🍺 Top-down Brew: 04 Czech Pale, Premium Pale, Amber, or Dark Lager Recipe Calculator

Enter the desired amounts

Liters US Gallons US Barrels

% Acidulated malt (for pH)
% Carafoam
% Carapils dextrin
% Vienna
% Munich 10L
% Munich 20L
% Caramunich I
% Caramunich II
% Carared
% Caravienne
% Carafa I (dark)
% Carafa II (darker)
% Carafa III (darkest)

The remaining malt percentage will be a continental pilsner malt.


Output units: Metric US


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The Czech lager style family (BJCP 03) includes pale, premium pale, amber, and dark styles. The best known member is the premium pale (3B), which includes Pilsner Urquell and similar Czech pilsners. Older versions of the BJCP categories called referred to this style as Bohemian Pilsner.

Vital statistics:

3A Pale 3B Premium Pale 3C Amber 3D Dark
IBU: 20 - 35 30 - 45 20 - 35 18 - 34
SRM: 3 - 6 3.5 - 6 10 - 16 17 - 35
OG: 1.028 - 1.044 1.044 - 1.060 1.044 - 1.060 1.044 - 1.060

The base grain is a continental pilsner malt, such as Weyermann or Moravian pilsner malt. The pale and premium pale styles include small amounts (about 5%) of light specialty malts. The amber style has a pilsner base with 10 to 20% Munich and 5 to 10% crystal malts. A touch of dark malts is sometimes used for color purposes. The dark style is characterized by significant amounts of Munich and de-bittered black malts (Carafa). Strong (2021) suggests 20 to 40% Munich, 5 to 15% crystal-type malts, and about 5% de-bittered black malt for a dark style.

The default values produce a premium pale lager. Add more Munich, crystal-type, or roasted malts to achieve the amber or dark styles. Use the SRM calculations to judge the darkness of the desired style.

There are important mash considerations. The water needs to be soft, low in carbonates and sulfates. The pH may need special attention. Many consider decoction mashes to be important, although some experts feel that a good example can be brewed with standard infusion or step mashes. The BYO Pilsner Urquell clone recipe uses about 10% Vienna, 5% Munich, and 5% carapils to simulate the effects of a decoction mash. The converse is that using a decoction mash means there is less need for specialty malts. The pale style may be underattenuated, have higher mash temperatures, or have other special treatment to avoid an overly dry finish.

The Czech Saaz hop is a defining feature. Possible substitutes are American Saaz or Sterling (a hop bred from Saaz). Magnum is sometimes used for bittering. Most premium pilsner recipes have three or four hop additions, but no dry hopping.

There are several liquid Czech lager yeasts to choose from. German lagers like W34-70 might be acceptable substitutes.


Beer-analytics.com Czech lager analyses

2021 BJCP 03 - Czech lager styles

Carr, N. (2014). Bohemian Pilsner: Style Characteristics, Brewing Tips, & History

Dornbusch, H. (2004, March-April). Bohemian pilsner: The world's first blond lager. BYO, p. 21 - 24.

Dornbusch, H. (2006, November). Bohemian dunkel: That dark Czech lager. BYO, p. 19 - 22.

Dornbusch, H. (2008, May - June). Czech pilsner: Recreating a brew revolution. BYO, p. 40 - 45.

Strong, G. (2014, November). Bohemian pilsner: Brewing the classic pale lager of the Czech Republic. BYO, p. 59 - 66.

Strong, G. (2015, May-June). The everyday Czech pale lager: The newest addition to the BJCP style guide. BYO, p. 30 - 35.

Strong, G. (2016, July-August). Czech amber lager: The Czech answer to Vienna lager. BYO, 30 - 34.

Strong, G. (2021, October). Czech dark lager: Prague's dunkel. BYO, p. 24 - 27.

Zainasheff, J. (2009, November). Bohemian pilsner: Crisp, balanced, and spicy. BYO, p. 19 - 23.

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