In case you haven’t been paying attention, lager is back. Homebrewers and commercial craft brewers who had initially focused on ale have rediscovered the joys of cold fermentation and the diverse array of lager beer styles. Lager is not synonymous with mass-produced yellow fizz water (though that is one of many lager styles), and many who initially stayed away from these fun styles are starting to rediscover their allure.
Brewing a great lager does require that the brewer pay a little extra attention to technique, but it needn’t be terribly complicated. Here are 5 tips that will improve your homebrewed lager, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-timer.
A few years back, the beer world came together to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Law) promulgated in 1516. The atmosphere across Bavaria was festive. Breweries touted the Reinheitsgebot during their tours, museums staged exhibitions about the edict’s history, and beer enthusiasts began a fresh round of debate about the relevance of this centuries-old writ.
Four hours east of Munich as the RailJet flies, the Viennese were marking a milestone anniversary of their own, albeit with much less fanfare: 175 years of Vienna Lager. Even if no museums commemorated the fact, and even if the media resonance was akin to the sound of one hand clapping, Vienna had good reason to celebrate its contribution to the culture of brewing. Bottom-fermented beer had been produced for centuries in Europe’s Alpine regions, but it wasn’t until Anton Dreher, owner of the Brauhaus zu Klein-Schwechat, brought together technological advances he learned in Britain and Bavaria that he was able to produce the first lager beer that could be brewed year-round. That happened in 1841. Up until then, Vienna’s top-fermented beers had a poor reputation: a dark brown, turbid, and frothy concoction that contemporaries dubbed “recht miserabel.” (I probably don’t need to translate that.)
As the Holidays are upon us, it’s time to give thanks with this episode of Denny and Drew reflecting on the Maltose Falcons 45th Anniversary Party with the band, the beer and Steve Grossman of Sierra Nevada Brewing. And then we talk what we’re brewing for the rest of the holidays and doing some weird things with beer!
One of the keys to making consistently good beer is to ensure consistently good fermentation practices, which for many brewers involves using various nutrients to encourage solid yeast performance. Viewed as being one of the most important nutrients, zinc is readily available for purchase and generally gets added to the wort just before pitching the yeast.
Zinc is a co-factor for certain enzymes that assist with yeast growth and metabolism. Even at relatively low concentrations (0.2-2.0 ppm), zinc is said to have a noticeable impact on fermentation by allowing the yeast to work more efficiently during the growth phase, resulting in a quicker start and healthier fermentation, which ultimately leads to a cleaner tasting beer. While too much zinc can inhibit yeast growth, usage rates at the higher end of the recommended range are also believed to contribute to beer foam stability.
Unless you live under a beer can-shaped rock, you’ve likely heard the news that New Belgium Brewing will be acquired by Lion Little World Beverages, a subsidiary of Kirin, a Japanese brewing conglomerate.
New Belgium co-founder Kim Jordan confirmed the announcement with a letter on Tuesday, saying that Kirin’s subsidiary will acquire 100 percent of the Colorado-based craft brewery. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2019, dependent on New Belgium’s employee-owners agreeing to the sale.
DENVER — Jamie and Janna Williams have answered thousands of questions over the years at their homebrew shop, but the latest may be the hardest. “It’s been difficult to explain why we aren’t going to be around,” Jamie Williams said Tuesday. The couple made the decision to close their shop, CO-Brew, by the end of this year, citing a slowdown in business and the rising costs of keeping a business afloat in a growing city.
I saw a repost of an article in some publication called Punch(drink.com), on my Facebook feed, this morning, and I have to confess that I missed it when it first appeared…in 2016. That article can be reached by clicking the image. The basic premise is that rarity, in today’s craft beer culture, has come to equate to greatness and it traces the evolution of this phenomenon. It also, to which I have to object, assumes some degree of credibility for that notion. That, for me, is that part that gets me to jam by walking stick into the ground, fix the author with my best Galdolfian glare, and growl, “You shall not pass!!”
Side topic for this edition of A Beer Judge’s Diary: location, location, location
The one consistent thing I have found that’s a frequent challenge in any competition is the search for “the place.” I would have typed “the perfect place:” but of course there is no such thing. Every place has some downside. I’ve judged where there are jack hammers breaking up an old floor below me and a plank to walk downstairs once beer does what beer does: turn into Budweiser. I kid. Just think of the color.
Sometimes the location is a matter of cost and you end up with less than desirable conditions.
Knickerbocker, run by Saratoga Thoroughbrews (Saratoga Springs, NY) has had their changes. The first two times I judged this competition it was The Pump Station in Albany: fine in the morning but a busy brewpub can have problematic noise and other situations, as Music City Brewers found out with Boscos: a now extinct (mostly: one in Memphis) brewpub. Continue reading “ABJD: Knickerbocker, 2019”
I’m already getting a ton of emails, asking if I’m going to go ballistic – as I did with 10 Barrel and Ely**an – about New Belgium selling out to Kirin/Lion. Yeah, I do pretty splashy snark and they’re fun to read. Fun to write, too…
“…When twin brothers Chris and Jeremy Cox (10 Barrel Brewing) decided to brew their own beer, they were co-owners of a successful bar and grill in downtown Bend, Oregon. They didn’t have any direct experience brewing, but told anybody who’d listen about their deep passion for craft beers and their determination to break into the industry. That, as we see graphically now, was all bullshit. What the Brothers Cox were after was a Big Payday; a rosy dream of building a disposable enterprise that would eventually catch the eye of some huge mega-corp who would back a truck up to their loading dock and shovel dollar bills out the back until they buried Jeremy and Chris Cox in a sweet dream of Caribbean beaches and cold drinks with little umbrellas in them and hot and cold running babes.”
It’s a word that evokes Victor Hugo’s Paris, and could pass as the name of a pre-Prohibition cocktail. To brewers, however, a grisette is more than a word. It’s a relatively old beer style with roots in the Belgian province of Hainaut, along the French border. Its defining characteristics are, like the beer itself, somewhat hazy, due to the fact that little information about grisettes survived into the present day. And while these “little gray” beers are grouped with saisons in the farmhouse ale family, they are thought to have been brewed for workers who labored in mines, not fields. In spite of a dearth of details, quite a few brewers have nonetheless taken to this obscure style, and have arrived at three general points of agreement: Grisettes should be lower alcohol ales made with malted wheat that lean into their hop character.