Homebrew DC: Pants-Optional Pilsner

Photo courtesy of Tony DeFilippo
courtesy of Tony DeFilippo

I made this homebrew recipe for Don’s birthday party last Saturday. Don is a big fan of lagers, so I thought I would make something in that vein, or at least close to it. This was also my first try at real lagering, which requires some serious temperature control. It turned out wonderfully. Crisp and tasty with mild bitterness and a light malty flavor. It was perfect for the warm Virginia afternoon party.

The name of the beer comes from my constant half-joking desire to institute pants-optional Fridays at almost every job I have had in the last ten years. Don’s darling wife was sure to remind me, though, that I should be sure to say “yes” to pants anytime I visit their home. I consider it an affront, but it’s the price to pay for friendship, I suppose.

Don loved the beer. In fact, this was his tweet from later in the evening:

@RealHomebrew t’was an excellent beer and well appreciated. A must at any shindig!

The Recipe

9 Pounds American 6-Row Pale Malt
2 Pounds Flaked Maize (you call it corn)
.5 Pound Flaked Oats
1 Ounce Cluster Hops (60 minutes)
1 Ounce Styrian Goldings Hops (15 minutes)
1 Vial White Labs WLP833 German Bock Lager Yeast

Mash the three grains in 12 quarts of 152 degree water for 60 minutes. Sparge with 4 gallons of 168 degree water and start your boil. Add the hops at the prescribed times and use an immersion wort chiller or another device to cool the beer to roughly room temperature. Once the brew is cooled put it in a fermenter and add your yeast. I used a keg fitted it with a special keg cap that included an airlock, and stuck the keg in my keg cooler. I taped the probe of my temperature controller to the keg and set the temperature to 50 degrees. Whatever method you use, try to get a good, cool fermentation temperature. If you do not have the facilities to do that, you can use an ale yeast such as White Labs WLP023 Burton Ale Yeast. This will let you make an approximation of the beer at a warmer temperature.

I used, and highly recommend, a yeast starter. This will help your yeast propagate to the point you need them to be for proper fermentation.

After the brew day was done I disposed of the spent grain by spreading it on my garden.

The beer fermented for two weeks before I transferred it to a secondary fermenter. I returned it to the cooler, kegged the final product the following week, and brought it to the birthday party that afternoon. I recommend two weeks of secondary fermentation but in my case I did not have time to do that because of the timing of the party. I had three weeks to make it. Like I said, it turned out great. It could have benefited from another week of clarifying, although it looked pretty darned good already. This homebrew recipe is a keeper!

This post originally appeared at RealHomebrew.com.

Carl Weaver is a writer and brewer for RealHomebrew.com and has been making beer and wine for more than 20 years. He is also an avid photographer and writer and just finished his first book, about a trip he took to Thailand to live in Buddhist monasteries. He considers himself the last of the Renaissance men and the luckiest darned guy in the world. Follow him on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Homebrew DC: Pants-Optional Pilsner

  1. This sounds like a great recipe that I will have to try. I’m surprised you had such great results from such a limited time in secondary. I’m glad it came out for you. Cheers!

  2. It was a great beer. I had about a gallon left over after the party and that sat around for a bit and the next week it was even better. Time is your friend! I had three weeks but would have loved to age it more before the party. Give it a shot!