Saturday, December 20, 2008

Imperial Bohemian Red Lager

So I figured since it's the winter time I might as well try my hands at another lager. And since it's winter time, why not go for something that has a little punch to it? Oh yeah, baby. In comes the IBRL. Here's the recipe for a 12 gallon batch:

25.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 81.97 %
5.00 lb Munich Malt (6.5 SRM) Grain 16.39 %
0.50 lb Roasted Barley (Briess) (450.0 SRM) Grain 1.64 %
2.00 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] (60 min) Hops 11.1 IBU
2.00 oz Magnum [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 34.6 IBU
1 Pkgs Bohemian Lager (Wyeast Labs #2124) [Starter 4 oz] Yeast-Lager

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.071 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.070 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.020 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.020 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.69 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.53 %
Bitterness: 45.7 IBU Calories: 320 cal/pint
Est Color: 13.8 SRM Color: Color

I had a smack pack of Bohemian Lager yeast and smacked it three days in advance and even made a starter with it but it took more than two days to start so I pitched it. I didn't want to take a risk and used 4 packs of s-23 instead. I was super pissed at Wyeast because the smack pack was within viability and I even prepared in advance, good thing. Lesson learned: You can't always rely on liquid yeast so always have a dry yeast counterpart on hand at ALL times!

The brew day went well. I didn't have any distractions and enjoyed all of it. I did a single infusion mash and wanted to hit more on the dry side with this but accidentally hit on the higher side of mashing. I doughed in at 156. Not too bad so I figured I'd run with it.

I went ahead and heated up the sparge water and fly sparged it. My water was right around 200 degrees. I didn't think anything of it because I was trying to hit my mash out temps with my sparge water. I've used 180-190 degree sparge water in the past with not ill results so I went ahead with the 200 degree water.

I cooled down and pitched the yeast and waited over two weeks before I brought it in for a diacytl rest. Let it sit at cellar temp for 4 days and then racked off to kegs to lager.

I carbed some up and poured a taste of it. First things first, I used waaaaaaayyyyy too much roasted barley in this batch. I wanted to use it for red characteristic only. Instead, it turned out more on the brown side and there is definitely a roasted flavor to the beer. On top of that I'm catching some significant astringency. Even though the beer finished at 1.020 it has sweetness to it but the final mouth feel is very dry (like a red wine). And because of that the hop bitterness is accentuated so it makes the bitterness feel much higher than what it actually is.

What a disaster! It's not undrinkable but it's certainly not what I was aiming for. I know next time I'm going to be cutting back on the roasted barley or even skip it and use some black patent instead and hit it up with 5-6 oz. I'm also going to mash a touch lower and lower my sparge temps.

It's just one of those experiences that you learn from, as you do from each brew. With some time I'm sure the tannins will mellow out as well as the bitterness. That's my only saving grace with this one. But, I've learned some more things that I can apply to my brewing setup and that's what's important; dialing in your system and learning from past brewing experiences in order to create even better beer the next time.