Lager Follies, Part 2. (And a Pumpkin Brew.)

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester

When we last met I left you with a little bit of a cliffhanger: My first lager attempt. Would it work? Would it fail miserably? I had a lot of things going against me. Well, things haven’t turned out so well. But all hope is not lost.

After I transferred to secondary fermentation, I made the mistake of storing in my kegerator, which has a finicky temperature control to say the least. Generally the temperature seems to vary greatly despite what I set it at and my main fermentation chamber (my chest freezer) was occupied with another, newer brew (more on this later).

During this time I actually went on vacation to Germany (holy crap, Oktoberfest is insane!) and left the beer to cold condition. Once I returned it was time to keg the lager, so I pulled it out of the kegerator.

Yup, frozen. Not entirely, but a good chunk was frozen. This is one of those moments where months of waiting and hours of work feel like they flew directly out the window. But hey, homebrewing is fun and sometimes you just have to learn from your mistakes. I let the beer thaw overnight and kegged it the next morning. When I sampled it, more disappointment ensued. It doesn’t taste… bad. It just doesn’t taste good. It’s oddly sweet and overly hoppy. Not well balanced at all. I finished kegging the beer and left it out at room temperature, hoping that some time and warmish temperatures would clean it up some. Yes, it’s a stretch.

On the bright side, while my lager was gestating into mediocrity I brewed my Pumpkin Ale for the second year in a row. It turned out pretty great when I brewed it almost two full weeks after Halloween last year, so this year I attempted to have it ready by Halloween 2013. I brewed it on September 8. It turns out that was still not early enough, as it only has recently fully carbonated. But you know, I don’t mind drinking pumpkin beer into the winter.

A bit of a post note: One new method I attempted for the first time with the pumpkin beer was using an oxygen system to properly oxygenate the beer (pictured below). Rather than shaking the fermentor vigorously hoping that some oxygen will get into the beer, this pumps pure O2 directly into the beer and helps the yeast kick into high gear sooner. I think this definitely helped. I can’t wait to use it again on my next brew.

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