Tasting Notes: Uncle Mikes Pilsner

A few weeks ago I brewed a Pilsner-style beer using some of the techniques home brewers have been developing for fermenting these beers at ale temperatures. In my case I brewed a classical Bohemian-style Pils, pitched W34/70, fermented it at low-ale temperatures (16C) for five days, followed by 9 days at room temperature (about 20C). Two weeks later Uncle Mikes potion was gelatined and kegged (mine had to wait an extra week due to a lack of kegorator space), a week after that it was bottled and sampled – and was pretty damned good.

I kegged, but forgot to gelatin, my half of the beer 3 weeks after brew-day. The lack of gelatin is apparent, but otherwise this is a really, really good lager…er ale…er lale?

Appearance: Pours with a thick white head that lasts forever. Beer is a medium-amber in colour with a very slight chill haze. A bit of gelatin next time should solve that little problem. Mikes portion, which was gelatined, was crystal clear.

Aroma: Its a pils! Bready malt note, clear aroma of Sazz,and otherwise free of yeast-derived esters, sulphur or diacetyl.

Flavour: This is a very tasty beer. Modest bitterness balanced by that bread-like flavour only pils malt can create. The spicy/herbal note of Sazz is apparent in both flavour and aroma. Body is medium, just as you’d expect of a Bohemian Pils, with a crisp finish. About the only flaw I can note is that the hops are not quite as crisp as they should be – probably because I didn’t dilute out my towns mineral content to get a Pilsn-like ion content. Aftertaste is a lingering hop bitterness and a slight bread character. Of most importance, no yeast-derived esters are present, confirming that lager-like finishes can be achieved at ale fermentation temperatures.

Mouthfeel: Effervescent, medium bodied, but dry in the finish. Thirst quenching and easily digestible.

Overall: A surprising and delightful success. I’m sure a more serious lager brewer would find a few more flaws, but for a brewer who only occasionally drinks pilsners. I tried this side-by-side with a Pilsner Uriquel, and while my beer was not intended to be a clone, the flavour profile and aroma are surprisingly similar. Not identical, but the differences are likely due to recipe formulation and the higher gravity of my beer, rather than due to flaws. The biggest difference is that the Uriquel’s hops “pop” more than mine – likely due to the softer water used in Uriquel.

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