Czech(ish) Sunset

A while ago I noticed that my local LCBO (government-run alcohol slingers) had a few Czech dark largers in stock. This is a style I do not have much experience with, so I bought a can of each brand they had in stock. I was hooked on the first sip, and knew I needed to brew my own.

I thought it would be fun to try and generate a recipe totally blind – i.e. by taste alone. So I bought a few more cans from the LCBO and proceeded to taste the beers and generate a recipe. After I brewed the beer I sat back down with my purchased beers to see how I did. I’m not 100% on-style, but I did generate a wonderful recipe that is easy to brew and wonderful to drink.

Recipe – Czech(ish) Sunset

I have recently switched from Beersmith to Brewfather. To simplify things for my readers, I’ll post both a PDF and directly link to the recipe on Brewfather.

Download the Chech(ish) Dark Lager recipe directly from Brewfather.


I brewed this after work on a Friday, and despite being tired from a week of work, the brewday went flawlessly. The ease of this brewday was due in no small part to my Brewzilla, which made the step-mash a breeze. I collected just over 20L of wort at 1.046 OG, which I transfered to my conical fermenter. To this, I pitched 20 g of W-34/70 which I had rehydrated in warm chlorine-free water. I had strong and active fermentation by the next morning – not even 12 hours after yeast pitch.


To ferment, I used my warm lager approach, fermenting at roughly 16C (61F) for three weeks before kegging and force-carbonating the beer. The beer was then allowed to lager for an additional two weeks before I began serving it.

Experimenting with the Spent Grain

Like many brewers, I struggle with what to do with my spent grain. We usually compost it – or, when we have poultry on the farm, we feed it to them. I decided to experiment with this batch. I used some of the wet malt to make a sandwich loaf, with decent success:

I also dehydrated a portion and milled it to flour with a coffee grinder. I’ve since used this flour to make Graham crackers and soft pretzels, with the flour adding some texture and toasted flavours to both.

Tasting Notes – Chezh(ish) Dark Lager

A pilsner glass filled with a dark brown lager, set in a snowbank
Czech(ish) Dark Lager in the snow

Appearance: The beer is very dark brown, bordering on black, with reddish highlights in the sun. The head is fine, beighe, and long-lasting.

Aroma: This beer smells wonderful – the Munich malts add a robust malt note that reminds me of the centre of maltesers candies, and overlayed on top of that is the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Flavour: This beer is wonderful, but based on my commercial samples, may be slightly off-style. This beer opens with a nice roasted coffee flavour and a subtle hint of dark chocolate. A toffee-and-malt sweetness balances the darker flavours, making for a well rounded flavour. There is just enough bitterness to make the beer crisp instead of malty, with the Sazz adding a subtle spicy note to the mid-body of the beer. The aftertaste is a hint of coffee, that fades into a soft toffee note.

Mouthfeel: This beer is crisp and dry, which was surprising given that I built the water profile from RO water to be more neutral.

Overall: This is a wonderful beer, and one of the better lagers I’ve brewed in a while. I think my use of pale chocolate pushed the beer off-style for a Czech dark lager. This gave the eber stronger coffee and chocolate notes than were present in the commercial examples I’ve tried. To be more on-style, I would drop the pale chocolate and replace it with Carafa special II. But I prefer the more complex “dark notes” in this beer compared to the commercial examples. So when I rebrew this – and rebrew it I will – I won’t be changing the recipe one iota.

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