What is Different for Brewing Lager Beer?
See the next chapter, Priming and Bottling, for information on how the bottling and carbonating of lager beers can differ from ale beers.
Brewing American Lager Beer
A lot of people want to know how to brew their favorite American light lager beer, like Bud, Miller, or Coors. First thing I will tell you is that it is difficult to do. Why? Because these beers are brewed using all-grain methods that incorporate rice or corn (maize) as about 30% of the fermentables. The rice or corn must be cooked to fully solubilize the starch and then added to the mash so that the enzymes can convert the starches to fermentable sugars. See Chapters 12—What is Malted Grain, and 14—How the Mash Works, for more info.
Second, there is no room in the light body of these beers for any off-flavors to hide—off-flavors stand out. Your sanitation, yeast handling, and fermentation control must be rigorous for this type of beer to turn out right. The professional brewers at Bud, Miller, and Coors are very good at what they do—turning out a light beer, decade after decade, that tastes exactly the same. Though come to think of it, bottled water companies do that too...
Lastly, as an extract brewer, you can really only do rice-type lagers. Rice extract is available in both syrup and powder form, and will produce a decent Heineken or Budweiser clone. Corn syrup and corn sugar have had their corn character stripped away and will not produce a good extract based corn-type lager like Miller or Coors. To brew this type of beer, refer to the recipe in Chapter 19—Some of My Favorite Beer Styles and Recipes, for the Classic American Pilsner recipe, “Your Father’s Mustache,” and reduce the OG and IBUs to the guidelines below. The methods described in the “YFM” recipe can be used to brew a typical American lager using flaked corn or corn grits.
Typical American Lager Style Guidelines
Color: 2-8 SRM
Commercial Example: Budweiser
Typical American Lager Beer
3.5 lbs. of pale DME
1.5 lbs. of dry rice solids (powder)
BG for 3 Gallons 1.070
OG for 5 Gallons 1.042
1 oz of Tettnanger (5%) Boil for 60 minutes
1&Mac218;2 oz of Tettnanger (5%) Boil for 10 minutes
Total IBUs = 17
American Lager Yeast
2 weeks at 50°F in primary fermenter. Rack and lager at 40°F for 4 weeks.
Prime, and store bottles at room temperature.
Noonen, G., New Brewing Lager Beer, Brewers Publications, Boulder Colorado, 1996.