Lager - How Hard Is It?

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muthead

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Hi Guys,

I think I may have overcomplicated in my own mind doing an extract lager. Here I am trying to be all wanky thinking I'll throw some of this in, I'll steep some of that and I'll add this yeast and "hey presto" - perfect beer.

Now after more research and lots of reading threads on here I have come to realise that a lager is actually a simple drink with limited, if any, single hop additions.

So, with this in mind does anyone have a good extract recipe for either an American or Euro lager? I think I have settled on a base of the following, but would appreciate some guidance on which hop & yeast to use.

1.5kg Liquid malt pale
1.5kg LDME
500g Dextrose

I'll also note that I am doing a Saaz/Hallertau Pilsner so differengt hop would be preferred. I can also only manage a 4ltr boil due to my equipment. I do have temp control however.

Thanks everyone,
Mut
 

hoppy2B

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I prefer not boiling the hops. Seems to produce a better flavour. :mellow:
 

keifer33

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I prefer not boiling the hops. Seems to produce a better flavour. :mellow:
Dont think that will work in this case mate as the OP is proposing to use un-hopped extract so it will be a very sweet beer if something isnt boiled.
 

hoppy2B

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Dont think that will work in this case mate as the OP is proposing to use un-hopped extract so it will be a very sweet beer if something isnt boiled.
Light malt shouldn't be overly sweet hopefully. Don't know if lagers are meant to be overly bitter are they?
 

keifer33

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Light malt shouldn't be overly sweet hopefully. Don't know if lagers are meant to be overly bitter are they?
As the recipe stands there is no bittering what so ever in it so it will be very sweet. There is not kit can involved so there will be a need to boil some of the extract at approx 100g per 1L boiling for approx 60 minutes with hops added to add the bitterness to the desired level. I think you might be confused in thinking this is a kits and bits recipe where not boiling the hops would be sufficient as the can already has enough bitterness in it to support the beer.
 

RdeVjun

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hoppy2b, keifer33 is right- there is no hops addition in the recipe and no hops = not beer, so there WILL need to be a boil with at least some hops. So this is an extract recipe as opposed to a kits and bits recipe where the kit goop provides some or all of the bittering.
muthead, IMO you're on the right track- great lagers are often very simple recipes, however I'd consider going even simpler by dropping the LDME and use 2 * 1.5kg of pale malt extract and the dextrose, boil enough noble hops for 60 minutes to give you 25IBU and you should approximate a eurolager. Boil the hops a few L of water, 100g malt extract per L, you may need to top it up when boiling that long, just add fresh to replace evaporation losses. With temp control and a decent pitch of lager yeast (i.e. don't be scabby! use two packs of dry or a generous liquid starter), then transfer to secondary after it approaches FG, lager for a month and you should be home and hosed to package it up. If you tell us which hops you want to use, we can help you work it out, need to know the %AA to do so though.
Hope this helps! :icon_cheers:
 

hoppy2B

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I'm thinking along the lines of first wort hopping, and have adapted my own technique but its a secret. :lol:
 

kelbygreen

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isnt first wort hopping putting hops into the mash tun??? it is impossible with extract as you do not mash the extract!

You will need bittering hops I would bitter it to about 25IBU use all saaz or saaz later (have not used hallertau yet) but its noble hop so should work. I would do a 60min addition and a 10min one. Maybe only 1g/lt for the 10min. Ferment with a good lager yeast (s23 or the swiss larger are good for dry yeast) ferment low and use 2 packs. It will take about 2 weeks + to ferment then CC as low as you can to -1c for a few more weeks.

Its not very hard to brew a lager it is just time consuming. When you get into AG you have a bit more difficulty there but with extract you can only use the ingredient you have available. My best K&K and extract was a coopers euro kit (not sure what else I used) But I think I used the kit yeast (as its a lager) and fermented for 3 weeks CC for 5 weeks and it was crystal clear into the bottle. I think I added some saaz at 20mins not sure how much and what extract I used (most prob 70% malt and 30% dex)
 

yum beer

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your malts seem fine to me though agree with RdeVjun, try Hersbrucker or Tettnang for your hops for a nice euro hit.
If you are gonna go the Pale malt and Dry then I would drop the dex, going to come out quite strong otherwise--around 6%
 

muthead

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Thanks all for the advice. After reading a bit more I think I'm sold on Tettnang as my weapon of choice.

1.5kg Pale Liquid Malt
1.5kg LDME
350g Dextrose
40g Tettnang @ 60
20g Tettnang @ 30
10g Tettnang @ 10
10g Tettnang @ 0
S-04 or S23 x 2 (which better??)

4ltr boil - IBU of 22, OG of 1050 & FG 1011 with ABV of 5.4%.

How does this stack up?

Cheers,
Mike
 

kelbygreen

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prob up the IBU to at least 25 with a higher gravity. I prob go to 28IBU, never used tettnang so not sure about the hop scheduled, but maybe drop some of the late additions?? you dont need to put heaps of flavour and aroma hops in a lager.
 

Nick JD

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S-04 or S23 x 2 (which better??)
Recipe looks good.

As far as which yeast is better - S04 is an English Ale yeast, so it's not a matter of "better", it's a matter of "not lager" if you use S04.

S23 shouldn't be fermented above 14C; ideally 10-12C. If you can't hold 12C then you can't make lager.

34/70 and S189 are cleaner than S23 if you can get them.

Learn about making starters - it is the key to a good lager - even with dry yeasts.
 

muthead

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Recipe looks good.

As far as which yeast is better - S04 is an English Ale yeast, so it's not a matter of "better", it's a matter of "not lager" if you use S04.

S23 shouldn't be fermented above 14C; ideally 10-12C. If you can't hold 12C then you can't make lager.

34/70 and S189 are cleaner than S23 if you can get them.

Learn about making starters - it is the key to a good lager - even with dry yeasts.
Thanks Nick re the Yeast. Will look to go with 34/70 if possible as other people have recommended that also. If I do end up going with S23 does this need to be pitched below 14C, or can I pitch higher and then use the STC to get her down to 10-12C for the ferment?

Starters is the next thing I will be learning. Had a bit of a look at Tony's article, but will study in more depth when I have these next brews down.

Cheers,
Mut
 

amiddler

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Always try to pitch the yeast into wort that is at fermenting temp. If you need to warm it up to get it going then do so only by a few degrees. The first 12-24 hours is when the yeast is most stressed and produce off flavours and hotter temps will aid to this problem.


Lager is all about time so ferment long and slow and condition even longer. I read someone suggesting 2 and 5 weeks which would be good if kegging but if bottling I don't think enough yeast will get through to carbonate your brew. Might be better with 2 and 2-3 weeks if bottling.



Drew
 

Nick JD

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...can I pitch higher and then use the STC to get her down to 10-12C for the ferment?
Yes. But you must get it down before it stops budding (to increase population) and starts fermenting. If you pitch at 23C and pitch one fresh rehydrated dry packet into 20L then it needs to be below 14C within 12 hours, 18 at the latest.

You need to have your STC's probe taped to the side of the fermenter with insulation covering it, or it'll be bred up and fermenting before it's at the correct temperature.

When I pitch my lagers warm my fridge runs permanently for 12 hours. If you use gladwrap you can see the first signs of fermentation (foaming on surface) and the STC's temp. If you see foam and the STC is above the yeast's desired range then next time round you either need to start slightly cooler or pitch a huge whack of yeast cold.

Once you have the technique down pat it produces just as clean a lager (if done right) as a big pitch, but is much easier and knocks days off your ferment time.

If you don't get it right you'll get a little bit of fruitiness, which isn't the end of the world unless you're trying to win comps.
 

muthead

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Thanks all.

I think I'll just pitch at fermentation temp to simplify things. I use a piece of cut up stubby holder to insulate my probe and tape to the side of the fermenter.

Question re temp - I will have a Pilsner in the ferm fridge for about 4 days before the lager so when I come to putting the lager in the fridge and move the probe to the lager fermenter, I'm assuming that if the lager is above the pilsner in the fridge the temp for the Pils should be relatively controlled given warmer air will rise. So if the lager wort is at 10c it's safe to assume the Pils will be pretty similar?

Cheers,
Mut
 

RobboMC

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isnt first wort hopping putting hops into the mash tun??? it is impossible with extract as you do not mash the extract!

If first wort hopping is about adding the hops to the wort just as it comes out of the mash tun, or even in the mash tun; then the point is that some of the hop oils are extracted at 65-75 deg C assuming a mash out at 75 deg. Extract brewers can easily copy this by adding some if not all of the bittering hops before the wort reaches the boil. It gets hard to accurately measure boil times from then on, and results can vary due to that, but there's no reason an extract brewer can't similate FWH. I did one brew without doing a rolling boil at all when my heating element was AWOL; just steeped the hops in boiling water for half an hour. The result was excellent. I reckon even a kit brewer can put a few grammes of aroma hops into the empty can and add some warm ( not boiling ) water and let it sit for half an hour before adding the whole lot to the brew and get something akin to FWH.
 

krusty_oz

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W34/70 (can be found as BrewCellar European lager yeast) is nice and clean, I use it all the time - the more I pitch, the better the result. I normally pitch in the low 20's and cool down to 13 overnight.

With the temp change, the pilsner already going will go up a degree or 2 over a few hours, it will however act as a heat sink so it will help the warmer wort cool quicker
 

Siborg

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I'll echo NickJD on the temp. With lager, I personally reckon the main focus should be on fermentation. You want to pitch enough healthy yeast (check the dates on the yeast packet) at the right temps to get that lager flavour. I've had good results with the 34/70 strain. I've always pitched two packets to ensure enough yeast is pitched, but this may be overkill on a 1.040 to 1.050 OG batch. Aim for 10-12 degrees for primary fermentation.

Another step you may want to take is to ramp fermentation temps up to 18 degrees for a diacetyl rest for about 24 hours. You're best to do this towards the end of fermentation (as a rough guide when gravity is 1.020). Diacetyl is a by product of fermentation that tastes and smells like buttered popcorn. Ramping the temps up makes the yeast a little more active and able to break it down. Don't worry at this stage about it producing fruity characteristics (esters) as this is more likely during the beginning of fermentation.

At the end, you want to lager your brew for best results. I'd say as a rough guide, 4 degrees for 4 weeks. The longer the better. The yeast drops to the bottom and clears up the beer. Some may argue you have to drain your batch into another fermenter as leaving finished beer on the yeast cake may have adverse effects. I've left mine on the yeast cake (34/70) for longer than 6 weeks and have tasted no off flavours that may be expected.

Someone also mentioned upping your bittering additions at your expected FG. Seconded. The other thing you may want to do is sub some of the malt for dextrose or other simple sugar as these are more fermentable and you are more likely to get a lower FG, which is what you'd be aiming for for a typical pale lager. The lower the FG, the dryer and thinner it will taste. Even aim for a slightly lower OG (say 1.045). It may make that little difference that turns an OK lager into a brilliant lager.

Just remember: opinions and arseholes - everyone has one.

Good luck!
 

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