How To Brew an Irresistibly Refreshing German Pils

German Pils

Overview

The German Pils is a pale, dry, bitter German lager. It’s clean, crisp, and refreshing flavor leaves little doubt as to why it is one of the most popular beer styles in the world. The 2021 guidelines for this style are below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.044 – 1.050
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.013
  • Alcohol by Volume: 4.4% – 5.2%
  • Bitterness: 22-40 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 2-4

German Pils Ingredients

Malt

The malt for the German Pils is very simple, with many brewers using 100% pilsner malt. If you want, you can add a little victory to add a slight toastiness, but I wouldn’t add any more than 5% of the grain bill.

Hops

For the German Pils, use a German noble hop like Tettnang, Saaz, Mittelfruh, or Spalt. There are moderate flowery, spicy, herbal notes in the aroma with a medium to high bitterness, so you will want 3 separate hop additions: 60 minutes, 10-15 minutes, and flame out. Add between 30-35 IBU’s at the 60-minute mark, about 5 IBU’s between 10 and 15 minutes, and half an ounce at flameout.

Yeast

For the German Pils, use a high attenuating strain such as:

  • Pilsen Lager – 2007 (Wyeast)
  • Pilsner Lager – WLP800 (White Labs)
  • Budvar Lager -2000-PC (Wyeast)
  • German Lager – WLP830 (White Labs)

Water

Last but not least, the water. For all beers I brew, I use a reverse osmosis filtration system and build up my water profile from scratch. The German Pils has higher sulfate levels to help promote sharpness and dryness. Gypsum is commonly added to increase sulfates. My water profile looked like this:

  • Calcium: 50 ppm
  • Sodium: 5 ppm
  • Sulfates: 105 ppm
  • Chloride: 45 ppm

German Pils Recipe

The following is a 5-gallon batch of a German Pils. The numbers for this beer are included below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.048
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.013
  • Alcohol by Volume: 4.8%
  • Bitterness: 34.5 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 3.3

Grain Bill

  • Pilsen Malt – 9 lbs (100%)

Hops

  • 2.2 oz Mittelfruh at 60 minutes (31 IBUs)
  • 0.75 oz Mittelfruh at 15 minutes (5.2 IBUs)
  • 0.5 oz Mittelfruh at 0 minutes (0 IBUs)

Yeast

  • Pilsen Lager – 2007 (Wyeast)

Mash

Add your salts if needed, and fill your mash tun to the required volume and temperature for your mash to drop to 152 degrees Fahrenheit. For me, it was 2.8 gallons at 163 degrees Fahrenheit. After 60 minutes, raise your mash temperature to 168 degrees for mash out. After mash out, begin to sparge until you reach a pre-boil gravity of around 1.043. For me, it was 5 gallons.

Boil

Boil the wort for 90 minutes. Add the hops in at 60 minutes, 15 minutes, and flameout. At 10 minutes, I added yeast nutrients and at 5 minutes I added whirlfloc tablets as my clarifying agent. Once the boil is complete, whirlpool the wort for 10 minutes and then let it wind down for 10 minutes.

Fermentation

Knock the wort out in your heat exchanger so that the pitching temperature is 50 degrees and then measure the gravity/pitch the yeast. My initial gravity was 1.048. Let the temperature free rise up to 52 degrees and hold for about a week. After about a week, let the temperature begin to free rise to at least 60 degrees. Hold above 60 degrees for at least a week to make sure fermentation finishes completely. After the week-long diacetyl rest, begin lowering the beer by 4 degrees a day until you reach 33 degrees Fahrenheit. Once at 33 degrees, transfer it to the brite tank and carbonate it to 2.7 vols. After 3 days in the brite tank, keg it, let it lager for at least 12 weeks, and then enjoy!

If you decide to try this recipe, or another German Pils recipe, feel free to send us a comment and let us know how it went! And if you want to see more recipes like this, sign up for our newsletter below to be notified when a new post is released. Cheers!

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