Earlier in the week I went ahead with my first brew day since the 5th of January! It’s hard to fathom that it’s been that long. I guess that being able to brew commercially at Rogues Harbor kept me from going crazy; but I just can’t shake the quest to do something creative and new. The time finally came, so I plowed ahead with my plan to brew up my first ever Czech-style Pils.
Earlier I had commented about having some older lager yeast and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use it or not. I thought about going out and picking up some fresher yeast and pitch that in to a starter, but that just felt wasteful. So Immade the decesion that I was going to do multiple step ups to get my pitching rate about where I wanted it to be. I should note I don’t have the equipment to count yeast cells so everything is based off of averages taken from various pitching rate calculators found around the web. I started with a simple 1 liter pitch, stepped that up to a two liter, which I then stepped up in to a four liter. My target gravity wasn’t too high so I figured at this point the yeast would be about where I wanted it to be. However during the step ups I hit a snag. When I was getting ready to step up from the two liter to the four liter starter I saw one lone strand of cat hair floating on top. Panic set in. What do I do now? I had just put all this work in and suddenly I’m worried about the potential contamination from a cat hair. After nearly a full day of internal debate I decided since homebrewing is all about the adventure and excitement I was going to throw all caution to the wind and make this beer.
The recipe itself is pretty much as simple as it gets. The bulk of my grist was Best Malz Pilsner malt. I added just a few ounces of melanoidan malt and that was it as far as the grain bill went. For hops I went with the classic Czech Saaz as the only hop to be used for this beer. 50% of the hops were used for the bittering charge, followed by a large 30 minute addition, finished with just half an ounce at flameout for a bit of that nice spicy aroma. I used my hop spider again for this one since right now it’s my only reliable way of making sure that the plate chiller I got for Christmas doesn’t clog up. It was a standard 90 minute boil (standard at least for whenever I use Pilsner malt) and everything ran just fine. I hit my target gravity of 1.049 on the nose. The only brew day issue that I had was that I was only able to chill the wort down to about 55F. Considering I want to pitch under my desired fermentation temperature I further cooled the wort down in the fermentation box until it hit 45F. I then pitched and oxygenated and allowed it to rise up to 48F which is where it sits right now. Tonight I will let it free rise to about 55F (current ambient temperature of my basement) where it will sit for a week before I slowly back it down to as low as my form box will get it (which depending on weather will be somewhere around 42F) and then kegging it. I’ll lager it for 3-4 weeks at which time I’m hoping I’ll have space in the keggerator to put it on tap.
Once I’ve reached that point I’ll do a follow-up with how this beer ended up turning out. Oh, and the name, Bad Kitty Pils, is a reference to the lone cat hair and the fact that I found evidence the cat had jumped up to where the starter was and rubbed up against the flask at some point. Originally it was going to be named Cross Czech Pils, but the cat inspired a name change.