Wednesday 11 March 2015

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1911 Heineken Pils

No, don't thank me. I realise this series must already be the highlight of your year. Heineken Lager recipes. Just what the homebrewing world needs.

It's hard to imagine now, but when this beer was brewed Pils was only a small part of Heineken's trade. The bulk of what they brewed was the cheap, dark, bottom-fermented but not lagered, Gerste. Pils was still the drink of the better off and sold in pretty small quantities at a premium price. Based on the number of brews in the year, I calculate a little over 21,000 barrels of Pils were brewed in the Rotterdam brewery in 1911, about 12.5% of the total.

A couple of things strike me about this beer. The gravity is pretty high for the style and much higher than the current iteration of this beer. But the relatively poor attention means that it's under 5% ABV. The gravity fell during the 20th Century, arriving at the classic 12º in the 1950's.

Talking of the 1950's, in 1957 Heineken brewed three versions of their Pils. The normal domestic beer, one for the USA that contained no sugar and a watery one for the UK that was just 7.5º Plato. By that time the brewery was turning out almost nothing but Pils, with the occasional brew of Oud Bruin

To call this recipe simple is an understatement. It's a SMASH beer - 100% pilsner malt and 100% Saaz hops. Classic Pilsner recipe, really. Though the hopping is pretty light. In 1957, Heineken were still using Saaz, though the hopping rate had dropped by 20%. The grist had changed, with some carahell and rice.

Not sure I've much more to say. Other than that I'll be amazed if anyone brews this. Oh yes, the FG. The one I've given is before lagering. So the real FG would have been a few points lower.

I know, I'll throw in a price list. They're always fun.

Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, 16th September 1911, page 4.

1911 Heineken Pils
pilsner malt 2 row 11.75 lb 100.00%
Saaz 60 min 2.00 oz
OG 1053
FG 1016.5
ABV 4.83
Apparent attenuation 68.87%
IBU 24
SRM 3.7
Mash double decoction
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 48º F
Yeast WLP830 German Lager

Anyone worked out yet why I've written these recipes?


Bill said...

Does it involve Lulu? Just a wild guess.

Ron Pattinson said...


no, it doesn't.

J. Karanka said...

Are you going to collaborate with Heineken to revive their lagers of old? I would even give them a go.

Herb Tarlek said...

I'm guessing that later this year there's going to be a book with a title along the lines of The Homebrewer's Guide to Vintage Lagers.

Or maybe you finally started drinking absinthe with a funnel. Either one is equally plausible.

P.S. If this is a duplicate post please delete.