Beer 29: My First Good Lager (oh wait…Diacetyl)

Not only did I copy the recipe from brulosophy.com, but the process too. This is a nice, clean, bready German lager. It’s almost black, with a brownish hue, but color can be deceiving. This is not a big, chewy, roasty beer. It’s a sluggable, low-alcohol beer with a hint of chocolate flavor and a nice malty aroma.

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Oh crap!

A week after I wrote the above paragraph I began noticing a slight “buttered popcorn” aroma. Still drinkable, but Diacetyl was obviously present. I brought it to my local homebrewers meeting for feedback: yes, diacetyl indeed. Common causes can be a weak pitch of yeast (not enough) or not letting the beer “clean up” (sit on the yeast long enough). I cut corners on both, but my money is on the latter – I clearly rushed this beer through the process, even faster than the accelerated ‘brulosophy’ method. In other words, I should have gave it a couple more days to ferment at 58F, and a few more days to rest at 72F (to clean up). That’s what I’ll try next time.

And the stakes couldn’t be higher. This beer was actually judged by the owner of Territorial Brewing in Battle Creek, Michigan. On camera! With me right there! This is part of a new homebrewing web series I’ve been helping out on with a buddy of mine. So picture me, sitting across from an experienced professional brewer, swirling around my diacetyl black beer, waiting for him to hate it. Assuming he was telling the truth, he actually enjoyed the beer, but he also noticed the diacetyl. I lost the competition to a delicious Kolsh IPA.

Diacetyl, turns out, can slowly express itself and become stronger. This explains why it took about a week before I noticed it.

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5 thoughts on “Beer 29: My First Good Lager (oh wait…Diacetyl)

  1. steve says:

    Matt, I think you are right about time rather than yeast pitching quantity. I had this on my first lager. Nowadays I ferment lagers using w34/70 at 18 or 20 C like brulosopher and they are clean and done in a couple of weeks. Gelatin cleans them up so they are crystal. Enjoying the blog. Steve

    Liked by 1 person

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