Red Rye Lager

Moving through the winter months, and moving through my practice in the world of lagers, I’m feeling like something a bit different. I’ve got a good, clean German pils conditioning, so yet another pale lager would be somewhat boring. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t that far away, so an Irish-inspired beer seemed intriguing. I like Irish red ales, but rarely brew them. And then I thought…what about a red lager? Let’s take an Irish red ale recipe, and lagerize it!

Thus, my Red Rye Lager was born. I started with the Better Red Than Dead recipe from AHA, and worked a bit of magic on it. Instead of Maris Otter, I subbed in pilsner malt. To add a little more character, I dropped in a pound of rye malt. Thanks to a suggestion on the AHA forum, I used Carafa III instead of roasted barley for color adjustment. The hops got switched over to lager-appropriate hops, too. Finally, I wanted a yeast that would be clean but flavorful–and a California Common yeast seemed perfect.


This was a fun recipe to work out…I feel like it’s something a bit different and creative. It doesn’t really conform to any particular BJCP style, which is also a plus in my book! The style guidelines are handy, but I find sometimes discourage me from thinking outside the box. I’m not brewing this for competition, so the sky is the limit!

Red Rye Lager

  • 5 lbs. Château Pilsen malt (Castle Malting)
  • 1.5 lbs. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann Malting)
  • 3 lbs. Munich I malt (Weyermann Malting)
  • 1 lb. rye malt (Briess Malting)
  • 0.5 lb. CaraRed malt (Weyermann Malting)
  • 2 oz. Carafa III malt (Weyermann Malting)
  • 0.5 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 45 minute boil
  • 2 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.0% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 0.5 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. San Francisco Lager Yeast (White Labs, WLP810), prepared in 1.75L starter

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 152°, 60 minutes, batch sparge
  • 1.053 o.g., 1.016 f.g., 4.8% abv, 26 IBU, 14 SRM
  • Water adjusted to hit target of 52 Ca, 10 Mg, 11 Na, 43 SO4, 53 Cl, 109 HCO3, RA 46 ppm.


  • I prepared a 1.75L starter for the yeast, 24 hours in advance. Within 12 hours, it had a visible fermentation.
  • I mashed in with 4.5 gallons of RO water, with 2 g Epsom salt and 3 g CaCl added, in addition to 3 mL of 75% phosphoric acid. The strike water was around 165°, to hit a mash temperature of 154°. It was down to 149.5° after 60 minutes. At this point, I vorlaufed, drained the mash tun, and added 4.5 gallons of tap water at 180°.
  • After waiting another 10 minutes, I vorlaufed and drained the mash tun again.
  • In total, I collected 7.3 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.047, for 81% efficiency. Wow! I wonder if it was because I had a slightly thinner mash than normal?
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and other ingredients per the schedule. After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the flame and chilled down to 70°.
  • I transferred the wort to the primary fermenter, and then hit it with 2 minutes of pure oxygen. I pitched the yeast, and sealed it all up. I will be fermenting at 60°.
  • The beer was brewed on 22 December 2017. Starting gravity was 1.053, exactly on target. I ended up with just over 6 gallons in the fermenter.
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