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Author Topic: if you could improve the standard north american industrial lager in 1 step how?  (Read 8887 times)

Offline Village Taphouse

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a better NAIL with one ingredient, you say? 2.5% copper malt. ;)
Oh hey, that might just about do it.  A bit more depth, better head formation and stability.  Anywhere from 2.5% to 5% (or even higher) will do any beer up righteous. 
Ken from Chicago. 
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Offline fredthecat

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This is a strange thing because when I go somewhere on vacation I like to drink the local stuff.  In Mexico I might have Victoria (one of my favorite warm-weather beers) or Negra Modelo or Indio or even Sol or Pacifico.  All of these beers taste different.  I was in Costa Rica and had Imperial which I found to be bland.  The next place we went to I saw a beer called Pilsen and figured it had to be better than Imperial and it was.  They were both light, gold fizzy beers but the Imperial was lighter and blander and the Pilsen was fuller-tasting and I could tell that they used a better yeast like 2124 or one of its offshoots.  I said to my wife "order the Pilsen, it's better" and she got one and said "Oh yeah, much better!".  But why?  A lower percentage of adjuncts and more malt?  A better yeast?  A touch of something like Vienna or Light Munich?  No idea but the gold lager world is filled with so many VERY SIMILAR beers but they are all very different.

yup, that is a part of my curiosity. i mean i think these beers use somewhat different  grists, hops, yeasts and processes to come to somewhat similar end products. its interesting.

for example labatt 50 is the local "actually good" beer around here, and truly it is at least very different. it tastes like a 90s labatt mid-tier product, but clearly has a tiny bit of late boil hop added of some kind and honestly a pretty cool tasting yeast. hard to describe, but you can immediately tell it is an ale yeast. those two differences have made it stick out and stick around while so many old products came and went.



a better NAIL with one ingredient, you say? 2.5% copper malt. ;)

thats the kind of answer i want to see. never used copper malt before. so its a double action, carapils + flavour and colour? cool

Offline Bilsch

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The problem with NA industrial lager isn't that they contain adjuncts, it's that they have gotten rid of cereal mashing in favor of syrups. Adding fermentables in that way strips them of all the interesting flavors in the grains and what you are left with it boring uninspired beer. One of the reasons that Yuengling (Pottsville) is still a decent beer is for this exact reason. So in answer to your question, bring back the cereal cookers!

Offline fredthecat

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The problem with NA industrial lager isn't that they contain adjuncts, it's that they have gotten rid of cereal mashing in favor of syrups. Adding fermentables in that way strips them of all the interesting flavors in the grains and what you are left with it boring uninspired beer. One of the reasons that Yuengling (Pottsville) is still a decent beer is for this exact reason. So in answer to your question, bring back the cereal cookers!

excellent, yes. i forgot to stress the HFCS, rather than actual flaked corn, in use I do know about. also read something about malt extract being used by labatt at least since the 80s or 90s.

it always just seems so funny to me, as a homebrewer its hard to understand the scale and decades of progressive "cost-saving" that has gone on to make the most razor-thinly just-palatable "beer", when a basic brew of 100% 2row malt and 20IBU of hops would seem cheap as anything and potentially even good. i mean the "food" we ate became like that too i suppose, industrialized simulacra of what once was real.

Offline majorvices

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All this talk reminds me that the original Michelob, the stuff I drank in the 0's and early 90's, was once a really good beer. IIRC it was an adjunct free lager.

Offline ynotbrusum

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My LHBS called to tell me it had some malts in stock that I might like - Rahr Northstar Pils and Weyermann Barke Pils.  The Northstar will go into a CAP with a pound or so of corn.  The style has its place in my tap lineup, fairly regularly. So my change is the base malt.
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Offline PORTERHAUS

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All this talk reminds me that the original Michelob, the stuff I drank in the 0's and early 90's, was once a really good beer. IIRC it was an adjunct free lager.

I don't know if it's still quite the same beer but the Michelob Lager now is pretty nice. I also like the Amber Bock and for at least a little while they had a few "craft inspired" selections. I haven't seen either the Lager or Amber Bock around my area much as it was a few years ago, but I know it's out there.

Offline PORTERHAUS

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If you have not tried it, you should give Yuengling Traditional Lager a shot before you judge adjunct lager as inferior.  That beer is about as close to a Pre-Pro Lager as you will find today. It is an adjunct lager that drinks like a craft lager. Yuengling has been making beer for almost 200 years.
I know this has been discussed here but I do have a soft spot for Yuengling.  One reason may be that I can't get it here in Illinois so it's a sort of forbidden fruit.  I was visiting my inlaws in Islamorada a couple years ago and we were having lunch in a little beachside place and I ordered a Yuengling and my FIL ordered one too.  It was a draft in a clear plastic cup and it was fresh and delicious.  My FIL raised his glass and said, "It's a good beer".  The head was good, the beer was fresh-tasting and clean.  Fast forward to the next day when my wife and I drove down to Key West and went to Irish Kevin's and I ordered a Yuengling.  The difference was remarkable.  No head.  No head at all.  Funky-tasting like maybe it was old or mishandled, maybe the draft lines were dirty... not sure.  When it's good... it's good, I agree.  I found myself in Indiana where my daughter went to school and stopped at a gas station where they had 24 ounce cans of Yuengling and I bought a sixer and brought them home.  Delicious!

I too have a soft spot for Yuengling. I'll take a Yuengling over any of the other big names any day and to fit this into the thread topic, Yuengling does the one thing I could change in the other big names...more flavor/character.

I had a friend that first turned me on to Yuengling (he was stationed somewhere out East in the Army and had it all the time). So his brother brought some back here to Indiana one time. We were at a backyard BBQ and pouring it into red solo cups as not to have anyone else see it or have to share it, like it was some sacred drink. From the first sip, I knew it was something different. It was the best tasting Yuengling I ever had, fresh, clean...mmm.  So I set out to brew something like it and I have a clone recipe that is pretty spot on. I add a bit of Munich, if some big names did that, maybe that could be the one thing to improve on. Now we can get it here like any other beer and it just doesn't seem as special. I prefer mine a bit more when I do get a taste for it.

Offline Village Taphouse

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You guys touched on this already but the process and ingredients are meant for mass production:  The syrups, brewing to a higher gravity and then watering it down, I believe most "industrial lagers" use hop extract as well which means the hop content of the beer could be suffering the same way as the adjunct... everything has been stripped of much of its original flavor.  I'm not even sure that you say that "Coors uses [this hop] and Miller uses [that hop] and Bud Light uses [NO!] hop" because the extract could be a combination of things that best suits the process to the point where it's not even identifiable anymore.  I am not 100% sure on the hop extract thing but an article from a good 15+ years ago mentioned that.  When something good is made for a small audience and is then ramped up to accommodate millions (be it beer or cheeseburgers or BBQ or fried chicken), quality usually suffers in favor of quantity... and it's hard to fix that. 
« Last Edit: January 26, 2021, 06:46:48 am by Village Taphouse »
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Offline Village Taphouse

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yup, that is a part of my curiosity. i mean i think these beers use somewhat different  grists, hops, yeasts and processes to come to somewhat similar end products. its interesting.

for example labatt 50 is the local "actually good" beer around here, and truly it is at least very different. it tastes like a 90s labatt mid-tier product, but clearly has a tiny bit of late boil hop added of some kind and honestly a pretty cool tasting yeast. hard to describe, but you can immediately tell it is an ale yeast. those two differences have made it stick out and stick around while so many old products came and went.

thats the kind of answer i want to see. never used copper malt before. so its a double action, carapils + flavour and colour? cool
I went to Ontario to fish with my dad when I was about 19.  My dad loved Labatt's Blue in the brown bottle and with the blue label.  May have been his favorite beer.  He would say, "If I find it here at home, it's not as good.  It's in a green bottle with a green label and it's not the same".  But it absolutely was good when I had it (of course I was 19 so...).  I can't get behind the concept that it was made with an ale yeast but it could have been an off-the-map yeast which gave it a distinct character. 
Ken from Chicago. 
A day without beer is like... just kidding, I have no idea.

Offline majorvices

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All this talk reminds me that the original Michelob, the stuff I drank in the 0's and early 90's, was once a really good beer. IIRC it was an adjunct free lager.

I don't know if it's still quite the same beer but the Michelob Lager now is pretty nice. I also like the Amber Bock and for at least a little while they had a few "craft inspired" selections. I haven't seen either the Lager or Amber Bock around my area much as it was a few years ago, but I know it's out there.

I honestly didn't know they still made it. And yes, their "craft" offerings were solid. For a long time I lived in beer wasteland and I was happy that I could get those specialty beers.I used to drink regular Michelob on draft at a few restaurants. I haven't anything but Ultra in a very long time. I do not like Ultra...

Offline jeffy

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Back to Yuengling, the former production manager, John Houseman, used to give us homebrewers excellent tours of the Tampa plant.  Although they used to use a cereal cooker, that is no longer part of their process.  They have a mash press in the older brewhouse, but not sure if they use it in their newer, bigger one.
 
He gave me the recipe once for both the Lager and the Porter so that I could blend them and make Black and Tan.  The adjunct he used was "high maltose corn syrup" (his words) and he gave me a sample - turned out to be 12 pounds - from a silo out by the train spur.  I miss that guy.

The other adjunct they were using was a coloring agent similar to sinamar to make each batch consistent.
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Offline majorvices

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That's interesting. I almost blurted out that I doubted Yuengling still used a cereal cooker but I wasn't sure. I also remeber Yuengling having a weird off flavor when I was a kid that I thought was "lager flavor". Turns out it was diacetyl. Thankfully they long ago cleaned that up.

Offline Village Taphouse

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All this talk reminds me that the original Michelob, the stuff I drank in the 0's and early 90's, was once a really good beer. IIRC it was an adjunct free lager.

I don't know if it's still quite the same beer but the Michelob Lager now is pretty nice. I also like the Amber Bock and for at least a little while they had a few "craft inspired" selections. I haven't seen either the Lager or Amber Bock around my area much as it was a few years ago, but I know it's out there.

I honestly didn't know they still made it. And yes, their "craft" offerings were solid. For a long time I lived in beer wasteland and I was happy that I could get those specialty beers.I used to drink regular Michelob on draft at a few restaurants. I haven't anything but Ultra in a very long time. I do not like Ultra...
I remember those Michelob craft offerings.  There was a pale ale and a marzen and some others.  This was a long time ago... maybe 20+ years but they would come in a variety pack and at the time I thought they were pretty decent.  Haven't seen it (or the regular Michelob in the bowling pin-shaped bottle) in a loooooong time. 
Ken from Chicago. 
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Offline Wilbur

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Why would you waste your time when everything you need to brew superior beers is available? As a homebrewer you have the freedom to brew whatever suits your taste, so I see no need to try and alter a style when you can start from scratch and brew what you want.
I kind of feel like this.

I make A LOT of "gold lagers".  Many of them have a German tilt but they may not be true-to-style German beers.  I may make a gold beer with good pilsner malt like Weyermann or Best Malz (sometimes Avangard and even Swaen) and add Vienna or Munich 1 and then use good, fresh Hallertau hops or maybe Spalt Select and use a yeast that lends a nice character to the beer like 2124, Omega Bayern or 940 so that the beer doesn't come out so bland.  Imagine a 5% beer with anywhere from 20 to 25 IBUs, SRM 4-5 and made with those ingredients.  Clearly I cannot try to improve a NAIL lager with just one step but... I can make my version of an "everyday beer".  Also, I'll mention that if I went to someone's house and they offered me a Miller Lite or Coors, etc. I will happily drink it.  It may not be my #1 choice but I'm with a friend or family member drinking beer.  ;)

I've been doing this a bit recently as well, Bayern and pils+1 malt and a single hop makes nice easy drinking beer. I keep it closer to 25-35 IBUs though.

I know this was banned at the beginning, but I'd add a small dry hop to bring it closer to that Pivo pils/italian style pilsner. Plenty of hops are available on the spot market for less than $8/lb for 2020 pellets, I'm positive the buyers could get that down to $0.20 an ounce or less. I'd argue that'd be cheaper than not doing high gravity brewing.