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WHY LAGER?

WHY BREWING LAGERS IS DIFFERENT

1. MALTING THE GRAIN

Many of our Lagers begin with a base of Pilsen malt as opposed to our typical 2-Row Pale malt. While these two malts are different in nuanced ways they are the same grain and often of the same variety as one another. The difference begins in the malthouse where the maltster aims for a very light profile in both color and flavor through a lower kilning temperature. The bready and grainy character we typically refer to as “Malty” is kept to a minimum while still maintaining the performance brewers need in the brewhouse.

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2. STEEPING THE GRAIN

While many associate decoction brewing with Lagers and Pilsners, modern malting techniques have made this older style of grain steeping unnecessary from a brewhouse performance standpoint. That isn’t to say there is no difference in the flavor or finished product, but while decoction used to be utilized as a necessity to achieve decent extraction from the malt, that is no longer the case. We go with a single-infusion mash on all of our Lagers and use our mash temperature as a means to control the profile of our finished beer.

3. THE KETTLE

An important phase in the life of a Lager, the kettle is where hops are added for their bitterness to balance the final sweetness of the beer. The timing and amounts of these additions allow you to shape the bitterness as well as the intensity of the hop flavor, which can leave a very pleasant floral or spice character. While the hops are important, there are many other crucial things happening in the kettle. The malting profile of pilsner malt leaves some unwanted volatile flavors in the wort that must be driven off by an extended and intense boil. Accordingly we boil 90-120 minutes, not with big bitterness or high alcohol in mind, but more for the “cleanliness” of the finished beer.

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4. FERMENTATION

This is what truly makes a Lager. You could adhere to every parameter of a Lager brew, but if you use an Ale yeast, it is still an Ale. Lager yeast behaves differently than Ale strains and the way you treat it varies greatly from a typical Ale profile. A typical Lager fermentation can be thought of as the cold-and-slow method of fermentation, where you introduce the yeast at much lower temperatures but at a much higher concentration. The brewer will be looking for a very clean flavor profile from the yeast that can only be achieved through tightly controlled temperature parameters. This type of fermentation allows the finished character of the beer to be driven more by the raw materials you put into the product than the flavors the yeast creates as a result of fermentation. The fermentation and conditioning curves on these beers stretch over weeks or months depending on the end goal.

GLOSSARY

Maltser: A maker of malt.

Decoction Brewing: Decoction Brewing (or Decoction Mashing) involves removing about a third of the Mash to another pot where it is heated to conversion temperature, then boiled and returned to the Mash Tun.

Wort: The liquid extracted from the mashing process during brewing. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.