The following post is a guest submission from Bluff City Brewer Jeff Kinzer, who makes a mean homebrew. We always look forward to tasting his creations.
I’m brewing a Premium American Lager. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “isn’t that a waste of brewing time”. Well, yes and no.
Here’s the deal: My wife wants to have a party this summer and I’d like to have a keg of homebrew that my inexperienced beer friends would like (these are the people that think Miller Chill and Corona Light are exotic).
Due to time constraints Easter weekend, I opted to brew the extract version, which calls for 8 pounds of light liquid malt extract, 1 pound of rice syrup (I never thought I’d use rice in a homebrew), and 1.25 oz of Hallertau hops (a heart-stopping 20 IBU!). To save a few dollars I opted for dry yeast (20 oz. of Safelager).
After heating 6 gallons of water, mixing in the extract and adding a little more water to hit my target pre-boil gravity, there was nothing left to do but add hops and wait for the boil to complete, and of course to consume a few brews.
To fight my shame of brewing an American-style lager I drank a Lindemans Faro Lambic I’d been saving. It was a little sweet for my taste but it went well with white cheddar cheese and Bugles.
Once the boil finished and with the wort chilled and safely racked to a plastic bucket, I put it in my spare refrigerator until the next morning. I am trying to follow the lagering advice from the book Brewing Classic Styles: “chill the wort to 44 degrees, then rack away from the cold break before oxygenating and pitching the yeast”.
I got up early the next day and transferred the cool wort to a carboy, then proofed and pitched the yeast. Again following advice from “Brewing Classic Styles,” I slowly raised the wort temperature over the next 36-48 hours to 50 degrees. Two anxious days later I saw krausen in the carboy.
By the end of the first week I begin to notice a sulfur-like aroma in the refrigerator but that’s supposed to be normal, and there was rapid activity in the airlock so I’m hoping fermentation was okay.
At the end of the second week, I raised the fermentation temperature to 58 degrees hoping this would be my “diacetyl rest.” After two days I lowered the temperature back down to 50. I still saw some more activity in the airlock than I expected so I decided to give it three more days and re-check the gravity before lagering.
Finally, after about 27 days and a final gravity reading of 1.012, I transferred the beer to a Cornelius keg, and put it in my second spare refrigerator, at 40 degrees.
Tried a taste after 41 days and it seems a little sweet but I think it will be fine once carbonated. I think I got the hop bitters about right, meaning there is none.