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.