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Month: July 2015

How to Brew a Great Lager!

How to brew a great lager!

home brewing lager beers

How to brew a great lager

 

For the most part home brewers tend to start out brewing ales and stick to them since ales ferment faster, tend to be a bit more versatile than lagers and do not require you to keep your home at the temperature of a morgue if you want to ferment your beer in your closet.  Not to mention, most home brewing supply shops tend to release far more ale recipes than lager recipes and relatively few craft breweries even have a lager in their beer lineup.

 

So why brew a lager?  Because lagers are awesome! They are crisp and clean, delicious to taste and beautiful to look at!  In fact, some of the worlds best beers are lagers. Not to mention, lagers were session beers before session beers were even a thing, which means you can throw back a few lagers while brewing a batch of beer and not be so tipsy that you forget to add your hops to the brew kettle or pitch your yeast in the fermentor.  And do not go thinking that a lager has to be some low IBU (International Bittering Unit) grandma beer.  Several breweries have been crafting beers like IPL’s India Pale Lagers and other non traditional lager styles that will make you rethink what a lager is.

 

Brewing Lagers

Brewing Lagers

 

Now that we have that squared away, lets start at the beginning. What is the difference between a lager and an ale?  Lager is the German word meaning storage or to store.  As in, “Kann ich bitte lager meine Essiggurke in Sie” or “Can I please store my pickle in you”.  The Germans called a lager a lager because they would cold store the beer for several weeks as it fermented and after it fermented, creating an exceptionally clean and crisp beer.  That does not mean that you can just place your ale in a closet for 6 weeks and all the sudden have yourself a lager.  A lager is fermented with a lager yeast as opposed to an ale yeast.  Lager yeast is different from ale yeast in a few ways.  For one thing lager yeast conducts most of its fermentation at the bottom of the fermentor as opposed to an ale which does so at the top of the fermentor. Most importantly is the temperature at which the fermentation occurs. While the ideal fermentation temperature for most ale yeast strains is right at about 68 F, the ideal temperature for most lager yeast strains is about 50 F, which means you better buy a jacket with your lager recipe kit if you are going to ferment in your living room.

 

So how do you brew a great lager?  To start with, you are going to need a great recipe kit.  Lagers can be pale or dark, do not let all of the typical mass brewed American lagers skew your understanding of what a lager is or can be.  A couple of great lager examples are Vienna lagers which are a beautiful amber color with a rich malty taste and a Munich Helles which has a pale golden color with a mild bitterness.

 

You can find some great lager home brewing kits here: Home Brewing Recipe Kits

 

Next you will want to select the ideal yeast strain for your style of lager. You can find a fantastic selection of lager yeasts here. If you can not decide which to go with, the Munich 2308 is usually a safe bet.  You can pitch these yeast packages directly into your fermentor but I recommend that you create a yeast starter for a few reasons.  Most importantly it will allow you to confirm that the yeast is alive and healthy, it will allow the yeast to return to an active state so that it can begin reproducing and fermenting immediately when placed in contact with your lager wort and lastly it will boost the yeast cell count to help insure a fast and complete fermentation takes place.

 

If you do not have access to a fermentation chamber such as a temperature controlled chest freezer, refrigerator or fermentor setup such as this one Brew Bucket Temperature Controller, you will want to make sure that you brew your lager during a time of the year where the average temperature that you ferment your beer will be approximately 50 F.  If it is much colder than that your fermentation process will slow to a crawl or cease all together, if it gets much higher your lager will ferment to fast and is likely to create unwanted off flavors .  You can also use items like an electric blanket and a temperature control unit such as this one Ranco Digital Temperature Controller, to help regulate your fermentation temperature.  Consult your specific lager yeast strain packing to find the ideal fermentation temperature as they can differ.  Keep in mind that patience is a virtue when it comes to brewing a lager and if you take your time you will more than likely be rewarded with a better beer!

 

In order to create the best tasting lager possible you will need to reduce or eliminate one of the more common off flavors in a lager which is diacetyl. To do so, you should perform a diacetyl rest at the end of your primary fermentation. Dicaetyl is described as tasting like butter and some popcorn manufactures use it as an artificial flavor for their microwave popcorn.  While it may make your popcorn taste better, it should be avoided in your lager and is something that your yeast will produce during fermentation.  The good news is that your yeast can also remove it! If at the end of your primary fermentation you allow your fermentation temperature to increase from 50 F to 55 F for a few days, the yeast will naturally begin to eliminate the dyacetyl from your beer.  After the three days you will want to reduce your fermentation temperature to 50 F once again.

 

One of the most important characteristics of a lager is its clarity and brightness!  For that reason, I suggest that you conduct a 2 stage fermentation and “lager” or store your beer in a secondary fermentor after primary fermentation has completed and the yeast and solids have consolidated on the bottom of your fermentor.  Primary fermentation will typically have completed in about 3 weeks or so but take gravity readings to be sure. Racking your beer off of the expended yeast, residual hop matter and fallen proteins will also help prevent off flavors from forming in your lager as your beer ages in the secondary fermentor. I would suggest allowing your beer to age for an additional 2 to 4 weeks in secondary fermentation.  During the final week of secondary fermentation I will typically cold crash my fermentor down to 38 F which encourages any fine particulates and residual yeast cells to drop out of the beer and consolidate on the bottom of the fermentor.  I then rack the beer to a keg and let it slow carbonate and condition for another week or so before enjoying!

 

Best of luck to you in brewing your lager and let me know if you have any suggestions that you would like to share with other West Coast Brewer visitors!

 

Joe

 

Stainless Steel 3 Level Homebrewing Stand

MoreBeer is currently having a sale on a 3 Tier Stainless Steel Homebrewing Rig!

Homebrewing Rig

Homebrewing Rig

 

Act now and you can save $300 on this Stainless Steel Gravity Based Homebrewing Rig! This homebrew rig is perfect for 5 gallon or 10 gallon all grain home brewing batches.  The best thing about these 3 level home brewing rig configurations is that they are very compact for easy storage and use gravity to transfer wort and water as opposed to pumps, saving you money and removing one more item that can break and spoil a great brew session.

 

Some of the features of this stainless homebrewing rig include:

  • Stainless Steel Frame
  • 15 Gallon Heavy Duty Kettles
  • Analog Thermometers on All Kettles
  • Maximizers in All Kettles
  • Propane Gas System (Compatible With Low and High Pressure Propane)

 

There is no coupon code needed to take advantage of this limited time sale.  Click here for all of the details and to order your own stainless steel homebrewing rig!

 

 

Homebrewing rigs, home beer making brewing rigs, beer brewing stands and stainless steel home brewing equipment.

Stainless Steel Homebrewing Rig Sale

Stainless Steel Homebrewing Rig Sale

Stainless Steel Homebrewing Rig

Stainless Steel Homebrewing Rig

 

It does not happen very often, but MoreBeer is currently running a promotion on their 20 Gallon Digital Deluxe Stainless Steel Single-Tier BrewSculpture Homebrewing rig.  So if you are in the market for a top of the line homebrewing rig, this is probably the time to act.   This home brewery retails for $6,350 but is currently on sale for $5,715 saving you several hundred dollars.

 

This homebrewing rig is a 20 gallon setup and has just about everything that an all grain home brewer could want including:

 

  • Stainless Steel Diverters
  • Analog Thermometers
  • Two High Flow March Pumps
  • Ultimate Stainless Steel Sparge Arm Assembly
  • 304-Brushed Stainless Steel Frame
  • Digital Control Panel
  • Mash Tun and Hot Liquor Tank Float Switches
  • Mash Tun and Hot Liquor Tank Digital Temperature Control
  • Natural Gas System
  • Automated Hot Liquor Tank Burner
  • Convoluted Wort Chiller
  • Boil Kettle Whirlpool Arm

 

For more details and to take advantage of the sale click the following link:
 
 

Homebrewing Rig Sale 

 

 

8 Gallon Heavy Duty Brewing Kettle Exclusive West Coast Brewer and More Beer Promo Code Offer

 

MoreBeer.com – More Beer is offering this special limited time coupon code to West Coast Brewer home brewers!

MoreBeer.com Promo Codes and Coupon Codes

MoreBeer.com Promo Codes and Coupon Codes

 

If you are looking to get into home brewing or are a current home brewer looking to make an upgrade, this is a fantastic kettle to consider.  This 8 gallon kettle is great for 5 gallon extract batches or for use in a 5 gallon All Grain home brewing system. The extra 3 gallons of capacity helps avoid boil overs and gives you a little extra room to work with. That is why for a limited time, MoreBeer.com is making this special exclusive offer to West Coast Brewer viewers.  If you act before 7-15-2015 you can take $25 off one of these heavy duty brew kettles!

 

This brewing pot is load with some great features including  two 1/2″ threaded couplers welded to it, a tri-clad bottom, super thick and rigid stainless steel construction and heavy duty handles for safe lifting. The bottom outlet on this home brewing kettle is made with male threads on the outside (for connecting a ball valve) and female threads on the inside for connecting whatever you wish.

 

To take advantage of this More Beer promo code, click the following link and enter the coupon code *WCBHEAVY25* to save $25 on this homebrew kettle.

 

Click Here for the MoreBeer.com Exclusive Promotion!

 

 

 

5 Gallon Home Brewing Keg Sale

There is a great sale currently going on for new 5 gallon home brewing kegs!

 

5 Gallon Home Brewing Keg

5 Gallon Home Brewing Keg

 

 

For a limited time, you can pick up a brand new 5 gallon ball lock home brewing keg for just $75.00.  That is a savings of nearly 40% off of retail and an incredible deal for a new keg.  This home brewing offer is available from Adventures in Home Brewing \ homebrewing.org for a limited time, so take advantage of the savings while you can.  There is no coupon code or promo code needed for the offer.

 

Click here for the keg sale details

 

 

Home Brewing Stands and Home Brewery Rig Images

 

Home Beer Brewing Setups, Home Breweries, Homebrew Stands and Beer Brewing Rigs!

Home Brewing Stands, Beer Brewing Rigs and Home Brewer Racks

Home Brewing Stands, Beer Brewing Rigs and Home Brewer Racks

I am starting up a page to view your Home Beer Brewing Stands, Home Brew Rigs, Beer Brewing Racks and Brew Sculpture of West Coast Brewer viewers!  So if you have a photo or image of your home brewing setup, extract or all grain, big or small, please email them to me at joe@westcoastbrewer.com and I will get them posted!  It is always great to see the different home brewing setups to people have made to inspire others to build their own!

 

If you are looking to purchase a home brewing stand, I have compiled a list of available units here.

Home Brewing Stands and Beer Brewing Rigs for Sale

 

Here are a few of my favorites:

Some images taken from pinterest.com and homebrewingstand.com

 

Home Brewery

Home Brewery

Homebrewing Rig

Homebrewing Rig

Home Brewing Setup

Home Brewing Setup

Homebrewing Stand

Homebrewing Stand

Homebrew Stand

Homebrew Stand

 

 

Beer Brewing Configuration

Beer Brewing Configuration

beer brewing rigs

beer brewing rigs

home brewery

home brewery

brew rigs

brew rigs

 

 

Home Beer Brewing Setup

Home Beer Brewing Setup

Homebrewing Sculptures

Homebrewing Sculptures

Home Brewing System

Home Brewing System

Homebrewing Systems

Homebrewing Systems

homebrew rigs

homebrew rigs

Homebrew Setup

Homebrew Setup

 

 

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