Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lager Days

The last two beers I made, including the one I am actually brewing right now, have been lagers. I don't make many lagers but I don't really know why. I LIKE lagers, so why don't I brew them more often? Well, for one reason, they take a long time to ferment and condition. I am impatient and want to drink my beers ASAP! For another thing, they require cool temperatures to ferment. Living in Michigan, cool temperatures should be no problem, right? Well, it's not that the temps aren't cool but that they aren't consistent. For years, now, I've had that problem solved through the use of an external thermostat on my lagering fridge.

Lager fermentation occurs at much cooler temperatures than ale fermentation. For instance, the Classic American Pilsner I made a couple of weeks ago, started off at 60 F and was quickly dropped to about 48 F for the complete time in primary. After secondary is nearly complete, I will drop the temps down to near freezing for a month or so for cold conditioning, then bottle a few bottles from the kegs.

CAP recipe:

16 Lbs. German Pilsner Malt
4.5 Lbs. Flaked Maize
1 Lb. Light German Crystal Malt
1 Lb. Flaked Rice
2 Lbs. Rice Hulls
2 oz. Hallertau (60 Minutes)
1 oz. Hallertau (15)
.5 oz.Hallertau (4)
2 teaspoons Irish Moss (15)
Pitched two half gallon starters of WLP 840 American Lager Yeast

I tasted it at rack-off to secondary and it was good, real good!

Since my fridge is full, this new dark lager will be fermenting in my (currently cold) basement. It is hovering around 50 F, now in the brew room. I hope it stays there! It is a clone of Lowenbrau Dark, but I made it a little bigger and a little hoppier (of course using Cascade hops will change it as well). It should be pretty interesting, to say the least.

Here is the recipe:

16 Lbs German Pilsner Malt
5 Lbs. Crisp English Malt
2 Lbs. Belgian Carapils Malt
1 Lb. German Caramunich Malt
.5 Lb. English Chocolate Malt

1.5 Oz. Homegrown Cascade Hops (60 minutes)
.5 Oz. Homegrown Cascade Hops (15 minutes)
2 teaspoons Irish Moss (15 minutes)

10 days at 50 F
rack to secondary and lager at 38-40 F

Cold condition for a month after fermentation is complete. This beer was made from leftover grains, homegrown hops and used yeast. It cost me a total of $5.95 for ten gallons of beer!

The next lager I make is going to be a bigger, maltier beer. Probably a Marzen (or Oktoberfest), followed by a Doppelbock on the Marzen yeast cake...Oh yeah!

I wish you all could taste this!