Archive for lager yeast

My Road To Cicerone No. 3

Posted in beer, cicerone with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2014 by cueball

Since I am studying the Road To Cicerone: German Beer Styles Course I have had German beer styles and lagers on the brain.  I am just finishing up the fermentation section (I just have to finish the tasting activities) and that has me deep into lager and ale yeasts (and weissbiers).

This corresponds to a conversation I had with a patron at Craft last night.  He ordered a couple of flights and with it being Sunday I had a lot of time to talk to him.  We were talking about the beers he had and his favorites from the flights.  We also explained a couple of beer styles to his girlfriend.  At some point we got into a local highly respected and loved brewer who specializes in following the Reinheitsgebot.

We both agreed that the beers are all very good and very well made.  I happen to absolutely love their dunkel.  We also happened to agree that their new space is gorgeous and a great place to sit back and enjoy a beer or five.  However, we both agreed that lagers are not our favorite beers.  No matter how well made and high quality a beer maybe neither one of us gravitate towards lagers.

The discussion question for the fermentation unit in German beer styles course asks you to pick your favorite beer and choose an alternative fermentation organism and explain why you choose it.  My main trouble with this question is trying to pick a favorite beer style.  I guess, if forced, I would pick brown ales, but I go through periods where I just want to drink porters, ipas, stouts, saisons, tripels, dubbels, etc.  For the sake of this question I will say brown ales.

Using a lager yeast instead of ale yeast for a brown beer basically gives you a schwarzbier.  So, I would actually be interested in what would happen with a classic brown ale malt bill is fermented with Brettanomyces.  Brett isn’t naturally sour (that comes from the addition of lactic acid in conjunction with brett), so I would hope for a fruity clove-like taste to go with the caramel or toffee flavor from the malt.  This would be more of a dessert beer mimicking fruit dipped in caramel or toffee.

That’s my answer for that question.  Now, back to the question of ales vs. lagers.  I prefer ales because ale yeasts provide a greater complexity of tastes and aromas then do lager yeasts.  There is no other real explanation.  I drink both, but my preference leans towards the esthers of ale.

Drinking most lagers is satisfying in the way a diner is satisfying.  There are no bells and whistles, just good food infused with a straight forward soul.  You can also get meat and vegetables at a tapas restaurant, but that is where the difference ends. A tapas restaurant gives you complexity through different flavors and textures and allows you to mix and match for a different experience every time.

Both places serve food that makes you happy, but they have different ways to do it and play different rolls in your food experiences. It is the same with beer.  Depending on when and where you are sometimes you want a solid lager and sometimes you want a complex ale.  In beer terms I prefer ales, but in food terms I prefer diners.  A diner that serves good craft beer would be ideal.