Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Posts tagged “Lager

Bottling the smoked lager

Back in mid-December I decided to try my hand at my second lager, having done primarily ales for the past two years. I chose a rauchbier or smoked lager to brew, as the tradition behind the style intrigues me. The Rauch! Rauch! batch sat in primary for the two remaining weeks of December, then moved into a cold closet near my garage to lager for the month of January and first week of February, eventually moving out into the garage due to an unseasonably warm Minnesota winter this year.

I bottled this beer during the Super Bowl on 2/5/12. I described in detail the extra steps I took to prep the batch to bottle condition in a recent post found here. FG was 1.014 on bottling day before adding the yeast and yeast nutrient solution and 4.4 oz. of priming sugar, bringing this beer to 6.4% ABV. The yeast and nutrient solution made the beer quite hazy for about three or four days after it was bottled, something that was quite disappointing at first as I’d been so patient to let it lager for over a month. After that though, the beer cleared and is looking great a week after bottling. (more…)


Maibark update

Recently, I transferred the maibock batch to a warmer room after fermentation slowed 11 days in. Within those first 11 days, it fermented for 3 to 5 days at 56* then worked it’s way down to 51* for the rest as activity slowed. I then moved the batch to a warmer room on 1/26 where it stayed for about 9 days (until 2/4/12), working it’s way from 57* to 60* for the diacetyl rest step so that the lager yeast could clean up the undesirable by-products of fermentation.

Today (2/4), I transferred the batch to secondary and will work it down to lagering temperatures over the next few days. The gravity was between 8.75 and 8.5 brix (1.016-1.015). Based on the OG of 1.067, this batch is sitting right around 7.1% ABV right now. I plan to lager it for 5 weeks, bottling it 3/10 or 3/11 so it’ll be completely bottle conditioned by May. (more…)


I tried my hand at a maibock back on 1/15, again taking advantage of the long MLK Jr. weekend to brew this year. This is becoming a tradition. Instead of doing a double or triple decoction, I tried to select mostly well-modified malts (the vienna was recommended to be step-mashed but whatever) instead of doing a double or triple decoction as per German tradition. I did throw half a pound of melanoidin malt in the bill to emulate a little bit of the extra body I might get through decoction mashing. We’ll see how it turns out.


Rauch! Rauch! Rauchbier

 I brewed a rauchbier back on 12/16/11. I based my recipe off of one I found here within a rauchbier style profile BYO article. I stepped up the malt bill on mine by 50% to account for the poor efficiency of my operation (calculated recently at somewhere between 51-57%). I also increased the percentage of smoked/rauch malt. I had never had a traditional full-on rauchbier before, so I was weary of using mostly smoked malts as those recipes do, though I kinda wish I had.

I tasted the wort prior to pitch on brew day and even with 1/4 of the grain bill being smoked malts, it didn’t taste very smokey at all. At the time I thought maybe that’ll be a good thing in the long run, but since brew day I had the chance to try a traditional exemplar of the style, Aecht Schlenkerla’s Urbock Rauchbier. This Bamberg, Germany-based brewery is one of the few that smoke their own malt via traditional methods and produce their beers mainly with these rauch malts. The smokey flavor was definitely intense, slapping you across the face in a way very similar to heavily smoked gouda. Though you’ll never find me drinking more than one or two of these intense (and expensive at $12 a bottle at Buster’s on 28th!) beers in a sitting, I liked it a lot. I hope the one I brewed turns out smokey enough, but I’m doubtful based on the taste of the wort. Next time I’ll use 100% smoked base malts. (more…)

Bottling the Cliffred Lager

Bottling day! Ok, so I got a little anxious/bored and decided to bottle my red lager this past Sunday, six weeks after transferring to secondary to lager out in the garage at about 38 degrees. I had originally planned (in a prior post) to wait a eight weeks to bottle my first lager, but I might be busy on Saturday, 2/12 so I ended up going for it this past weekend.

While bottling, I tasted a bit to see how it had matured. Of course, I couldn’t really tell because I didn’t try it until after adding in the sugar and dry yeast for carbonating this lager. My bad. I would be amiss for judging the batch on this pre-bottle conditioned tasting. It will sit bottled in our office (hottest room in our not so hot house) for the next two or three weeks now as at carbonates. I don’t plan to drink too much of this crisp lager until it gets warmer out. (more…)

Cliffred Lager Update, February Brewing Plans

Cliffred Lager chillin' in the closet by the garage at about 41 degrees F on a cold January day in Minnesota.

Last weekend was the 4 week mark from when I transferred the red lager batch from primary into the secondary fermenter. I’m starting to strategize about when I’ll be able to bottle this beer. The recipe said to let it lager in secondary for 3 to 12 weeks. I feel like I’ve exercised commendable patience thus far, in part because I forgot to use Irish moss (a natural clarifying agent) in the boil of this batch. Since longer, colder lagering of a batch contributes to the final beer’s clarity and since I have plenty of other homebrew to drink, I’m going to try and hold off on bottling this beer for as long as possible (also considering that I’m using ambient Minnesota temps to lager this batch in my garage and/or in a closet next to the garage when it consistently gets too close to zero degrees (F) outside (so it’s not like I can rely on having proper lagering temps available past mid-March… hopefully!!).

In doing a little research about what to do once you’re ready to bottle a lager, I stumbled upon this homebrew forum conversation that essentially tells me I’m going to need to add about 1/4 of a package of rehydrated dry yeast to the batch, as most of the yeast from fermentation will have dropped out of suspension and died during the lagering process. Glad I accidentally found this. (more…)

Cliffred Lager

My Dad and buddy Corey came over for Barking Dog’s first all-grain brew day. We did Midwest Supplies’ Midwest Red Lager recipe:

Base malt: 9 lbs domestic pilsner
Specialty: 8 oz carapils, 12 oz Carmel 40, 2 oz Debittered black (pre-mixed)
Hops: 2 oz Hallertau
Yeast: White Labs German Lager #WL830 (did a yeast starter)


  • Started the day at about 9:30am. Cooooold in the garage!!! I think the grain bed got down to 140* during the hour it was in the mash tun. Started off at about 150* or so.
  • 90 min. sparge
  • OG: 1.045 (11.3 brix) while target is 1.042-1.046 so I’m pretty happy
  • Doing a longer boil (75 min.) to promote clarity in the finished product, forgot to buy Irish moss… Recipe said I could go as long as 90 min. in the boil.
  • Hallertau in at 60″
  • Hallertau in at 2″
  • Post boil, came up about a gallon short of volume (longer boil = less final product, whoops, duh). Brix was back up to almost 14 so I didn’t feel bad adding over half a gallon of spring water I had laying around to the fermenter. Got the brix reading back down to 11.9 (1.048) which is just above target. Good to go.
  • I had done a yeast starter (one cup dried Pilzen malt extract with four cups water boiled together for 15 min.) on Thursday night prior to this Saturday brew day. I’ve read it can be bad to do them too early, as the yeast could be tired out by the time they’re pitched, but I think I may have done this one a bit too close to pitch time, as there wasn’t a ton of activity in the container — but some. Pitched at about 4:00pm. (more…)