Despite Mountain Pilsner #1 being one of my favorite recipes of 2020, I implemented several changes for batch #2 after reading about Italian Pilsner in the Live the Lager Life (June-July 2020) issue of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine.
Malt / Mash
To better fit the Italian Pilsner style (instead of New Zealand Pilsner), the first major change I made to the Mountain Pilsner #2 recipe was reducing the target alcohol by volume from 4.6% to 4.1% by removing 6 oz. of Mecca Grade Pelton Malt from the grist for a total of 4 lb 2 oz (for a 2.5 gallon batch).
I employed the same Russian River STS Pils step mash regimen that I used for Mountain Pilsner #1 (130°F for 30 minutes / 140°F for 30 minutes / 150°F for 30 minutes / 168°F mash out) and otherwise kept the rest of the mashing process identical.
Hops / Boil
The greatest change from Mountain Pilsner #1 was the hop bill. Mountain Pilsner #1 was a New Zealand Pilsner, utilizing Columbus, Hallertau Blanc, Huell Melon, Southern Cross, and Nelson Sauvin hops. For this Italian Pilsner recipe, I used Willamette hops at 60 minutes (0.2 oz/gal), 30 minutes (0.2 oz/gal), whirlpool (0.2 oz/gal), and dry hop (0.2 oz/gal). Overall, the switch to Willamette was to help reinforce the traditional Pilsner aroma and flavor, while being uniquely American.
After the 60 minute boil and 15 minute hopstand (@ 185°F) I hit my starting gravity and IBU targets spot on at 1.038 and 34, respectively.
Yeast / Fermentation
I used the same yeast and fermentation regimen for Mountain Pilsner #2 as I did for Mountain Pilsner #2 (Imperial Yeast L17 Harvest is exceptional for use in a warm fermented lager). For Mountain Pilsner #2, I fermented at an average temperature of 64.6°F for 14 days before cold crashing, transferring to a keg, and carbonating to 2.6 volumes of carbon dioxide. The beer finished at 1.004 SG.
Like Mountain Pilsner #1, I used my approximated Suarez Pilsner water profile of 126 ppm Ca, 4 ppm Mg, 8 ppm Na, 20 ppm SO4 and 180 ppm Cl.
The Mountain Pilsner #2 recipe can be found here: https://share.brewfather.app/XNYNACRU3QyWsc.
Mountain Pilsner #2 was brewed August 30, 2020. It clocks in at a delightful 4.3% ABV.
Appearance – Pours a crystal-clear straw-yellow color with vibrant orange hues when the light strikes the glass. It has a foamy white head with tiny bubbles so creamy you could eat it for dessert.
Smell – Wonderful lagerbier aroma – just straight up beer smelling beer. As it warms, Ritz Cracker becomes more and more intense alongside an unmistakable aroma of fresh green flower pedicel.
Taste – There is not a flavor you notice at first, but sip-by-sip, some of the more nuanced flavors become more apparent. I taste blips of herbaceous earth layered between white bread crust with a subtle drying bitterness.
Mouthfeel – Zippy yet smooth, Mountain Pilsner #2 goes down too easy. The carbonation is excellent and there is a softness to the beer on the tongue.
Overall – I would have never guessed this lager was fermented warm if I did not brew it myself! Deliciously simple yet interestingly complex at the same time. I only wish I had another batch of this ready to go!
Changes For Next Time – Both warm fermented lager batches have turned out exceptionally well. Despite loving both Mountain Pilsner #1 and #2 recipes, I am considering pivoting with the recipe once more for variety since I only have a few lagers under my belt at this point. I think Mountain Pilsner #3 might shift toward Mexican Lager for the ultimate lawnmower beer.