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Phoney Peroni

It's brewday this Sunday and this time I'm planning a tribute to a lager that I really enjoy: Peroni Nastro Azzuro. Not the bland stuff in the bottles but the smooth, ultra pale and bright pint you get from a well kept keg. A bit of web research yielded the following information from their own website:

  • It's 75% 2-row barley and 25% corn.
  • The hops are Hallertau Magnum and Czech Saaz.
  • The water is soft and low in carbonates.

That really just leaves the hopping rate and the yeast. Clearly the Magnum is the bittering hop and the Saaz is for flavouring. I'll add a bit more Saaz than I think they'll be using because I love the stuff, I'll bitter to about 25 IBU and I've selected Imperial L28 Urkel as the yeast.

Brew day

Recipe Specifications
Recipe: Phoney Peroni
Batch Size (fermenter): 24.00 L 
Estimated OG: 1.044 SG
Estimated Color: 5.7 EBC
Estimated IBU: 25.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Finished water profile: Ca:28, Mg:3, Na:9, SO4:10, Cl:44

Amt         Name                                        Type          #   %/IBU      Volume     
29.55 L     Tesco Ashbeck                               Water         1   -          -           
3.30 ml     Lactic Acid (Mash)                          Water Agent   2   -          -           
1.20 g      Calcium Chloride (Mash)                     Water Agent   3   -          -           
3.40 kg     Weyermann Bohemian Pilsner (4.0 EBC)        Grain         4   77.3 %     2.22 L     
1.00 kg     Crisp Flaked Torrefied Maize (1.3 EBC)      Grain         5   22.7 %     0.65 L     
0.30 g      Calcium Chloride (Sparge)                   Water Agent   6   -          -           
0.20 ml     Lactic Acid (Sparge)                        Water Agent   7   -          -           
13.00 g     Hallertau Magnum [11.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min  Hop           8   16.6 IBUs  -           
10.00 g     Saaz [4.70 %] - Boil 15.0 min               Hop           9   2.7 IBUs   -           
15.00 g     Saaz [4.70 %] - Boil 10.0 min               Hop           10  3.0 IBUs   -           
1.00 Items  Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 7.0 mins)            Fining        11  -          -           
25.00 g     Saaz [4.70 %] - Boil 5.0 min                Hop           12  2.7 IBUs   -           
1.0 pkg     Urkel (Imperial Yeast #L28)                 Yeast         13  -          -           

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.40 kg
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time   
Mash In           Add 24.55 L of water at 69.2 C          66.0 C        90 min     

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 13.90L) of 75.6 C water

I got started nice and early at half six and crushed the grain (not including the flaked & torrified maze).

I mashed low at about 65C in an attempt to keep the FG low and the body light. After 60 minutes and a good stir every now and then I did an iodine test.

It seemed that conversion was complete so I went ahead and did a dunk sparge for 10 minutes before adding the sparge liquor back to the boiler and taking pre-boil volume and gravity measurements. Uh oh, I was 3 points short on the expected gravity; 1.037 instead of 1.040.

I kind of expected this after reading other people's experience with large amounts of cereals in the grist so I decided to top up with some dextrose (corn sugar), which if you think about it is very appropriate! I needed 3 points and dextrose yields 46 points per pound per US gallon so I did the maths then the metric conversion and came up with an addition of about 230g. This went in to the boil. I know I gain +3 points in the boil so my expected OG will be 1.043.

All done and I transferred 24.5 litres to the fermenter. A little more than expected, probably down to the flaked maize not having as much absorption as the grain. Ground water is cold this time of year so I was able to get it down to 20.0C with the immersion chiller before putting it in the brew fridge to get it down to pitching temperature.

Hmm, I need a new trial jar. That plastic one's beginning to look a bit manky. OG was 1.043, exactly as planned after the remedial action with the dextrose and the wort is very pale. The dextrose will also serve to lighten the body which I'm happy with because Peroni itself is very dry and crisp.

The fermentation range for Imperial L28 Urkel is 11-14C. I'm planning to target 12C. If I'm lucky the brew fridge should get it down to target by tomorrow morning.


Today was kegging day for my Phoney Peroni lager. The total time in the fermenter has been 3 weeks. I started the Imperial L28 yeast off at 12C for a week until it started slowing down then I raised the temperature to 18C over the course of a few days and held it there until today. My impressions of the L28 performance were good. It took off quickly, maintained rapid activity for a few days then started to drop off and had ceased all visible activity by the middle of week 2 so it had a good long rest during the last week.

My efforts to reduce the FG through a low mash temperature and the addition of brewing sugar seemed to pay off. The FG was 1.003 which will give an ABV of 5.3%, close enough to the 5.1% of the original but with a lower FG (actual Peroni FG is said to be 1.007). If anything mine should be crisper on the palette.

Colour is, no surprise, extra pale and the yeast flocculated well leaving a lovely clear beer on top of my usual 4 litres of wastage below the outlet valve of the fermenter. The keg was fined with Kwik Clear, purged with CO2 and is now on at 20psi to carbonate over the coming weeks. I filled 4 bottles as well as the keg before the fermenter started to run dry.

And underneath the residual beer there's the yeast and trub cake:

It's been a year since I built my keezer so I took the opportunity to give it an annual service. All 3/8 and 3/16 beer line were binned and replaced with new and I took the tap off, disassembled it and gave it a deep clean.

I also binned the silicone hose that I'd been using for fermenter-keg transfer and replaced it with a length of proper Valpar beverage line - larger bore stuff than the 3/8 than we use for kegs. Why? Well, you know how hard it is to dry the inside of a hose after cleaning, it can keep droplets in there for weeks. I rigged up a computer blower fan to push air through the silicone hose to dry it quickly. This worked, but the smell of the air coming out of the other end of the hose, even when dry, was unpleasant and 'chemical'. I wasn't comfortable with my beer flowing through that so it's been replaced.

Tasting notes

It's perfectly clear, extra-pale as Peroni should be, very well carbonated at 20psi and so, so drinkable it's dangerous.

It's very close to the original, extremely well balanced with light and smooth corn background flavour notes (though as an ale fan I could personally stand a lot more Saaz) and is a dead-ringer for keg Peroni (not the green bottle stuff). It must be the corn lightening the body that makes this so very quaffable even at 5.1%. Even my wife (a wine drinker) ran off with a half over my protests.