Suggestions For a First Lager attempt

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by TheZel66, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. TheZel66

    TheZel66 Member

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    I've been brewing for over 20 years now. I've just found the equipment to make a lager. Anyone out there have an idea for what to make for my first lager recipe, one that's pretty fault free, for a newbie lager brewer to try as his first lager recipe? no fuss yeast?
     
  2. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    My first lager (just a few months ago after twenty years of brewing) was a Brewer's Best extract kit called Munich Helles. I don't think they make it any more. Since I brewed that, I've started doing BIAB. I converted their extract recipe to an all grain recipe and I continue to brew it often. It's the only recipe I have that I've shared here so far. What method of brewing do you use? BIAB, extract, etc.? I have the data sheet for their extract recipe if you're interested.
     
  3. TheZel66

    TheZel66 Member

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    All grain.... Fly sparge

    Thinking just some American 2-row, cascade hops, and White Labs Mexican Lager yeast
     
  4. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

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  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Munich Helles: German Pilsner malt, hallertau hops, lager yeast, no room to hide mistakes. Best way I can think of to break in a new process.
     
  6. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    If you could get your hands on some White Labs WLP860 Helles Lager Yeast it would be great. It's seasonal, coming out in the Spring, so it's likely not easily available. That stuff is like magic! Fast-fermenting, clean, not tempermental, no sulphur (unless it's underpitched), no dicetyl. Drops like a rock but still carbs up well for bottle conditioning. I'm on my 3rd batch off the same cake. Haven't gotten one through an extended lagering, but even with few days of chilling, it tastes great - not super crisp and clean, yet, but really a nice beer.
    I think WLP 830 is the go-to that's available year round?
    Any basic Helles or Pils recipe will do well for you... 80 to 90% pilsner, a little Vienna, maybe some melanoidin or acidulated, an ounce of Hallertau at 60 minutes and a couple ounces of Hallertau or Tettnanger at 10 and 5.
    Good luck! Lagers are fun! ;)
     
  7. TheZel66

    TheZel66 Member

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    Thanks for the ideas, regarding a yeast starter, do you keep that the same temp as your ale starters, or do you need the starter to be at 50-55F??
     
  8. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    What's a yeast starter? ;)
     
  9. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I think most simple lager starters are done at a relatively cool room temp, either kept on a stir plate or just shaken several times over 24 hours (or as long as it takes them to finish), then chilled to settle the yeast, decanted (liquid poured off) and then brought to the same temp as the wort (50 degrees or so) before pitching.
     
  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Lager starter at room temp. Dump most of the beer though to minimize any off flavors due to warm fermentation.
     
  11. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I made a small starter for my first Helles and because the starter seemed really fine with no sulphur, I dumped into the wort. I think that's the reason it's not as clean as it should be. It may lager out, but for now it's got a sort of confused, vague fruity flavor. No sulphur or diacetyl, but just not quite getting out of the way of the malt. Time will tell whether it cleans up, but I won't be trusting any starter liquid again, even if it doesn't smell vile. ;)
     
  12. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a fermentation temperature problem to me - not a problem with the starter! When I said dump the beer, I meant the beer from the starter (clarity in writing, clarity in writing....).
     
  13. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Ah, good your cleared that up. I haven't really been following the thread, but I definitely did a double take when I saw "dump the beer"!
    Not advice that one sees here very often... :lol:
     
  14. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Fortunately....
     
  15. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Fermentation temps held at around 50 throughout until it was time for the D-rest. There was a slight sulphur note early on, but it went away quickly and the beer tasted great at bottling and still does. It's possible that the Helles strain I'm using has a slight fruity note, anyway. I just tried one after a week in the fridge and it seems to be getting cleaner in flavor.
     
  16. BS Brew Works

    BS Brew Works New Member

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    I brewed my first lager a few weeks ago, relying on the not-so-lager-like Exbeeriments from the Brulosophy site. Simple Pils grain bill, Saaz, and Saflager 34/70. Fermented at 70F (that's not a typo), crashed in the keg to 32F a week after FG was achieved, fined with gelatin in the keg 48 hours later and began force carbing. One week after that it was clear as a bell, carbonation was perfect, no sulphur or other off favors...just crisp, clean beer. It was a huge hit across the holiday weekend gatherings.
     
  17. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Just floated my first keg of Helles at our 4th of July party.
    Fermented at 50f for 5 days then ramped up for D-rest.
    Fermentation complete at day 9.
    Ramped temp down to 35f.
    Kegged on Day 18 and force carbed.
    Consumed on day 22.
    Clear, delicious blonde lager with rich malty character. Definitely the favorite beer at the party and first keg to float.
    Would it have been better in 2-3 weeks?...sure. But it was a killer beer and I honestly wouldn't change a thing about it! :D
     
  18. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Awesome!
    Getting thirsty just thinking about it... :)
     
  19. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Helles, to me, seems fruity, probably because of the relatively low BU/GU ratio (it's not all that bitter a beer). The malt really shines through and likely it's pulling a fast one on my palate, triggering "fruit" rather than "malt." Mine should be ready to sample this weekend, I'll pull a sample and report back.
     
  20. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    That WLP860 I used almost acts like an ale yeast at 65 degree temps - no sulphur and some definite fruit notes in the aroma as it ferments. I think there's a noticeable ester production and long lagering is needed to really "dry" out the percieved sweetness. And I agree that the sweet malt and absence of hops contributes to it. On top of that all the batches I've done with that yeast have used Saphir hops in the aroma. That puts a little light cirtus/fruit in the aroma along with a little spice and floral note. Because it's a less "Nobel" hop, it probably brings that perceived sweetness up a notch, too.
    I just had one of the bottled Helles last night. It seems to be maturing and achieving a little crisper finish. Also had a couple of the Helles Bock batch using the identical grain bill bulked up and the same hops. That beer has less fruit even though it's just 3 weeks in the bottle and was cooled in the fridge for a day. The malt is much, much bigger and the alcohol is very present, so there's no perception of sweetness other than the richness of the malt. That Helles Bock was pitched on a full yeast cake and so had plenty of yeast to do the work. No stress from slightly underpitching and I think it shows in the flavor profile.
     

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