Part 2 of the Experimental Lagers Series
The pale lager family are of normal alcohol (4.5-6.0% ABV), well-attenuated pale (straw to deep gold colour) beers that range in the bitterness and hop flavour and the malts range from grainy to bready with a touch of toast, which is achieved with the use of some specialty malts or by brewing technique (decoction mashing). This family includes German & Czech Pilsner, Helles, American Lager, Hybrid lagers like Kölsch and some German export and Fest beers. These beers are your everyday drinking beer, with enough body, complexity and alcohol for almost every occasion.
The rules for the Pale lager family are much the same as the light lagers. These beers are light, crisp and refreshing, but have more alcohol, malt and hop flavour and aroma. Therefore the strength of flavour and concentrations can be increased to compliment without overpowering the underlying beer. These beers typically have high levels of pilsner malt with small amounts of pale specialty malts to enhance the flavour and complexity of the beer without darkening the colour of the beer too much.
The hops that typically used in these beers are spicy, floral or herbal hops. New world style hops could be used. The hop levels range from style to style with the American light lager at the low end to Czech and German Pils at the higher end, however, hop flavour should emphasise the drinkability of the beer. The bitterness in these beers are at a level where it is not astringent but aids the dryness of the finish making you want another.
Spices & Additives that do not contribute to fermentable sugars are not commonly used in these beers, as these beers are drunk cold and fast, and with such light flavour relative to some other beer styles, it is difficult to balance these flavours. However, some light spicing like a small amount of citrus zest could create a very refreshing aftertaste.
There are many lager yeasts suitable for these styles, therefore Parti-gyle your beers with different strains and compare and contrast the flavour contributions of different strains.
Next week we dive into Amber lagers where the flavour profiles and poteintial experimentation increase even further.