SEASON 2, EPISODE 9: SPILL THE PILS
TYLER SCHOALES – MALT SPECIALIST, GREAT WESTERN MALTING
KEVIN ELY – BREWER, WOOLY PIG FARM BREWERY
CODY GAGNON – BREWER, WESTBREW
T.L. ADKISSON – BREWER, FOOTHILLS BREWING COMPANY
KEVIN DAVEY – BREWER, WAYFINDER BEER
- The main attribute our featured guests look for in a pilsner malt and why.
- What pilsner malt and hop our featured guests would use if they could only choose one.
- A pilsner malt our listeners should try in the opinion of our featured guests.
- Advice on different malts and hops, household favorites, and others a little more niched.
Transcript - Spill the Pils
EPISODE S.2, E.9
[SPILL THE PILS]
[0:00:09.0] KE: My name is Kevin Ely. I’m with the Wooly Pig Farm Brewery in Fresno; wait for it, Ohio, not California. We’re in Appalachian foothills in Eastern Central Ohio, so it’s a little bit different locale, we’re very rural or actually, Fresno’s a zip code, it’s like a hundred square miles, it’s kind of funny.
Anyhow, the first main question is, what one attribute do you look for in a pilsner malt above all else, and why?
Well, I wouldn’t say I search far and wide for pilsner malts, but I do search pretty intensely for them, and anytime I’ve got a one pops up that I’m interested in, and I order it, and I brew with it. In our system here, we have a five-barrel dual kettle, three-vessel system with a dedicated Lauter Tun, so the kettles are a multipurpose kind of work kettle and mash kettle, and it’s self-steam-heated. What I do is brew five or 10-barrel batches, so it’s right out the gate.
I’ve brewed with a lot of different pilsner malts. For me, what I’m going for is a finished beer flavor profile that is clean and malty but not so malty that it overpowers everything, especially in a pilsner beer. I’m going to hijack the conversation slightly about Helles because we do a lot of Helles beers, and also, the other thing I like to know is our pilsner’s actually a Keller Pils. All of our beers here are unfiltered lagers; that’s all we do, so you could call them [inaudible 0:01:38.0] beers or all Keller beers, and we produce a lot of different yellow fizzy, unfiltered lagers basically.
For me, I’m trying to get, I guess, a flavor profile that has lots of good malt character but is not too overwhelming. For us, I guess with the Helles we want a little bit more complexity in that, and in our pilsner, we want it to be very clean and let the hops kind of take over a bit more in that. With that being said, our pilsner malts, we’re often times – I find them getting malts that are not super light.
If you lay them all out on the table and looked at it like, the SRM’s of everything. One thing I tend to find is that the malts tend to be on the darker side for a pilsner malt, the darker side being kind of pushing towards 1.8, 2.0, 2.1 SRM on that scale, and I think when you get really light, you can get some other flavors that are great but again, your brewery, your brewing process, and your yeast are going to have a huge impact on how that’s expressed in the beer, and I can blabber a bit more about that, but I’ll move on to the next question.
If you were stranded on a desert island and had to brew with only one pilsner malt and one hop, what would it be and why? It says to let the passion flow.
Well, turn out to flood the microphone. For me, right now, the malt I am enjoying the very most is Bestmalz pilsner malt. Not their light Heidelberg pilsner, which is just straight pilsner, and that malt is super versatile, and I really like how it’s expressed in the pilsner beer like our Keller beer, and I also like how it’s expressed in our Helles, and it’s a workhorse for me, and I love the flavor profile.
I’m always searching for malts to basically displace that in my brewery just because I love North American malts too. I tend to find them a little bit different in flavor profile, and if I were to talk about hops, the one hop I would go for is not really exciting, but it’s between Hallertauer Tradition and Spalter Select.
I really like Select. It’s a very fine aroma profile, just solid tradition; again, it’s robust, and it’s a workout horse, and it just comes through very nicely across the board. I don’t think I’d get tired of either of those two ingredients in my beers, and I’ll move on to the next question, which is:
What pilsner malt should brewers out there listening try that I think they may not have tried yet and why?
I think there’s a lot of new malting companies popping up, and CMG does a great job at supplying a huge variety of malts, especially pilsner-based malts, and I have been very grateful for that. I started off all my beers I was using Briess, Synergy Select because I really – I got a sample of it, and I loved the aroma profile. I almost thought I was getting too much maltiness out of it, and I thought it was fantastic.
I brewed with the Ida Pils from Great Western, and that’s a beautiful malt too, and now, I’m actually just got my first shipment of epiphany malt, and I’m experimenting with their Helles and then soon to be their pilsner malt and then soon also to be their October fester there, fester malt.
I tend to gravitate towards these European malts, but I’m always searching for ones like I brew a lot with origin malt here, it’s an Ohio company, and this Ohio grown barley. Right now, it’s puffing, a variety barley, but they’re starting to fold in a few other new varietals that Eric over at Ohio State University is pumping out some great varieties that farmers are starting to work with on a larger scale.
I think the growing region has a huge impact on that. I think if – for me, I would say, experiment with some of your local suppliers, and like I said, right now, I’m excited to try the epiphany malt out of North Carolina.
I’ll just say thanks for having me. It’s been exciting to share my limited knowledge on pilsner malt. I do enjoy brewing with a variety of pilsner malts often, and I am always searching for that flavor profile that’s going to really frame the beers nicely to make a beer that you want to drink again and again, and that’s my hope, to brew beer that we all love to drink.
[0:06:14.8] DB: My name is DeVonne Buckingham. I work at Drake’s Brewing Company, and it’s located in San Leandro, California.
One attribute do you look for in a pilsner malt above all else?
[inaudible 0:06:30.7] both consistency and flavor profile and I like, especially flavor, I like to malt sweetness, that traditional pilsner sweetness, some readiness. I like to give half-through characteristics, but consistency is really important because I make lots for pilsner when I make it; they need to taste the same.
If you were stranded on a desert island and had to brew with only one pilsner malt and one hop, what would it be and why?
For me, probably like bark pils or something like that because I like the expression. The expression again, it’s something that I’m looking for, and it’s not boring, but it’s not like a floral mountain, bohemian pils or something like that where there’s some more in malt depth but sometimes – for me, I love to do this, crisp and clean, and the malt is there, and I’ll just draw the presence but it can kind of sometimes get out of the way and really carry the hops too so I want the marriage of both.
My desert island hop is probably Simcoe which I am sure you would say is weird in a pilsner, but Simcoe is my hands down number one hop. Probably show you my age as a brewer in that because I’m not picking like [citra 0:07:53.4] or Mosaic or, you know, some of the galaxy, Nelson even but Simcoe, Simcoe is my jam. You got the thyme, the citrus, the grapefruit. Yeah, so that would be my desert island, and then hopefully I have malt like a full set-up and be clean water, and I’m going to be able to experiment with different yeasts.
What pilsner malts, to brewers out there listening and trying to try that you think they may not have tried yet and why this is actually a tough one because I feel like right now there is so much experimentation going on and like that crispy boy fake like we’re in that phase right now.
We’re in especially with the weather that it has currently, so with spring and summer and coming, so there is a ton of experimentation when it comes to filtering the filter with malt with the whole life to gain trying that is going on right now, and there’s a feeling like that whole crispy boy chat, which I hope is modified because I ignore them. I think there is a ton. I guess what I would say is just do your research and look for your fun and filter malt to play with like she went out like Florida malt and even if it is like under malt but modified stack.
If you are out doing that, you know, decoction mashes like play with it and have fun doing so. Yeah, I am not sure exactly if there is one in particular filter malt out there. I think there are several that could offer a variety and fun, and again, I would [inaudible 0:09:28.3] the lean methods and yeah, if you want some more complexity or it must be super [inaudible 0:09:37.7] clean, just experiment. The next time you’re at Drake’s [inaudible 0:09:44.0] flyboy and the third pilsner, you could find it just about out there.
We pack [inaudible 0:09:50.9] formats. We’re still in bottles, six-pack bottles for now, and we’re [inaudible 0:09:56.1] to cans so stove pipes. Go to any place where you can find, they’re the tall cans; actually, you can probably find [inaudible 0:10:03.9] in the Bay area, and the best would be to come to us, drink it fresh. Go to a dealership in Oakland, the Barn in West Sac, or come here to the brewery in San Leandro; we have them fresh off the tap.
[0:10:18.4] RM: My name is Ryan McCay. I am the head brewer at Living Waters Brewing. We’re in Nashville, Tennessee, specifically on the east side.
What one attribute do you look for in a pilsner malt above all else? Ideas are pillar extract consistency, flavor profile, and why. For me, it all comes down to flavor and color. If I am looking for a pilsner malt and I go well, for example, on some of our sours or Gueuze or in a pilsner or lager.
I am looking for something that is complex, has multiple layers, not just one noted or sweet, something that is very kind of consistent but a multi-layer. Specifically, whenever I am doing a selection role I get joint hop steeps blind on any pilsner malt that we’re looking to work with and compare it with what we are currently using as well as others, and that is kind of how we do our selection of those.
For the next one, if you are stranded on a desert island and had to brew with only one pilsner malt and one hop, what would it be and why? For me, what I would say is probably a [brick of millish pills 0:11:28.1] That is the one that I’ve kind of settled on as having the layers of complexity and nuance that I look for in a pilsner or lager. Also, if I had to pick a second one, it would be the [hellas small cream epiphany malt 0:11:41.5] Both are exceptional in their own ways and good for different stylistic utilization, but I think they just both do a fantastic job, and Franco-Belges has just that complexity that I really look for in a pilsner. It’s simple, but it needs to be layered.
In terms of hops, I would have to go with [Paltar mill through 0:12:04.2]. That is just you know, Durham pils is my thing, and that’s what I love, so getting close to that example for me is really what I love.
What filter malt should brewers out there listening try that you think they may not yet tried and why? Yeah, I mean, I am going to have the same too. Malto, Franco-Belges pilsner as well as [Epiphany’s Kelis [0:12:27.5] both are fantastic malts and make exceptional pilsners as well as other styles that do pilsner malt.
I think it gives you that simplicity that you are looking for, and I’ll order a pilsner but also the depth of complexity that you would want to make your standing apart, which is why that’s what we use pretty much, and Franco-Belges is what we use to predominantly in most of our beers.
Yes, signing off, I would say yeah, if you are ever in Nashville, Tennessee come take a look at our [cardboard pilsner 0:12:59.1] it’s our German pils although we do try to keep it fresh and do everything in the lagers and everything you could possibly think of pilsner and lager wise.
[0:13:08.5] CG: My name is Cody Gagnon, and I am the head brewer for WestBrew out in Vista, California. I’ve been working over here for about a year and a half now, doing a lot of pilot brews, just a lot of different things over here for the first start of it.
What one attribute do you look for in a pilsner malt above all else? I was reading this question a lot, and I was trying to narrow it down between a few of them obviously, all of these, there is a lot of different things that I look for in a pilsner malt, and they’re all pretty important. I think the one that stands above the rest for me would have to be color, and I know it sounds kind of weird because you’re just basically saying, “Hey, what shade of gold or light gold or what?” which one is the difference but I think for me, I am in a world full of hazes right now.
I really like to see that bright color shine through and even in your hazes too, you know, there is definitely a different kind of shade to each pilsner malt if you are using it like that, and it can stand above the rest, especially you know I always think about it in the tasting rooms when you’re looking at like a flight sheet, and you see, “Hey, you know well at least it’s different shades of gold,” but you can tell the distinctive differences and what you’re kind of thinking in your brain of what you’re going to be putting on there.
If you were stranded on a desert island and had to brew with only one pilsner malt and one hop, what would it be? That one is tough. If I had to pick one, I think I said Idaho pilsner and El Dorado, and then I just did a second one for fun. If I did another one, I would do Heidelberg pilsner from Germany, Best Malts, and Motueka. Those are like my two interchangeable ones. I think they are both as far as malt profiles; one is definitely a little bit lighter in color.
You are going to get a little bit more proteins in the other, but they’re both very versatile. You can do smash beers, you can do lagers, you can do [ITA’s 0:14:58.1] you can do pretty much anything with all of these, and I have done a lot of that stuff for sure in the brewery on the pilot system and then obviously now that we’re on the bigger system, our production system we’ve got to scale that up, so it’s been nice to see the products turning out afterward too.
The next time you’re at our brewery in Vista, definitely try our fresh batch of Mosaic Surfer. That is our Mosaic pale ale with Mosaic Waimea and Waikato. We feature Idaho Pilsner in that one, pretty heavy and also a little dash of Heidelberg and then the same thing, if you are looking for a traditional foul German pilsner, our WestBrew Pils is 100% Heidelberg pilsner. A little bit more on the west coast side, so it’s got a little more bite to it than your traditional style German pilsner but very tasty.