Quantcast

So, what’s the point of lager?

Help Support The HomeBrew Forum:

Hazelwood Brewery

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
4,093
Reaction score
5,697
Location
Kent
What I really meant is that I’m not a lager drinker and so to fill a hole in my brewing repertoire (there are many so I may be back) I need some guidance on what makes a lager good and how you achieve it.
 

Banbeer

Banbeer Brewing
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2015
Messages
2,284
Reaction score
1,538
Location
Planet Plasticine
A good lager yeast is a must i.e one that can ferment at 12 - 14 deg C and of course being able to Lager would be good so some sort of temperature control needed. Also you need to have a lot of patience as you need to leave it a while after bottling etc.
 

strange-steve

Quantum Brewer
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2014
Messages
6,005
Reaction score
5,678
As is often the case, I think those who don't like lager just haven't had a good one and unfortunately it's not terribly easy to find a good example, at least in this country.

That being said, lager covers a huge variety of styles and the common notion that lagers are all bland and tasteless isn't true. Bock, Marzen, Oktoberfest, dunkel, and many Baltic porters are all lagers and are packed full of flavour.

I recently brewed a Munich dunkel and it's up there with my favourite brews. Rich toasty, bready malt flavours and sooo drinkable.

Also don't be put off with the long time frame. If you can lager around 0°c for a week or two then it's probably plenty. I was drinking my dunkel within 5 weeks.

Edit to add:
It was a very simple recipe too:

For 20L
Grain Bill
----------
3.0kg Munich I (59%)
2.0kg Munich II (39%)
0.1kg Carafa special II (2%)

Hop Bill
----------
35g Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 60 mins
15g Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 20 mins

Pitch at 10°C with WLP833 - German bock lager
 

Hazelwood Brewery

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
4,093
Reaction score
5,697
Location
Kent
A good lager yeast is a must i.e one that can ferment at 12 - 14 deg C and of course being able to Lager would be good so some sort of temperature control needed. Also you need to have a lot of patience as you need to leave it a while after bottling etc.
Thanks @Banbeer.

What makes a lager yeast good and perhaps separates it from all the other lager yeasts available?
 

Hazelwood Brewery

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
4,093
Reaction score
5,697
Location
Kent
As is often the case, I think those who don't like lager just haven't had a good one and unfortunately it's not terribly easy to find a good example, at least in this country.

That being said, lager covers a huge variety of styles and the common notion that lagers are all bland and tasteless isn't true. Bock, Marzen, Oktoberfest, dunkel, and many Baltic porters are all lagers and are packed full of flavour.

I recently brewed a Munich dunkel and it's up there with my favourite brews. Rich toasty, bready malt flavours and sooo drinkable.

Also don't be put off with the long time frame. If you can lager around 0°c for a week or two then it's probably plenty. I was drinking my dunkel within 5 weeks.
Thanks for that. I understand to a point, I’d probably struggle to say what makes a good ale.

I expect I need to brew some and get feedback from others - maybe I’ll stalk the winners of the lager comp! I’m hoping to get a leg up so I’m not starting on the bottom rung.
 

Banbeer

Banbeer Brewing
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2015
Messages
2,284
Reaction score
1,538
Location
Planet Plasticine
Thanks @Banbeer.

What makes a lager yeast good and perhaps separates it from all the other lager yeasts available?
I used to use Saflager S-23 and always had good results, I now make APA's as the lager takes time to come good, liquid yeasts are supposed to be good but I never tried them.
 

jceg316

Landlord.
Joined
Sep 8, 2014
Messages
2,523
Reaction score
856
I'm going to disagree with @Banbeer :laugh8:, although I would say a clean ferment with a clear, malt forward yeast is very important. For example, I just made a vienna lager using wy2112 California Lager yeast fermented at 16-18°C, it's deliciously malty! I've had really good success fermenting S-23 and W-34/70 (both fermentis lager yeasts) at 17-20°c.

I would agree with @strange-steve that good lagers are hard to come by in this country. I've had pilsner in Czech Republic and it's been my favourite beer ever. Munich has amazing beer, and the macro lagers in Poland rival those of Germany. I recently was in Cologne, and whilst not technically a lager, I had Fruh kolsch at their beer hall and it's up there as one of my favourites.

As mentioned, lager covers quite a range of beers, for example a dark dopplebock is quite different to a Munich Helles. Maybe think about what you want to get from lager and work from there. Do you want a really nice malt forward pale beer? Maybe achieving a crystal clear beer in appearance is something desirable?
 

Hazelwood Brewery

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
4,093
Reaction score
5,697
Location
Kent
Maybe think about what you want to get from lager and work from there.
Honestly, I think that’s my problem. I have several ales when family come round but don’t have anything for the lager drinkers other than shop bought stuff that’s probably just OK. I’d like to make something nice for them. I may have to pick a style to start, or maybe just pick a recipe.
 

jceg316

Landlord.
Joined
Sep 8, 2014
Messages
2,523
Reaction score
856
Honestly, I think that’s my problem. I have several ales when family come round but don’t have anything for the lager drinkers other than shop bought stuff that’s probably just OK. I’d like to make something nice for them. I may have to pick a style to start, or maybe just pick a recipe.
I've found making a lager for (macro) lager drinkers quite easy. I think something malty, not too challenging but still quite tasty is what they're after. What I've previously made is something like 80% lager malt, 20% Munich/Vienna/Carapils or a mixture of those. Some bittering hops to balance it out and maybe some late Saaz or German variety hop, >=20g @10 mins in 23 litres sort of thing. Ferment with S-23 or W-34/70, can be done warm.

Since going to Prague in September 2018 I've wanted to recreate that specific style and I was having difficulty. I realised I was focusing on the wrong aspects, when I focused on cell count and the right kind of yeast my lagers came out more to my liking: very malty, biscuity, bready etc.

I realise as well the flavours I like in amber lagers can be found in best bitters, and best bitters are easier to do than lagers so I've also been producing more of these. I think it helps to focus on what flavours I like and work back that way.
 

An Ankoù

Landlord.
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Messages
4,719
Reaction score
3,231
Location
Brittany, France
I noticed the same with my dunkel, and I've made a point to brew an all-Munich malt bitter soon.
I'd be very interested to see how that turns out. I brewed a small SMaSH with Simpsons Imperial and Target. Rather disappointing, quite one-dimensional although it might improve with a little ageing.
 

the baron

Landlord.
Joined
Oct 13, 2013
Messages
2,566
Reaction score
1,184
Location
castleford
I disagree that you have to use a lager yeast, from a technical point you would have to use a lager yeast for it to be called a lager maybe (thought lager was called after the lagering process)but you can produce many a good pseudo lager by using a top fermenting yeast that can ferment at lower temps and produce what would have to be called a pseudo lager which is lagered but for all intents it would be better than what most people call lager in the Uk
 

An Ankoù

Landlord.
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Messages
4,719
Reaction score
3,231
Location
Brittany, France
I disagree that you have to use a lager yeast, from a technical point you would have to use a lager yeast for it to be called a lager maybe (thought lager was called after the lagering process)but you can produce many a good pseudo lager by using a top fermenting yeast that can ferment at lower temps and produce what would have to be called a pseudo lager which is lagered but for all intents it would be better than what most people call lager in the Uk
Indeed, and a lot of top fermenting German ales are still clean and crisp tasting. Oktoberfest beer, if a little sweet to my taste, is never cloying. Bière de Garde is lagered, but it's nothing like "lager". When I refer to lager, I really mean Pilsner.
 

jceg316

Landlord.
Joined
Sep 8, 2014
Messages
2,523
Reaction score
856
I noticed the same with my dunkel, and I've made a point to brew an all-Munich malt bitter soon.
That should be nice! I've not done a 100% Munich bitter but would like to try one day. Also I'd like to try 100% Vienna.
 

Hazelwood Brewery

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
4,093
Reaction score
5,697
Location
Kent
This is all really interesting and I think my main take-away so far is that there may actually not be one thing that’s universally recognised as lager other than perhaps the general point that lagers are bottom fermenting. I assume a top-fermenting lager would be a pseudo-lager?

Would people generally regard Pilsner as the most representative variant of lager? The BJCP style guide for Pilsner seems to most align with my limited knowledge of what characterises a lager.
 

chthon

Landlord.
Joined
Dec 18, 2016
Messages
844
Reaction score
453
Location
Belgium
Since 90% of beer sold seems to be Pilsner, then the answer to your question is yes, it is the most representative variant of lager.

Also, outside of Germany other lager styles are difficult, or not to be found, even in the countries surrounding Germany.
 

GerritT

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
2,801
Reaction score
1,026
Some lagers are cool (harhar): I once brewed an Octoberfes at the top edge of temperature and it was nice, but hopping ales are where I'm at.
 

Hazelwood Brewery

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
4,093
Reaction score
5,697
Location
Kent
Getting there...

So, Pilsner is the standard.

I do like the sound of @strange-steve‘s Dunkel but it’s not what I have in mind for a lager (listen to me making judgements 😆).

I’m going to go with @jceg316’s suggestion of 80% Pilsner and 20% Vienna (I like Vienna so you hit a soft-spot there) and maybe Saaz. I was thinking of S34 because this looks on paper to give a more crisp finish?

Any more advice?
 

Dutto

Dutto
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
7,341
Reaction score
4,015
Location
East Lincolnshire
I was brought up when Lager was sold in pubs as a cheap drink; but it needed a slosh of Lime Cordial or Lemonade to make it drinkable! As a result I went off Lager for many, many years but after reading about "Lagering" and going away for a few weeks I decided to try the system.

Because the results were so delicious I now brew Lager regularly; and they never require adulterating!

Here's an extract from Dutto's Brewday. (The recipe for Vienna Lager is on the site somewhere.):

"I have now finished off the last litre of Vienna Lager Batch One (the one that was Cold Crashed for a week at one degree AFTER carbonation.

I am now drinking the first litre of Vienna Lager Batch Two (the batch that was lagered at six degrees for ten weeks and then carbonated, four weeks ago.

They both taste superb ...

... but, to my mind, the only discernible difference between the two batches is that Batch Two is very slightly more bitter; and this may be due to the fact that is has only been conditioning for a few weeks after carbonation.

This very slight difference between the two lagers means that in future I won't bother lagering for weeks on end because it increases the waiting time and at the same time leaves the brew open to infection.

However, I will:

o Try Cold Crashing at one degree for a week before AND after carbonation to see if that makes a difference.
o Retain the 10 weeks conditioning time on the shelf.

Here's a photograph of Batch One ...

Last of the lager.jpg

... and here's Batch Two ...

Lager Batch Two.jpg
 
Top