Wednesday, January 12, 2022

In Praise of Obergäriges Lagerbier

Every January it is the same.

I resolve to finally invest in the necessary equipment to make lager brewing a regular part of my thoroughly irregular brewing schedule. With the twins now four years old, perhaps this is the year when I can get back to homebrewing with something approaching regularity. As I say though, every January I promise myself that I will get a second hand fridge or something so that I can do the cooler fermentation necessary for using bottom fermenting yeast, and yet every year I end up not bothering.

This January is different.

I am not resolving to spend money on a fermentation chamber, having accepted that with such an irregular brewing schedule it would end up just using electricity. Nope, instead I plan to take full advantage of what I already have in order to make beers like those I love to drink. I am somewhat lucky that my beer cellar, such as it is since I had a major clear out of crap - seriously, who actually needs 16 growlers clogging up space? - has a fairly steady ambient temperature of about 65° Fahrenheit, right inside the optimal temperature range for both Wyeast 1007 and Safale K-97, which is to be expected since they are both apparently the Zum Uerige strain.


I have used this yeast in my last pair of homebrew projects, an altbier type beer with lots of Munich malt, and also a 10° beer with lots of Saaz that had it been bottom fermented would have been a very Czech brew. My experience with the 10° convinced me that if I want to make clean, crisp beers then sod buying a fermentation chamber, I will just use Zum Uerige's yeast, as well as lagering for a decent length of time, and following some tips from folks online, gelatin finings to clear things up as alt yeast is a low flocculator.


The other day as I will plotting my first brewday of 2022, I was digging through the freezer, where I store my hops, and discovered to my delight a lot more Saaz. Having taken a quick look at the liquid malt extracts I have to hand, I resolved that brewday number 1 this year will be to make a top fermented 14° polotmavé, that's Czech style amber to most folks.

My recipe is simplicity itself:
  • 4.65lb Briess Pilsen LME
  • 3.15lb Briess Dark LME
  • 9 IBU Saaz for 60 minutes
  • 8 IBU Saaz for 45 minutes
  • 7 IBU Saaz for 30 minutes
  • 4 IBU Saaz for 15 minutes
  • Safale K-97 yeast
According the brewing software I use, this will give me:
  • OG: 14° (1.056)
  • FG: 2.8° (1.011)
  • ABV: 5.9%
  • SRM: 12 (medium amber)
  • IBU: 28
I plan to do my usual 2 week primary fermentation, followed by 6 weeks lagering in my kegerator fridge. So if everything works out I'll have a nice svrchně kvašené specialní polotmavé pivo for the middle of March.

Sure the purist in me would still rather spend the money to buy a fermentation chamber, but the same purist in me would also want to do it all grain, with a double decoction mash. Sometimes you just have to be a pragmatist, and if this gets me a decent polotmavé for the vernal equinox then happy days.

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