The date for the annual Independence Day Gala has now been set as July 6th, which means I have 88 days to plan and brew my beer selection for the party. It also sounds like we’ve been authorized for another chest freezer to use as a food overflow fridge/fermentation chamber (have to double check that one with The Hammer, I might have dreamed it). This all adds up to some lofty plans for some lager brewing.
I’ve never brewed a lager, but it’s been on my list for quite some time, and with almost three months of lead time I should be able to get one, maybe two brewed up in time for the party (assuming about 1.5 weeks fermentation and 6-8 weeks lagering). So what to make?
In my last post I talked about wanting to brew a Schwarzbier, so that seems a good place to start. I love the idea of having this beer at the party, as it pleasantly surprises a lot of people who think dark beer is heavy beer. The Schwarzbier is dark as night in appearance but drinks nice and mild. There’s not a lot of hop bitterness (think typical German lager balance) and it uses dehusked Carafa which adds the dark black color without the roastiness and astringency associated with stouts. I’m looking at a grainbill of 50% Munich, 40% Pilsner, and some specialty grains to add color and a touch of depth to make up the other 10%.
If I do find time to get a second lager going, I think I’d like to try a Vienna Lager. This is one of my favorite commercial styles (Negra Modelo is a good example) and I like the story of how the style showed up in Mexico when Austrian brewers emigrated there in the late 19th century. It’s a nice, smooth beer that also works well in hot weather. I’ve seen some variations like smoked Vienna Lager, so maybe there’s some room to play around there as well.
Hopefully I’ll be able to get one of these started this weekend and have enough time to make two lagers and one or two ales (a lighter wheat beer and an IPA are on the short list).