Mar 7, 2014

Brewday: Tmavý Ležák (Czech dark lager)

Tmavý Ležák is pretty straight forward. The name denotes a dark lager with a 1.040-48 OG. This one clocks in at a lean 1.044 and has one of my favourite things: a hefty addition of Saaz. I'm a sucker for low gravity beers, both in the drinking and the challenge of brewing them well. By the look of it this one's going to be a pretty full flavoured little beast. The only problem for me is that it usually requires a decoction mash but I don't have the setup for that yet so I've had to make do with my normal stepped mash.

It doesn't exactly fit into the BJCP style guidelines. It's probably closest to a Schwarzbier although it's a Czech take on the same kind of concept and has differences that make it a distinct thing. It's a bit lower in alcohol and higher in bitterness than it's German counterpart, often more malty and roasty and uses Czech instead of German hops. There are versions that are a size up and a size down from this one, more or less the same but 1.052-56 and 1.032-40 respectively. If this one goes well I might brew the size down (called Tmavé Výčepní) soon after. I love the idea of a version that clocks in around 3.5% ABV. As is usual when it comes to all things obscure and delightful in the beer world, Ron Pattinson has a site with descriptions of the whole range of Czech beer styles.

It's spent a long time on my list of beers I'd like to brew next list, a list my enthusiasm struggles to keep below 25, so I'm glad it's finally in the game now. I originally pinched the recipe from the Asheville Brewer blog and made some small modifications. Velky Al's input on a thread on the ratebeer forum gives a good starting point for thinking about the recipe:
From my research, the four basic malts of a tmave are:
  • Pilsner malt
  • Munich malt
  • Caramel malt - Czech maltsters generally have a light (100-130EBC) or dark caramel malt (180-220)
  • Coloured malt - a Czech term for black malt essentially, usually about 1200-1300EBC
Even with the term "pilsner" malt we need to remember that Czech malts are generally under modified.
My youngest brother Ben is visiting from Sweden at the moment and he came around today to brew with me. We brewed together last year on a previous visit and he's been brewing in his apartment in Stockholm since then so it was been great to hang, talk beer and brew together. In addition to brewing this beer, we also bottled the Bohemian Pilsner I brewed back in January. From the fermenter it was tasting delicious - clean and crisp with a firm bitterness and some lovely Saaz highlights in flavour and aroma.

Tmavý Ležák (20L batch)
OG: 1.044 (1.043 measured)
FG: 1.012
IBU: 35
ABV: 4.3%
EBC: 47

48.5% Weyermann Bohemian Pilsner
40% Best Malz Munich
6.5% Weyermann Carafa Special III
5% Weyermann Caramunich II

90g Saaz @ FWH


  • 3g CaSO4, 4g CaCl2 to get calcium up to minimum levels
  • Stepped mash: 64 (20 min), 68 (20 min), 72 (20 min) and a 78C mash out

  • FWH added at mash out
  • 90 minute boil
  • Whirlfloc @ 10 min

  • 90 seconds of oxygen
  • Pitched an estimated 350 billion cells of yeast from the slurry of the Bohemian Pilsner we just bottled
  • Begin fermentation @ 9C for a few days, increase by 0.5C each day over the following 7 days
  • Diacetyl rest @ 18C for a couple of days
  • Crash to 0C over a couple of days and lager for ~5-6 weeks

07/03/14 - Brewed with Ben

17/03/14 - Fermentation looks to be finished at 1.013. Raised to 17C for a diacetyl rest although the sample I took is tasting freaking amazing, all cocoa and weetbix and out of control smooth. No sign of diacetyl or sulphur so I'll probably start lagering tomorrow. It seems like the 2nd generation of the WY2000 has worked quicker and even more cleanly than the first gen. Very happy with how it's going so far.

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