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Five facts for National Lager Day

December 10, 2014 By: mike Category: Beer learnin', Craft beer, History of beer

Fourth of July beer

Today is National Lager Day, a day for craft beer drinkers to celebrate this often under-appreciated category of beers.

Think lagers are boring? Wiseacre Brewing Co.’s Kellan Bartosch refuted that notion last year in this piece for craftbeer.com.

Bartosch, who would “take a well done lager over a poorly made IPA any day,” suggested that beers don’t need to be extreme to be good.

“The best beer drinkers I know enjoy every style and can pick out good and bad versions of each, including lagers,” Bartosch wrote.

So skip the IPA today and pick up a lager. There are many styles to choose from that don’t include American macrobrews. I’m particularly fond of Schwarzbiers and Märzens, but even a good old Samuel Adams Boston Lager (style: Vienna Lager) will do.

Speaking of, the brewers at Samuel Adams shared with us these facts for National Lager Day. Cheers!

1.) The word “lager” is derived from the German “lager” which means “to store.”

2.) Lagers are relatively new to the beer scene, first appearing in Bavaria during the 16th century; before that, ales were brewed for over 7,000 years because ales are easier to ferment.

3.) Lager yeast, as opposed to ale yeast, ferments (eats sugar to produce carbonation and alcohol) at cooler temperatures and, when done fermenting, settles to the bottom of the fermentation tank. Lager yeast also takes a longer time to condition the beer than ale yeast.

4.) Due in part to their clean, crisp character, lagers are sometimes incorrectly labeled plain and boring. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! Craft lagers are flavorful and complex, and a number of different styles fall under the lager category and include Märzen/Oktoberfest beers, Bock beers like Maibock/Helles Bocks, Pilsners, Dunkelweizens, Rauchbiers, and Schwarzbiers, to name a few.

5.) Before modern refrigeration, brewers needed a way to keep their lagers cool during the brewing process. In lieu of today’s larger cooling tanks, German lager brewers of old sometimes cooled their beer in Alpine caves or in cellars dug deeply into hillsides.

Brewing an American-style lager with Memphis homebrewer Jeff Kinzer

June 14, 2011 By: grant Category: Beer learnin', Homebrew, How to, Memphis

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.

Yuengling to buy old Coors brewery in Memphis

October 15, 2010 By: grant Category: Beer in the news, Breweries, Memphis

Great news from The Commercial Appeal today: It looks like D.G. Yuengling is poised to take over the old Molson Coors brewery in Memphis.

Yuengling, the oldest American-owned brewery in the United States (pop quiz: which is the biggest?), would expand its brewery operations from its original Pottsville, Pa., location and newer brewery in Tampa, Fla., to include the 1.3 million-square-foot facility off of Raines in southeast Memphis.

The whole deal makes me a little nostalgic for my time in undergrad and the couple subsequent years I still lived in Morgantown, W.Va. Yuengling wasn’t sold in that state, so my buddy and I would drive across the border to a little distributer in an alley behind a church in Point Marion, Pa., and stock up on Yuengling Lager and Lord Chesterfield Ale.

If the deal goes though, which it looks like it will, it means excellent jobs for Memphis. Beer jobs!

The other two breweries offer free tours, so I’m hoping we’ll get the same here in Memphis. It could also mean all of Yuengling’s brews are more widely distributed in the city and the Mid-South. I drank a couple Black & Tan’s last night to build up a little good karma. Yum.

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