We brewed our first two Lagers, Strauss which came out at 4.3% (target was 4.9%) and beers which uses a reasonably large portion of Vienna malt mashed fairly hot to retain body and subtle hopping from German Hallertau Mittlefruh. Mittlefruh was the obvious choice for the simple reason that we already use quite a lot of it in our European Blonde. Tettnang or Hersbrucker would have been equally lager-esque in character.
Gohan is still cold conditioning in tank and its hit its target of 5.5% almost perfectly, we learned a bit about how the yeast works with mash temperature from Strauss, Gohan includes a 25kg sack of Flaked Rice to help lighten colour and bring a more refreshing edge to the beer, I was thinking Vedette white for some of my inspiration though the hopping is off on a tangent and then Framework come on board with this brew and we decided to give it the spice treatment with additions of Coriander and Camomile. Its making for a very distinct beer and we can’t wait to get this Keg-Conditioned and it have it served properly when carbonated.
So when is a lager no longer a lager, does a lager have to taste like a stereotypical lager to be a lager?
I think this is a good question, undoubtedly if you lager a beer ‘cold conditioning or ageing at low temperature’ I guess it kinda becomes a lager through this cold maturation period.
But what about an IPL, India Pale Lager, it would use a lager yeast and go through its cold conditioning period but the hopping would be that of an India Pale Ale and its never going to drink like a lager. In my opinion using hops that aren’t traditional for a lager beer detracts from the classic flavours from those noble hops, I’ll have more idea about this when we taste Gohan which has already got way more flavour than that of most lagers.
All that said I think there is lots of room for using Traditional lager hop varieties which have been bred from or grown in other countries so you get some of the traditional backed up with the flavours that the climate and soil of the other country bring, NZ Pacifica & Motueka are going to be fun for certain with the latter bringing the character of Czech Saaz when used in the boil hops.
Next up, re-brew of Strauss as its mostly reserved for MTB/TTO’s, then get our timing right to crop the yeast for a 4th Lager brew I think we could manage about 1 per month without screwing over our other production… so what shall we brew?
Black Lager? Marzen? Vienna? Pilsner? Bock?