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General Category => Beer Recipes => Topic started by: gmac on September 01, 2013, 03:21:22 PM

Title: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on September 01, 2013, 03:21:22 PM
I've made some pretty good beers if I do say so myself.  Won some medals, had some really nice reviews from folks and generally been very happy with my ale brewing.  But man I can't seem to have any luck at all with lagers.  I don't know what I am doing wrong.
I've made some that are OK, but never a really nice crisp refreshing lager that I would want to make again or have on hand for the summer months.  I've tried again them a long time, I've tried drinking them fresher as in a kellerbiere style, nothing really seems to hit perfectly.

My process and ingredients are basically mostly Weyermann Pils malt (I use Weyermann because the distributor is close and I can get it for a decent price compared to most other malts and even though some may prefer other types, it can't be that bad since it seems pretty widely available).  I may add a touch of Munich depending on the colour I want and what I have on hand.  That's about it for malts.  I only do single infusion batch sparge because I don't have the equipment for decoction mashing and I'm not to the point where I think it necessary as I have far too many other issues with my lagers to worry about that yet.

Water is 50% RO and 50% tap (I have fairly hard water although I don't know the complete chemistry profile yet.  Getting a water test is on the list to do ASAP.  There is no chlorine/chloramine in my water as we are on a well.  The water does have a small amount of hydrogen sulphide which is slightly detectable by smell when filling the kettle but never detectable in the taste of either the water or the beer and my understanding is that this boils off anyway.

I've tried WLP830, 833, Wyeast 2035 and Mexican Lager (forget the #).  The last one I made was using 3 vials of Mexican lager in a 5 gal 1.045 wort as a starter for a larger lager brew.  I wasn't expecting it to be perfect as it was meant as a starter but I ran into new problems. This one has a very medicinal phenolic character and is obviously infected with something.  Made me mad because I wasted 3 vials on one beer!  I need to order new yeast so I'm open to suggestions.  I want to have just one go-to lager strain and WLP833 looks like it may be my first choice but is it the best "overall" strain?  I know it's malty but is that what I want in every case?

My fermentation temp is set at 48F in my freezer.  I check the temp of the water in the thermowell to ensure it is close to 50F and I assume the fermenting beer will be 1 to 2 degrees warmer which should put it right at 50F.  After fermentation ceases, I bring the beers out into the basement for a D-rest at 65 or so for about a week and then back into the cold.  I have never had a D issue that I could perceive.

I've tried using adjuncts in the form of both flaked corn and minute rice in the 20% range in an effort to lighten the body etc.  Hops are either Hallertauer, Saaz or Tettnang depending on what I have available and what my whim is.  I've been trying for something in the 30 - 35 IBU range in order to put it into the German pilsner range. 

So, I know you can't tell me what I'm doing wrong because you haven't had the beer but I'm just getting very frustrated with my lack of success with lagers.  Not sure what to do aside from giving up and just doing ales.  But, I would like to do some lagers this fall and winter in order to have them lager for next spring.  I even have a dedicated beer cooler set at 2C that I can lager them in. 

Please feel free to give me any thoughts or advice you may have. 
Thanks.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: greatplainsbrewer on September 01, 2013, 03:30:21 PM
Short answer: don't give up

Long answer:  I'd really look into getting your water analyzed and start using a water calculator.  That made a huge difference for me, especially my pale lagers.  I noticed a much smaller improvement in my ales.  I'd also try to make sure I didn't over pitch or under pitch.

For fermentation you might look at (apologies if I get this wrong) what Mike McDole does.  It is much quicker and in my experience works better.  A brewpub brewer uses that technique professionally as well.

For me lagers really made me pay more attention to smaller details.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: denny on September 01, 2013, 03:48:38 PM
Short answer: don't give up

Long answer:  I'd really look into getting your water analyzed and start using a water calculator.  That made a huge difference for me, especially my pale lagers.  I noticed a much smaller improvement in my ales.  I'd also try to make sure I didn't over pitch or under pitch.

For fermentation you might look at (apologies if I get this wrong) what Mike McDole does.  It is much quicker and in my experience works better.  A brewpub brewer uses that technique professionally as well.

For me lagers really made me pay more attention to smaller details.

Agree with everything, except maybe the McDole advice since I don't know what he does!  Graham, my light lagers (and all other light colored beers) became much better once I had a water analysis and started adjusting based on it.  How do your light colored ales turn out? 
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on September 01, 2013, 04:06:12 PM
Water can be a big improvement, and you have to know your water.

My HCO3 is 364, if diluted 50% with RO, that is 184 ppm (assume RO is <1 ppm). That is still way over what you want! Get a water report, it will let you know what you have. Look up the profilesMartin has in Brunwater, and you will see you want low alkalinity for pale beers. I got crisp lagers once I went to all RO and adding appropriate salts. One new small brewery near heard did a Pils that I described as OK, but muddy and dull. They used the local town  ground water with no treatment.

Do you check your mash pH? That is another thing to do to assure a crisp lager.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on September 01, 2013, 04:55:54 PM
Short answer: don't give up

Long answer:  I'd really look into getting your water analyzed and start using a water calculator.  That made a huge difference for me, especially my pale lagers.  I noticed a much smaller improvement in my ales.  I'd also try to make sure I didn't over pitch or under pitch.

For fermentation you might look at (apologies if I get this wrong) what Mike McDole does.  It is much quicker and in my experience works better.  A brewpub brewer uses that technique professionally as well.

For me lagers really made me pay more attention to smaller details.

Agree with everything, except maybe the McDole advice since I don't know what he does!  Graham, my light lagers (and all other light colored beers) became much better once I had a water analysis and started adjusting based on it.  How do your light colored ales turn out?

My light ales are mostly saisons and Kolsch and they are quite good.  I enjoy both a lot and have medaled with both before. 
I will get a water profile done soon.  Haven't had a lot of luck finding a lab here that does analysis. Bacterial testing, no problem but dissolved minerals seems to be a bit harder to find although I haven't looked that hard.

Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on September 01, 2013, 04:58:44 PM
Water can be a big improvement, and you have to know your water.

My HCO3 is 364, if diluted 50% with RO, that is 184 ppm (assume RO is <1 ppm). That is still way over what you want! Get a water report, it will let you know what you have. Look up the profilesMartin has in Brunwater, and you will see you want low alkalinity for pale beers. I got crisp lagers once I went to all RO and adding appropriate salts. One new small brewery near heard did a Pils that I described as OK, but muddy and dull. They used the local town  ground water with no treatment.

Do you check your mash pH? That is another thing to do to assure a crisp lager.

I do.  I'm shooting for a pH of about 5.2 - 5.4 using a hand held pH meter.  I may need to re-calibrate (although I checked it recently and seemed OK) and I've read since buying that the probes don't last forever but it seems to be working OK based on what I expect the pH to be.  I've been adjusting mash pH with food grade phosphoric acid to ensure I'm close to the right level.  But, what do you suggest that the pH should be for this style?  Maybe I'm way off the mark.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on September 01, 2013, 05:01:22 PM
Short answer: don't give up

Long answer:  I'd really look into getting your water analyzed and start using a water calculator.  That made a huge difference for me, especially my pale lagers.  I noticed a much smaller improvement in my ales.  I'd also try to make sure I didn't over pitch or under pitch.

For fermentation you might look at (apologies if I get this wrong) what Mike McDole does.  It is much quicker and in my experience works better.  A brewpub brewer uses that technique professionally as well.

For me lagers really made me pay more attention to smaller details.

The McDole method won't work for me as I travel a lot and am not home to constantly monitor the fermentation progress and increase the temp in all his small increments. It might be fine but isn't as feasible for me at this time.  Thanks for the suggestion though.

(Denny, unless I have it wrong the McDole thing is to start cold and then continually creep up the temp over the fermentation period to shorten the ferment time and eliminate the D-rest requirement.  The conjecture is that by doing so you reduce the need for extended lagering times).

So nothing else besides water seems to give anyone concern?  I should mention that I try where possible to use Mr Malty for my yeast calculations and always either do a starter or a significant re-pitch for lagers (and appropriately sized starters for ales too).
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on September 01, 2013, 05:10:07 PM
Water can be a big improvement, and you have to know your water.

My HCO3 is 364, if diluted 50% with RO, that is 184 ppm (assume RO is <1 ppm). That is still way over what you want! Get a water report, it will let you know what you have. Look up the profilesMartin has in Brunwater, and you will see you want low alkalinity for pale beers. I got crisp lagers once I went to all RO and adding appropriate salts. One new small brewery near heard did a Pils that I described as OK, but muddy and dull. They used the local town  ground water with no treatment.

Do you check your mash pH? That is another thing to do to assure a crisp lager.

I do.  I'm shooting for a pH of about 5.2 - 5.4 using a hand held pH meter.  I may need to re-calibrate (although I checked it recently and seemed OK) and I've read since buying that the probes don't last forever but it seems to be working OK based on what I expect the pH to be.  I've been adjusting mash pH with food grade phosphoric acid to ensure I'm close to the right level.  But, what do you suggest that the pH should be for this style?  Maybe I'm way off the mark.

I shot for 5.3 to 5.4, or what Brunwater says.

You are doing most of what is recommended. Good luck on getting it fixed.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: denny on September 01, 2013, 05:10:42 PM
Damn, buddy, you're not making this easy.  You seem to be doing everything by the book.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: denny on September 01, 2013, 05:25:26 PM
Hey, I just read something Martin wrote on another forum.....have you checked your wort pH in the kettle?
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: greatplainsbrewer on September 01, 2013, 05:25:54 PM
Others may disagree with this but I start my lager fermentation at 50F and as it begins to slow (about 4-5 days in) let it rise into the low 60's.  After it finishes and has been gravity tested it goes into my lager chamber.  So I guess it's a modified McDole fermentation

For water testing Ward labs seems accurate, fast, and reasonable.

Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on September 01, 2013, 07:53:12 PM
Damn, buddy, you're not making this easy.  You seem to be doing everything by the book.

OK, so lets dumb the water thing down for me.  Assume I go buy 100% distilled water (my local store carries "mineral" and distilled and I've got enough mineral already).  What would/could/should I add to it in order to get to the proper water chemistry levels for a German Pilsner.  Assume WLP833 with an adequate starter and 100% Pils malt with Tettnang hops (cause that's what I got). 

For a 5 gal brew what would you add to the water and what amounts (chemistry was never my strong point).
At present I only have gypsum and whatever is in the kitchen.  But, I can get whatever I need.  Really dumb it down for me, what do I add, when do I add it, stir it, boil it, stare longingly at it???  I have chosen to stay far away from water chemistry but I'm hearing that if I want to make a good lager, life is going to get more complicated.
Thanks a lot everyone who's taken the time to reply.  Of course I'll be in Detroit next week, maybe I bring a keg of saison to Jeff to trade and I can leave lagers to the smart people???
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on September 01, 2013, 07:56:02 PM
Hey, I just read something Martin wrote on another forum.....have you checked your wort pH in the kettle?

There's ANOTHER forum?? 
And no I have not.  I just check mash.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: jeffy on September 01, 2013, 08:46:18 PM
I hear you saying you want clean and crisp lager flavors, so I would make sure that you have the most fermentable wort as possible and that it attenuates fully.  Mashing at 152F and aerating the cooled wort a lot at pitching should help.  If you can't lager long enough, use a clarifier like gelatin to drop the yeast out fully.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on September 01, 2013, 09:02:13 PM
I use RO water and build up with Bru'nWater.  It's improved the consistency of my beer beyond belief.  The last German Pils I brewed used around 50ppm Chloride and 100ppm Gypsum (calcium sulfate).  Loved it.  I've read accounts here of higher sulfate:chloride ratios having great results( read:drier). I use a digital scale which measures to tenths of a gram (not hard to find) to measure my salts. Bru'nWater will guide you through it. Takes out all the guesswork.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: dmtaylor on September 01, 2013, 09:27:03 PM
gmac, I have to ask -- do you use plastic fermenters at all?  Old plastic can develop permanent infections that will invade every beer to some extent, but especially those with longer fermentation times such as lagers.  I had a lot of problems with my plastic buckets over the years.  Then I changed to glass and haven't had a problem since.  If all other avenues are explored and dead ends, then consider whether plastic or rubber components are screwing things up for you, and if not fermenting in 100% glass or stainless, then switch to that.  It's the only thing that worked for me after a lot of problems I was having.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: mabrungard on September 01, 2013, 10:07:11 PM
I have to admit that my last Boh Pils was NOT a great success.  I can't really define what the problem is very well and that includes the opinions of several National and Master judges. 

It has a good Pils malt presence and it certainly is assertively bittered and still displays a spicy hop flavor and aroma.  All the things it should have.  But there is an odd flavor that we can't define.  The beer has been in the keg for over 6 months now, but I do still have a haze.  I'm thinking that its some sort of yeast or other solid that is producing that flavor.  Maybe a slight pucker or tannin??  Its not bad, but not great.

The water was crafted into what I termed a pseudo-Boh Pils profile with 40 ppm Ca, 30 ppm SO4, and 50 ppm Cl.  It shouldn't be a problem.  The pH's were as intended.

The beer was several points over the intended gravity due to my using my new grain mill instead the LHBS mill.  The terminal gravity was 1.012 and that indicates an attenuation of almost 80% and that is way high for the Wyeast Czech Pils yeast.  I used a 2L starter and fermented at 50F until the activity significantly receded and then bumped the temp to the low 60's for a D-rest.  There is definitely no diacetyl in the beer by my palate.  I would also not describe it with acetaldehyde either.  Maybe its time to filter or fine?

This result flies in the face of a very good Munich Dunkel that I crafted a year ago.  All I can say is that lagers are very hard to craft well.  Ales have never been a problem for me either.  I'm in your boat Gmac.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: redzim on September 03, 2013, 04:00:49 PM
Water can be a big improvement, and you have to know your water.

My HCO3 is 364, if diluted 50% with RO, that is 184 ppm (assume RO is <1 ppm). That is still way over what you want! Get a water report, it will let you know what you have. Look up the profilesMartin has in Brunwater, and you will see you want low alkalinity for pale beers. I got crisp lagers once I went to all RO and adding appropriate salts. One new small brewery near heard did a Pils that I described as OK, but muddy and dull. They used the local town  ground water with no treatment.

Do you check your mash pH? That is another thing to do to assure a crisp lager.

This has made the biggest improvement in my Pilsners as well: start with distilled water and add salts according to BrunWater.  Some of my Pils are still not quite where I want them to be (and I am in agreement with Martin when he says it is very hard to nail down exactly what is missing or slightly wrong) but fixing my water has made a huge difference.

Also decoction (sometimes single, sometimes Hochkurz or enhanced double) has improved them, but I know a lot of you don't necessarily see that the added work & time has benefits.  I enjoy the decoctions when I have the time (the smell is heavenly), but water was probably more important.

red
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: narvin on September 03, 2013, 04:27:07 PM
Don't give up... if you have temperature control and can make a yeast starter, you can brew a lager.  Water adjustments make a big difference for a lager, so I'd suggest you look into that.  A lower kettle pH gives you that crisp mouthfeel and smooth bitterness that a lager has.  Get a water report and adjust from there.  Even with relatively soft water, 2-3% acid malt is a good starting point for a light lager.

I will say that even with the right water, ingredients, and process, it's still hard to get that special lager "something" that's hard to quantify.  Kai suggests that it might be some product of oxidation and aging, but it can definitely be elusive even when you do everything right.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on September 03, 2013, 04:35:07 PM
gmac, I have to ask -- do you use plastic fermenters at all?  Old plastic can develop permanent infections that will invade every beer to some extent, but especially those with longer fermentation times such as lagers.  I had a lot of problems with my plastic buckets over the years.  Then I changed to glass and haven't had a problem since.  If all other avenues are explored and dead ends, then consider whether plastic or rubber components are screwing things up for you, and if not fermenting in 100% glass or stainless, then switch to that.  It's the only thing that worked for me after a lot of problems I was having.

I do and I've discovered a pernicious brett infection so I'm replacing it all (except for the ones I make with brett).  I can blame the last lager to that but I've done them in both glass and plastic.  I prefer plastic in this case because I can place it in my freezer a lot easier and I think safer than trying to lower a heavy glass carboy into the freezer. I'll do my next one with new plastic though.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: bluesman on September 03, 2013, 04:41:24 PM
My advice: Winners never give up. No matter what....

I recommend starting with your water chemistry, keeping everything else the same and move forward once your happy with that.

There are plenty of profiles to manipulate, but start with one that has proven success, like a Munich-ish profile. Martin can probably guide you on this. Distilled water or RO water is recommended. Then build your water using a calculator. Mash pH can be adjusted accordingly.

There's plenty of advisors here. :)
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on September 03, 2013, 04:52:26 PM
If you want a crisp dry Pilsner, I have had very good results with the Pilsner water recipe from Kai.

A softer Pilsner, like those from the south of Germany, would be had by the very soft water recipe. I have not tried that one, as I am bitter and dry.  :)
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: denny on September 03, 2013, 05:43:25 PM
as I am bitter and dry.  :)

I'm finding that to be more true the older I get!
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on September 03, 2013, 09:41:14 PM
So is there a bru'n water version for Mac?  I don't have excel for Mac.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: morticaixavier on September 03, 2013, 09:50:42 PM
So is there a bru'n water version for Mac?  I don't have excel for Mac.

can you get open office for mac? that will open an excel spreadsheet.

Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: james on September 04, 2013, 02:51:57 PM
So is there a bru'n water version for Mac?  I don't have excel for Mac.

can you get open office for mac? that will open an excel spreadsheet.

I use libreoffice and the spreadsheet works just fine for me
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on September 04, 2013, 03:29:48 PM
Since it seems to work for everyone but me, how about someone just tell me the amounts of what product to add to 5 gals of water for a basic lager profile assuming distillled water as a starting point?
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: dmtaylor on September 04, 2013, 04:06:47 PM
Off the top of my head...

For a Bohemian pilsner, you don't need any salt.  Use distilled, and adjust pH by adding about 4% acidulated malt (well, exchange it for part of the pilsner malt).

For just about any other lager, use about 1 to 1.5 teaspoons each of gypsum and calcium chloride.

For styles known for having very hard water (e.g., Dortmunder), you can probably go a little higher to 2 teaspoons each.

For any beer containing a reasonable degree of dark roasted malt (e.g., schwarzbier), you can optionally add about 0.5 teaspoon of baking soda.  But personally, I might not do it, and if I did I would add it to the boil, not the mash.

If you want to use any epsom salt, sprinkle it in like a tiny amount of fairy dust -- you do not need very much of it at all.  We're talking like 1/10 of a teaspoon or something like that, and this goes for any and all styles.  But I find it is optional.

That's about it, in a nutshell.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: bluesman on September 04, 2013, 04:47:43 PM
Off the top of my head...

For a Bohemian pilsner, you don't need any salt.  Use distilled, and adjust pH by adding about 4% acidulated malt (well, exchange it for part of the pilsner malt).

For just about any other lager, use about 1 to 1.5 teaspoons each of gypsum and calcium chloride.

For styles known for having very hard water (e.g., Dortmunder), you can probably go a little higher to 2 teaspoons each.

For any beer containing a reasonable degree of dark roasted malt (e.g., schwarzbier), you can optionally add about 0.5 teaspoon of baking soda.  But personally, I might not do it, and if I did I would add it to the boil, not the mash.

If you want to use any epsom salt, sprinkle it in like a tiny amount of fairy dust -- you do not need very much of it at all.  We're talking like 1/10 of a teaspoon or something like that, and this goes for any and all styles.  But I find it is optional.

That's about it, in a nutshell.

I'll buy that, and a pint of beer. :)

...but seriously, this is a very simple starting point. This will give you some empirical data to use as a guide. If you want to be more exacting, just weigh out each teaspoonful and jot down the weights for future reference.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: narvin on September 04, 2013, 05:41:00 PM
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Various_water_recipes#Pilsner_water
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: denny on September 04, 2013, 06:43:45 PM
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Various_water_recipes#Pilsner_water

THIS^^^^
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: beersk on September 05, 2013, 08:00:53 PM
I certainly wouldn't give up on lagers. I'm having trouble with light lagers. My other lagers are turning out pretty well. I'm starting to get into acidifying my sparge water, hoping that makes the difference I'm looking for. That ties into kettle pH, I think, and getting a crisp beer in the end.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on November 10, 2013, 04:02:49 PM
Well, today is the day.
I'm making another lager attempt. 100% distiller water with 5 grams of gypsum and 4 grams of calcium chloride based on the numbers on Kai's sheet as I read it. It's a 10 gal batch.

Malt bill is going to be 18 lbs of Weyermann Pils and 2 lbs of Weyermann Munich 1. Gonna shoot for 30 IBUs with an ounce of Magnum at 60, an ounce of Tettnanger at 15 and another ounce at flameout with a pretty short stand, maybe 5 or 10 mins.

One half of the wort is getting WLP800 in a starter, the other will get 3 new vials of 833. Technically not enough so I'm treating the 833 as a "starter for future batches.

I don't have a good way to oxygenate yet besides an aggressive shaking.

Both will be in glass and fermented in my garage which is currently running in the mid-40s so I may wrap them with a blanket for a bit. D-rest will occur in the basement at 65 or so. I don't really have another way to manage the temps right now. Future plans may include a heater for the garage so I can keep it closer to 50.

Feel free to point out possible points for improvement that I have missed.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on November 10, 2013, 09:52:28 PM
Was there a discussion about your lagering and fining? I suspect the water adjustments will get you most of the way to what you need but there might be opportunities to tighten up your lagering and packaging processes.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: thirsty on November 10, 2013, 10:54:48 PM
Is there any way you can oxygenate any better? Even like a kitchen whisk, really stirring it until there is a lot of foam on top? Also, maybe get some kind of fridge so temp stays consistent. There seems to be a ton of used  Refrigerators and freezers on craigslist all the time.

But it's probably just your water.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: gmac on November 11, 2013, 03:35:50 AM
I agitated the wort heavily by plunging my immersion chiller up and down while cooling.  I worked up a pretty good head of foam on the wort.  Then I siphoned it into the kegs with as much splashing as I could, stopping 1/2 way on each carboy to shake them.  I'm sure it wasn't enough and if I keep working on lagers I know I'll have to get something better figured out.  I picked up an O2 tank but I haven't got a stone yet so that's next on the list.

I have a freezer already that will be used for fermenting but I only have one temp controller at present so that's also on the list.

For fining, I normally add Irish Moss at 15 mins and depending on clarity, gelatin after the beer is cold.  I have a used commercial bar fridge that I store all of my beer in until I'm ready to drink it.  It's set just a degree or two above freezing so I plan to keg, carb to prevent leakage and the lager for at least a couple months.  I'll likely transfer to another keg for serving but may not either.  I don't normally bottle.

I also said I was using WLP800 for one, that was wrong, it's WLP830.  Figured i'd better correct that because I'll probably be too bitter for a Bohemian pilsner.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: beersk on November 11, 2013, 01:51:12 PM
I figured out my issue with light lagers...it was the Rahr Pils. Nasty stuff.
Title: Re: Should I just give up on lagers?
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on November 11, 2013, 04:14:36 PM
My fermentation temp is set at 48F in my freezer.  I check the temp of the water in the thermowell to ensure it is close to 50F and I assume the fermenting beer will be 1 to 2 degrees warmer which should put it right at 50F.  After fermentation ceases, I bring the beers out into the basement for a D-rest at 65 or so for about a week and then back into the cold.  I have never had a D issue that I could perceive.

I don't understand - are you using a controller to 'set' the freezer temp?

If this is the case, tape the thermowell to the side of your fermenter. Controlling fermentation temperature isn't the same as controlling temperature of the air around the fermenter. Lager yeasts can under-attenuate or give off weird flavors when the beer temp fluctuates up and down.

I've tried using adjuncts in the form of both flaked corn and minute rice in the 20% range in an effort to lighten the body etc.  Hops are either Hallertauer, Saaz or Tettnang depending on what I have available and what my whim is.  I've been trying for something in the 30 - 35 IBU range in order to put it into the German pilsner range.

I recently tried this with a German pils. I added 8% roasted sweet corn to a Wey Pils base. IMO, it significantly reduced the graham/saltine flavors from the malt. It tasted like a 'watered down' Pilsner.

I'm still confused about what you perceive as flaws in you past lagers. Are they too sweet? Do they have an off flavor? Do they have good, clean flavors but just lack that 'snap'?