Some collaborations just seem to plan themselves. Such was the case when we met Khris Johnson from Green Bench Brewing at the American Hop Convention in Tampa back in January.
Both the Firestone Walker and Green Bench teams were geeking out on lager brewing techniques (as brewers tend to do) when we mentioned that we had started “dabbling” in decoction-mashing, the traditional lager brewing technique of boiling a portion of the mash and mixing it back with the main mash in order to raise the temperature to the next rest in a step-mash program. Khris is a huge proponent of decoction and loved that we were excited to learn more about it, so with a name already chosen, we decided to a brew a beer together at The Propagator when he came to California for the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival.
One of Green Bench’s most popular beers is Postcard Pils, which they call an American Pilsner and brew with a small addition of flaked corn and American-grown Mount Hood hops. Sam Tierney, Brewery Manager at The Propagator, loved the idea of merging the flavor balance of a classic European pilsner with American-grown ingredients and recipe-approach, so they decided to riff off of Postcard and add in some Firestone elements for good measure.
Green Bench uses a floor-malted pilsner from Czechia for most of their lagers, so we looked at local options for a similar malt. We settled on Admiral Pilsner from the Bay Area, which is floor-malted from California-grown barley and has a wonderfully expressive fresh grain character. Just like with Postcard, we also included a small percentage of Corn from Briess in Wisconsin for that classic American lager profile.
We used a German-style step mash with temperatures at 55c, 63c, 70c, and 76c, performing a decoction by boiling 25% of the mash and then combining again to make the last step from 70c to 76c. Decoction was traditionally the preferred method of mashing in Germany and Czechia, and it is said to have many benefits to beer quality. We think it adds a nice depth of malty, bread crust-like character while still producing a dry and refreshing beer.
For hops, we chose to stick with Green Bench’s favored Mount Hood, but blended it equally in the brewhouse with Lorien, a new variety developed by Indie Hops in Oregon that has bright floral and citrus zest quality that melds well with the slightly piney, minty notes in Mount Hood. In a nod to Pivo Pils, we decided to dry hop Dabbling In Decoction with both hop varieties as well.
A cold fermentation with our house German lager yeast produced a dry, clean, and crisp pilsner with floral, citrusy, and minty hop aroma. At 4.7% ABV, it’s perfect for sessioning during summer cookouts and fireworks shows.