Sunday, March 22, 2009

Are lagers worth it?

It's much too early for me to be asking that particular question, but I can't help but think it considering that my first attempt at a lager was an absolute failure. The main problem is that my Munich Helles, which is supposed to be lightly malty and refreshing wound up having a buttered popcorn aftertaste. Trust me, that's not a good thing. Apparently, this is the result of something called diacetyl. I tried to do something called a "diacetyl rest" at the end of fermentation, where you raise the temperature to 65 degrees at the end of fermentation, and that's supposed to get rid of those flavors. Unfortunately, the weather was so cold that I didn't quite make it, and I probably started the process much to late.

Diacetyl is present in a lot of beers, and when you have that with more complex ales, then it's desirable (to a certain degree). Of course, now that I can precisely identify it, I can't help but notice it in my American Red Ale, but I should probably try another one of those after my brain forgets the taste a little. (Even though I noticed it in my American Red, I was able to finish it just fine, and I didn't have a nasty taste in my mouth afterward. I think that I may just be hyper sensitive to it right now.)

That wasn't the only problem with my Helles. They also would start gushing out when I opened up the bottles, and that's never a good sign. So, it basically looks like lagers are a wee bit more difficult to make than ales. Right now, I have an Oktoberfest in the fermenter, and I'm hoping that I won't repeat the mistake. What really stinks about it is that I have to wait even longer than I would with an ale to find out if it got messed up or not. I won't be able to do a proper taste for at least another two months now. That's a long time to wait in suspense.

Have I had problems with my ales? Sure, but I had made several batches before I ever had a problem. With my first lager going bad, I'm wondering if all this was worth the trouble. I'll let you know in a couple of months.

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