Brewers Blog- Isis Pilsner

Micro-brewed lagers are gaining popularity among beer drinkers looking for a small batch, hand-made and full flavoured alternatives to the mass produced stuff currently dominating the lager market.  Last summer we were approached by a customer who wanted us to brew our own lager. This got us thinking..

Tom had a great contact at ArcoBrau in Germany. Anna Arco kindly put us in touch with her brewmaster who was a great help in formulating a recipe.

We discussed which style of lager that we could produce and by this point it was apparent that a classic Bavarian style lager would do the job nicely. If you’ve ever enjoyed an afternoon in a Prague Beer Garden or a Munich Beer Hall you’ll know the style we were aiming at.

I wanted to make something that dyed-in-the-wool lager drinkers would happily imbibe with no grumbles, as well as being something that ‘proper’ beer drinkers would equally enjoy.

As I was aiming for a classic flavour profile for Isis, we decided to use some continental hops. Whilst being avid supporters of fantastic British hops, this occasion called for something a little different.

I plumped for Hersbrucker and Saaz to give a nice earthy, slightly floral character in the beer. Lagers tend to be low in bitterness and aroma and the amount of hops used in this particular brew is roughly a third of the amount used in one of our regular beers. The malt bill couldn’t have been easier- 100% British Maris Otter Lager malt. Soft water is also very important for the production of a lager. Luckily for us, the hardness present in our brewing water is easily removed. This provided us with nice, soft water essential for a lovely, rounded, slightly sweet tasting lager.

The brewing was handled by Griff and he certainly did a bang up job. In traditional lager production, the brew plant tends to have a few bits of extra kit; lauter tuns, mash mixers, steam jackets- All stuff that we don’t use for our traditional British beers so we were flying (slightly) by the seat of our pants.

Fermentation took a week at a cooler-than-usual 14c. Lager yeast likes to work at a lower temperature than ale yeast and doesn’t produce as much of the fruity Esters typical of bitters. After the primary fermentation was finished, I transferred the beer to another tank to aid some yeast removal and begin the lagering process. At this point, the lager had a fairly strong sulphurous note. This wasn’t a worry however, as the long maturation would take care of that. We started to step the maturation down a degree or 2 per day until the chiller hit its lowest temp of 4c. It was then held for two weeks to finish it off.

There was a further week of lagering at the bottling plant but this time at a much colder temp, around 0c to remove any haze and residual yeast before filtration.

We’re all well chuffed with the result, we’ve even tried a couple of kegs to see how that goes. Who knows, maybe we’ll bump a big brand off one or two bars!

Available now, through the shop, and keep an eye on our Twitter for information on where to try it from the keg.

Bang Tidy!