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Light American Lagers

Posted by Insanity , 04 May 2013 · 485 views

beer homebrewing
Among most craftbrewing crowds, Light American Lagers are not highly praised.  The common commercial examples include; Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light and Old Milwaukee Light.

Prohibition may have been largely responsible for this style of beer, as during Prohibition, purchase of large amounts of malt and hops may draw attention, so the lesser amounts needed, the less likely the operation was to draw attention.  Further, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Cullen–Harrison Act on March 21 1933, it only allowed the manufacture and sale of beers and wines under 3.2% by weight.  The act became effective on April 7, 1933, and Anheuser-Busch, Inc delivered a case of Budweiser to the White House on April 8.

Light Lagers have very little if any malt or hop aromas, and can have a grainy, sweet or corn-like aroma.  The yeast can add a bit of green apples or dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which is acceptable in low levels for the style.  The flavor is often quite dry and crisp, again with some sweet or corn-like characteristics, while hop flavor tends to be very low.

Despite not often being highly regarded as a beer among craftbrewers, a Light Lager can be a very refreshing beverage to drink after mowing the yard on a hot summer day.  There is also something to be said about companies that can produce literally hundreds of millions of gallons of the same product without any major variation year in and year out.

That being said, brewing a Light Lager can also be a good exercise in brewing methods as there is very little room for mistakes or off-flavors, and there is nothing about the style itself to hide any off-flavors.

My light lager had the following grain bill with some corn and rice sugars as adjuncts.

50% Pilsen malt
20% Pale malt
20% Corn Sugar
10% Rice Sugar

0.30 oz Centennial pellets (8.7% AA) for 60 mins   (2.6 HBUs)

My expected gravity was 1.033, which I hit.

I pitched a packet of Saflager S-33 dry lager yeast, and will allow it to ferment at around 60F for a week before transferring it to a refrigerator for lagering.  The lagering will take about 4 weeks at ~40F.

The expected final gravity will be around 1.004, giving an ABV of 3.8%.

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