For quite some time, I’ve been itching to make a lager. It was on my goal list for 2015, but never quite happened. The main thing deterring me was the time investment–the process takes longer than an average ale, so I didn’t want to tie up my fermentation chamber for months. I have to keep the taps on my keezer all occupied, after all!
When I discovered a “quick-lager” method, that provided the incentive I needed. This is a technique popularized by the folks at Brulosophy (although not developed by them, as they are quick to point out). Essentially, you use a temperature-change regimen to keep the process moving along. Most of the potential off-flavors are produced in the first half of fermentation, so once the beer is more 50% attenuated, you can raise the temperature and speed up the finishing. Then, it’s a cold crash, some gelatin, and you’re done!
- 9 lbs. pilsner malt
- 1 lb. flaked maize
- 0.5 lb. carapils malt
- 0.5 lb. flaked rye
- 2 oz. German Spalt hops pellets (2.4% alpha, 4.3% beta), 60 minute boil
- 1 oz. Hallertau hops pellets (2.7% alpha, 3.8% beta), 30 minute boil
- 1 oz. Hallertau hops pellets (2.7% alpha, 3.8% beta), 15 minute boil
- 1 tsp. Irish moss, 10 minute boil
- 1 tsp. yeast nutrient
- 1 package Pilsner Lager yeast (White Labs, WLP800), prepared in 2L starter
- “Special water blend” – 2 gallons of the carbonate-heavy Claremont water with 7 gallons of distilled water.
- Five days in advance, I prepared a 2 liter yeast starter, and let it ferment out for 2.5 days (after the krausen had fallen). I then put it in the refrigerator to cold crash for another 3 days.
- I mashed in with 4.25 gallons of water at 161.8°, aiming for a target mash temperature of 149°. The mash hit 149.8°, and was down to 146° after 55 minutes.
- After the 60 minute mash rest, I added 0.84 gallons of water at ~160°, let it rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. Then, I added 3.82 gallons of water at 180°, which brought the mash bed up to 162°. I let this rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and drained again.
- In total, I collected 7.75 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.043, for an efficiency of 82%. I suspect my water volume must have gotten off somewhere in the process. But, I’m not too worried because this is my target gravity anyhow before the boil.
- I brought the wort to a boil, and added the hops, Irish moss, and yeast nutrient per the schedule.
- After 60 minutes of boiling, I chilled the wort to 74° using my wort chiller. Then, I transferred it with aeration and placed it in the fermentation chamber for 90 minutes to bring the wort down to 60°. At this point, it was pretty late, and I decided it would be okay to pitch the yeast. I saw evidence of fermentation (krausen starting to form, very slow bubbling in the airlock) when I checked on the beer around twelve hours later.
- Starting gravity was 1.051. I’ll do the first stage of fermentation at 54°. I brewed this on 9 January 2016, and will check on the gravity in about a week, to see if it is ready to warm up.