I have a dirty little secret, I like drinking stella. To the stella noob this is a pilsner syle lager of around 5% ABV brewed by Anheuser-Bush InBev in various countries all around the world. I am sure any lager drinker (especially in the north of England) would have come across it. Over the years I have had many dates with “Stella” before I saw the light. I can imagine the tutting and head shake of disapproval from some real ale and homebrew connoisseur’s, but let me offer some evidence for the defence. I know some lager can be described as boring, tasteless, carbonated water but there is something about stella I like and as a homebrew project requires some skill to make. This lager has a crisp clear taste so care and a good brew day routine are needed to keep any off flavors from creeping into the finished beer.
I did the usual web based research and as usual tinkered around with my brew pal app and came up with a simple smash (single malt single hop) recipe that might fit the bill.
All grain 23 Litres
5Kg Pilsner Malt
50g Saaz Hops 60 mins
15g Saaz Hops 5 mins
Irish moss last 15 mins
White labs WLP815 Belgian Ale yeast (Made into a 2 litre starter 24hrs before brew day)
Gelatine (or finings of choice).
When I say simple I meant the amount of ingredients, the brewing process is a bit more complicated and has a few more steps than making an ale.
Using a single infusion mash the grain was mashed with 16 litres of strike water at 77 °c which gave a mash temp of 66 °c. The grain was mashed for 60 mins and then fly sparged with 18 litres of water at 77°c. The wort was put into the boiler and a boiled for an hour adding the hops and Irish moss as above. The brew was cooled with a wort chiller to room temperature and then the 2 litre starter was added.
The fermenter was then put into a fridge and the temperature lowered to 10°c, primary fermentation lasted around two weeks. The beer was then taken out of the fridge and had 48 hrs diacetyl rest at room temperature, then transferred to secondary, had finings added and was then placed back in the fridge at the coldest setting (around 1°c) for a month to lager.
The beer was then transferred to my cornie keg and forced carbonated.
Umm well as using lager yeast and a fridge for fermentation was new to me, I had some worries. I really wanted this lager to be crisp, clear and light and I hoped I had done enough. The mash temp, strong starter, choice of yeast, fermentation temps, diacetyl rest and use of finings should ensure a crisp clear lager, and they did. I was really pleased with my first attempt at brewing a lager and relieved! This beer was clear, had no off flavors and was a good resemblance to my old flame “Stella”. I couldn’t help wondering what this lager would taste like with a slightly different hop profile to make it a bit more interesting than a light pilsner, maybe add some citra or…..hmmm I feel another experimental brew coming on!