How to Brew Pale Kellerbier

by Steve Thanos | Updated: April 17, 2020

Style Profile for Pale Kellerbier

Appearance

Color is a hazy pale yellow to light gold. The clarity will depend on the beer’s age. I can be either slightly cloudy to clear. Haziness should not be murky.

If your beer is served out of a cask, there will be very little carbonation and therefore not much head. Otherwise, you can fully expect a small off-white creamy head with good retention

Aroma

Malt aroma will consist of sweet-cereal character, with slight notes of DMS and diacetyl. The hop profile is spicy, herbal, or floral notes.

Mouthfeel

Low to medium carbonation, depends if the beer is served out of a cask. It will have a medium body. Yeast that is left in suspension will create a creamy mouthfeel while diacetyl will be detected as a slickness across the tongue.

Taste

Malt taste is grainy and sweet. Moderate hop bitterness comes into play after a spicy, floral, and/or herbal hop flavor.

Although diacetyl and DMS may be present, these qualities should be moderately low as to not overwhelm the beer.

Food Pairing

A good Pale Kellerbier can pair well with chicken. It will also pair well with spicy dishes like Mexican or Indian dishes. Gruyere or sharp cheddar as also nice cheeses that pair well here.

Creating Your Own Pale Kellerbier Recipe

Grain Bill

For a traditional Pale Kellerbier recipe, you should really start with high quality German Pilsner malt. Honestly, you can stop there and begin crushing your grains. However, using a little Carafoam will enhance the body of your beer.

Hop Schedule

Pale Kellerbier has a much more subdued hop presence than the Amber Kellerbier. Traditional spicy aromatic German hops should be considered here.

These hops include Saaz, Tettnanger, Hallertauer, Hersbrucker, and Spalt. A bittering hop and possibly a late addition, light-handed at that, is all the hops that are required for this beer,

Yeast

When considering what yeast to use, any German Lager yeast or Märzen yeast will do the trick. More yeast to consider include:

Wyeast

  • Bavarian Lager (2206)
  • Munich Lager (2308)
  • Octoberfest Lager Blend (2633)

White Labs 

  • Southern German Lager (WLP838)
  • Munich Helles (WLP860)
  • Old Bavarian Lager (WLP920)

Dry yeast

  • Fermentis Saflager W-34/70
  • Saflager S-23
  • Mangrove Jack’s Bohemian Lager (M84)

The Mash

Like most German pale colored beers, traditional brewers will include a step mash with this beer. This will enhance the mouthfeel which will produce a smoother rounder feel. Here are the details for a step mash:

  • Mash at 122°F for a protein rest, keep the mash as thick as possible. Remain at this temperature for 20-30 minutes.
  • Add hot water to raise temperature to 148°F for a beta saccharification. This will thin out the mash allowing enzymes to work better. Allow 15 minutes for this step.
  • Add hot water or direct heat (depending on mash thickness), bring the temperature up to 153°F -156°F. Hold for another 15 minutes before mashing out at 170°F. Keep your mash temperature at 170°F while you sparge.

Pale Kellerbier Characteristics

  • Color Range: 3 – 7 SRM
  • Original Gravity: 1.045 – 1.051 OG
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.012 FG
  • IBU Range: 20 – 35
  • ABV Range: 4.7 – 5.4%

Martin Keen’s Pale Kellerbier Recipe

Grain

  • 95% 9 lbs Pilsner; German
  • 5% 8.0 oz Carafoam

Hops

  • 1.00 oz Perle Pellets – Boil 60.0 min
  • 0.50 oz Hallertauer Pellets – Boil 15.0 min

Yeast

1.0 pkg Octoberfest/Marzen Lager (White Labs #WLP820)

Canning Wort: Items Needed

  • Pressure Cooker
  • Dry Malt Extract (DME)
  • Yeast Nutrient
  • 10-15 Pint Mason Jars – along with new rings and lids
  • Small Food Scale
  • Hand Towel
  • Large Spoon
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Distilled Water
  • Permanent Marker

Process

  • Begin your process by washing all of your Mason jars with hot-soapy water.
  • Rinse with warm water and remove all the soap.
  • Lay out your plastic wrap and lay out Mason jars.
  • Add 4oz of DME into each jar.
  • Add a pinch of yeast nutrient into each jar.
  • Measure 8oz (240ml) of distilled water and pour into each jar
  • Seal each jar with a lid and ring. (Make sure the lid is snug but not over-tighten).
  • Place each jar into the pressure cooker.

One of the many important aspects of brewing is pitching healthy yeast to your wort. Pitching enough healthy cells can be the best insurance for a homebrewer.

Even though homebrewers know the importance of making a starter for their batch of beer, this is often a step that is skipped.

Full disclosure, I often skip this process of making a starter for my beer when my original gravity is below 1.070.

However, I do make a habit to pitch a healthy yeast starter when making a lager, regardless of the original gravity.

Using a pressure cooker will allow homebrewers to produce a large volume of sterile wort at one time. The pressure generated with a pressure cooker causes the wort to boil at 250F(121C).

By doing this process, the botulism will be greatly reduced. If a pressure cooker is not a part of the equation, then adding enough phosphoric acid or lactic acid to lower the pH of the word belore 4.4.

This will be acidic enough time to make the hot water bath canning safe. Personally, a pressure cooker is the way to go. Nobody can put a price on the idea of death caused by botulism poisoning.

Adding the Jars to the Pressure Cooker

Add 3-5 inches of hot water to the bottom of the pressure cooker. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, remove its weight, and turn your burner on high. Keep an eye on your cooker, but you will have some time as the heat rises. When steam begins to come out of the vent, put the weight back on the vent.

Allow for more pressure to build and the internal pressure will eventually push the lig gauge to 15 PSI. It will be at this time the weight will start shaking and hissing. When the gauge reaches 15 PSI, start a timer for 15 minutes. Sustain 15 PSI for the full 15 minutes.

Be Careful Here

After the 15 minutes, turn off the burner of your stove and allow for the pressure cooker to cool naturally. Don’t remove the weight until the pressure gauge shows the pressure is back at zero.

PLEASE DO NOT OPEN YOUR PRESSURE COOKER UNTIL THE PRESSURE IS AT ZERO! IT WILL EXPLODE! You have been warned.

Please follow those directions. Now you have your very own Canned Starter Wort. Now that you have this down, you are ready to begin making a starter for your next batch of beer. Take a look at the article I wrote about Omega’s Proper Starter.

I wasn’t going to do this quite honestly. I was just going to skip this style. I just kept hearing this nagging voice in my head. Make Pale Kellerbier,…. make Pale Kellerbier, make the Pale Kellerbier.

Okay, I’ll make the Pale Kellerbier.

Hi, I’m Martin Kean and I’m taking the Homebrew Challenge to brew 99 different beer styles. And in the course of making these beers. Well, I’m making a lot of yeast starters too, and I’ve been taking the easy way out, which is to buy pre-canned wort like this one for fast pitch.

How to Brew Pale Kellerbier 3

Now this is pretty convenient, but at a couple of bucks a pop, the cost does start to add up, especially when I sometimes use two of these cans for a single yeast starter.

So I’m figuring out how to create my own canned wort. I’ll show you how.

How to Brew Pale Kellerbier 16

So my reluctance to brew a Pale Kellerbier, well, it all comes down to the BJCP guidelines. You see each beer that I brewed has had a code assigned to it and Kellerbier has a code of 7C but there’s only one code for a Pale Kellerbier, but two types of it.

Now last week I brewed an Amber Kellerbier and I thought, well, I’ve done my 7C. beer. I’m done onto the next one, but I can’t skip a style.

So we’re going to brew one up.

And this is actually quite a simple beer to brew in terms of ingredients. For base malt I’m using nine pounds of German pilsner malts, and actually you could just stop there and go with that, but I’m going to also add a half pounds of carafoam malt.

Now this will add nothing to the flavor of the beer whatsoever, but it should help improve the body and the head retention of the bear as well. So yeah, just carafoam and German pilsner.

Mashing in at 152 Fahrenheit for an hour to get to a pre boil gravity of 10 40. They do not call this beer Pale Kellerbier for no reason. It has an SRM of just 3.

How to Brew Pale Kellerbier 4

How to Can Wort for Yeast Starters

So let’s talk about canning wort to use with yeast starters. Now the process I’m going to describe here came entirely from the wonderful resource that is homebrewingnotes.com I highly recommend you check it out. Now the basic idea of this is by canning the word it is shelf stable, so you can keep this around for a very long time.

Now I built a batch of this a couple of days ago. Let me show you how I did it.

How to Can Wort for Yeast Starter

What I’ve got here is I’ve got a bunch of Mason jars. These are pint size Mason jars. I’ve got some DME. I’m going to need quite a lot of DME for this given how many Mason jars I have and I’ve got some yeast nutrient which have actually just kind of put out into this little bowl so it’s easier to get at. And then we need some water. Now this is a bit deceiving. This is distilled water. I’m just reusing this actually.

This is filled with tap water, which I ran through my water filter, which will hopefully remove any chlorine. Okay, so the process basically is, first of all, we’re going to add the DME into the Mason jar and we want to add four ounces of DME. Okay, so that’s four ounces.

How to Can Wort for Yeast Starter

Then I’m just going to add a little sprinkling of the yeast nutrient, a very technical measurement, a sprinkling in that goes, and then I have this measuring jar here because I need to measure out eight fluid ounces of water and then that goes into the Mason jar as well. That’s case of putting the lid back on and we just want to make sure it’s on tight, not overly tight and just give it a bit of a shake to mix everything up and now it’s just a case of doing this another 14 times

Everything’s done. I’ve cleaned up my workspace. DME gets everywhere and it gets really sticky, but okay, this then is a pressure canner and this is what I’m going to use now to basically sanitize this stuff because we just left it as it is. It’s going to go bad, so this is actually pretty easy.

First of all, I’m just going to load in the Mason jars into the pressure canner.

How to Can Wort for Yeast Starter

Now you’ll notice by the way, that I’ve added some water in here. I did it to the first fill lines, so that doesn’t need to be a little bit of water in the pressure canner. Just check the instructions for your system to see how much water you need. But yeah, it’s just straight up water. I’ve got all my Mason jars in here now and it looks like I’ve got room for probably four more. I think I could have fit 20 into this, but I’ll go with 16 so now it’s a case of just closing this thing up and it needs to go on a heat source.

So a stove. And what we’re going to do is follow the 15 by 15 rule. So I’m going to take this thing off, this weight, I’m going to heat this up until I start seeing steam coming out of the top here. When it is coming out of the exhaust, I’ll put this weight on and I’ll check the pressure gauge and wait till it gets to 15 PSI.

At that point, that’s where I want it to be. And I’ll set the temperature so it stays at 15 PSI and I will leave it at 15 PSI for 15 minutes.

It’s the uh, the next day. Now I just, uh, let the uh, the pressure drop from this thing naturally overnight that’s opening up and uh, see what we got one, it’s the one didn’t work so that one didn’t seal. Um, but if we screw off the top of one of these others, you should see that this now seal to it. Yeah.

I guess this one fell down before the uh, the canning process started, which is all the more reason to fill this thing up completely so nothing can fall over. It’s definitely made a bit of a mess in there.

But yeah, so basically now this is still warm. This is ready to use as a new starter and uh, it is recommended that you take these tops off each one of these just in case there is any sort of infection.

And if there is any pressure buildup, then this top will just be able to just pop off if needed. But hopefully that will not be the case, so now I’m ready to start making my yeast starters.

So here it is all finished up. Now this stuff is pretty strong. You can really consider it work, concentrate at this stage and it doesn’t need to be watered down to get it to the regular gravity.

You’d expect for a yeast starter, which is about 10 40 but doing a yeast starter now is super, super quick. It’s the first of all, you pop the top off one of these cans and pour it into a flask. Then you top it up with some water.

I used to still water until you get to a total liquid amount of one liter. If you want to do a two liter starter, it’s just a case of using two of these cans and topping up with water to get to two liters. Then add the yeast, put the flask on a plate and you’re done. That’s it.

A yeast starter created in what, two or three minutes? I really like this process. It speeds up everything for me. It’s very inexpensive. Thank you. I’m definitely going to keep doing it.

Now. Like his Amber counterpart, Pale Kellerbier is served very young. So we’re going to add some hops in here to give it a little bit of bitterness and any sort of aroma and flavor hops we added. And we don’t need to go overboard because we’re going to drink this while the hops are still fresh. So for the bittering hops, I have one ounce here of perle hops, which will go in at 60 minutes.

And then 15 minutes from the end, I am adding half an ounce of Hallerau Mittelfruh And this is a a landmark day because I have now used the very last of my one pound bag of Hallerau Mittelfruh for, it’s been a good friend.

Gravity came in at 10 49 chilling the beer down to 50 Fahrenheit. At which point I will add the yeast from that yeast starter that I made, that’s WLP 820. So I made the Pale Kellerbier.

How to Brew Pale Kellerbier 18

It’s three weeks later. I have Evan tasting. Welcome Evan. Hello. So the deal with this beer is it is, um, come out at 1.010. So it’s a 5.1% beer and yes, it is three weeks and one day old. So it’s pretty young.

So let’s take a look. First of all at appearance, this looks like quintessential beer to me.

This is, this is commercial beer. This is what a beer should look like. If you are drawing a bit. This is the beer emoji, the beer. Well, what’s surprising actually is the beer style can be quite cloudy because it’s so young. It hasn’t had time to clarify, but actually this is a really clear lagger, which is quite surprising. All right.

What about aroma?

Quintessential Roman. Yeah. I’m not getting much of that. It’s just like, yeah. Yeah. This sort of bear that potentially a little bit of floral smell to it. I am getting very little of that. I think with so much of your head as well. You wouldn’t be able to smell through that either, but yes. Nothing to me. Yeah. Okay.

Well let’s try it taste. Should I taking the foam off my nose? Oh yeah. Brady. I would say a little bit is what I’m getting from that. Um, it’s a bit of a taste. How many hops are in this? Isn’t these hockey to me?

No, it’s pretty likely heart. Okay. Uh, but um, what you could potentially get is a little bit of sort of green Apple flavor, which would say how young it is. I’ve had to be as a taste of full on of apples and they just got horribly infected, but, Oh yeah.

No, I don’t think I’ve ever had a green Apple beer intentionally, so I don’t know what that would do. Yeah. I’m not, I’m not getting that. No. Can it taste like a seller to me? I know that might be wrong.

That’s what can I say? Yeah, no, that’s probably not far from the style. Yeah. I think, yeah, this is a quick, easy beer to make.

If you’re in a bit of a rush and you only have a few weeks to get a beer ready, then I think a Pale Kellerbier is definitely one to consider,… and good lacing!

I am the former President of my homebrew club, Plainfield Ale and Lager Enthusiasts (PALE) in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL. I brew on my BIAB system with my incredibly patient and understanding wife, adorable 9 year old daughter, and 12 year old brew dog.