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German Lager Recipe All Grain

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

This has to be one of my favorite beers for all time. I have brewed it about 5 times, and it’s just awesome. Talk about a ‘session beer’, that is something most people can drink all evening without a problem. My uncle, who is a German Protestant Minister, smelled the beer, took one sip, smiled, and told me in his thick German accent that it reminded him of beer at home. “Now… that is a good beer!” he said. He proceeded to drink the beer over the course of dinner, and then and ask for seconds. I was completely honored. Being a German, and in the US for the first time, he was honest about his opinion of things, some not so favorable. For example, he said the beer at Rogue was ‘very British’, and he did not order seconds there. My uncle is no stranger to beer. He explained during an annual festival, the Minsters ride tandem bikes through town and people hand them beer. Must be pretty cool.

This German lager, technically a Munich Helles (translates to Munich Light), leaves no heavy flavors on the tongue, but I argue it is robust and complex. The aftertaste has an elusive bread like, smoky quality I love in German beers. I believe this attribute is imparted by the yeast and the lagering process. The aroma and initial flavor has many light, sweet, fruity qualities, which come from the Hallertau hops. The finish is clean and crisp, as it should be in a larger.

All the ingredients in this beer are German (yeast, hops, grain), and they are easy to get at your local home brew store. My Hallertau hops were grown in Oregon, but it was close enough for my uncle, definitely close enough for me.

german lager

The style is BJCP 1D – Munich Helles:

Grains:

8 lb German Pilsner
1 lb Vienna
0.5 lb CaraPils
(@ 75% brewhouse efficiency)

You can substitute towards Vienna malt to give it more honey sweetness and malt character.

Hops:

Hallertau, 2 ounces, 60 minutes

I have tried substituting to Mt. Hood instead of Hallertau – it was still a good beer, more spicy, less aromatic, I would say a lot more boring (more like Coors). Tettnanger is another option, or a mix, but I usually put Tettnanger in my Oktoberfest because it is more spicy and less fruity than Hallertau. Saaz is another popular choice but I have not tried it.

First wort hopping may be of interest.

Yeast:

German Lager Yeast
I have used only White Labs WLP830, with great success, but I want to try some of the following:

White Labs:
WLP820 Oktoberfest Lager Yeast
WLP830 German Lager Yeast
WLP833 German Bock Yeast
WLP838 Southern German Lager Yeast

Wyeast:
2007 Pilsen Lager Yeast
2124 Bohemian Lager Yeast
2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast
2308 Munich Lager Yeast

Make sure to do a yeast starter for a lager!

Style 1D stats:

OG: 1.045 – 1.051
IBUs: 16 – 22
FG: 1.008 – 1.012
SRM: 3 – 5
ABV: 4.7 – 5.4%

This Recipe:

OG: 1.050
IBUs: 24 (this is just above the guidelines, but meh..)
FG: 1.010
SRM: 3.6
ABV: 5.1%

Procedure

Mash at 150F (65.5C) for 60 minutes, then 158F (70C) for 30 minutes.

90 minute boil.

Ferment for 3 weeks in the primary, before racking, pull it out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature for 2 days (dialectal rest). Rack it, and leave it around 36F for 4-6 weeks.

I then keg it, force carbonate, and after about 3 months it is ready to drink. The beer tastes strange when it is green. It really needs the extra time to settle down. Be patient with it!

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  1. 12 Responses to “German Lager Recipe All Grain”

  2. The picture looks cloudy because of condensation on the glass. The beer is very clear.

    By Larry on Aug 29, 2010

  3. It looks great! I just brewed my first lager – a clone of Hopworks Urban Brewery’s Czech Lager. I am doing my diacytal rest right now and am going to rack it into secondaries tonight. I use your website everytime I brew and really appreciate the tools you provide! Thanks, Kurtis – Salem, OR

    By Kurtis on Sep 1, 2010

  4. Hi Kurtis,
    That’s awesome, welcome to the world of lagering! Most craft brewers (and home brewers) stick to ales because of the shorter turn around time. Ales don’t require the extra refrigeration equipment. In my experience, it is well worth lagering for the taste that can’t be found in stores.

    Let us know how the clone of HUB’s Lager turns out! I have had that a few times at HUB, and really liked it. I recall they use Saaz hops, and bohemian lager yeast? I’d be interested to know what recipe you went with.

    Thanks,
    Larry

    By Larry on Sep 1, 2010

  5. I’ll be trying this with Wyeast 2206 Bavarian tomorrow. Kicked off the yeast starter last night.

    By Larry on Nov 27, 2010

  6. I have 3 questions. First, what temperature was your primary fermentation at? Is it 36F like you stated for after you rack it? I have only brewed ales where I’ve kept the temperature around 68-70F. With winter being here, I figure it is my chance to brew a lager.
    2nd, since I have only brewed a few batches, they have all been extract. I’m hoping to brew some partial mashes. What would I have to do to convert the recipe?
    Lastly, I’m a bottler. If you are force carbonating for 3 months then any idea of how long this would have to sit before the bottles are ready?

    Thanks for your help. This really looks quite good.

    By Adam on Dec 3, 2010

  7. Primary fermentation is at 50F.

    For extract recipe:
    Steep 0.5 lb Vienna and 0.5 German Pilsner
    5.5 pounds Light DME (add half at start of boil half at end)

    Bottling I don’t know about. I think it will be hard to get carbonation out of a lager. I purposely upgraded to a keg system because of lagers. The times I have bottled my lager it turned out flat. I’m sure people have done it in the past with good results. I would love to know how this works.

    By Larry on Dec 4, 2010

  8. To this point I have only done ales. I’m glad you mentioned about bottling lagers as I had no idea it may be different. I did a little research, and I found that one method to ensure enough carbonation with a lager is to prepare some fresh yeast and mix it with the priming solution before bottling. If I make this recipe, I will give that method a shot.

    Also, referring to a partial mash recipe. You said to use .5 lb of Vienna and .5 lb German Pilsner for grains (am I dropping the CaraPils?). With partial mash, I was under the impression I can go with higher amounts of grains and then use less extract. A half pound of each just seems a little low. Or is this just a newbie misunderstanding.

    By Adam on Dec 4, 2010

  9. That priming method is called Krausening, yes that should work well.

    Correct, the details I just provided were for an extract batch. For partial mash, substitute towards Pilsner, and shoot for an OG of 1.050.

    Mash 4 lb of Pilsner and 0.5 lb Vienna at 158 for 60 minutes, and add 3.5 lb DME when the boil starts. That should be just about right for a 5 gallon batch, at 75% brew house efficiency.

    By Larry on Dec 4, 2010

  10. You can bottle condition lagers just like you do ales it just takes alot longer to get the carbonation like 1 to 2 months if not longer some times,usally will depend how long you lager it.

    By Kevin on Mar 24, 2011

  11. Hey im an ale homebrewer as well, recently i was approached by a newly reopened pup that used to brew their own lager. They have all the necesary equipment including copper plated steam jacketed mash tuns, boilers,3x 5000l fermenters, and 2x conditioning tanks directly connected to the taps in the bar. i got offerd the position of head brewer never doing anything to that scale, and to top it all of they want to run a batch to the conditioning tanks every 3 days. Is this in anyway posible, they asured me this is how the previous brewmaster preduced their iconic lager. Please Help.

    By David SA on Feb 15, 2012

  12. You may be able to find a specific yeast strain that can turn around in that amount of time. It could be an ale strain that handles cooler temperatures. I don’t actually know what the turn around time is on light lagers like PBR and Bud. I bet they try to make it as fast as possible, but 3 days in the tank sounds short to me.

    By Larry on Feb 16, 2012

  13. I have been lagering beers for over two years, most of them were bottled. I have found that if you kick up some of the yeast after secondary (I let it sit for about 2 weeks in primary, then 2 weeks in secondary), then bottle with about 3/4 to 1 cup of corn sugar. Let that condition at room temperature (68 degrees) for another two weeks. Then cold condition for about 2 months at 34-36 degrees. I have never failed at bottle carbonation this way. I am, however, switching to kegging just because I am tired of cleaning so many bottles.

    By Michael on Aug 4, 2012

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