It was a dark and
with all the clarity of
But as I sat and pondered the world before me and the passing
of yet another summer, I wondered: is this it? Are these big,
fruited bombs all that's left to life? What will I do now as the
mercury dips down past those valued fermentation temps?
The answer lies in the oft ignored, slightly impractical world
of lagers, of course! Let's stroll through our newly arrived
cold sable nights with beers to match.
freshly poured Imperial Stout.
A Darkness More than Lager
By Drew Beechum
ZYMURGY November/December 2009
DREW'S LAGER RULES
For years, I've proclaimed loudly from
atop my yeast box, "As goes your yeast,
so goes your beer!" With lagers, this liter-
ally stands as a doubly truthful testament.
Slower metabolic processes prevent quick
yeast reproduction from taking up your
slack. Practical experience bears out that
lagers turn out best when hit with more
than twice the yeast required for ales.
Optimum pitching rates are 6-10 million
cells/ml for ales and more than 10-15 mil-
lion for lagers. You can grow your starter
at room temperature, but give it a day
below 60 F before pitching.
If you make a large starter (3 to 4 liters
for normal gravities, and 7+ liters for
"mega" gravities), you can stop the bad
techniques. No more pitching your lagers
above 60 F (15 C) to encourage growth
before chilling the beer down! Now you
can go cold, pitching closer to fermenta-
tion temperature and avoiding excess
ester formation. Build in an extra day or
two to your starter regimen for chilling
and settling the yeast. Decant the mass
of spent wort before pitching unless you
want estery oxidized starter blending with
your precious newborn.
Don't be horrified if it takes two days for
krusen to form at 50 F (10 C), and
two-plus week prim