Friday, June 8, 2012

Melanoidins and Lagering

For most of the past few summers, I've taken some time off from drinking, tapped out the kegs on draft, dropped my kegerator temperature, and lagered two beers for roughly two months with varying degrees of success.  In 2008 I made my first lagers, a Bohemian Pilsner and a Vienna Lager that left plenty to be desired.  In 2010, I brewed a very nice Schwarzbier and a decent Marzen.  Last summer, I made a Baltic Porter that I was really proud of and a California Common that was a favorite among friends.  This year, I want to continue to do something different, trying styles and techniques that are unfamiliar and exciting.

The Maillard reaction works the same way - producing melanoidins - when applied to grain.

Yesterday I bought ingredients for this summer's lagers with a nod to the crusty, bready flavors that you get when using significant Munich malts.  I hope to make a bavarian dunkel that harnesses those melanoidins (created via the Maillard reaction) and brings them to the forefront with a clean, attenuative lager yeast, much in the same vein as Warsteiner.  With similar intention, I hope to make a biére de garde ambrée that has qualities inherent in some of the better commercial examples I've been able to find (especially St. Amand's French Country Ale-though it is a brown version of the style).  Both beers will be using WLP830 German Lager Yeast, a popular strain cultured from Weihenstephan Abbey, the world's oldest continuously operating brewery.

I have a massive starter that began as two vials of WLP830 mixing away happily on my stir plate, and plan to brew both beers early next week.

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