My Undrinkable Beer Got Better

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Clint Yeastwood

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Dec 19, 2022
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I'm not a noob, but I was away from brewing so long, I forgot a lot, and the brewing world changed a great deal. I have been making noob mistakes, so I guess that makes me a born-again noob. My latest noob error: preparing to throw out a decent and unique beer.

So I made a lawnmower beer a few weeks back. Years ago, I wrote the recipe as my almost-sarcastic answer to cheap American beer. I put flaked corn in it and used a yeast which was supposed to be like Budweiser yeast, but I also put real hops in it. Beersmith thinks it has 26.8 IBU's, compared to Budweiser's 1.6 x 10^-19 IBU's. I think the official IBU number for Bud is one over Avogadro's number.

Back when I first made it in '04, it shocked me, because I actually liked it. It was a little sweet, and it had sort of a honey flavor. It was light. The hops were spicy and pulled it back from the abyss of excess sweetness. I thought it was what Anheuser-Busch might have made if they actually cared about beer instead of commercials with CGI frogs.

So I made it again recently, and I could not stand it. It was like beer mixed with ginger ale. It had a weak head. I had accidentally used a wheat beer mashing schedule, so I thought that was what had ruined it. I also thought I had overdone the crystal malt. I was going to pour the keg out.

Today, just for kicks, I installed a new Nukatap to replace the Perlick 650SS I was using, and I fiddled with the Kegland flow control disconnect I had installed. I had cut the beer line down to a meter or so.

The first glass I got was kind of flat, but there was some head on it. This was before I installed the Nukatap. Once I got the Nukatap on there and did what I could to open the flow, I got a beer I could actually drink. It's very nice, weird as it is. Total session beer.

The carbonation is not perfect because last night I removed the CO2 and put it on a stout to get it up to snuff. I figured it didn't matter if I let a crap beer go flat. Now I'm pumping it up again, to about 12.

Here is my question: does every beer get dryer in the keg? That's what happened here. I remember it happening with stout years ago.

I ran most of the yeast from this beer down the bathtub drain, and I am keeping it at 38°, where yeast is supposedly not happy, but now the overwhelming sweetness is gone, as if the yeast had eaten it. It's still a sweet beer, but that was deliberate. I mean, I was hoping to please Bud drinkers who fear hops.

I'm really glad I didn't pour this out. I went ahead and ordered another batch of grain, though, with one-third less crystal malt. I did that before I made this beer. I still think it was a good idea to reduce the crystal, but this beer is definitely not going down the drain. Unless I'm the drain.

I am wondering if the unnecessary protein rest killed the head retention.

Here is what I did, in case people want to make fun of it. I totally understand.

8 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row)
1 lbs 8.0 oz Corn, Flaked
12.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L
0.45 oz Magnum [16.20 %] - 60 minutes
1.50 oz Magnum [16.20 %] - Steep
1.0 pkg Saflager Lager (DCL/Fermentis #W-34/70) - No hydration or starter. I think.
0.60 tsp Gelatin

I think I'll finish with Crystal hops next time. They would be excellent. Or maybe half Crystal and half Magnum. Wow. That's an idea.

My only issue here is that the yeast didn't live up to the hype. Some people say it's good up to 72° or something, I fermented at 68°, and I can definitely taste some bananas. I like esters, but I wasn't expecting them.

I need some popcorn. This is a popcorn beer.
Your recipe looks good to me except I wouldn’t have used Magnum for aroma. Also, why use the lager yeast instead of a clean ale at the temp you chose to ferment at? I’m glad that it all worked out well
does every beer get dryer in the keg?
Every? I'd say no.

That said, I recently did have some perceived decrease in sweetness over a couple of months with an under-attenuated DIPA I considered dumping. I did not expect that, and can't explain it.

@Clint Yeastwood, your report about flavor changes after changing the serving hardware confirms the complexity of the beer-drinking experience. So many variables, In your case, we can't exclude post-COVID tongue changes, I suppose.

COVID aside, I suspect most folks have diverse experiences tasting the "same" beer (or wine or whatnot) on different nights (or days or whatnot). Back when wine was a bigger part of my life, I'd often experience big flavor changes between first and subsequent sips/gulps.

btw, I appreciate the extra effort you put into making this post entertaining.
Regarding the hops, I don't remember why I chose them. Maybe someone told me Bud or Miller used them. I think I would have used the same hop for bittering and aroma based on the opinion that big factory brewers were not likely to care enough to use different hops.
I've used Magnum for flavor/aroma a few times, either when I didn't have other hops available, or I ran out of ideas for what else to use. It's got a nice, noble taste. Would do again.

My hops of choice for American lagers is Crystal, though.
If I were doing that batch, I’d replace the corn with additional 2 row. I’d also lose the crystal malt altogether. Possibly replace the crystal with 1 lb dextrose. Mash it low, maybe 149F. This will help dry it out and remove the residual sweetness.
It's not supposed to be a cookie-cutter lager. It's supposed to be light and slightly sweet so people who drink bad beer won't find it too big a step up.
It actually needs more corn. It has too much flavor for Bud people. Baby steps.

In the end, it came out fine, so I think the main problem was age. I just forgot how lagers worked during my years away. Seems like a lot of ales are at their best as soon as they can be poured.
Looks like it would work, but I would want around 25 IBU to push "students" in the direction of real hops! I would want to do it as a lager, though, to come close to that Bud apple smell. I don't know if US-05 would do that.
Looks like it would work, but I would want around 25 IBU to push "students" in the direction of real hops! I would want to do it as a lager, though, to come close to that Bud apple smell. I don't know if US-05 would do that.
Yeah, it is a good starting point. I like the use of both corn and rice. Of course the yeast and hopping is like anything is optional. Right!!
Seems like a lot of ales are at their best as soon as they can be poured.
In my brewery, I plan on "lighter" type beers like a wheat style as one I could put on tap soon, like in a week.

Anything with more flavorful malts I let age for several weeks if I can stand it. All my beers are kegged and put in the cooler right after kegging so that's where they do the "aging" and to carbonate with CO2.
that recipe looks very similar to my american pilsner that i brew . i love flaked corn on my lagers. i think maybe its possible the beer isnt drying out but that the flavors are balancing more with time and cold. i notice my beers have some edge that mellows with time. for example the carbonic bite the hop bitterness the sweetness all seem to lose some of there sharpness with time. ive read on these boards before and i think its a good analogy that a good pasta sauce tastes better the next day for similar reasons.

i recently had a similar experiecne with a very similar beer. i brewed the mexican pilsner partial mash recipe from austin homebrewer. the wort looked funky going into the fermentor like greenish yellow milk. (yuck). the sample at kegging smelled sulfury and still had that cloudy green tint which scared me. was nervous about racking to keg and taking up keg and kegerator space but after 24 hours at 18 psi in 35 degrees, i started to drink it and its delicious. slightly sweet but the flaked corn sweetness is different than malt sweetness. almost no aroma hops but its very crushable. cant wait till i get home tonite and try a 48 hour sample. never throw out beer . time heels most beers
I would add an extra package of 34/70 or use a different yeast altogether with a starter. In my experience, 34/70 will eat through the sugars quickly but the stress of under pitching adds off flavors. Probably why it took awhile to improve. Or you may notice some of those unwanted flavors/aromas return when you get the carbonation level back to where it was when you first tried it.
Yep. Corn adds corniness, corn flavor and color. Corn sugar doesn’t. It adds ABV, lightens and dries out the beer.

Those are among the reasons why flaked maize was/is used in traditional British brewing. I don't notice a corn flavor when I use it at 5-10%. After the mash it's largely corn sugar, no?
I don't notice a corn flavor when I use it at 5-10%. After the mash it's largely corn sugar, no?
I suppose some people don’t detect it. I run a lot of Pilsners, I can detect corn in lager, there’s more there than just sugars. I’ve used rice a number of times, I can’t personally taste rice.
i been meaning to try rice in on e of my next lagers. i will do so as soon as i run out of flaked maize. was thinkin of minute rice or maybe rice syrup if i can find some on the cheap