Beer Quotes & Wisdom

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline-it

helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear

weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. -- Frank Zappa

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Making The Lager Leap. Part 1

I think almost all home brewers start out making ales. Ales are easy. Ales are forgiving, ales can be made sitting on the counter, or in a closet. Ales must be the males of beer.

Lagers on the other hand must be female. They're mysterious. They're finicky, they have to be at just the right temperature. But not always the same temperature. They have to be kept cool, then warm, then cold. Come on, just make up your mind!

Brewing lagers requires a commitment and they like you to buy lots of things for them. A freezer or refrigerator, a temperature controller, a heated jacket, stir plates, Erlenmeyer flasks...

So getting ready to brew lagers takes some time as a home brewer matures to the point where he is ready to have a relationship with lagers.

But it occurred to me that if the Czechs and Germans could brew lagers before electricity and all the fancy gadgetry, then I should be able to do it too. I started taking the temperature of different parts of my house to find "just the right spots" to keep my lager happy. The garage, the basement, upstairs, a back bedroom closet. There's enough variation that I think I am ready to make the lager leap.

So I'm jumping into the deep end with both feet. The first attempt is two-fold. I am making a 3 gallon Lite American Lager to build up the yeast for the next two beers, a doppelbock and maibock.

Lager #1 is also an experiment to satisfy my wife's penchant to adding things to her clear beers. She likes to add either lime juice, or olives to her glass. The lime is already being done by the mega-breweries so I guess it isn't all that odd.

But the olives is just not right. I must admit, it does create an interesting effect though. Add some basic cocktail olives to a glass of lite beer and they will bob from the bottom of the glass to the top and back again. Its kind of a beer lava lamp.

So batch #1 will be divided into three 1 gallon batches after fermentation. One will remain unadulterated as a control. One will have lime juice added to it at bottling, the last will receive an injection of olive juice as it gets bottled.

I'm monitoring the amount of the flavorings she adds to a single glass of beer so that I can scale it up to the one gallon volume. I also tell her that if she drank real beers that already had flavor, she wouldn't have to add anything like juices or olives.


  1. "But the olives is just not right."

    And I tapped the keg my first lager today, hoping it would be ready for the work Christmas party tomorrow night. None of the usual attendees of these work parties ever enjoy my pales or IPAs or ambers, so I thought I'd make one that's more their style. I generally don't care for lagers, and so this seems like I hit the style okay! I do think it smells a little funky though. We'll see how tomorrow goes.

  2. Make sure you save some for the meeting.


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