My homebrewing misadventures

Back in the saddle

A failed sparge, but hope nonetheless

From Carboy. Note the Census 2010 cup in background.

After nearly a year's break from brewing (though not brewhouse work--more on that to come), I finally carved out a little time to make a batch of beer. For my return, I thought a nice Bohemian-style pilsner would be fun.

I was itching to use the cooler mash tun that I inherited from my brother-in-law over the winter. So after doing a Friday night yeast starter, I spent the day brewing.

All seemed to go well, more or less. I'm pretty certain that for the multi-step infusion process, I completely miscalculated the amount of water I should add to bring my brew up to temperature at each stage of mashing. Then, my sparging was a bit of a disaster.

Before my next batch (I'm planning on a summer Weizen, soon), I really need to revisit some of Northern Brewer's how-to videos on sparging. I ended up with way more water for my boil than I needed, about a gallon more. And that's probably why my original gravity readings before pitching the yeast were about a tenth of a point lower than they should have been.

From Carboy

For me, brewing is as much an act of love as it is a science. The beer is still on track to be a very sessionable 3.49 percent ABV (though a bit shy of the intended 4.62 percent). So I'll be patient for the next five weeks of primary fermentation and lagering. In early July, we'll try it. Until we can taste it coming out of the keg, we'll defer judgment.

I'm sure it'll be fine. In brewing, as in war, time can repair many wounds.

Recipe for Czech Pilsner

Bohemian Pilsner, All-Grain

3 gallon batch


2.40 ozs Weyermann Carahell
5.70 lbs Pilsner (2-Row) German

0.60 ozs Pearle, 60 mins
0.60 ozs Saaz, 30 mins
0.60 ozs Saaz, 15 mins

Urquell Lager, Wyeast 2001, with a yeast starter

Original recipe from Northern Brewer.

Mash schedule

Protein Rest: 122° F for 20 minutes
Beta Sacch’ Rest: 149° F for 30 minutes
Alpha Sacch’ Rest: 158 F for 30 minutes
Mashout: 170° F for 10 minutes

Fermentation schedule

Primary 14 days @ 53.0° F
Diacetyl 2 days @ 63.0° F
Lager 42 days @ 43.0° F
Bottle/Keg 14 days @ 58.0° F


  • ABV: 3.49 percent
  • IBU: 51.40
  • Boil Size: 4.26 gals
  • Color: 4.2 SRM
  • Boil Time: 60 minutes
  • OG: 1.036
  • Estimated final gravity: 1.009
  • Efficiency: 70.00 %

Stats by iBrewmaster

Other notes

This was my first batch using a cooler setup for mashing and sparking. As a result, I think I totally botched the step infusions and sparging and my numbers were way off. Time will tell how it affects the taste, but this will be a little bit lower ABV than hoped.

By Tom on 05/16/2015

Stage: Primary

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