caused by 300g of room temperature sugar going in.

The wort was extremely pale as expected and I hit 1.041 versus the predicted 1.042. This seems to be a common theme when I use brewing sugar so I might reduce the expected yield in beersmith for that ingredient going forward. I got it down to about 21C with the immersion chiller and then put it into the brew fridge at around 11am. The Saphir hops are new to me and they smelled a lot like Mittelfruh which is a good sign.

Pitching temperature will be 12.5C and there's no chance it wll be down to that level on brew day so I planned to pitch the following morning.

Sure enough by the following morning we were at pitching temperature so I decanted the spent beer off the starter, swirled up the yeast from the bottom of the flask and tipped it in.

By the evening there was some evidence of activity in the blow-off tube (lagers are slow to start) and the following morning it was fermenting nicely.


The planned schedule is about 10 days at 12.0C and then I'll let it freely rise to 16C over the course of a few days for a diacetyl rest. It can sit there until 3 weeks is up and then I'll keg it and store at 6.5C until I'm ready to drink it.

Kegging day

So it's 3 weeks since fermentation started and it's gone to plan with the final week being the diacetyl rest at 16C. I boiled and cooled about 200ml of water to 75C then added a sheet of leaf gelatine and stirred to dissolve it. I then added the gelatine to the keg and filled the keg from the tap on the fermenter. The keg had already been purged with CO2 produced during fermentation but I still gave it 5x15psi pressurise/vent cycles before leaving at 20psi to carbonate and condition.

I then took a sample and proceeded to collect a further 4 bottles from the remaining beer in the keg.

The FG was 1.005 giving an alcohol content of 4.7%. This is a nice easy-drinking level for a lager and is a bit of a relief for me since my last few brews have all come out at over 5%.

Tasting notes

I'm a bit ashamed to say that somehow this keg got drunk before I remebered to take a photograph of a pint. You'll have to trust me that it looked as clear and lager-like as any one of my other lagers that you can find on this website.

Taste-wise this is one of my best lagers. The Saphir hops are reminscent of Mittelfruh, the addition of the corn sugar kept the body light and the result was a supremely drinkable lager. Even my wife had a half and it takes a lot to persuade her to have a beer instead of wine.