American Lager 2020 - Re-brew Experiment

>> Sunday, July 12, 2020

An unfortunate thing happened this past week; both my Kellerbier and my NZ Pilsner kegs kicked, leaving me with only Doppelbock and Adambier on tap. The Doppelbock and Adambier are both really good, but they're not exactly what most people would consider easy-drinking summertime beers. So, today I'm doing some experimentation by re-brewing my American Lager recipe from earlier this year. I thought this beer turned out really well and I'd sent some off to NHC in hopes it would score well. Unfortunately, COVID reared its ugly head and NHC was cancelled. I ended up entering this beer in two subcategories at our local Lagerpalooza competition, and it did pretty well taking Silver for American Lager and Gold for International Pale Lager, It's also been a favorite for one of my sons-in-law. I like it as well, especially as a refreshing warm weather beer.

For today, I scaled the recipe up ever so slightly so that hopefully I end up with a post-boil volumne right about 6 gallons. The reason is I'm planning on splitting this into two fermenters, pitching one with Saflager 34/70 (reportedly the same strain as Wyeast 2007 Pilsen Lager) and the other half with WLP940 Mexican Lager Yeast. WLP940 is a strain I haven't used before, but it seems like a pretty good choice for the style.

7.56# Rahr American 6-row Malt
0.24# Briess Crystal 10L
0.5# Rice Syrup Solids (5 min)
0.5# Corn Sugar (5 min)
1.0g BrewTan B (dissolved in warm water, mash)
1.5ml Hopshot (60 min) - This is scaled up a bit higher as I thought the previous version could use a touch more bitterness.
18g Fuggle (1 min) - Scaled up a bit more to try to get a touch more hop flavor/aroma contribution
Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (Dissolved in warm water, 5 min)
0.5 Whirlfloc
Saflager 34/70
WLP940 Mexican Lager

Protein rest at 122F -130F for 20 min, then raise to 149F for the duration of the mash. Collect ~7.75-8 gallons. 90 minute boil. Ferment at 52F.

Water Profile - To 10 gallons of RO water add:
3.8g Gypsum
3.2g Epsom Salts
4.9g Calcium Chloride

Brewing Notes
No issues. I didn't check 1st running or pre-boil gravity, but post-boil came out ~11.8 brix (1.046). I was able to chill down to 65F then I transferred to two 5 gallon fermenters and put each in one of my fermentation fridges where they'll continue to chill down to 52F. Next I'll aerate and pitch yeast.

Update 7/15/2020
Things are moving right along. Both beers had really fluffy bright white krausen with little waves and peaks for about 48 hours. Today it's dropped to a uniform thickness of about an inch. I didn't use my Tilts in these beers, only because I completely forgot to wash and sanitize them.

Update 7/20/2020
Things are progressing along. As I mentioned on 7/15, I didn't use my Tilts on this batch, despite me finding them extremely useful for timing diacetyl rests. I noticed both krausens starting to drop, so this time, I allowed the temp to free-rise to 65F starting on 7/18.

Update 7/26/2020
I kegged both of these today. Both got about 5ml of Biofine in the keg, then the kegs went into the keezer. I'll probably wait at least a week before tapping.

Update 8/3/2020
I pulled samples off both kegs this past weekend. The 34/70 half is very much like the first batch, a very clean and refreshing beer. 
The WLP940 half is nice as well and definitely has some different flavor and aroma components. Interestingly, I swear I'm picking up a very slightly skunky component...similar to Mexican lagers packaged in clear glass bottles. This character is absent in the 34/70 half which has me scratching my head. Both beers were fermented in 5-gallon glass carboys, each in one of my two glass door fermentation chambers. Neither were directly knowingly exposed to UV light, the usual culprit when it comes to skunking. I'm wondering if what I'm perceiving as skunky is due to an association in my mind that's tied to this particular yeast strain. I'll probably end up re-brewing this and use my SS Brewtech fermenter and see if I get a similar character.