Old Dog, New Tricks

[This beer was brewed on 2/8]

I tell people that I never brew the same beer twice; indeed, that in the 20 odd years I’ve been brewing, I have never repeated a recipe. I have brewed the same styles many times over, tweaking one ingredient or another, one part of the process, etc. That’s part of the fun of the hobby, for me, comparing the results when you change up something.

Last winter, I found my lager stride at last – after years of not really understanding how, or having the patience, to make good clean true lagers, I had a run of successes, mainly due to a household re-purposing – a former bedroom at the back of the house became my “man-cave” and I opted to keep it closed off and unheated for the winter, giving me a perfect consistent 40°F storage room. I made quite satisfying lagers – a Munich Helles, a Dunkel, a Vienna, a Schwarz, a Bohemian Pilsner, a couple Bocks, and a Dortmund Export. If you look back at that post from a year ago, you see that I used a standard German Lager yeast. It was a very nice beer, but I wanted to try it again with a different twist.

Even though I am “the Guru” to many, I feel it’s always possible, and important, to learn from others. Sometimes other brewers’ questions lead me to research and investigate. Sometimes another brewer’s experiences or their own research help me. When I am planning a lager of any kind, I almost always run the recipe by my Austrian friend Walter, he just seems to have an innate sense of what will work and what won’t. In the case of this year’s Dortmund, Walter and I hit on the idea of trying White Labs’ newly released Belgian Lager yeast (WLP815). Guessing that it is probably from someone like Stella Artois, I am hoping for a nice clean fermentation with few esters and an emphasis on the slightly diacetyl flavor that I love in malty golden lagers…

Salzburg-Dortmund-Antwerp Export Lager

5 gallons, all grain

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 9 lbs. Weyermann Bohemian Pilsner malt
  • 1/2 lb. cara-pils malt
  • 2 oz. Hallertauer hop pellets
  • 1/2 oz. Perle hop pellets
  • White Labs Belgian Lager yeast (WLP815)
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar (for priming)

Procedure: Crush grains. Heat 14 quarts water with kosher salt to 162°F. Mash in crushed grains and hold 75 minutes at 150°F. Heat another 15 quarts water to 170°F. Begin runoff and sparge, collecting 26 quarts sweet wort. Bring to boil, add 1/4 oz. Hallertauer hops, boil 30 minutes. Add the Perle hops, boil another 30 minutes. Add 3/4 oz. Hallertauer hops, boil 15 minutes. Add remaining 1 oz. Hallertauer hops, remove from heat. Chill to 80°F and take a hydrometer reading. Pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment at 55°F for ten days. Rack to secondary, lager in bulk at 38 – 40°F for six weeks. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and condition cold (35 – 38°F) for six to eight weeks.

OG: 1064

IBU’s: 28

Notes on recipe: this is slightly bigger and fuller than your average Dortmund which should have an OG of something like 1055. Interestingly, the only addition I made to the brew from last January was another 1/2 lb. pilsner malt. I must have been more efficient this time! That’s OK, I like full bodied beers.

Notes on ingredients: Next time I will probably use a German Pilsner malt instead of the Bohemian, just to be different!

3 Replies to “Old Dog, New Tricks”

  1. Nice. I, too, have been getting into brewing lagers (though it’d be a stretch to say I’ve “hit my stride.” Love the German lager yeast, but will be eager to hear out the Belgian lager yeast works out.

    1. Wish I knew, Chris – I think in this case it’s probably because I boiled my volume down to less than 5 gallons without realizing it… I do get pretty good efficiency, generally, around 30 – 31 points per pound of grain… lucky, maybe?

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