Monday, October 19, 2009

Lager House

I don't brew many lagers. It's a matter of logistics, not preference: I use the same fridge for lagering and serving, and beer doesn't have much flavor at the near-freezing temperatures necessary for lager maturation. I have the lager bug right now, though, so I'm going to go without for a while and brew a Munich Dunkel. Here's the plan:

-Make a huge yeast starter. I'm talking two steps with a cumulative volume of 1.6 gallons for a 5-gallon batch of beer. Since I don't want to dump that much oxidized starter beer into my delicate lager, I needed to adjust my recipe calculations to decant most of it before pitching (I typically pitch everything because having a lot of healthy yeast usually trumps the drawbacks). You can download the updated recipe spreadsheets at the File Cabinet.
-Mash at 145 degf to create a lot of fermentable sugars, then pull a decoction to raise the temp to 158 degf. My procedure will be similar to the Hochkurz process described near the bottom of Brukaiser's decoction mashing website. I'm leaving out the protein rest and mashout, though, because modern malts eliminate the need for a protein rest and my homebrew system works fine without mashouts (as did every commercial brewhouse I've worked on). I'm not convinced that decoction mashing is necessary either, but it'll introduce less oxygen than performing a step mash on my stove and pouring the contents into my lautering vessel.
-Ferment as close to 48 degf as possible. I'll do so by pitching my yeast at 46 degf (I hope it's cold outside) and setting the fridge to 44 degf. If the beer gets hotter than 48 degf but stays below 52, it's no big deal.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Jason W. said...

Good timing on your post. I just brewed my first lager this past weekend, a Vienna. As temps outside drop my basement is cool enough for ales, and my fridge outside is perfect for lagers. I did, however, do a protien rest simply to give myself the opportunity for a double decoction. It's fermenting away at 50 right now at high krausen. Cheers.

Palmer said...

This is a brilliant idea! :)