Pilsner lack of head....

Discussion in 'Recipes for Feedback' started by Blackmuse, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Active Member

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    Hey folks. Haven't been on in a while. Had a question for all of you though.

    I last brewed a pilsner, 100% German pilsner malt and hallertaur. 148 F for the mash and a single decoction. Lagered with wlp bock yeast. Beer came out great except the head disappears quickly - both from the keg and bottle. I don't usually use regular soap on my brewing equipment and I don't think its my glasses - tested already.

    I did not do a protein rest.

    Not sure what it really is and I'm not necessarily out for an an answer as to WHAT it could be though feel free to give input.

    What I am after is: can I use wheat at say 5 to 10 percent bill and still have a true pilsner? Wheat has always helped with a lasting head on my beers and I love the taste at large and small quantities.

    In the same vein I suppose carapils would help too? Is it a true pils if I use say 5 percent carapils?

    Thanks all.
     
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  2. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Carapils or Carafoam will work fine. A little wheat malt could be added and no one would be the wiser.
    You could have a different problem, though. Diacetyl is a dependable head killer. Some lager yeasts are worse than others for producing diacetyl and you really need to take care with your D-rest schedule and preferably do a diacetyl test before dropping to lagering temps.
    What was your fermentation temp and D-rest timing/gravity?
     
  3. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Define "true Pilsner" for me.... We're homebrewers, if you want to put wheat in your pils, put wheat in! I'd recommend using Carapils, you think the Reinheitsgebot crowd doesn't? Here's how a modern German pils is made: Grist about 95% Pilsner malt, but maybe a bit of Vienna for more malt flavor, about 5% of something to help the foam out because of that infamous 3-minute pour, lots of Hallertau. Bottom line, it's your beer - do what works for you! If you want a Bitburger or a Koenig Pils, do yourself a big favor and just go pick some up, in cans of course to keep it from being lightstruck. Otherwise (don't stop him, he's rolling....), if you want to try whatever in your Pilsner, try it....

    That said, I don't think I'd go with wheat malt.

    I think your problem is decoction with conventional modern malt. It's designed for single infusion or step mashes. I got some intentionally undermodified malt a while back and, with a double decoction, makes a great beer with a good foam stand but it's designed for decoction. In fact, the maltster states that it should not be used without a decoction mash. On the other hand, I read a quote from a German brewer a while back that decocting standard modern malts makes them just fall apart. Try adding the Carapils/Carafoam and a single decoction to develop flavor.
     
  4. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Active Member

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    Thanks Nosybear! I think i read somewhere that pilsners were made with a 100% pilsner malt. So in my head I have had it that "true" pilsners were 100% pilsner malt and I was striving for that.
     
  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    A truth: You want three opinions? Ask a brewer. You want nine? Ask two. A true pilsner is a beer that tastes like a pilsner. If I'm judging your pilsner and it hits all the pilsner criteria and you brewed it with sorghum? Guess what, you're going to receive a good score as a pilsner. There's a lot of dogma - beer lore - out there in the Webosphere. About the best advice I can give there is find reliable sources, then question them. Myself included.
     
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  6. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    The "true Pils" question aside...Yoiu need to judge whether the head retention is bad because of ingredients and mashing schedule or whether there's an issue with diacetyl and/or infection. Even a straight pilsner malt mash will give decent head retention. A classic lager will exhibit a decent head that thins but doesn't dissipate entirely so that there's always a light layer of foamy bubbling on the glass at the edge of the surface. Something as simple as adding a dextrine mash rest can help, as will Carapils, etc.
    If there's a larger issue, the head will disappear completely and quickly without a trace of foam on top...as if you put a drop of oil in the glass. It's why soapy/grungy glasses can be a problem and diacetyl produces the same effect. It's a really common problem with homebrewed lagers.
     
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  7. thehaze

    thehaze Active Member

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    I get great head and foam formation with all Pilsner ( and its variations ) malt. You don't need anything else, but you can try CaraPils. A head that doesn't stick and quickly dissipates is usually related to something else. Diacetyl can be one as mentioned above. In fact, many cheap/crappy tasting Lager-style beers ( at least those I can get a hold of ) have extremely poor head, foam formation and retention.

    Foam and hed formation/retention are also aided by using malts with a slightly higher protein amount and hops. I never use less than 3.5 oz hops for 5-6 gallons, no matter of what style of beer I'm brewing.

    You can read more here. http://beersmith.com/blog/2008/06/25/enhancing-beer-head-retention-for-home-brewers/

    Not all beers are the same. Some beers will form head in the same glass others wont. Beer glasses should always be hand washed, with a light, gentle, detergent and a soft sponge and rinsed properly. Beer can and will create an almost invisible film of residuu ( at the bottm of the glass ) when left in the glass too long. Sometimes, even if you wash it, it will stil be there. I never pour beer in a dry glass. Any glass that I take out, is cleaned once more. I rinse it with cold water at least 5 times, inside and out, to make sure the glass is not even close to warm. Then I pour the beer.
     
  8. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    #8 Trialben, Mar 22, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
    Awesome advice above as per usual! Dude I'm just happy making a good tasting clean pilsner but I get your drift it didn't apeal in the head department and let's be honest who doesn't love some good head-retension! My best all Pilsner ah pilsner was brewed with just that but I recon a special type of pils floor malted bohimian pilsner malt by weyermann I scored a silver with it in my first comp. Recon mash schedule should help too. I recon if you brewed it again and gave the mash a nice long beta rest then up to 71c for 20 minutes you might get some dextrins out of that malt.

    Another thought ever mixed half ale/half pils together I do all the time don't know if it yields better head but I'll keep believing it does.:)

    Oh here's a burst carbed fresh light lager been in keg 3 days that beer was sitting for around 15 minutes for comparisons same. Only young but I'm happy with that.
     

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  9. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    For good head retention, as long as it's not necessary for the malt you're using, don't do a protein rest. Modern Pilsner malt is designed for single-infusion or step mashing. I like a step mash with two rests, 144 degrees F and 156 degrees F when using Weyermann or Avangard Pilsner. For the Blacklands Pilsner malt, it's the full monte: Glucan, protein, beta and alpha rests.
     
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  10. BilltownBrewingCo

    BilltownBrewingCo Active Member

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    Great info here guys!
     
  11. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Active Member

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    Thanks for all the great info folks! Truth be told - I loved that pilsner despite the lack of head. Everyone else loved it on and only brother ever mentioned the failing head! That beer wowed Coors light only drinkers (though it took forever to get them to try it! Lol - you know the type.) And a local craft brewer I shared it with picked up the decoction mash schedule immediately - he also loved it...

    I never once noticed diacytel or any other off notes so I am going to assume it was the decoction of the modified malts.

    So, I will attempt carapils or carafoam and try again maybe with a shorter decoction as I don't think I can bring myself not to decoct. Lol
     
  12. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Active Member

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  13. Garrison Brewery

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    That does look like a great Pils, Mind me asking for your recipe? I've not done a German Pils for a few years, focusing mostly on my Helles.
     
  14. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Wait just a minute there!
    How old is this picture?
    We have had a cool spring, but snow????
    Kidding aside, beer looks stunning, well done!
     
  15. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Active Member

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    Oh yes! That picture was someti.e in March or April. I have been on a haitus from the forum... Luckily not from brewing though. I did a Scottish ale on Friday! I'm hoping that come out at least half as clear as that Pilsner. :) lol.

    Thanks btw.
     
  16. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    If you absolutely must do a decoction, I'd change up the schedule. I'd do either no protein rest at all and just go with a 144/156/mashout schedule. But if you feel that it's not going to be a pilsner without a protein rest, you could do a super short one at the high end of the temperature range- say 131F-133F. As soon as you hit that, immediately pull the decoction and keep it there no longer than 20 minutes total before hitting your first saccrification rest. That will help a lot with foam stability and retention (but I would leave out the protein rest- you actually want those head retention proteins in there).
     
  17. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Agree with Yooper (although I've done that kind of decoction routine): If your malt doesn't need the rest, don't use the rest. I do protein rests when I am using undermodified malt like Blacklands' True Texas Pils, in that case I do a glucan rest as well. But unless your malt is undermodified, and I really had to look for undermodified malt, you're killing head retention with a protein rest.
     
  18. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I've been having more problem with head retention lately, too. I'm using a Czech Pilsner that I've used pretty extensively but the latest batch seems less inclined to hold head, even with my dextrine rest where I know I'm definitely getting extra conversion. I think I'm going to have to change things up or start using some Carapils/Carafoam or maybe a percentage of wheat in beers that have been pretty much all pilsner in the past.
     
  19. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    if you mash too low and do a full step mash that can happen like 120 rest then 140 and up, I just had that happen with my last pils but on my system which foams too much anyway it's fine
     
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  20. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I like to use some wheat for head retention more so in ales than lagers though can't see any harm either style.
     

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