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Old 03-12-2011, 11:25 AM   #1
matpat
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Default American Lager/Light Lager

Yeah, so I know this will probably get me laughed out of the forum but I would like to do a couple of small experimental batches of American Lager/Light Lager for some family members who only seem to like BMC type products. I really thought BM's Centennial Blonde would be a hit with them but sometimes it's hard to teach "old dogs new tricks" While they thought it was good, most thought it was "too heavy" for an afternoon poolside quaffer...I assume that means it had too much flavor.

Sooo...I've been puttering around with Beer Smith and came up with the following:

American Lager (2.75 gal)

4 lbs 2 row pilsner malt (80%)
2 lbs Minute Rice (20%)
.75 oz Saaz (4.00%) 60 minutes (20.1 IBU)
WLP029 Kolsch yeast

American Light Lager (2.75 gal)

3 lbs 2 row Pilsner Malt (80%)
12 oz Minute Rice (20%)
.33 oz Saaz (4.00%) 60 minutes (9.7 IBU)
WLP029 Kolsch yeast

Both recipes will be single infusion, light body, batch sparged mashed at 150* for 60-75 minutes, more than likely stove top BIAB batches as well.

Is my 80/20 grain ratio out of whack? Would these be better (I know, better the what, water) if I went with a 85/15 ratio instead?

I don't have the capability to lager yet and I want to brew 10 gallons of EdWort's Oktoberfest Ale by the end of this month so it will be ready in October. Who knows, these recipes may turn out to be a great pool side quaffer or lawn mower beer in July when it's 90+ with even higher humidity...I figure worst case scenario I've just made two large starters which should give me a nice yeast crop for the 10g Oktoberfest batch

I've searched for Bud/Bud Light clones on here and always come up with the same results..."Why", "Just go buy it", "Horse Piss", etc with a very small amount of people talking about how difficult this style is to make with it's lack of flavor, bitterness, and aroma. IMO, every beer has it's time and place whether it is an IIPA or American Light Lager so any non BMC bashing comments would be greatly appreciated

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Old 03-12-2011, 11:54 AM   #2
KAMMEE
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These are great beers to try and make to identify flaws in your process. Since they have such little flavor, you can really sense things that are off if it isn't made right. So these are more of a homebrew challenge. However, if you aren't going to lager, your ale yeast is probably going to add some more character to the beer. (This is fine by me, sounds like a nice lawnmower beer).

The recipe's look fine assuming 70% efficiency, and I corrected for your American Lagar recipe as you have one extra pound of rice. You a want 4/1 ratio on that. Keep in mind even though you're using an ale yeast, these will need to be kept cooler than regular ale's with that kolsch yeast. One last point, Mash at 149 for at least 90 minutes. It will make it a little more fermentable.

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Old 03-12-2011, 12:14 PM   #3
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I don't yet have the capability to do lagers either so this is my pseudo lager recipe. It took third place at the Boston Homebrew competition recently (yay me). One of the comments was "nice lawnmower beer" so it may be what you're looking for. Ferment on the cooler side if you can (60-65 Degrees) at least for the first couple days of fermentation then a period of cold conditioning will also help if you can. Hops aren't that important so feel free to swap out the spalter for any noble hop. You can also sub out the flaked rice for minute/instant rice. I believe it's a straight 1 :1 ratio (flaked rice to minute rice) but someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Blonde Ale
(6 Gallons, ~70% Eff, Tinseth)

OG: 1.043
FG: 1.009
IBU: 28
ABV: 4.4%

* 3.5 lbs - Domestic 2-Row
* 3.5 lbs - German Pils
* 1 lb - White Wheat Malt
* 1 lb - Crystal 20
* 1 lb - Flaked Rice

* 2.25 oz Spalter 3.8% @60 Min
* .5 oz Spalter 3.8% @ 10 min

* Yeast: US-05

* Mashed 60 min @ 153, 1.25 qt/lb

Tasting Notes:
Look - Light straw color, slight chill haze, 1 finger head that sticks around, nice lacing
Aroma - Sweet bready malt, little hop aroma
Mouthfeel - light bodied, finishes dry
Taste - Initially fresh milled grains followed by a solid but not over-powering clean hop bitterness, little to no hop flavor, very mild fruity ester from the yeast, slight DMS which is acceptable. Overall very clean

Good Luck!

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Old 03-12-2011, 12:41 PM   #4
matpat
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WOW, thank you for your reply KAMMEE!

I've only done two all grain batches so far and I've managed to hit 73% efficiency on both of them. I am hoping to get my process nailed down in the beginning rather than try to correct it later on and that was part of my reasoning for trying to make this style. It will be much easier to learn to do things the "right" way now while I am still learning my system.

I will take your advice and mash at 149* for 90 minutes. I do have 1 lb of Minute Rice in Beer Smith for the American Lager recipe I just mistakenly typed 2 lb in the post. I wanted to use the Kolsch yeast since I have heard it can sometimes be mistaken for a lager plus if the beer doesn't turn out I will have successfully made a big starter for the Oktoberfest. Seems like a "win-win" opportunity for me.

I should be able to keep this in the 60-62* range for fermentation (both my garage and basement are fairly stable at these temps) and I can "lager" it for a while at 40* or lower in the garage fridge. The plan is to have a nice light home brew ready around July 4th.

I may have just scored a second full size fridge "Kegerator" on Craigslist that I can use for lagering on successive batches if this one comes out OK.

Again, thank you for your constructive post! I was really expecting more of the BMC bashing I have seen in the past but was nicely surprised.

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Old 03-12-2011, 12:57 PM   #5
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You may get naysayers that just don't like the style of beer, and turn up their noses. But none of them can argue that Light American Lager beers are difficult to brew and are a challenge. If you want to brew one, then brew it and anyone who bashes you for trying should grow up and be a little more mature in the way they tolerate other's opinions and experiences in the hobby. To each their own.

In this case, I'd call the beer more of a cream ale... but really once the yeast drops and if you cold condition it, you should have a very clean beer that is lager like. I make a nice light cream ale every once in a while that really isn't anything more than a Miller Light clone using ale yeast because I want something that isn't too fussy but has just a little more flavor than BMC beers. They're fun to make, but if your sanitation or some other part of your process is off, you may be able to find some flaws. Don't let that stop you though, just make the beer and learn as you go. Thats how you get better at this hobby.

One last hint, depending on your tap water, you can get too much sulfite for this beer making the bitterness too much for this style. I'd use RO water only for this beer since its so light, and then add some Calcium Chloride (about 1 TSP) and Lactic Acid (4 ML) to the mash. Add 1TSP of calcium chloride to the boil kettle as well.

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Old 03-12-2011, 03:52 PM   #6
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Larrynoz,

Grats on placing in the Boston Homebrew Competition and thank you for the recipe. I have a feeling it will be way too "flavorful" for my family. They are strictly Bud/Bud Light drinkers who can occasionally handle the increased flavor of a Michelob on special occasions, lol. It definitely sounds like something I would enjoy during the summer months and will post back once I try it

Again, thanks again KAMMEE! I know lots of people like to "poo-poo" on BMC type beers and even though I rarely if ever drink BMC a lot of family/friends like it so it is worth the challenge to brew this type of beer. I've had BMC products on the East Coast, West Coast and even overseas and they always seem to taste the same. That is quite the accomplishment in my opinion and is something to be respected even if they aren't my first choice in a beer. Who knows, I may learn something in the process that may make all of my beers better so I plan on following through with it.

I have been looking at my water and already have several profiles built for Oktoberfest, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Doggy Style Pale Ale, etc. I've used Easy Water Calculator for my first two AG batches and just started to play around with Bru'n Water yesterday. Both of those seem to have my sulphate to chloride in the balanced range (1.1) but surprisingly enough I am on the low side for Ca. I have kept aquariums for over 20 years so I have a decent RO unit and I've always used RO for extract batches but steep my grains in tap water. I need to find a source for some CaOh2 so I'm not increasing my SO4 and Cl too much and I will be happy. Without the use of the two spreadsheets above I know just enough about my chemical additions to be dangerous

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Old 04-25-2011, 02:33 PM   #7
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Just a follow up on this recipe. I used 100% RO water and added in the appropriate amounts of salts to come close to "pilsner" water according to Bru'n Water. I also used some Lactic Acid to hit 5.3 mash pH according to my meter.

I ended up mashing in at 152 which was a bit higher than Beersmith calculated but a few minutes of stirring got it down to 150. I was prepared to mash for 90 minutes but checked starch conversion at 75 minutes and it was done. Boiled for 60 minutes, cooled and transferred to my primary. Since this was an unplanned brew day I did not make a starter and instead pitched two vials of WLP029 (I probably over pitched a bit) and fermented at 64 degrees for 10 days. Beersmith predicted a FG of 1.008 and I was a bit surprised when the FG hit 1.004.

I transferred to secondary (bright tank) and "lagered" for 10 days at 32 degrees. I added gelatin and let it sit for 2 more days to clear up a bit then racked to a keg. I put this and a keg of Northern Blonde (I was out of Centennial hops so I substituted Northern Brewer) on 30 psi for two days then cut both back to 12 psi for five more days. This "forced carbonation" method has worked well on every batch so far. I tapped both kegs yesterday and the Blonde is nicely carbonated but the "Light" is slightly under carbonated. The Blonde tastes great as it always does but the "American Light" is well, light to say the least.

At first taste it seems like a very watered down beer which I guess it is I didn't detect any off flavors just mainly a lack of flavor. It has more of a floral/citrusy smell than I expected and almost has a "Corona" type smell to it.

Just for fun I cracked open a Bud Light to do a side by side, taste test with my wife and MIL (who doesn't like beer). My wife easily picked out the Bud Light and my MIL didn't like the Bud Light and claimed mine was "not bad", lol. The Bud Light was more of a yellow color than mine but it smelled horrible to both me and my wife. My "American Light" did have a slight "skunky" smell to it according to my wife and I attribute that smell to the Saaz hops though it may have been my yeast "over pitching".

So far I am happy with the results...no off flavors were detected just a general lack of any flavor. My goals of identifying flaws in my process and making a nice starter were met so I'm pretty happy. I do think upping the carbonation and possibly dropping the fridge temp from 40 to 32 will help the flavor (or lack of flavor) in this beer. The only things I may change if I were to brew this again would be to go with a longer boil since I used pilsner malt and use a smaller amount of yeast.

The real test will come in about a month when my family comes for a Memorial Day Pool Party. I think by then the floral/citrus smell will have diminished somewhat leaving this beer without much aroma or flavor...exactly what my family will probably like

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Old 06-03-2011, 11:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matpat View Post
JThe real test will come in about a month when my family comes for a Memorial Day Pool Party. I think by then the floral/citrus smell will have diminished somewhat leaving this beer without much aroma or flavor...exactly what my family will probably like
Final update on this...

The Memorial Day Pool Party came and went and the American Light was a big success! The hop smell had diminished almost completely (at least to me) and it was definitely without much flavor or aroma IMO.

It was a big hit with my mom who considers Michelob a "heavy" beer, lol. Although after 60+ years she still can't pull a "proper" pint from a keg, she still pulled pints from early Saturday until late Monday evening and seemed quite happy with it.

On a surprise note, some other family members opted to pull pints of Centennial Blonde instead of the American Light and I don't blame them one bit
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