Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mixing up a Cooper's Pilsner

I've never made anything even resembling a lager beer; my only experience has been with beers of the ale family.

Let's clarify, this is an important distinction. Beverages made with malt and hops fermented with top fermenting yeast are known as ales. Top fermenting yeast works best at higher temperatures, and thus works quickly and produces some chemical by-products that we want in an ale. These by-products help define the complex tastes in the ale family. Notable beers classified as ales are IPA, stout, barleywine, amber ale, American pale ale, and most Belgian wheat and fruit beers.

Lagers (like the very popular Pilsner style) are fermented with bottom fermenting yeast that work best at much lower temperatures, producing a clean, crisp flavor. These are much more difficult for the homebrewer, as they require much longer fermentations and refrigeration if the brewer really wants to be diligent with a clean flavor profile.

Now... Cooper's makes a Pilsner kit, with light malt extract with some Czech bittering hops to match the Pilsner lager style. I had always assumed that these kits came with their regular ale yeast, but the instructions specifically called for fermentation temperatures as low as I could muster.

Hmmmm.... So this means either Cooper's included a real lager yeast that will ferment a sloppy beer at room temperature or an ale yeast that ferments fairly clean and lager-y without needing near-freezing temperatures to get there.

Well... let's find out.

Gathering the Troops for a Cooper's Pilsner Lager
Gathering the Troops

Mixing up the Extract in a Cooper's Pilsner Kit
Mixing up the Extract

Bucket in the Fermentation Corner for a Cooper's Pilsner
Bucket in the Fermentation Corner

After one week (as of this writing) it's still bubbling away at Irish room temperature- a bit longer than it's ale cousins. For now, it remains a bucket of mystery. Good thing I have a good deal of stout left from my previous batch. I'm going to give this one some time.

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