Given the company’s history of supplying brewers, both professional and amateur, with high-quality yeast, it’s only natural that White Labs also has a history of participating in Homebrew Summer. That three-years-young program pairs homebrewers with commercial brewing operations in the name of education and camaraderie. This year, it was Matthew Smiley who won his way onto White Labs’ brew deck (as well as Deft Brewing’s earlier in the season) with his recipe for a traditional Czech-style Pilsner. That beer has since been brewed, split-batched and fermented with numerous strains of White Labs yeast to show the differences in flavor and aroma each imparts. Not only is Czech Pils on tap at the company’s tasting room in Miramar. The special pro-am beer has also been shipped out to White Labs’ sister location in Asheville, North Carolina, proving Homebrew Summer–and the bond between brewers of all types–knows no boundaries.
New pro-am beers will debut weekly through the first week of October, so be sure to check back with San Diego Beer News on a regular basis (or subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter and we’ll send all the recipes and release information straight to your inbox). Cheers and happy homebrewing!
What are the origins of this recipe?
I had my first, fresh, authentic Czech Pilsner in Prague the fall of 2016 and was blown away. It was a work trip that allowed me some time to explore the various craft beer bars in Prague and tour the Pilsner Urquell brewery in Pilzen. After that, I started doing more research into the various Czech styles and began dialing in this base recipe.
How did it feel having your recipe selected?
I was ecstatic and felt very lucky to get the opportunity to work with experienced brewers. Also, I was very happy that it was picked up by White Labs since I love splitting batches for experimental purposes and knew this approach is something they do regularly with various yeast strains.
What did you learn during your pro-am brew day?
Working with Craig on the recipe formulation was very informative for several reasons and it left me with a better understanding of how to tweak this beer specifically, but also other styles, in general, depending on the equipment. For instance, this style is traditionally made using a decoction method which imparts specific characteristics to the beer, but these methods are not easily done at most breweries. So we tweaked the mash temperatures and grain bill in an attempt to approximate the characteristics you might get from a decoction. Exploring the traditional aspects of brewing this style with the equipment and constraints we had, all in the context of making it something delightful, was very fun!
What are you most excited about with this collaboration?
I am most excited to see how close to the mark we got with respect to the tweaks made for style characteristics. There is always much debate over the benefits of more complex mash profiles on highly modified malts. While I don’t think this will end that debate, it adds to the pool of knowledge (and ideally makes a fine beer).
Brewing Operations Manager, White Labs Brewing
What led you to select this beer recipe?
Well, having a crispy Czech Pils during these hot September days always sounds delightful. Reviewing the various recipes, the challenge is always what style recipe can really show simplicity, attention to detail and the impact our yeast strains bring. This Czech Pils stood out in all those ways. Homebrewers and pro brewers know there’s no hiding fermentation troubles in most lagers.
What are your thoughts on the significance of San Diego’s homebrewing community?
Homebrewing in San Diego is critical to our local beer industry. A lot of the large breweries and known brewers in the city got their start as homebrewers (including Chris White!). Homebrewers are fearless and, through their trial and errors, we all learn more as new ingredients and methods develop over the years. White Labs is always there to support the homebrewer with the quality and education they’ve known for 27 years.
Will this beer be available at all of your tasting rooms?
For craft-beer lovers and fellow homebrewers, this beer will be on draft in both of our tasting rooms in San Diego and Asheville, North Carolina. In addition, we’re an open-sourced brewery, so this recipe and lab data as well as those of all White Labs Brewing’s beers are available on our website.