I recently acquired a shelf chiller from a friend who runs a brew pub in Worcester, that I could hook up to the Brewtech Chronical and get cold crashing lower than my brew fridge/kegerator could. I decided to try out a lager for the first time to test it out. The weather also seemed on my side, as it was in minus figures for a fair amount this early January.
Being a big fan of big, malty lagers I decided I should start with something fairly simple but dark, just to hide any flaws that would be inevitable from a first go. Munich Dunkel just seemed the perfect style to go with, and I decided to use an all Munich base malt to really beef up the maltiness. The darker colour and flavours would come from some Carafa Special III that I already had in stock.
Batch size: 19L
4kg Munich Malt (10L)
250g Biscuit Malt
100g Carafa Special III
55g Tettnang 3.4%AA @ 60 mins
15g Tettnang 3.4%AA @ 5 mins
Mash at 67C for 60 mins
2pk Mangrove Jacks Bohemian Lager yeast
Primary temperature was 10C for two days until the airlock was going strong, then bumped up to 11C. Once the airlock started slowing down, I raised the temp 1C a day until it hit 14C, where it stayed for a few days to help reach terminal gravity. Sadly it didn’t quite get there, finishing at 1.018. Even though it finished five points higher, it never came across as being sweet. Whether it was the yeast that stalled or the mash temp was too high, it never went any lower.
After primary was done I crash cooled it to 2C and let it lager for 5 weeks. While it was doing that I started getting the next beer ready (and finished drinking) a Brut IPA for the club’s special tasting night.
After 5 weeks I racked it off into the keg and force carbonated to about 2.2 volumes. At such a low temperature I didn’t want to over gas it, and it was pretty eager to soak it all up. I let it sit in the kegerator for a day before serving.
Overall I’m very happy with the way this turned out. It’s not as malty as I expected, but there is a lovely chocolate aroma and flavour that’s not over the top. A little spiciness from the Tettnang also, just enough hop character to know it’s a noble variety. My only gripe was that it never really cleared. I’m going to have to start looking in to using finings at packaging time.