Are you interested in learning how to brew your very own lager but have no experience? Well, you’re in luck! In this article, we will guide you through a step-by-step recipe for making an easy lager. Whether you’re a complete beginner or simply looking to expand your brewing skills, this recipe is perfect for you. Get ready to embark on a brewing adventure and create your very own delicious lager right at home!
Here is a simple recipe for a 5-gallon pilsner lager using malt extract:
- 6.6 lbs Pilsner malt extract (liquid or dried)
- 1 oz Tettnang hops (60 min addition)
- 0.5 oz Saaz hops (15 min addition)
- Czech Pilsner Lager Yeast (White Labs WLP800 or Wyeast 2007)
- 5 gallons water
- Priming sugar (5 oz.)
- Bring 2.5 gallons of water to 155°F and steep grains for 30 minutes in a steeping bag. Remove grains and bring to a boil.
- Add malt extract and 60 min hop addition and boil for 60 minutes total.
- Add 15 min hop addition at 15 mins left in the boil.
- Cool wort and transfer to fermenter, add more cool water to make 5 gallons.
- Pitch yeast when wort temp is under 70°F.
- Ferment at 50°F for 1-2 weeks or until final gravity is reached.
- Transfer to secondary vessel and lager at 40°F for 4 weeks.
- Prime bottles, fill and carbonate at room temp for 2 weeks before chilling.
Make sure to properly sanitize all equipment to avoid contamination. Adjust hop amounts to reach the desired IBU level.
We will go over the steps more in detail below.
Before you start brewing, you’ll need some basic equipment. These tools will make the process easier and help ensure your beer turns out great! Here’s a quick Essential Homebrewing Starter guide with more in-depth information listing some of the brewing equipment you will need.
1. Brewing kettle
A brewing kettle is a large pot used to heat and boil your ingredients. It should be a 5-gallon pot to start. You can use this pot even if you want to make 1-gallon batches in the future.
2. Fermentation vessel
A fermentation vessel is where your beer will sit during the fermentation process. It needs to be airtight and large enough to hold your beer.
An airlock is a small device that fits on the top of your fermentation vessel. It allows gases to escape during fermentation but prevents any unwanted bacteria or air from entering.
A thermometer is used to measure the temperature of your ingredients. It’s important to keep an eye on the temperature throughout the brewing process.
A hydrometer is a tool used to measure the specific gravity of your beer. This helps you track the progress of fermentation.
6. Siphoning equipment
Siphoning equipment is used to transfer your beer from one vessel to another without disturbing the sediment at the bottom. It helps make sure your beer stays clear and doesn’t have any off flavors.
7. Bottling equipment
Once your beer is ready, you’ll need equipment to bottle it. This includes bottles, caps, a bottle capper, and a bottle filler.
Step 1: Sanitization
Before you start brewing, it’s important to thoroughly clean and sanitize all of your brewing equipment. This helps remove any dirt, bacteria, or unwanted flavors that could affect your beer.
1. Cleaning brewing equipment
Start by washing all of your equipment with hot, soapy water. Scrub away any residue or build-up. Rinse everything well to make sure there are no soap residues left.
2. Sanitizing brewing equipment
Once your equipment is clean, it’s time to sanitize. You can use a sanitizing solution, such as a powdered or liquid sanitizer. Follow the instructions on the package to properly sanitize all of your equipment. This step is crucial to prevent any unwanted bacteria from spoiling your brew.
Step 2: The Boil
Boiling the wort is an important step that helps sterilize and concentrate the flavors of your beer.
When brewing with only extract, there is no mashing required. The malt extract has already been created and concentrated from an initial mash process.
1. Heat water
Start by heating the 2.5 gallons of water to 155°F in your brew kettle. You will top off your fermenter later to reach the 5-gallon volume.
2. Add malt extract
Once the water reaches a gentle boil, remove the kettle from the heat. Slowly stir in the liquid malt extract or dissolve the dry malt extract fully to avoid clumping.
3. Return to boil
Return the kettle to heat and bring to a rolling boil. This boil is necessary to drive off unwanted compounds, extract hop flavors and acids, and sterilize the wort.
4. Boil time and adding hops
Once the wort is boiling, add your hops. Hops add bitterness and aroma to your beer, balancing out the sweetness of the malted grains. Here is the hop schedule for this recipe with a total of a 60-minute boil:
- 1 oz Tettnang hops (60 min addition) – at the start of the boil
- 0.5 oz Saaz hops (15 min addition) – with 15 minutes left in the boil
5. Optional: Add additional flavorings
If you want to experiment with different flavors, you can add additional ingredients, such as fruit or spices, during the boiling process. This will infuse your beer with unique flavors.
Step 3: Cooling
After boiling, it’s important to cool down the wort before adding the yeast. This helps prevent any unwanted bacteria from contaminating your beer.
1. Remove the kettle from the heat
Once the boiling time is complete, remove the kettle from the heat source. Be cautious, as the kettle will be hot!
2. Cool the wort to yeast pitching temperature
You’ll need to cool down the wort to a specific temperature known as “yeast pitching temperature.” This temperature varies depending on the yeast you’re using but is typically around 65-75°F (18-24°C).
3. Use a wort chiller or ice bath
There are a few methods to cool down the wort. One is using a wort chiller, which is a device that you immerse in the wort and circulates cold water around it. Alternatively, you can create an ice bath by placing the kettle in a sink or tub filled with ice water. Stir the wort occasionally to help it cool faster.
Step 4: Fermentation
Fermentation is the magical process where yeast consumes the sugars in the wort and turns them into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
1. Transfer the wort to the fermentation vessel
Once the wort has cooled down, transfer it to your fermentation vessel. Make sure the vessel is clean and sanitized before pouring the wort in. Top off your fermenter with cool filtered water to reach your 5-gallon volume.
2. Pitch yeast
Pitching the White Labs WLP800 or Wyeast 2007 yeast to the wort. Pitching just means adding it to the wort. Follow the instructions on the yeast package to determine how much to add. Sprinkle or pour the yeast into the wort and give it a gentle stir.
3. Seal the vessel with an airlock
Attach an airlock to the top of your fermentation vessel. This allows gases produced during fermentation to escape while keeping out any unwanted air or bacteria.
4. Maintain temperature within yeast’s preferred range and ferment
With the yeast, we are using Ferment at 50°F for 1-2 weeks or until final gravity is reached. Different yeast strains have different temperature preferences for fermentation. Make sure to check the instructions for your specific yeast and keep the fermentation vessel within the recommended temperature range.
So how do you ferment at these low temperatures? The best way is to use a fermentation chamber. If you don’t have that you can place it in a cool basement or even your garage if you get cold winters. They are not the best options but will have to do. I have used my garage in the past with great success fermenting a Bock.
5. The diacetyl rest (optional)
The diacetyl rest is an optional 2-3 day period at the end of primary fermentation where lager beers are raised from 48-56°F up to 60-68°F before being cooled back down for lagering; this brief warm period spurs added yeast activity to clean up diacetyl, which is a natural fermentation byproduct that in higher concentrations can impart unwelcome buttery/butterscotch flavors into the final beer. While some lager yeasts may not require an additional diacetyl rest if minimal diacetyl has already been produced, utilizing this short rest can act as insurance against diacetyl carryover for brewers looking to safeguard against this common lager flaw.
Step 5: Conditioning
Conditioning is the process of allowing your beer to settle, clarify, and carbonate before bottling.
1. Transfer beer to a secondary vessel (optional)
Some brewers choose to transfer their beer to a secondary vessel for conditioning. This can help clarify the beer and remove any sediment. If you decide to do this, make sure the vessel is clean and sanitized before transferring the beer. For this brew, we will Transfer to a secondary vessel and lager at 40°F for 4 weeks. If you want a crisp authentic lager, lagering is a must!
2. Allow beer to clarify and carbonate
During conditioning, your beer will continue to develop flavors and carbonation. It’s important to be patient and let the beer sit undisturbed for a few weeks.
3. Duration of conditioning
The length of conditioning varies depending on the beer style and personal preference. In general, conditioning can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. The longer you let it condition, the smoother and more flavorful your beer will become.
Step 6: Bottling
Finally, it’s time to bottle your beer!
1. Calculate the priming sugar amount
Priming sugar is added to the beer before bottling to create carbonation. Use a priming sugar calculator to determine the right amount based on your beer volume and desired carbonation level.
2. Add priming sugar to beer
Dissolve the 5 ozs of priming sugar in a small amount of boiling water and add it to your beer. Gently stir to distribute the sugar evenly. Don’t put too much sugar or you might get bottle bombs.
3. Bottle the beer
Use your bottling equipment to fill clean and sanitized bottles with your beer. Leave a little space at the top to allow for carbonation.
4. Allow beer to carbonate in bottles
Once the beer is bottled, seal the bottles with caps and store them in a cool, dark place. The yeast will consume the priming sugar, producing carbon dioxide, which will carbonate the beer. This process usually takes around 2-3 weeks.
5. Duration of bottle conditioning
Again, the length of bottle conditioning can vary. It’s best to try a bottle after a couple of weeks to see if it’s carbonated to your liking. If not, you can let it continue to condition for a bit longer.
Step 7: Enjoying Your Lager
Congratulations, you’ve made your lager! Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy your hard work.
1. Chill beer in the refrigerator
Before opening a bottle, make sure to chill it in the refrigerator. Lager is best enjoyed cold.
2. Pour carefully to prevent excessive foaming
When pouring your beer, be gentle to avoid creating too much foam. Tilt the glass and pour slowly. This will help preserve the carbonation and prevent overflow.
3. Savor and enjoy your homemade lager!
Now, take a sip and savor the flavors of your homemade lager. Share it with friends and family and be proud of your brewing skills! Cheers!
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