Brewing the BJCP Styles

Written by Andy Denton on February 11, 2019

Starting the beginning of January, I had an idea. I am not sure if it was a good one yet, but only time will tell. I was looking at the BJCP ( Beer Judge Certification Program) guidelines and thought it would be a good idea to brew one style from each category. The BJCP currently has up to 40 different categories listed including mead and cider. This will certainly be an adventure. Questions and comments are appreciated.

First up – Style 1, Sub Category 1A American Light Lager

Recipe: Lawson Light Lager

Measuring specific gravity
Over shot my gravity a bit

Canada Malting 6 Row

Flaked Corn

Vienna Malt

Acidulated Malt

Magnum and Hallertau Hops

Omega Bayern Lager Yeast

This is a well known style, but not one that is brewed by the home brewer all that often. Reading the profile, and taking in our countries love of hops, I can see why. According to the BJCP the characteristics are as follows:

“A highly-attenuated pale lager without strong flavors, typically well-balanced and highly carbonated. Served cold, it is refreshing and thirst-quenching.” It is also know to have a very low hop, malt, and yeast characteristics, hence why you drink it ice cold, there isn’t much to taste!

On brew day I did overshoot my gravity and volume a bit, I have been getting awesome efficiency on the Blichmann Horizontal Brew System and will be adjusting my recipes a bit to reflect the gained efficiency.

Now beer is currently in the lager chamber and waiting on the taste test once carbonation is complete. I will update with more details shortly.  

3/1/2019 tasting notes

I brought this beer to the Lake County Craft Beer Festival and it was certainly not the most popular option, but it was appreciated by many of our visitors.  I enjoy the 3.5% ABV as a festival where many of the beers are much stronger.  It does taste true to its description, not much there, but a bit of sweetness, which I attribute to the high percentage of corn.  It is a yellow fizzy beer, that is pleasant to drink.  I did enter this into two competitions, The Drunk Monk and the Charlie Orr competition.


Next up – Style 2 sub category 2B International Amber Lager

Recipe: Most Interesting Beer in the World

6 Row

RIMS Brewing, Electric Brewing, Blichmann Engineering, Mash Tun
Recirculating the mash

Cara Amber

Vienna Malt

Flaked Corn and Flaked Rice

Dark Crystal

Carafa II

Acidulated Malt

Cascade and Cluster for the Hops

I reused the yeast cake from the Lawson Light Lager

The International Amber Lager, is a bit more of a crowd pleasing style. This style taken from the guidelines is “A well-attenuated malty amber lager with an interesting caramel or toast quality and restrained bitterness. Usually fairly well-attenuated, often with an adjunct quality. Smooth, easily-drinkable lager character.” I can’t wait for this beer to be ready to sample!

Tilt Hydrometer, Hydrometer, Tilt Pi
Tilt Data Sheet

To monitor fermentation I used the Tilt Hydrometer and a Rasberry Pi, so I could see what the temperature and Specific Gravity was reading from anywhere I could connect to the internet. Very cool piece of equipment, it may be one of the coolest things I have seen in awhile. This technology gave me a better indication to when I should warm up the beer for a diacytl rest as well as giving live action data.

Boiling water reduce hardness

Style 3B Czech Premium Pale Lager

This beer is slowly becoming a favorite style around the shop. It is fantastically refreshing and easy to drink. Its characteristics described from the BJCP are, “Rich, characterful, pale Czech lager, with considerable malt and hop character and a long, rounded finish. Complex yet well-balanced and refreshing. The malt flavors are complex for a Pilsner-type beer, and the bitterness is strong but clean without harshness, which gives a rounded impression that enhances drinkability”. Seems simple enough right… Pilsners are the most consumed beer in the world, some experts say somewhere around 90% of all beer consumed in the world is a pilsner type beer. So why aren’t more homebrewers brewing Pilsners? For one you need consistent temperature control, which is sometimes hard to find, or homebrewers aren’t interested in investing in temp control for their home. The recipe is not complex, but this is a style that highlights the brewers processes and attention to detail, which is something that I don’t pay as much attention to as I should.

The Recipe is as follows:

Just another Czech Pilsner

9 lbs of Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner

9 lbs of German Barke Pilsner

.5 lbs of Acidulated Malt

.5 oz of Magnum at First Wort Hopping

.5 oz of Magnum at 60 minutes

3 oz of Czech Saaz at 30 minutes

2 oz of Czech Saaz at 10 minutes

Yeast Omega Bayern Lager Yeast. I am still reusing the the yeast cake from the first beer of this project.

Water is very important to making a nice Pilsner, I tried a method that I will was a bit easier for me, but only time will tell if the process of boiling my water the night to reduce the hardness of the water as well as remove chlorine and reduce O2, but without measure the level of O2 its really hard to know.

You may be wondering why I used a Floor Malted Pilsner Malt and a Barke Pilsner Malt instead of just using all the same. The Floor Malted Pilsner Malt is less modified, so basically what it means is that you have to work a bit harder to get all the goodness out. It is a more traditional way of malting grain but it gives you earthy flavors and more intense aroma, according to Weyermann. The Barke Pilsner malt is malt that is better modified and gives many of the same characteristics of the Floor Malted, but with better brew house efficiency.

To get as much as could out of the malts and to make for a longer brew day I also step mashed with rest at 113, 137, 149, and mashed out at 170 degrees.

Style 4C Helles Bock or Mai Bock

Mai-ty Bock Walking the Plank

This is my first time brewing this style and I loved it! The overall impression according to the BJCP is as follows:

A relatively Pale, Strong malty German Lager with a nicely attenuated finish that enhances drinkability. The hop character is generally more apparent than in other bocks.

What intrigued my about the Mai Bock is the malty profile, with very little hop presence and a dry finish. So its not sweet, hops are there, but not really and it generally served in the Spring, which was perfect for the colder start that we had to the year this year.

The Recipe is as follows for a 15 gallon batch

Mai-ty Bock ( pronounced Mighty Bock )

20 lbGerman Pilsner

12 lbGerman Dark Munich

.75 Acidulated Malt

1 lb Melanoidin

1 oz of Magnum as a first wort hop addition ( Starting to love the first wort )

.75 of Magnum at 60

.85 Perle at 10

.5 Hallertau in whirlpool

This was the 4 time I used the Omega Bayern Yeast Cake. I just pitched right on top of the existing cake. To say their was a lot of yeast was an understatement. Fermentation was finish within a week! I was worried about the amount of yeast and if it would create issues with how fast and furious it fermented, but know we’re noticed.

What the Kölsch Style 5B

I don’t know if it is my age or that I my tastebuds have been getting worked over by all the juicy flavor intense beers over that last year, but I was really looking forward to drinking liters of this beer and not thinking and analyzing it too much. This style also has a great history as stated here by the BJCP:

“Cologne, Germany (Köln) has top fermenting brewing tradition since the Middle Ages, but developed the beer now know as Kölsch in the late 1800’s to combat encroaching bottom-fermented pale lagers. Kölsch is an appellation protected b the Kölsch Kovention (1986), and is restricted to the 20 or so breweries in and around Köln. The Konvection simply defines the beer as a “light, highly attenuated, hop-accentuated, clear, top-fermention vollbier

With that said the yeast is a somewhat unique strain, it is an ale yeast that ferments at cooler than usual ale temperatures, generally between 50 and 65 degrees F, depending on which yeast strain.

The overall impression if you were to judge it via the BJCP would be: A clean, crisp, delicately balanced beer usually with a very subtle fruit and hop character. Subdued maltiness throughout leads into a pleasantly well-attenuated and refreshing finish. Freshness makes a huge difference with this beer, as the delicate character can fade quickly with age. Brilliant clarity is characteristic.

Recipe for 15 gallons of What the Kölsch is as follows

18 lbs German Pils

1 lb Acidulated Malt

2.5 lbs German Dark Wheat

1 oz Herkules as a First Wort hop addition

.5 oz Tradtion hop at 30 min

I used the Omega Kolsch II yeast with an adequate starter for the age of the yeast and original gravity of wort.

Wait a minute, only 1.5 oz of hops in 15 gallons of beer! Thats right, and it seems to be just enough. My “X” factor on this one is using the Dark Wheat, wheat is sometimes used in recipes, but is rare in authentic recipes. Using the Omega Kolsch II strain was quite exciting. I mixed up a starter using the Proper Started from Omega and talk about easy! The ferment was almost complete in about 4 days at 62 F. The Omega strain is able to ferment at warmer temperatures, which is far different than the Wyeast counterpart. The other noticeable difference was when I tasted the beer after 4 days and it very much tasted like an apple jolly rancher! Fortunately that flavor mellowed and has all but gone away. Some fruitiness is acceptable for the style fortunately.

Next Up Oktoberfest…