The unnamed hoppy lager

For a while now, Paul and I have been honing our recipe for our dry hopped lager – that is still without a name – by adding and removing ingredients, and tweaking the quantities and we seems to have hit on something that ticks two main boxes.

1. It’s easy to make.
2. It tastes bloody good.

Now we’re both craft beer lovers and have a strong foundation of beer appreciation kicked along by the fine folks at Emerson’s Brewery and their most excellent Pilsner and Bookbinder recipes. From there we developed a taste for hops (a taste that is not immediately palatable to newcomers) and sought stronger and tastier hop recipes. I don’t know about Paul but I can certainly say there are some beers out there that maybe have too much hops in them – Bridgeport’s “Hop Czar” springs to mind.

Anyway, back to the home brew – here’s our recipe that we’ve developed and you’re welcome to try it yourself and report the results.

Ingredients:

  1. One Cooper’s Lager Home Brew Kit – you can get these from Countdown for about $13 a can.
  2. One 1.5kg tin of Maltexo Malt – we find this at Pak’n’Save in Dunedin for about $8.50 a can.
  3. One sachet of S26 lager yeast – we get this from the Dunedin Malthouse – a home brew store for about $7.
  4. 100 grams of aromatic hops for dry hopping.
We’re not driven by price but when all is said and done we’re making this beer for just over a dollar per 500ml bottle, excluding labour. If you want to make good beer don’t cut corners to get cost down.

The method: First, clean your stuff then clean it again – don’t skimp on this step or you’ll make shit beer. Make the beer as per the instructions in the home brew kit, discarding the yeast that comes with the Cooper’s kit. Put it in your fermenter for one week. We’ve done this recipe so much now that we don’t even bother measureing the OG (original gravity) or FG (final gravity).

After one week, add the dry hops into the barrel in a mesh bag so the flavour can get out but the hops stays in. Weight the bag down with a teaspoon or other heavy object. Don’t forget to sterilise your bag before you put it into your fermenter! As for the hops, we use 100g of hops and generally mix amounts of Riwaka, Motueka or Nelson Sauvin hops. We’ve found a pretty good result with 50/50 Nelson Sauvin and Riwaka but it’s interesting to mix it up a little, especially when you are doing two brews at once.

Then after another week – that’s a week to ferment and a week for dry hopping – we bottle. We use glass bottles from Emerson’s (they give them away to home brewers) with a bit of white sugar to prime the bottles (just because that’s where we’re at). We use a bottle filling wand to make sure there’s as little oxygen as practical getting into the bottles and then cap them with crown caps and a bottle capper. After as little as a week they’re good for tasting (if you’re desperate) but best results kick in after about a month.

The beer that we’re brewing smells very fruity and is big on hops. Many recipes where you dry hop call for about 40g hops so ramping it up to 100g is just bigger. Watch the temperature you ferment at – we had a runaway brew that fermented at very high temperatures ( > 25 dec C ) and it ended up tasting like a whiteboard marker. Seriously it did! We’re aiming to ferment between 11 and 15 degrees C but haven’t got the gear to measure or regulate that properly yet.

Our most recent addition to the equipment lineup is an old vertical freezer with no shelving and no motor. We haven’t tried it yet but it looks like on it’s side it should be able to fit four 23L fermenters in it and keep it at a good temperature.

And a final note – give youself plenty of space – I used to brew in my shed, wedged between my scooter and pile of garden equipment but have since vacated to Paul’s garage where there’s room for a BBQ, a few seats and a gas heater. It’s the ultimate man cave. But yes do watch your setup and make sure there’s space for you to work in – you’ll get the gist of it after a few goes.

Happy brewing!

4 Comments

  • By Hoptimus, December 11, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

    You let the secret recipe out! I’ll have to give it a go some time.

    Advice:

    - ferment for 10-12 days initially instead of 7 – lets the bulk of the primary ferment finish before the dry hops are added.

    - siphon the beer into another fermenter off the yeast sediment after the 10-12 days and add your dry hops then. Taking the yeast out makes it waaay easier to get clear, clean tasting beer at the end. 7days is good for secondary fermentation. Do this one colder than the primary – if you can get it down to 5-6°C that’s ideal for a lagering secondary.

    - At the end of the 7days, cold condition the beer for 2 days (or more if you have time / space) in a fridge as cold as you can get it (it will go to -2°C without freezing because of the density and alcohol in solution). This drops out a lot of the proteins and particles that create ‘chill haze’ and general cloudiness as well as that yeasty homebrew flavour.

    Takes almost a week longer and a wee bit more maintenance but it will improve your brew significantly!

  • By GuruBob, December 11, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

    Awesome advice. Thanks so much! Need a bit more gear if we’re gonna be chilling – or save the lagering until winter I suppose :)

  • By Paul, August 3, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    Good write up GuruBob.

    My tips:
    Don’t use less than 100 grams of hops, everyone will tell you it is too much before hand but no one will tell you it has to many hops after it is made (unless it is all nelson sauvin).

    Use lager yeast in the winter and ale in the summer. We have struggled to manage the temperature in the past and lager works best when colder but if it is warm in the summer you are better to use an ale yeast as it handles a higher fermentation temperature.

    Good tips there Homptimus going to put that in action this week.

  • By GuruBob, August 31, 2013 @ 12:29 am

    No such thing as too much hops :-)

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