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.