Craft American Lager Challenge

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Sir Humpsalot

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The average bottled beer sits around on a shelf under less than ideal conditions. When we taste a store-bought hefe, it's oftentimes not as good as a homebrewed version because it's just not as fresh and well cared for. The same, I'm sure, is true for BMC. So, instead of bashing it, let's make a quality version. As I see it, we have 3 advantages over BMC that will need to be leveraged in order for a modest homebrewer to make a better American Light Lager:

1. Cost and time is no object. If each beer costs us 40 cents to make, we can keep on brewing happily along. Budweiser, by contrast, would have to fire their entire board of directors. Maybe adding honey to the boil (to both minimize flavor retention and thin the beer out) will help us to make a lighter beer that is competitive with BMC in the color/gravity/flavor game. We can also use more hops. More of whatever we want. And we can age it for as long as is necessary.

2. We know how to use hops. Late flavor and aroma additions are not true to the style of the American Light Lager. Does anybody know why? Well, my theory is that the reason flavor and aroma additions are not found in the style is because BMC can't freakin do it!!! They can't make aromas and flavors last given their crappy storage facilities, and the time some cans and bottles sit on the shelves... in that regard they can't compete with craft brews at any reasonable price. We pwn BMC when it comes to subtle hops flavors and aromas.

3. We control the storage of our beers. We can keep them at good temperatures and out of the light.


I'm imagining a tasty American Light Lager using late hop additions. Maybe even a very small dry hop... I'm not talking about IPA proportions here. I'm thinking somewhere in the tens to low-teens for IBU's, but with (relatively) lots of hops. I'm imagining a craft brew version of the American Light Lager that may not be 100% true to style, but is definitely close. Here's my plan...

First off, I'd use the second or third runnings from my Maibock for this. I'll try to get the wort around 1.026 or so before adding 2 pounds of rice solids with some honey to make up about 30% of the fermentables. Then for the hops....

All Hallertauer:
.25oz at 60 (First Wort Hop);
.5oz at 10;
.75oz at 5;
1oz at flame out.

OG: 1.040
FG: 1.005
ABV: 4.2%
IBU: 14.1


The idea is this: I can't beat BMC at making flavorless beer, but I can sure as heck make fresher beer stored with more care! So I will take advantage of what I can do better than BMC. I'm thinking this could be an awesome gateway beer for BMC folks, discussing why freshness really does matter for hops aroma and flavor. And you can also use it to explain why freshness is NOT good... for mellowing stronger beers such as the much stronger maibock you made with the first runnings. ;) You can explain that they are basically the same beer, one with corn to keep it less malty and flavorful, but taking advantage of the freshness advantage for the hoppiness; while the other has more malt flavor and needs to age to blend the flavors.


Frankly, I'm thinking that an American Light Lager with late hop additions might be a damn tasty brew requiring a minimal number of ingredients... Any comments? Any ideas for the grain bill?
 
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Sir Humpsalot

Sir Humpsalot

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I think I will use the second or third runnings from....

57% Belgian Pils (8lbs)
36% American 2-row (5lbs)
4% Carapils (0.5lbs)
4% Crystal 40 (0.5lbs)

(weights are included for us 5 gallon batchers who have a hard time imagining wort in percentages :eek: )
 

brewt00l

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Sir Humpsalot said:
Any comments?
PA craft brewers (Penn Pilsner, SlyFox Pikeland Pils, Victory PrimaPils & Throwback for example) already kick BMCs ass at their own game!

Good luck with your version
 
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Sir Humpsalot

Sir Humpsalot

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I'm not really looking for a Pils. Frankly, I don't even like them. Though pilsners can include more flavor and aroma hops than a typical Light Lager, we still have the problem of being overly bitter. 30+ IBU's doesn't exactly make it the gateway beer for BMC drinkers that I'm thinking of.

I'm definitely looking for something with more of the late hop additions for flavor and aroma... sort of a less malty, thinner, backbone to show people what hops flavor and aroma is all about... without making a beer so outrageous as to have no mass-appeal (eg, IPA's, etc).
 

jdoiv

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I like the idea and have thought about trying to make one myself just to see if I could pull it off.

I think you need to have a mix of 2-row Pils malt and 6-row. I don't think you need any crystal malts but maybe a little dextrine malt just so it isn't too thin. Add some flaked rice. Make sure your water is very soft. Maybe cut your normal water with 50% or more distilled. I think a small amount of hallertau for bittering and maybe some saaz for aroma. Not much aroma, but a hint. I think you could make a great LAL.
 

brewt00l

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Sir Humpsalot said:
I'm not really looking for a Pils. Frankly, I don't even like them. Though pilsners can include more flavor and aroma hops than a typical Light Lager, we still have the problem of being overly bitter. 30+ IBU's doesn't exactly make it the gateway beer for BMC drinkers that I'm thinking of.

I'm definitely looking for something with more of the late hop additions for flavor and aroma... sort of a less malty, thinner, backbone to show people what hops flavor and aroma is all about... without making a beer so outrageous as to have no mass-appeal (eg, IPA's, etc).
You'd be surprised, the pikeland & prima pils have converted more than a few BMC drinkers that have wandered into my abode. :mug: There are also more than a few good more trad lager examples from the land of "gimme a lager" pseduo craft.
 
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Sir Humpsalot

Sir Humpsalot

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jdoiv said:
I like the idea and have thought about trying to make one myself just to see if I could pull it off.

I think you need to have a mix of 2-row Pils malt and 6-row. I don't think you need any crystal malts but maybe a little dextrine malt just so it isn't too thin. Add some flaked rice. Make sure your water is very soft. Maybe cut your normal water with 50% or more distilled. I think a small amount of hallertau for bittering and maybe some saaz for aroma. Not much aroma, but a hint. I think you could make a great LAL.
I am interested in your position that I need a mix of six row. I've never used it, though I understand it adds some graininess. I have some rice solids I was going to use for thinning (maybe along with a touch of well-boiled honey to add very little flavor, but get more fermentables with minimal additional color). Maybe I will add some 6 row on top of my Maibock mash to act as a sort of a "steep" before collecting the second/third runnings for the Craft American Lager that we're speaking of....

As for aroma/flavor... I don't know about a "hint". My thinking here... and mind you, it's only speculation... is that we can do hops better than BMC so we need to accentuate that in this beer. I'm thinking for a 5 gallon batch, have a MAXIMUM of 18 IBU's, but a MINIMUM of 2 ounces of hops.
 
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Sir Humpsalot

Sir Humpsalot

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brewt00l said:
You'd be surprised, the pikeland & prima pils have converted more than a few BMC drinkers that have wandered into my abode. :mug: There are also more than a few good more trad lager examples from the land of "gimme a lager" pseduo craft.
You have me sold. I'll pick up a 6er of Prima Pils tonight and we'll see what I think... :mug:
 

brewt00l

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Sir Humpsalot said:
You have me sold. I'll pick up a 6er of Prima Pils tonight and we'll see what I think... :mug:
Prima is great from a craft beer enthusiast perspective. The Slyfox offering is a little more trad in the hop department but both are great beers that put the typical BMC to shame....SF even comes in cans. Penn Brewing is also more in the traditional vein with their beers IMHO.

Ed Wort turned me on to the Prima and I have to thank him for that one!


http://www.slyfoxbeer.com/beerlist.asp
http://www.victorybeer.com/pils.html
 

jdoiv

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You need the 6-row for the extra diastic power it will give the mash to convert the flaked rice. AB uses it just for this purpose. I think you would probably only need 5% or less. I would definitely look to do a longer mash just to make sure everything converted.
 
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Sir Humpsalot

Sir Humpsalot

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jdoiv said:
You need the 6-row for the extra diastic power it will give the mash to convert the flaked rice. AB uses it just for this purpose. I think you would probably only need 5% or less. I would definitely look to do a longer mash just to make sure everything converted.
I'm going with rice solids (dried rice syrup) just to save the trouble. So I guess I'll skip the 6row this time around. :mug:
 

Bobby_M

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I don't agree that BMC's lack of hop aroma has anything to do with their inability to do it. They'd never leave the product up to chance. I'm sure they've done tons of research, market analysis, taste tests etc. Hop flavor and aroma still has a niche market in the US.

That being said, I like brewing lighter beers in between. You don't need to use rice or maize adjuncts to get a near BMC body. I did an all marris otter blonde ale and lager with a 1.047 OG and it just has a bit more body, hop aroma and alcohol character than a BMC. It would even get closer with a 1.040 OG. The ale version is more my speed but the lager is closer to a bud.

[size=+2]brewed Dr. Jekyll Lager[/size]
[size=+1]1-C Premium American Lager[/size]



Size: 5.125 gal
Efficiency: 89.0%
Attenuation: 76.6%
Calories: 155.96 per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.047 (1.046 - 1.056)
|=========#======================|
Terminal Gravity: 1.011 (1.008 - 1.012)
|====================#===========|
Color: 4.7 (2.0 - 6.0)
|==================#=============|
Alcohol: 4.72% (4.7% - 6.0%)
|========#=======================|
Bitterness: 17.77 (15.0 - 25.0)
|============#===================|

[size=+1]Ingredients:[/size]
7.38 lbs Maris Otter Pale
3.5 oz Carapils®/Carafoam®
.3 oz Centennial (9.5%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
.5 oz Centennial (9.5%) - added during boil, boiled 10 min
1 ea Fermentis S-23 Saflager S-23

5 gallons will be lagered and called Dr Jekyll Lager.
5 gallons will be warm fermented with s05 and calle Mr Hyde Blonde.[/i]
 
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