Brew Day: 4/27/14
Transfer Day: 5/8/14
Bottle Day: 5/26/14

Original Gravity: 1.056
Final Gravity: 1.018
ABV: 5.1%

Ingredients:

  • 1 package 2278 Czech Pils Wyeast
  • ~1 lb. of Pilsen grain
  • 6 lbs Pilsen Malt Extract Syrup
  • 1 lb. Pilsen Dry Malt Extract
  • 1 oz Czech Saaz Hop Pellets (3.0% Alpha)
  • 1 oz Czech Saaz Hop Pellets (4.0% Alpha)
  • 1 oz Liberty Hop Pellets (4.5% Alpha)
  • 1 Tsp. Irish Moss

Directions:

Brew Day–4/27/14

1. Break the yeast packet to activate.

2. Crush the Pilsen Grain thoughourly. (As best as possible without a mill).

3. Heat ~ 1 gallon of water to 160 degrees. Then pour the crushed grain into the brew kettle to begin the partial mash. Mash the grain for one hour.

4. Sparge the wort with ~2.5 gallons of hot water.

5. Start the boil.

6. Once the wort is boiling, add all malt extract. Stir frequently to avoid burning the bottom of the kettle.

7. Add hops. Hop schedule:

  • 0:60-1 oz Liberty
  • 0:30-1 oz Czech Saaz (4% Alpha)
  • 0:10 -1 oz Czech Saaz (3% Alpha)

8. With 10 minutes left in the boil, add Irish Moss (for clarity).

9. Fill a Tupperware bin full of cold water and frozen 2-liter pop bottles. After 60 minutes of boiling, take the brew kettle off the heat and move it to the wort cooling container.

10. The initial gravity was really high (likely because of the smaller wort volume), so we added a few cups of tap water to dilute the wort a bit.

11. Once the wort has cooled to ~ 70 degrees, pitch the yeast.

12. Seal the glass carboy and place it in the closet for fermentation.

Transfer Day–5/8/14
1. Transfer beer from glass carboy to secondary fermenter.

Bottle Day–5/26/14

1. Boil water for priming sugar. When the water is boiling, add priming sugar and stir until dissolved completely. Take off heat and cover.

2. Thoroughly sanitize instruments, bottles, and growlers.

3. Transfer beer to bottling bucket.

4. Add priming sugar and stir into the beer.

5. Transfer beer from bottling bucket to bottles and growlers.

6. Cap ’em up!

7. Fill the fridge with the bottled beer for aging.

The Pilsner tasted really bad for a long time–there were strong banana flavors, it wasn’t very carbonated, and just generally nasty. That makes it a little easier to age properly, however. After about three months from bottling, we starting tasting the Pilsner again and it was significantly better. We bottled in late May and were enjoying the Pilsner all throughout the fall. The final flavor was really light and crisp, yet slightly maltier and more flavorful than your typical big-name lager. It was a great session beer and super tasty on a warm fall afternoon!

For those who are not familiar with Duluth, or for those who are familiar with Duluth but have been deprived, I will enlighten you about Park Point. This long and beautiful beach is said to be the world’s largest natural sandbar. In the summer, it is the perfect place to lounge and relax and catch some rays. That is a different post for a different time, or season, though.

Park Point looks drastically different in the winter. I had never visited the beach in the winter, as I figured it was just cold, sandy and desolate–much unlike the summer where it is a cold, sandy and popular place to hang out. I suppose not as different as it sounds! Well, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, it is a warm, sandy and popular place to hang out.

Thanks to Destination Duluth, I stumbled across some pictures from local photographers who were capturing some amazing winter scenery at Park Point, and I became intrigued. The next Sunday, I wrangled Diamond up and we headed to the beach.

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The first excursion was a nice sunny Sunday. Nice is kind of a misnomer, because it was really cold. The wind was very brisk right off of the lake and there wasn’t much we could do to seek shelter from the biting breeze. As we walked up to the beach, I was instantly amazed with the features. There were huge hills of ice all along the shoreline as far as the eye could see on either side. I noticed a hole in the ice.

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I realized that the hole led to an ice cave. I crawled through the hole and it was so cool! How does something like this form??

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Once inside, the icicles hanging from the ceiling were incredible. It looked like a real cave…the icicles resembled stalactites and there was a chamber. I’ve seen Park Point in the summer and I knew that this feature was made out of entirely ice. That really blew my mind.

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I went a bit further down the beach and found another cave. It wasn’t as low and deep as the first cave, but was really tall, which made for a cool picture.

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After my hands became numb, Diamond and I decided to pack up and go home. Of course, we stopped at the Smokehaus on the way home. When in Rome, as they say. We both had so much fun that I decided that going to Park Point would be the perfect Sunday routine. So next Sunday we went again!

The next Sunday, we had another really incredible time. It was sunny and a bit warmer this week, and the wind was coming out of the south, so being on the lake side in the caves was sheltered. This time, we found two really, really cool caves. The first one was massive–the ice formation was the biggest one I have seen.

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There was a little dropoff, then the ice opened up into a chamber with all sorts of smaller pockets. Also, the ice must have been a little thinner than in some of the other caves, because the light shining through made some really cool colors. It was like a stained glass window. Below is a snowy picture from inside of the biggest chamber looking outside. Diamond is near the entrance.

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I snapped a quick video on one of our later trips. Where the ceiling melted through was were the ice was thinnest on our previous trips. You can get an idea of the contours of the icy cave floor and how many little chambers were there.

The second cave we found that day was almost by accident. The entrance was a really small hole, likely created by the drifting snow. I had to crawl on my stomach down a chute, and I could see that after 10 feet or so, there was a larger chamber. Once I slid all the way down, the ice opened up into a huge chamber. Unlike the first cave, this one was a big room… there weren’t any offshoots or anything. The icicles were really amazing in this cave. This one was dark on the inside and it took a minute for my eyes to adjust.

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Below is a picture of Diamond trying to maneuver through the cave. She was just smashing the icicles off of the ceiling without a second thought, and I am over here trying to be as careful as possible to preserve nature.

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The cave looked something like a lollipop–a narrow passageway that opens up into a big circular chamber. So cool!

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Every week except twice removed, Park Point has been a fun Sunday ritual. I’m hoping to keep it up into the summer!

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