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brewman551

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I finished my first beer a few weeks ago, a stout that is getting better and better every time I drink one. Looking to do maybe a Lager next. Maybe something like a Sam Adams Boston Lager with around 6%. My LHBS does clone extract kits. Any suggestions?
 

Schol-R-LEA

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With a lager, to really do it properly, you have to have good temperature control; it's possible to simply keep it in a basement or somewhere suitably cold, but you'll never get the best results unless you can regulate the temp. such that you can lower or raise it in steps. A typical lager regimen is to start at 65°F, drop the temperature slowly down to 50°F over three days (usually with a 3°F step every four hours), then hold for another 7 days before doing a diacetyl rest (raising it in the same sort of steps to 60°F) for 3-5days. After that, it would be cold-crashed to 38°F and lagered for a month or more, depending on the style and the gravity of the beer (heavier beers take longer lagering times). All this is normally done before bottling or kegging.

Obviously, doing this takes a fermentation chamber with a good thermostat. That having been said, few kits are actually going to have lager yeast, even for a lager style beer, and those which do will use a temperature-tolerant strain that will behave more like a very neutral ale yeast at ale fermenting temperatures (similar to Cry Havoc). So long as you are able to keep the temperatures low (45°F-60°F), it should be OK.

BTW, where did you get the 6% ABV figure? Boston Lager comes in at 4.9% ABV, which is typical of the style (Vienna lager) in general. 6% would be more typical of the Vienna's big brother, the Oktoberfest. In either case, making a Vienna or Festbier (or Marzen, which is in the same group) with extract is tricky at best, because to do it properly you need a base of Vienna malt, a special toasted malt that AFAIK does not have any extract versions. You could use a base of light ME, and do a partial mash using Vienna malt, but the style really needs the Vienna to be the base malt to do it best.

As for kits, they can be good or bad, depending on the people who make them and how long they've sat on the shelf. I would recommend getting away from kits fairly quickly, and instead follow some of the established recipes on sites like HBT or the BeerSmith cloud. Dan the Man Marzen sounds like it would fit the bill.
 

Schol-R-LEA

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I've come up with a simple Vienna recipe you might want to try.

Freudian Slip Vienna Lager

4lbs. Amber DME
1lb. Vienna malt
1lb. cara-vienne malt
1lb. Dark Munich malt (30°L)
1 oz. Tettnang hops, 60 min.
1 oz. Tettnang hops, 20 min.
Wyeast #2633 (Octoberfest Blend)

Make sure you buy the grains pre-crushed.

If you haven't steeped grains before, what you do is put the grains in a grain sock (a loose mesh bag), loosely enough so that water can easily soak the whole grain bag, and steep them in 160°F water for 30 minutes. Remove the grain bag before bringing the water to a boil.
 
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brewman551

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BTW, where did you get the 6% ABV figure? Boston Lager comes in at 4.9% ABV, which is typical of the style (Vienna lager) in general. 6% would be more typical of the Vienna's big brother, the Oktoberfest. In either case, making a Vienna or Festbier (or Marzen, which is in the same group) with extract is tricky at best, because to do it properly you need a base of Vienna malt, a special toasted malt that AFAIK does not have any extract versions. You could use a base of light ME, and do a partial mash using Vienna malt, but the style really needs the Vienna to be the base malt to do it best.
I bought a variety pack of Sam Adams and remembered seeing 6% on one of the bottles - I think it was in fact the Oktoberfest. Anyway, this will only be my second brew, so I will still use a kit. My first kit turned out pretty good, but I don't want to do anything too complex with temps, since I'm still using a swamp cooler. The stout was pretty simple. I just kept it at 65 degrees for about 3 weeks, the last few days of which I let it creep up to near 70.

How complex is doing a pilsner? I may end up doing something like that. I drink Bud Light sometimes, when I'm not drinking craft beer. I'd like to make something light so I could give some to my father-in-law, as he drinks mostly Mich Ultra or the Budweiser equivalent. Are Pilsners easy? By the way, my LHBS puts together all the kits right when you order. No shelf kits.
 

Calder

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How complex is doing a pilsner? I may end up doing something like that. I drink Bud Light sometimes, when I'm not drinking craft beer. I'd like to make something light so I could give some to my father-in-law, as he drinks mostly Mich Ultra or the Budweiser equivalent. Are Pilsners easy?
Pilsners are also Lagers. They are not easy to make.

While I generally tend to like big malty and hoppy beers, brewers like Bud, Michelob, Coors, Miller, etc, do a great job in making one of the most difficult beers to produce very cheaply. It's certainly cheaper to buy than to make.

Try making a cream ale.
 

Schol-R-LEA

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I have to agree with Calder on this. Pilseners, especially the American substyle, are particularly hard to do well, as there is little room for any flaws to hide in. Cream ales, while superficially similar to American pilseners, are a lot easier to do, as they aren't as sensitive to temperature. The down side of cream ales is that you really can't do them with malt extract alone; they have a significant amount of adjuncts in the, usually corn and/or rice, which have to be mashed. You could use rice extract syrup instead, but not every HBS carries that. There are some kits for cream ales (generally made by replacing the adjuncts with corn sugar), and if you can get one, I suppose it would be worth trying.

EDIT: I found the recipe I was looking for:

3.3 pounds pilsner LME
3.3 pounds light LME
1.7 pounds rice syrup

Liberty 4% AAU 1 ounce 60 minutes
Liberty 4% AAU .5 ounce 1 minute

This is for a full boil, if you're doing a partial boil you'd have to increase the bittering hops a bit.
 
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brewman551

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Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll check with
my LHBS. He has a book of recipes about two inches thick for kits he puts together and probably has a light or cream ale that would work. Even if he doesn't I can just make another dark ale or stout. I like them better anyway.
 

Brulosopher

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Schol-R-LEA said:
A typical lager regimen is to start at 65°F, drop the temperature slowly down to 50°F over three days (usually with a 3°F step every four hours), then hold for another 7 days before doing a diacetyl rest (raising it in the same sort of steps to 60°F) for 3-5days. After that, it would be cold-crashed to 38°F and lagered for a month or more, depending on the style and the gravity of the beer (heavier beers take longer lagering times).
Huh? I pitch all my lager cool, 48-52F, then let the exothermic heat bring them to target ferm temp, 50-54F. I can get great lager beer from grain to glass in 3 weeks by ramping temps after 4 days of fermentation.
 

shadows69

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Huh? I pitch all my lager cool, 48-52F, then let the exothermic heat bring them to target ferm temp, 50-54F. I can get great lager beer from grain to glass in 3 weeks by ramping temps after 4 days of fermentation.
Isnt that a "steam lager"? Never heard of a lager going from grain to glass in 3 weeks. Every lager I ever made was no less then 8 weeks from grain to glass. I week primary 50 degrees, 3 days d-rest (room temp). 6 to 8 weeks or more secondary temp in the 30's. 6-8 weeks is where the "crisp" lager taste comes into play. Maybe im missing something to get a lager in 3 weeks? If there is a new way to do it and get that same lager taste please do tell. 3 weeks would sure save me alot of space not to mention how I could get done.
 

Brulosopher

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shadows69 said:
Isnt that a "steam lager"? Never heard of a lager going from grain to glass in 3 weeks. Every lager I ever made was no less then 8 weeks from grain to glass. I week primary 50 degrees, 3 days d-rest (room temp). 6 to 8 weeks or more secondary temp in the 30's. 6-8 weeks is where the "crisp" lager taste comes into play. Maybe im missing something to get a lager in 3 weeks? If there is a new way to do it and get that same lager taste please do tell. 3 weeks would sure save me alot of space not to mention how I could get done.
Yeah, you're missing something... just as I was before trying the technique I now use. A "steam" beer has more to do with the yeast and other ingredients than fermentation, in fact California Common is one of my favorite styles.

The technique:

Pitch big slug of yeast at around 50F, control to 54F, let it go 4 days.

Remove probe from side of carboy and start bumping temp 5F every 12 hours until it reaches 65-70F, let it sit 2-3 days.

Ramp temp down 5F per day until it gets to 30-32F, let it sit 3-5 days.

Keg and carbonate!

Here's what it looked like at exactly 21 days from pitching

image-2394222547.jpg

Delicious! I've made many lagers traditionally, this one is as good of not better.
 
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brewman551

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Honestly I don't like Lagers enough to do that much work. I got into brewing to be able to drink dark ales and stouts without the cost.
 

Brulosopher

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brewman551 said:
Honestly I don't like Lagers enough to do that much work. I got into brewing to be able to drink dark ales and stouts without the cost.
I'm presumptuously assuming you haven't had good lager... yet ;)
 

shadows69

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Yeah, you're missing something... just as I was before trying the technique I now use. A "steam" beer has more to do with the yeast and other ingredients than fermentation, in fact California Common is one of my favorite styles.

The technique:

Pitch big slug of yeast at around 50F, control to 54F, let it go 4 days.

Remove probe from side of carboy and start bumping temp 5F every 12 hours until it reaches 65-70F, let it sit 2-3 days.

Ramp temp down 5F per day until it gets to 30-32F, let it sit 3-5 days.

Keg and carbonate!

Here's what it looked like at exactly 21 days from pitching

Delicious! I've made many lagers traditionally, this one is as good of not better.
Hmm, I assume at the last step you could just keg it when it sits at 30 degrees or is this still on the yeast? I'll have to try this, I could get a boat load of lagers done if this is true. Thanks for the info. I assume this will work with any lager yeast. I'm using wlp810 right now.
 
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brewman551

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Yes Brulosopher I have had good lagers but just store bought ones, no home brews. I went by the brew store today and finally settled on a Wild Goose Pale Ale clone. I'll be brewing tomorrow night!
 

Brulosopher

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shadows69 said:
Hmm, I assume at the last step you could just keg it when it sits at 30 degrees or is this still on the yeast? I'll have to try this, I could get a boat load of lagers done if this is true. Thanks for the info. I assume this will work with any lager yeast. I'm using wlp810 right now.
810 is a hybrid yeast, I ferment it at 58F using a similar process. It works so good, seriously. Here's a 4 week old delicious Pils:
image-3912230003.jpg
 
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