Customer Reviews: Continental Pilsener (Classic Beer Style)
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on October 10, 2003
Creating a perfect pilsner can be the most fustrating undertaking in home brewing. To acheive crisp, clean, properly hopped pilsner lager, a guide is needed. This book is that guide. It will teach you the history of the style, and give recipes for some of the most famous beers from Europe. My favorite is Pilsner Urquell. Be forewarned though, it does not teach decoction mashing, which is the traditional way to mash in your grain for Pilsner. Only NEW BREWING LAGER BEER will guide you through the triple or double decoction mash required to hit the bulleye on great pilsner taste. This book is a great addition for your collection though, and will greatly aid you in the developement of great Pilsner lager. Don't forget to use the softest water you can get your hands on!
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on January 28, 1999
This is one of my favorite of the classic Beer Styles Series. It is one of the shortest and Most concise, Miller doesn't go into a lot of history and obsecure style disscussion here, nor does he get too technical. What he does do is present the basics, and he does it all in a non-threating, easy to read style. This is a great resource for Pilsner Fans
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on October 28, 2012
I will undoubtedly try a recipe from the book and the book contained some helpful hints. The down side is that it was written in the early nineties. A lot has changed in the home brew and craft beer scene.
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on August 18, 2007
{Review written March 2005}

(WARNING: if you're not a homebrewer, you might want to skip reading this review ... it's pretty dry stuff for non-brewers)

It's been almost 10 years since I read this book, but one thing I remember most about it is that the author is a total, and by total I mean TOTAL, anal-retentive all-grain brewing geek.

Back when I was still a young and highly impressionable novice all-grain homebrewer, I read miller's book, saw the extraction rates he was getting (32-34 points of gravity, per pound of grain, per gallon of water ... numbers that are unattainable by normal homebrewing mortal schmoes like moi), and drove myself almost to distraction trying every technique imaginable in an effort to duplicate his yeilds.

Here's an old excerpt from my brewing journal at the time, from early on in my time in the hobby ... I'd only made the leap from extract to all grain a few batches before, and you can see how pathetically fixated I was at the time. Re-reading it just now, I had to shake my head at how crazy I was at the time. Kinda sad, actually. The bit about the blown-out tire is kinda cute though ...

(snip, from 20-Apr-1996)

Igloo Comments [Edit: this refers to a 5 gal cooler that I converted for use as a grain mash-tun] : Limit appears to be 13-14 lb. of grain (infusion). When overfilling the igloo, it's easier to hit knock-out temp by running off 1+ gal, boiling & recirculating it, than to do a decoction & stir it back in. Also surprised that it lost 15 degrees during the 8 hour mash (see below).

The Mash: I decided to save time by skipping the protein rest & mashed in w/3.5 gal of 165F water (and a little boiling water) to hit 157F strike. I came up a little low, and after stirred vigorously 5 min. to get temperature even the temp had dropped further (to 154), so I added boiling water & stirred some more until I got 157F again. The pH was 5.4, and needed no adjustment (I started to add calc carb by mistake, caught myself & switched to gypsum - I hit 5.3). I kept 2 frosted tumbler glasses in the freezer, to quick-cool my pH samples - a good gimmick.

The Bad Day: (1) I went for a 1 hr bike ride during the mash, and had a blowout when I hit a pothole, and had to walk home. (2) I was ready to mash out & was trying to adjust the pH of my sparge water with gypsum (per D.Miller's advice), and found that not only was my pH was going up (not down), but was getting way too cloudy with calcium. After a quick book search & a phone call, I found that NYHB had just that very day started carrying LACTIC ACID - I hopped in my car, got my flat fixed @ the bike shop, and got to NYHB for some emergency supplies. After an impromptu tasting of Batch 17 and someone else's Bock & Dopplebock, I grabbed dinner and drove home. (3) When I got home, I discovered that a bottle of 13B had spontaneously exploded inside my brewing closet, and it took 3 hours to clean everything up. My mash had been stretched to 8 hours.

Mash out: I tried adding 1 tsp. of the lactic acid concentrate to my 4 gal of sparge water, and was stunned to see the pH of the entire vat drop all the way to below 3 ! From now on, I'll use 1/3 tsp. diluted in 3 cups of water, and add the dilution a little at a time, until I hit the right pH. After a 2nd try, I got the pH to 6.0. Next, I had trouble hitting my 168F mash out temp - a 1 gal decoction only got me up to about 155, so I ran off a gallon (no grain), decocted that, and finally hit mash out. I recirculated, but the runnings only partially cleared. I got a stuck runoff, and had to use the paddle to break a hole in the grain bed. I recirculated some more, and collected my 1st runnings (note - all the recirculation resulted in a rapid cooling of the wort. I sparged, and recirculated a few quarts to re-tighten the grain bed, and collected 2nd runnings - ran very clear, and got some good sugar extraction - I could have gotten more extraction, but I ran out of sparge water, and it was already getting late (sparge more next time). I tasted the wort, and the lower sparge pH really helped keep the tannin extraction down - there was less of the slightly harsh `grain husk' aftertaste apparent in batches 22 & 24.

Brewing: I may have screwed up the hop schedule - I was watching B5 & forgot whether I set the timer for T-45 for T-60. We'll see how this batch tastes - from now on, always use a 60 min. backup timer (or write down the time), to avoid problems like this. After force cooling, I only wound up with 4 gal, and had to top off. OG for the resulting 5.1 gal (minus 1 qt trub) was only 1.053, which is no better than batch 24 (PPG = [(OG - 1)*1000*Gal Wort]/(lbs grain) = 20.8 PPG estraction). I think it's due to the fact that I under sparged again, and forgot to account for the 3/4 gal of water absorbed by the grain. Anyway, there was much less trub than ever before, and both the hot and cold breaks were much better than anything previous. Also, since I got a lower than expected utilization & only filled the fermenter to 5.1, I overshot my estimated IBUs a little (I'd wanted 25). I lightened my SRM estimate fm 18 to 16 (low PPG).


That, my friends, is an example of pure Dave Milleresque inspired brewing insanity ... a 2 hour round trip drive to the brewing store, unnecessary ph corrections, hours of self-inflicted mathematical torment, in total an 8 hour brewing day, and for what ... to save a stuck runoff and then try to squeeze a few extra points of yeild out of 5 gallon tub of grain that only cost like $12 ? Come on !

Nowadays I'd have dumped it, saved the hops and yeast, and tried again the next time I was in the vicinity of the brew store. I'm so much more laid back these days.

Anyway, if you're a brewing geek, this is the book for you. Just be advised that Dave Miller's extraction rates are indeed impossible for homebrewers to achieve ... the only way to get the numbers he claims are to oversparge like mad, then boil it all back down to hit your target volume, and even you'll be lucky to hit the numbers he claims - and the result of the oversparging will be a beer that tastes too much of husk tannin (a flaw). Back when I was still brewing regularly, I was pretty content to hit 28-30 PPG (with or without decoction) ... 32-34 is (IMHO) just not viable for typical homebrewers.

My advise for average homebrewers is to take the author's grain recipes, increase the amount of grain by 10-15%, and resist the urge to oversparge ... you'll be happier for it, and the beer will taste better, and you'll save time.
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on November 28, 2014
Good deal
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on June 21, 2016
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on February 2, 2013
Classic Beer Style's book series is amazing. This pilsener book does not disappoint. A must have for your brewing library.
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