18: Don't Mention The War Pilsner (ag)


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It’s the beer that almost started a war. It’s incursion into friendly territory – the house fridge – sparked tensions.

The first pils I ever brewed was amazing – 18 Don’t Mention The War Pils. It actually started me liking the style as I wasn’t a huge fan before; it tasted like Pilsner Urquell and encouraged me to explore the more bitter, hoppy pils.

But try as I might, I have never been able to replicate it. I suddenly realised why the other day – I have been following the recipe as written ignoring all the mistakes I made. For example, I was trying to match the OG of the recipe rather than match the OG of the resultant beer. Additionally, I had used 1 pack of S23 for the half batch but never scaled up to 2 packs for the full batch, which is the recommended amount for fermenting at 9 degrees with S23. Nor did I always keep the fermentation temperature and time the same as the first beer.

China Pils started as an exact adjustment of that original #18 recipe, adjusting for strength and IBU to the resultant beer. At the last minute I changed it – switching in 1kg of MO which I had ready milled and didn’t want to go off, and adding a 30m hop addition. So maybe it won’t be quite the same as the original, but I am hoping that matching the strength and IBU along with the slightly maltier MO and additional flavour hop addition, plus good temp control and adequate yeast, will give me close to the taste I want. I will be gutted if I come out with yet another batch of meh-pils.

China Pils

Boil 27L

Collection (after boil off, trub, hops, etc) 19.5L at 1.055

FG of 1.013 will give around 5.4%

Bitterness: 61 IBU (Beer Recipator), 51 IBU (Brew Pal iPhone)

Grain:
240g Munich
60g Carared 20L
1kg Maris Otter
3.5kg German Pilsner

1 hour at 67-65 degrees
Batch sparge at 73 degrees

75g Saaz (Leaf 4.2% AA, 60 min.)
30g Saaz (Leaf 4.2% AA, 30 min.)
30g Saaz (Leaf 4.2% AA, 15 min.)
30g Saaz (Leaf 4.2% AA, 3 min.)
15g Saaz (Leaf, aroma)

2 x S23 pitched dry at 19 (Recommended is to pitch or hydrate at room temp). Will cool and ferment in 9 degree fridge.

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Best pils I have had in a long time. I made damn similar with my first ever pils (the beer which actually made me appreciate pils). Have never been able to replicate it again.

Saturday night I arrange to meet Jonno and Chuwy for a Yokohama pub crawl with the gf. We had grand plans to hit Full Monty, Craft Beer Bar, Pivovar + Yokohama Brewery, Pivo, Thrash Zone, and Cheers – but with a detour to the dock to drink the homebrew I brought and some excellent beer brought by Chuwy and with Thrash being unexpectedly closed (will I ever get to go there?), we only hit three bars. But drinking beer outside in the beautiful Yokohama dock was fantastic – reminded me of living in HK and going to TST harbour.

First bar of the night for was Full Monty, to enjoy British food while waiting for J&C to turn up.

The Full Monty, Yokohama

The Full Monty, Yokohama

Inside the place is more like an outback Aussie pub than a British pub. Not just the wooden decor, but the way half the people there seemed to be regulars, chatting like in some remote Aussie village.

Inside The Full Monty

Inside The Full Monty

Clive, the owner, seemed to go out his way to make little friendly comments to everyone whenever he could, eg. serving beer, taking away the food plates.

Full Monty Beer Menu

Full Monty beer menu

Beer menu was a bit lacking to be honest – quite a lot was unavailable, and the guest beer was a rather standard Pedigree. A very British selection but not my ideal choices – could do with having a British IPA there or a few craft bottles. I hear Clive has plans for 2 extra taps with craft beer, let’s hope that happens.

That said, the London Pride and The Pedigree were the best examples I’ve had of those beers in a long time. Perfect temperature, perfect carbonation, bursting with flavour, and proper British pours. Clive took care pouring the beer – letting beer settle, overfilling when there was too much head etc. Other places serve beers with huge heads – it was refreshing to see real British pouring skill. Made me feel homesick.

For food we ordered the chicken tortilla and pie of the day (Cornish Pastie). Portions were huge, and while the meat in the pastie was a little fatty for my liking, I have to say that the chicken tortilla was fantastic. It’s been a long time since I’ve had chicken so perfectly cooked in a pub – juicy, tasty, I would go back for the chicken alone.

Chuwy having a series of disasters, the gf and I moved on to the hard to find Craft Beer Bar to wait for him and Jonno there.

Craft Beer Bar, Yokohama

Craft Beer Bar, Yokohama

Bloody difficult to find this Craft Beer Bar. It’s hidden on down this back street:

A little off the beaten track

A little off the beaten track

The Google Map linked from Boozelist has the CBB in the wrong place. Here’s a map with directions:

Map: Full Monty & Craft Beer Bar

Map: Full Monty & Craft Beer Bar

Apologies for the wacky numbering – added 8, 9, 10 as a bit of an afterthought.

To get to Full Monty from the station, come out the south exit and walk to the main road on your right. Follow the road to the YMCA. Just past there is a a convenience store – turn left there and Full Monty is on your right.

To get to Craft Beer Bar from Full Monty, turn right and walk until the crossing with Royal Host. Then turn right again and walk a few blocks. After Bar Bar Bar on your right hand side, at the next crossing you’ll see Green Bowl on your right and a big car park on your left. Go left, walking down the side of the car park (as shown in the photo above). CBB is on the right.

To get to Craft Beer Bar from the station, come out the south exit and walk to the main road on your right. Follow the road to the YMCE and keep walking until you get to Hotto Motto on your left. Take the left there between Hotto Motto and the car park, then keep walking. You’ll pass Green Bowl on your right as you come to a small road. Cross that road and keep going – CBB is on the right.

Now you know how to get there, is it worth going? Here’s the beer menu:

Craft Beer Bar beer menu

Craft Beer Bar beer menu

Yeah, I can barely read it also – but there’s some good beer there, and the gf is Japanese.

Prices are a respectable 1000yen for 500ml, with minimal head. Very good. While waiting for Jonny and Chuwy, we had Shiga Kogen IPA, Minoh Sansho Pale Ale, and Hakusekikan Mikage Black Summer Stout. The IPA was excellent as always; Sansho “Japanese herb” Pale Ale was an “aquired taste” (ie. pretty awful); Mikage Black was a respectable enough porter, but with a bit brown sugar or oaty taste. Not too bad.

Inside Craft Beer Bar

Inside Craft Beer Bar

Good choice of beers, excellent pours, condition, and prices, no cover charge, and a friendly owner – the only thing that lets CBB down is the slightly stifled atmosphere. With jazz playing in the background, and people talking in whispers, at first the atmosphere can be a bit intimidating, like people are scared to make a sound and let go.

Whether we’d had a suitable amount of beer by then or whether it was just the influence of their wacky presence, that feeling mostly disappeared when the comedy duo that is Chuwy and Jonno arrived. From then on, the atmosphere was mostly forgotten about as the gf and I watched both of them interrupt each other’s sentences and start (but not finish) more stories than the Mr Men collection. Jonno: I never did find out what happened at that wedding you went to – do tell! Watching Chuwy and Jonno talk is like watching a tennis match – the ball of conversation jumping left right left right as it gets spanked back and forth. Top guys though – a lot of fun.

Beer consumed, we headed to Yamashita park to enjoy the view and drink my homebrew and some excellent beers Chuwy brought along.

Yokohama dock at night...

Yokohama dock at night...

It was awesome sitting outside next to the arbour drinking beer – it was really relaxing.  I was even getting used to the tennis style conversation by now.

First beer outside was a bottle of Ballast Point Calico kindly brought along by Chuwy. You might recall I found this beer so bad at Cataratas last time that I sent it back – the bottle was much much better, with none of the funky taste of the Cataratas draft. I’m convinced now that I must have got the first pour after cleaning at Cataratas, which would explain why, when they tried the beer after I complained about it, they thought it was normal. Bad show, Cataratas. Still, at least they replaced it free.

...we were not the only ones sitting outside drinking

...we were not the only ones sitting outside drinking

Next we went through my selection of homebrew:

  • Don’t Mention The War Pilsner
  • America v Britain Superpower IPA
  • Coconut Wheat Porter
  • Let’s drinking White Ale
  • Let’s Drinking with enjoy Our IPA

Neither Jonno or Chuwy threw up or sprayed their beers in disgust, so they must have been drinkable. Favourite of the night was the Coconut Wheat Porter I think – I’m going to have to make some more of this because I think the current 3G keg is going to run out pretty soon.

A big thanks to Jonno and Chuwy for their comments throughout the tasting. It’s really interesting to get comments from “into it” beer drinkers – they pick up different things from homebrewers and friends. Very informative.

HaandBryggeriet dark force

HaandBryggeriet dark force

Final beer outside was this lovely HaandBryggeriet dark force, another one of those “Best beer in the world” contenders, and brought along by Chuwy. I’ve got into the habit recently of moving to Imperial strength beers at the end of the night, so this was the perfect ending. Lots of great flavour in there – I would definitely drink this again.

Leaving the park we headed to Thrash Zone, which was unexpectedly closed. Every time I go to Thrash Zone it is suspiciously closed – just like Holic in Kichijoji. But unlike Holic, outside Thrash there are no signs at all. No clue that the bar is even there. I’m beginning to think this bar doesn’t exist and Chuwy has added it to Boozelist to draw punters into the girlie bar next door for comedy value.

From Thrash we headed to Cheers, which happened to have St Bernardus 12 on tap, and where the bar staff did know Chuwy’s name:

St Bernardus Abt 12 on tap at Cheers

St Bernardus Abt 12 on tap at Cheers

This is supposedly a very similar recipe to “The best beer in the world” Westvleteren 12 that I had a few weeks ago.

And in the glass

And in the glass

Jonno and Chuwy seemed to want to snort theirs like beer cocaine. Much laughing ensured, followed by posh beer aficionado type talk of the differences between the B12 and W12… so much talk that we lost track of time and had to down the beer and leg it for the last train. Great beer aficionados we are.

Comparing the B12 and W12 – the B12 definitely lacks the sparkle of the sugary tingly aftertaste of the W12, though I’m not sure whether that’s due to it being on draft or not. I’ll refrain from making final comments on this beer until I can taste it in bottles.

Jonno, Chuwy: It was awesome meeting your guys – thanks for an entertaining night. We must try to do a proper Hama pub crawl one time soon.

Read Chuwy’s account of the night here. Jonno’s to come.

The blog these days seems to be featuring more and more commercial beers and bar visits and less and less about homebrew. That’s mostly because my promised equipment upgrade is still coming together, and until it does,

Friday I picked up this plate chiller:

Plate chiller from Aus

Plate chiller from Aus

Like my pump, the plate chiller came with zero instructions. Apparently us homebrewers are just born with the knowledge; we won’t need sheets of paper to tell us how things work!

See that bag behind the plate chiller?

Please ferment me, Mr Homebrew Japan

Please ferment me, Mr Homebrew Japan

That’s a lovely 25kg bag of Pilsner malt, that is. Delivered on Saturday morning. That forces me to make beer sometime soon.

So what am I waiting for? I’ve got the pump, the plate chiller, the grain mill, and a drill – now I need to get the weldless kit for my aluminum pot, the tubes and connectors to connect everything together, and build a mash-tun.

I also need space – so on Saturday afternoon I kegged my Don’t Mention The War Pilsner and Coconut Wheat Porter (and bottled a little so Jonno and Chuwy could sample them when I hit Yokohama later).

Here’s the Coconut in my bargain 600yen “water container” primary:

Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell

Next to it you have The Sugary Tingly Belgian, which currently ranks as the most awful beer I’ve ever made. It just tastes like sugar. The Coconut Wheat Porter and the Pilner, on the other hand, are the best beers I’ve made to date – I just wish I had completed them in time for the Japan Hombrew Competition.

In the hope of getting some taste into the Belgian, it’s been out of the fermentation chamber since day 5. Maybe the higher temps will force the yeast into making some funky flavours. At the moment it’s a tossup between whether I throw it away or try throwing some orange peel or amarillo or both at it.

Back to nice beer. This is how the Coconut looked after two weeks dry-hopping:

I was a lovely bunch of coconuts

I was a lovely bunch of coconuts

Kegging was a breeze thanks to this little yellow thing I shoved in the tap when racking to the secondary:

Not a single bit of coconut made it to the keg

Not a single bit of coconut made it to the keg

26.25 yen well spent that was (105 yen for a pack of 4 from the 100yen shop).

As I said above, I rate the Pilsner and the Coconut Wheat Porter as the best beers I’ve made to date. The Saaz of the Pilsner it fantastic – maybe it’s not a 100% pure Pilsner (because I had to use some 2-row and my mashing technique doesn’t allow for perfectly clear beer), but it’s lovely – and the toasted Coconut is to die for. It’s not a sweet coconut taste like I’ve had before, but a delicious toasted taste.

Coconut

Coconut in Tokyu Hands

There’s 5 packs on this unsweetened coconut in the 10-11L that I racked to secondary – more that I’ve seen in most other recipes, but worth it.

I got a bit of a shock opening the other side of the fermentation chamber – Hops of Mass Destruction IPA has been exploding internally!

Living up to its name...

Living up to its name...

...it's exploding internally

...there's been a war going on inside

That’s the most active fermentation I’ve achieved so far. Hope this one gets down to a nice dry 1.012. Cleaned up, it’s back in the fermentation chamber. I’ll be adding a lavish amount of dry-hopping later this week.

Beers kegged, bottles of Don’t Mention The War Pilsner, Coconut Wheat Porter, and America vs Britain Superpower IPA forcecarbed, it was time to hit Yokohama. That’s the next post…

A number of things happening this weekend:

  • Tonight I’ll be picking up my plate chiller, delivered from Aus. The weekend starts Friday night, right?
  • Tomorrow morning I’ll be getting 25kg of Pilsner malt delivered. I’ll also be kegging and bottling my Don’t Mention The War “Cloudy” Pilsner and Coconut Wheat Porter. I’ve very pleased with the taste of both of them, especially for first attempts. The coconut tastes “toasty” rather than like fake sweet coconut (or at least it did a few days ago). And the pilsner – I’m not a huge pilsner fan and I’ve tasted some awful craft pilsners, so I’m just happy that contrary to my expectations it came out as something that I like the taste of (in fact I liked it enough to buy that 25kg of Pilsner malt).
  • Saturday night I’ll be doing a pub crawl in Yokohama with Chuwy and Jonno and maybe some others.
  • Sunday I wanted to go to the Wan Cup judging (Japanese homebrew competition) to see how it’s done, but since I’m not a judge they wont let me attend – pity because I wanted to write about it, and I may not be in Japan next year or somewhere where there is a recognised homebrew competition. Instead, if I’m not completely written off from Saturday, I might go buy parts for a mash tun and connections for the plate chiller. In the evening, I hear the Cat & Cask has a Jazz event with some special dry-hopped Ozenoyukidoke IPA  – might go to that. Not a big Jazz fan though.

Last night I was back in Popeye to pickup a drill from a friend. Here’s what I consumed:

  • Isekadoya Beer Brown Ale
  • Isekadoya Beer Pale Ale
  • Ozenoyukidoke IPA
  • Baird IPA
  • Preston Ale IPA – CO2
  • Preston Ale IPA – Hand-pump
  • Preston Ale BaBakan IIPA
  • Rogue Ale IIPA
  • Hidatakayama Beer Weizen
  • Ballast Point Sextant Oatmeal Stout
  • Nonge 0 Imperial Stout

I’ve notice recently that a particular IPA can have huge flavour variations, depending on how cold it is, how gassy it is, whether it is hand pumped or not, how far through the keg it is, and what other beers I’ve had to drink.

Anyone else notice this?

The BaBakan IIPA was excellent last time I was at Popeye and the Preston IPA was excellent last time I was at Aldgate, but last night at Popeye I didn’t rate either of them, and Chuwy was at Aldgate last night and didn’t rate the Preston there either.

Ozenoyukidoke IPA – not my favourite IPA to begin with – is another one that can have huge taste variations.

The Rogue IIPA also changed taste a lot as it got warmer (but I did leave it sitting for quite a while, distracted by some other beers).

Maybe it’s because they were the first beers of the night, but both the Isekadoya’s were good. Baird IPA and Rogue Ale IIPA were also excellent (until the Rogue got warm). First time to try the Sextant Oatmeal Stout also – very nice.. makes me wonder why I didn’t like the Ballast Point Calico, because I’ve liked every other Ballast Point.

Tonight: Nakameguro Taproom. I hear they have a Mild there – I’ve not seen a Mild for ages!

Chuwy: I did photograph the menu so you can update Boozelist (infact wherever I go these days I try to list what’s there so you can update Boozelist, such as with Ushi Tora and Beer Rock a few days ago) but still need to upload to my PC. Will do tonight or tmr. Would be good if you could link to my Tokyo Beer Map and Finding beer in Japan pages for people using iPhone or outside Tokyo/Yokohama.

Are you sure you're using that much, sir?

Are you sure you're using that much, sir?

I don’t check my postbox at home very often – it’s usually filled with junk, and save for one or two bills, all my important mails come to work. So I was a little late finding this “Hey, do you realise your water consumption has shot up? Is there something wrong?” mail from the water board.

Looks like moving to smaller batches for partial mash and all grain has actually increased my water consumption! When I was going 14L boils and topping up to 21L, I was adding ice and a lot of water so – but when I moved to 14L boils for 12L batches, I then had to run gallons of water through the sink or (when I borrowed it) the IC.

I wonder what my water bill was before march, when I wasn’t homebrewing at all?

Unrelated to water costs, I’m thinking that I’m going to switch back from all grain/partial mash to DME+steeping for a while, and from 12L batches to 21L batches. All grain and PM are all well and good, but it just pushes me over the limit for making beer comfortably in the evenings. I need a few “easy” brews which don’t take 4-5 hours and leave me going to bed at 2am.

Saturday I went out and bought coconut to add to my Wheat Porter. Unsweetened from Tokyu Hands, this is what 5 x 45g packs looks like toasted on Sunday:

Lightly toasted coconut

Lightly toasted coconut

And with the beer racked on top:

Coconut in the secondary

Coconut in the secondary

This was after about 5 minutes in the secondary and I can already see the coconut going mushy. Smells delicious. In the hope of being able to keg this without the coconut following though, I’ve put a little plastic mesh thing into the tap hole. Hope it works.

I also partially bottled and kegged America v Britain Superpower IPA. The mix of British and American hops plays well together, but it’s still a bit sweeter than I’d like and I’d prefer the alcohol kick to be smoother. This is quite an unusual IPA with three different crystals, flaked rye, and wheat in addition to munich, 2-row, and extra light DME – and it will be very interesting to see how this conditions over the next few weeks. It attenuated better than the other IPAs I’ve made, going down from 1.072 to 1.016.

I was very tempted to keg Don’t Mention The War Pilsner also – it tastes amazing at the moment. I mean, really amazing – I’m not a huge pislner fan, but I could down this in one. I used all my willpower to resist though – it has only been fermenting for 2 weeks and is still at around 1.018 (if I remember correctly). It’s currently still quite cloudy, so hopefully a week or two more will clear it.

Finally, I decided to taste some of the fermented beer from the harvested yeast samples. I did the harvest in May. After fermenting out, I put it into the fridge for the yeast to settle, then when making the Wheat Porter I discarded the beer from the first fermentation and added new wort. With the second fermentation finished, it was time to taste. While the samples I took from the Baird tasted good and I could probably use them for starters – the sample from the German tasted very fruity and sour. Either this is because I forgot to sanitise the rim of the German bottle or because that yeast is old and funky or… who knows, but I just threw it away! Not sure whether I’ll use the Baird samples or not. What I wish I had done is cultivate from some Leffe, because I’d like to make a Belgian now.

More things thrown away to make space for beer yesterday. The casualty list continues!

Clothes or beer. The beer won.

Clothes or beer. The beer won.

Don't Mention The War Pilsner

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