Closer Look: Classic American Pilsner


For this Fourth of July, I’m releasing something interesting.  Classic American pilsner is definitely not a style you see quite often.  Supposedly, it is a beer that German immigrants used to brew, adapting what was available in the U.S. to make a pilsner beer.  The beer was made with a high proportion of corn, six row barley, and native hops such as Cluster, and produced a flavorful-yet-crisp lager much different than today’s domestic pilsners that could stand up to a German or Czech beer.

How much of that is true vs. anachronism, I have no idea.  What I have read is to skip the Cluster hops and six-row and instead use either 100% domestic two row or a blend of two-row and pilsner along with either noble hops or a hybrid American hop.  Makes sense to me.

For adjuncts you want to use around 20-30% corn or rice.  I think corn is the better option, since it can add some actual flavor, unlike rice, which really just adds fermentable sugar.  I opted to use instant grits, since I have heard that grits add a bit more flavor than flaked corn.  You should be able to find them at your grocery store.

There is some controversy regarding whether a cereal mash is necessary with instant grits, since they are partially cooked via steam before packaging to make cooking faster at home.  Since full gelatinazation of the grits might not occur at mash temperatures, I ended up doing a cereal mash just for kicks.  Treat a cereal mash like a decoction mash.  Start it at 150 degrees and gradually increase to a boil, stirring constantly.  In my case, I could not use very much water since my kettle wasn’t big enough, so things got a bit thick.  If you are running a thick cereal mash, using a double-walled pot might be a good idea to avoid scorching.

I also wanted to make things a bit more interesting.  So I made an imperial CAP!  9% ABV, Commando is a massive, massive pilsner.  I packaged this on Sunday and it turned out perfect.  Big, well-balanced, and crisp.  Keep in mind that this is far out of the style guidelines for a CAP.

Recipe: Commando
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Classic American Pilsner
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) 

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 14.65 gal
Post Boil Volume: 13.52 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 12.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 11.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.086 SG
Estimated Color: 4.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 54.7 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 78.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
9 lbs                 Grits (1.0 SRM)                          Adjunct       1        23.1 %        
15 lbs                Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         2        38.5 %        
15 lbs                Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM)            Grain         3        38.5 %        
2.25 oz               Warrior [18.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min        Hop           4        48.9 IBUs     
8.00 oz               Sterling [7.50 %] - Boil 2.0 min         Hop           5        5.8 IBUs      
1.0 pkg               Saflager Lager (DCL/Fermentis #W-34/70)  Yeast         6        -             

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 39 lbs
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In           Add 51.95 qt of water at 162.6 F        150.0 F       75 min        

Sparge: Fly sparge with 7.14 gal water at 168.0 F

About crookedrunbrewing

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One Response to Closer Look: Classic American Pilsner

  1. Pingback: Closer Look: Classic American Pilsner | VA Beer Trail

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