Friday, January 11, 2013

To the Half-Dark Side

As I alluded to on Monday, I don't think it is possible, or even desirable, to force Czech beer into an essentially Anglo-American taxonomy. As such even I cringe when I use the term 'Bohemian Pilsner' as a catch all for the wonderful pale lagers produced throughout the Czech Republic, and think it should only apply to pale lagers made in the city of Plzeň itself. Anything from outside the city, though it may be made in the style of a Pilsner beer, is a Bohemian Pale Lager.

I am sure that some will see that as splitting hairs, especially given that the essential process of making Plzeňský Prazdroj, Budvar or Svijany Rytíř is the same, but I think it is a question of respect. A sparkling wine that comes from California, Spain or Australia is not a Champagne, even though it may share may characteristics, the same holds true for Pilsner. When I first moved to Prague I noticed that often Prazdroj drinkers didn't like Budvar, and vice versa. For many years I much preferred Budvar to Prazdroj, though now I like them both equally, depending on my mood and in my opinion tankový Budvar is every bit as good as tankový Prazdroj.

Anyway, back to my original, though so far unstated, theme for today. I plan to brew my first beer of the year on Monday, a polotmavé výčepní or 'half-dark tap' beer. If you want to force it into an entirely made up style for the Anglo-American mind, you could call it a 'session Vienna lager'. Of course polotmavé pivo is related to Vienna lager, although this type of beer was practically dead until 1999 when, to use Evan Rail's turn of phrase, Staropramen 'in a strangely heroic move' gave new life to it with Millennium. The recipe for my beer is as follows:
  • 48% Bohemian Pilsner malt
  • 42% Munich malt
  • 9% CaraMunich I malt
  • 1% Carafa II Debittered malt
  • 17 IBU 8% AA Kazbek for 60 mins
  • 10 IBU 3.9% AA Saaz for 15 mins
  • 0.5 IBU 3.9% AA Saaz for 1 min
  • Saflager S-23
The vital stats for this beer will be, hopefully:
  • OG 10.2° Plato (1.041)
  • FG 2.6° Plato (1.010)
  • ABV 4.1%
  • SRM 13 - copper to red
I plan to ferment the beer in my garage, which is sitting at about 49°F, or 9.5°C, at the moment, for about 2 weeks, with a diacetyl rest indoors at 60° for a week thereafter, followed by 4 weeks in the fridge, lagering at 38°. I haven't decided yet if I am going to attempt any decoctions for this one, though I am tempted to try a single decoction.

In theory in should be ready for March, and perhaps the National Homebrew Competition, though quite which category I would enter it in I have no idea.

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