BoPils came out "meh"

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Bloom_198d

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So I brewed Jamils Bopils (with slightly more hops and domestic malt) and the final product isn't really what I was picturing. This was my first lager.

I used 90% RO water to 10% Calgary (very hard) water, and did a double decoction with a full 90min boil. The beer fermented with Budvar yeast in a 10C temp controlled fridge. After 1 week the gravity was down 80% so a 2 day D-rest was done which brought the beer to its final gravity. The beer lagered at 5C (brought 10C to 5C over 3 days) for about 3 weeks, than the temp was raised to about 8C to accommodate another beers fermentation. The beer sat at 8C for 2 weeks, I than kegged it and let it carbonate for 2 weeks at 5C.

First off I am getting a bit of medicinal off flavours, which i assume must be from a bad mash pH. I guess it could be from the chlorine in the tap water, but i only used 10% tap water and have never had this problem with light cream ales I have made. I can live with the off flavours because they are faint and I know that making your own lager is very challenging.

BUT.... I dont find my beer anything like a crisp lager. I feel like i could have made the same (or better) beer with US-05. Is this just the realities of making your own lagers? do I need to wait longer? up the carbonation? I am getting tons of maltiness and I guess it is clean.... but something is missing.

help?
 

Cyclman

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Lager it in the keg for 1 week per 10 gravity points (1060 OG, 6 weeks). It will make a huge difference. Longer is even better. Lagers really reward patience. Off flavors could be protiens, etc. that haven't had adequate lagering time to precipitate out.
 

goodgodilovebeer

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Crispness...the pH of the finished beer may be too high. I've gone down the mash pH/water chemistry rabbit hole over the past few brews and have noticed a big difference in the final product. I've been adjusting with lactic acid and a graduated syringe. 2ml to a 5 kg grist has brightened things up a bit. YMMV
 

BigEd

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So I brewed Jamils Bopils (with slightly more hops and domestic malt) and the final product isn't really what I was picturing. This was my first lager.

I used 90% RO water to 10% Calgary (very hard) water, and did a double decoction with a full 90min boil. The beer fermented with Budvar yeast in a 10C temp controlled fridge. After 1 week the gravity was down 80% so a 2 day D-rest was done which brought the beer to its final gravity. The beer lagered at 5C (brought 10C to 5C over 3 days) for about 3 weeks, than the temp was raised to about 8C to accommodate another beers fermentation. The beer sat at 8C for 2 weeks, I than kegged it and let it carbonate for 2 weeks at 5C.

First off I am getting a bit of medicinal off flavours, which i assume must be from a bad mash pH. I guess it could be from the chlorine in the tap water, but i only used 10% tap water and have never had this problem with light cream ales I have made. I can live with the off flavours because they are faint and I know that making your own lager is very challenging.

BUT.... I dont find my beer anything like a crisp lager. I feel like i could have made the same (or better) beer with US-05. Is this just the realities of making your own lagers? do I need to wait longer? up the carbonation? I am getting tons of maltiness and I guess it is clean.... but something is missing.

help?
If the off flavors are definitely medicinal (phenolic) and the temps given are correct then my guess is that an infection is the likely cause. Other thoughts: If your water is exceptionally hard even 10% might be too much for this style. Do you know the actual ion breakdown in your water? Were there any brewing salt additions to the mash/beer? Did the recipe call for domestic 2-row? This beer really needs a high quality European pilsner malt to make it shine. What were the details of the mash? This beer also benefits from a different mash temp routine than the typical ale. A single temp mash at too high a temp will not give you the crispness and clean finish you may have been looking for. While US-05 is a clean ale yeast you will never get a true lager profile with it so I would encourage you to stick with lager yeast for your next attempt. Did you make a large yeast starter? Besides temperature considerations lager yeasts always work slowly compared to ale yeasts. Providing appropriately large starter cultures not only help them over that hump they also will give you a better beer given the yeast is much less stressed.
 

winvarin

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I would tend to look at water chemistry as well. The alkalinity of my water is out of this world high and I have a really tough time brewing pale beers with it. I have gone almost entirely to using RO water with pH and mineral adjustments appropriate to the style I am brewing.

All that being said, a good long lagering period will help as well. I am impatient and don't brew a large # of lagers. When I do, the 1 week per 10 points rule has always served me well.

I may have missed it, but what yeast did you use and what was your starter size? Lagers are an art form all their own. An art form that I have in no way perfected. I get better with each one. But I still have a long way to go.

I would say review your process, top to bottom, and download some of Jamil's lager style podcasts from the brewingnetwork.com site. In particular, the German Pils show from a few years ago gave me a lot of priceless advice for my most recent lager attempt. I also listened to the Kolsch and Alt style show from 2006 a couple weeks ago. While they are techinically hybrid beers, that show has a lot of tips about how to work with cold fermented beers.
 

beersk

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A super long lagering time is actually not ultimately necessary. If brewed correctly, a lager can be ready as soon as it clears. The yeast aren't doing anything to "clean up" during lagering, they're dropping out. Sure flavors might round out a bit as it ages, but that depends on the gravity and color of the beer.

My first thought was, did you chill it down to fermentation temp or slightly below before you aerated and pitched the yeast? That might be something to consider. Also, a lighter beer and not treating tap water, even at 10%, I would think would cause off flavors.
 

smizak

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A super long lagering time is actually not ultimately necessary. If brewed correctly, a lager can be ready as soon as it clears. The yeast aren't doing anything to "clean up" during lagering, they're dropping out. Sure flavors might round out a bit as it ages, but that depends on the gravity and color of the beer.
Hallelujah! I was beginning to lose faith in this forum!
 

SpeedYellow

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beersk said:
A super long lagering time is actually not ultimately necessary. If brewed correctly, a lager can be ready as soon as it clears. The yeast aren't doing anything to "clean up" during lagering, they're dropping out. Sure flavors might round out a bit as it ages, but that depends on the gravity and color of the beer.

My first thought was, did you chill it down to fermentation temp or slightly below before you aerated and pitched the yeast? That might be something to consider. Also, a lighter beer and not treating tap water, even at 10%, I would think would cause off flavors.
Is lagering "necessary"? No, neither is fermenting a lager around 48-50F, or pitching a high amount of yeast. But all these things are necessary to make it the best it can be.
 
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Is lagering "necessary"? No, neither is fermenting a lager around 48-50F, or pitching a high amount of yeast. But all these things are necessary to make it the best it can be.
Either lager for a long period, or filter the beer.
The key is to get the yeast out of the beer. Yeast has no place in any pilsner. It will add undesired body and flavor to the beer.

If you want it really crisp, cold crash then filter. You can completely skip lagering if you can filter the beer. I use a plate filter. In fact, I'll be filtering a couple of kegs of pilsner this afternoon. I don't think you can filter if you don't have a kegging system though.

If you don't want to filter, then you will just have to keep it really cold for at least weeks to drop all the yeast.​

Do a protein rest to make sure the final beer is "thin" and crisp.

I would never bother with this in an ale, but especially if you are using a German pilsner malt in a lager you should try it. It will break down large proteins that ultimately can make your beer hazy and thicker than you want.

Some pilsner malts really require a protein rest (I use a particularly poorly-modified Weyerman bohemian pilsner malt). It can't hurt to do one every time. Just do a rest at 120F for 30 minutes, then add more hot water to get up to your saccharification temps.​

Carbonate properly.
Carbonation will make a beer seem crisper. Good carbonation takes a couple of weeks in my kegs (although I'm often drinking it well before that!). In the bottles, it can also take 2 or 3 weeks to have the CO2 well dissolved into the beer.​

Use a ton of yeast and ferment cold from the beginning
Ideally, the yeast gets through the aerobic multiplication phase quickly and jumps into anaerobic fermentation. I believe a ton of the ale-like flavors come during this initial phase.

By using a lot of yeast, the O2 in the beer will get depleted quickly and the yeast will get right into the anaerobic phase of fermentation.

Also, the yeast will throw a lot less off-flavors if they never get a chance to ferment in warm temps. So, make sure to cool your wort to below 50, then pitch that ton of yeast.
 
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I don't know if I would totally skip lagering by filtering the beer. I feel like it helps precipitate out some of the proteins and tannins that would pass threw the filer. Other wise I agree with the above post. Also I think that is important to use a good German or Czech pilsner malt. American 2 row is too well modified so if you do a protein rest you are going to have a flabby tasting beer.
 
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Bloom_198d

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So a month later, or 3 months of total lagering time... And this beer has turned it around, and come out very good. Still not as hoppy as I expected, and the grain isn't as good as the German malt (obviously) but nonetheless good and dramatically better than macro lagers.

Really just needed an extra month to clear those off flavours. Now, Unfortunately, my only problem is that my friends who typically drink bmc are demolishing this keg.
 

winvarin

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Bloom_198d said:
So a month later, or 3 months of total lagering time... And this beer has turned it around, and come out very good. Still not as hoppy as I expected, and the grain isn't as good as the German malt (obviously) but nonetheless good and dramatically better than macro lagers.

Really just needed an extra month to clear those off flavours. Now, Unfortunately, my only problem is that my friends who typically drink bmc are demolishing this keg.
Lagers are a labor of love. You almost have to start a new one while you're cleaning up from brewing your last one.

And I know what you mean about your BMC friends. I made a German pils and targeted the low end of the style. I have my neighbor a couple of draws off my tap yesterday and he asked for the key code to my garage
 
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Bloom_198d

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Tried Brewing with Wyeast 2124. Wow. Budvar yeast is garbage in comparison, I don't think id ever go back to it.
 

GuldTuborg

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Uh oh. I just picked up a couple packs of the Budvar. Does it seem to be the cause of your earlier difficulties?
 
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Bloom_198d

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I am still learning and experimenting with lager brews, so it could very well be me screwing up... but I can confidently say it is not as easy to work with as 2124. The yeast doesn't seem to flocculate out as well as I would have hoped, and really needs a long time to mature. I would recommend adding some gelatin to the beer while lagering and really keeping the temperature down to around 9C. Give it a good 3 day D-rest too... one of the lagers was a touch buttery/rich. The yeast actually turned out really good in a wheat lager I did (low IBU?)

Hopefully in a few months you will be laughing at how I possibly struggled with this yeast while you are enjoying some amazing bopils.
 

GuldTuborg

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Hopefully in a few months you will be laughing at how I possibly struggled with this yeast while you are enjoying some amazing bopils.
I hope you're right. I'm sorry to hear of your troubles with it. At least the next batch was better, no? That's all we can really hope for.
 
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