There’s a closet in my basement that hovers near 50 degrees in the winter. So before spring arrives, I wanted to take advantage of my natural “temperature control” and brew a lager. I don’t brew many lagers, but the provocative Brulosophy experiments on lager yeast fermentation temperature gave me peace of mind that if a warm spell comes through and the room gets a little warmer, it’ll be fine.
This was a convenience recipe in other regards. I used dry yeast to avoid needing a massive starter and I used up half a bag of leftover pils malt. And I ran off 5 gallons of wort before adding flame-out hops, to ferment with an ale yeast and use to top up the 53 gallon barrel at my house that is mostly full of funky dark saison. It’s nice to get rid of the headspace in the barrel, and we wager no one will notice 10% of hoppy Belgian ale blended in.
This is one of my favorite parts of using a plate chiller: being able to split batches by running off and chilling part of the brew, then adding and boiling as needed for the remaining share.
Brewed March 04, 2017:
Water: this was a victory for lime softening of high-alkalinity water. I modified my normal well water treatment and mixed less untreated water back in to the limed, high-pH blend. This would leave me with higher-pH water, but with less alkalinity to buffer the mash. Indeed, my post-treatment water had a pH around 9.4, but an aquarium test kit showed the alkalinity (kH) to be less than 2 degrees = less than 35 ppm as CaCO3.
I added 1 tsp of lactic acid to 10 gallons of this water in the mash tun and watched it drop to 3.73 pH. Lower than I expected, but it indicated the low buffering power of the water and I figured the mash would turn out fine. It did; the mash pH was 5.30 and I made no additions after mashing in. 2 tsp of lactic acid in the sparge water achieved a similarly low pH. I’m still blundering through water chemistry calculations, but feeling better every time.
Brew day: Mash was fairly constant, an hour at around 150F:
I’d forgotten to increase expected efficiency in Brewtoad from 75%, so did that on the fly as I measured pre-boil gravity and volume and realized I was out-performing my projections. Ended up with 11.5 gallons of pilsner at around 1.054 OG. Pitched 2 packs of Saflager W-34/70 into one bucket, 2 packs of Saflager S-23 into the other. Left them to ferment in the closet, currently around 51F. (I also yielded 5 gallons of pale ale to top up the Knob Creek barrel – run off at 55 minutes, before any late hop additions. This was fermented warm with Abbaye dry yeast).
Here’s the recipe (below and on Brewtoad). This was supposed to be 95% pils malt, 5% carapils (one of the best brewers in my club recently mentioned that always adds 0.5 lb of carapils to all of his lagers for body). But after emptying my stash of pils malt, I was a little short, so filled in the balance with 2-row American malt.
Note: the bittering hops do indeed split over 16.5 gallons, but the flameout additions go into just 11.5 of them.
Fermentation: Fermented on the high side, in a room about 51 degrees (beer temp probably a bit higher). Diacetyl rest at the end of fermentation just in case (I’m practically a non-taster when it comes to diacetyl). I fermented the beers in buckets with 2 packs each of different yeast strains:
Batch with S-23: I kegged the batch fermented with S-23 (ending around 1.010) after ~10 days to start lagering.
This half lagered in the cold garage for a week, hooked up to CO2 and picnic tap to carb, blow out sediment periodically, and sample. After that it cold-conditioned while hooked up in the kegerator. It got better over time and was crisp and clean throughout the summer, getting good reviews from expert lager brewers and judges in my club.
Batch with 34/70: At 20 days, I bottled the 34/70 batch with 3.8 oz dextrose, targeting 2.4 volumes of CO2. FG was about 1.010.
The bottles aged at cellar temps, so look clear but become hazy when first chilled. I entered the bottled version in the Michigan Beer Cup,
|Batch Size||Boil Time||IBU||SRM||Est. OG||Est. FG||ABV|
|16.5 gal||70 min|
|Pilsner (US)||26.3 lbs||86.23|
|2-Row (US)||2.7 lbs||8.85|
|Carapils (DE)||1.5 lbs||4.92|
|Magnum (DE)||2 oz||60 min||Boil||Pellet||13.2|
|Magnum (US)||0.5 oz||60 min||Boil||Pellet||11.5|
|Hallertau (DE)||2 oz||5 min||Boil||Pellet||2.5|
|Spalt (DE)||1 oz||5 min||Boil||Pellet||2.6|
|Saaz (CZ)||1 oz||5 min||Boil||Pellet||2.8|
|Whirlfloc Tablet||2.0||5 min||Boil|
|Saflager S-23||Fermentis||70%||32°F - 32°F|
|Saflager W-34/70||Fermentis||70%||32°F - 32°F|