Homebrewing – The Fifth Experiment

Posted on February 7, 2010 by

Today I decided to take the plunge and give lagering a try. For anyone who doesn’t know, lagering is a very similar process to my previous beers which were ales, but you ferment the wort with a different type of yeast and at different temperatures. Regardless, this is an experiment and it feels just like the first time brewing beer again.

The steps are the same, steep grains, boil, add in extract, boil, add in hops, boil and so on, but lets talk about them a little bit.

I steeped these beautiful Dingemans Caramel Pils grains that gave the wort this awesome golden color. I especially love the caramel smell that just comes out of the wort Dingemans Caramel Pilsduring this process. I steeped them at about 160 to 170 for 20 minutes. I was trying out a new burner that my dad let me borrow today so finding the sweet spot was a challenge. I had to take the pot off the heat a couple of times. So after steeping I brought the mixture up to a boil and added in 3.15lbs of Pilsen malt extract. I take the pot off the heat to do this to avoid scorching of the malt on the bottom of the pot.

I placed it back on the heat and brought it back up to boil and choreographed a beautiful hot break. Once it broke I pitched in 2 oz of Saaz hops. Always watch your pot for a few minutes after pitching hops, it tends to make the foam come up REAL fast. Czech Saas Hops

I had found the sweet spot and let this puppy boil for 45 minutes. At that time took the wort off the heat. It was really weird, this new burner I was trying boiled off about a whole gallon of water. I went from a deep golden to a weird greenish brown color. I had to move on though. I added in another 3.15 lbs of Pilsen and another ounce of Saaz and another half gallon of water. I brought all that up to a boil and started the timer for 15 minutes. I stepped away for a minute only to come back to my pot boiling over. FAIL…So I lost a bit of wort to my boil over.

Always watch your pot for a few minutes after pitching hops, it tends to make the foam come up REAL fast.

Once the 60 minutes of boiling were up I took my pot down stairs to where the sanitized wort chiller and other sanitized equipment was. I cooled my wort down to about 60 degrees. The yeast package instructed about 58 degrees before pitching the yeast. I brought it down quickly and put the wort into my carboy, then mixed in another 3 gallons of water. I shook that baby up good for about 5 mintues and took a gravity reading. It was low. It was suppose to be around 1.047 and was more like 1.038. So I shook it up more thinking it might not be mixed up enough. I didn’t take another reading, its a bonus if I got more.

I was going to pitch my yeast, but my wYeast package wasn’t plump yet. I didn’t get my yeast ready soon enough. Next time, the moment I wake up I am popping that package. I ended up waiting about an hour before pitching my yeast.

Today’s Czech Pisener experiment didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I made some mistakes that I’m learning from, but the beer looks just icky. Hopefully things clear up. Here is what it looks like. I’ll for sure post the final product and taste test in a couple of months.

Though I looked disappointed in the picture, I’m confident that this is going to be just fine. Its hard to mess up beer, I was just expecting something different I suppose.

Just a reminder, check out my “getting started brewing my own beer” article to see the essentials for getting started if you think this is something you’d have fun doing!


Brewing Stats



1 lbs Dingemans Caramel Pils (Steeped)

6.3 lbs of Pilsen LME


2 oz Saaz (60)

1 oz Saaz (15)


Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils


3 Gallon Boil – Jay’s Well Water


Brewed: 2/6/10

Racked: 2/21/2010

Bottled: 4/2/2010

Starting Fermenting Temp: 53 degrees

Ending Fermenting Temp : 49 degrees

OG: 1.038

FG: 1.012

IBU: 47.1

ABV: 3.4%

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  • http://www.1227brewing.blogspot.com/ JeffB


    A trick I learned when I was first starting out doing extract batches is to add half the extract at the start of the boil and half at the end of the boil. This will keep the color lighter. I also suggest you use dry malt extract, it always seems to be lighter in color.

    If you haven’t started making yeast starters then you need to start, it made my beers so much better! It is especially important for lagers, the first lager I did I made a 1 pint starter like I do for ales and it wasn’t enough yeast, so my beer ended up a little sweet and did not ferment very well (small krausen, slow fermentation, etc). Lagers need a bunch of viable yeast, I made a whole growler full this time and it is fermenting away nicely.

    I have also noticed that beers change color greatly and what looks dark and nasty at the start can actually end up nice and light colored.

    Good Luck

  • mike

    Awesome advice dude.

    Right now I’ve just been using kits and most of the kits just come with LME. When I get more into making some of my own recipes I’ll for sure use DME instead. I learned that same trick about adding a little bit early and a little bit at the end last time with the Pils. The question I have though is that the temp drops so much I feel a need to bring it up to a boil again and have a nice boil for 15 minutes. What are your thoughts on that?

    As for the starter. I use the wYeast which seems to do a good job of getting things started. But I do plan to start doing starters. Actually looking at flasks right now. I really want to just start reusing my yeast that I buy so I only have to buy yeast once then I can propagate my own strains and have my own bank of yeast. I need a little more room for that though.

    Anyway, thanks for the advice! I really appreciate it.

  • http://www.1227brewing.blogspot.com/ JeffB

    The boil is important but At that point you have achieved your hop utilization (as far as IBUs) and I think most of the DMS (DiMethal Sulfide) would be boiled off. The DME seems to not effect the temp as much either if I recall correctly. DME is more expensive but I feel it is a much better product than the LME that I was getting.

    Yeast banks are tricky, but washing an reusing yeast has worked well for me.

  • mike

    I’m looking to wash some yeast on this American Ale I’ve got fermenting right now, then actually reuse some right of way of a Scottish Ale that I’m planning coming up.

    I didn’t think the DME was to bad in price. I’m not sure what I’ll do yet. I may stick to kits for a few more batches till I’ve got the process down flat, then start on a recipe or two.

    So much to think about, but…it is a heck of a lot of fun drinking that first beer.

  • http://mikesbrewreview.com/homebrewing-northern-brewer-extra-pale-ale-104/ Homebrewing-Northern Brewer Extra Pale Ale 1040 | mikesbrewreview.com

    [...] getting everything together, the gear, the kit and some beers to drink during the session. I had a Czech Pilsner that needed to be racked over to secondary, so I did that while I waited. I got to try out my new [...]

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