Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brewing Chief Oshkosh Red Lager

It’s happening again. The river and lake are choking-up with ice and the snow is mounded in every open space. To the early brewers of Oshkosh, these were heartening signs. It meant the new lager season was here. It was time to start making the cold-fermenting beers they had been trained to brew in their European homeland.

A hundred some years later, there are plenty of area homebrewers still taking their cues from the weather. When the air turns frigid, many of the old basements in Oshkosh hit temperatures in the 50 degree range, perfect for fermenting that good, old lager beer. And here’s a recipe for lager beer that ties all of it together.

Chief Oshkosh Red Lager was a modern beer that recalled the earlier days of brewing in Oshkosh. The last batch of the beer was brewed 16 years ago, in December of 1994, and it’s about time we bring it back. The beer was essentially a Vienna Lager with an interesting twist that made it quite different from the premium lagers of the period. There were no other lagers of the time making such liberal use of Belgian specialty malts, which gave the beer a distinctively rich malt flavor and red hue while maintaining a medium body.

The recipe below is the homebrew version of the beer based upon the final pilot batches Jeff Fullbright brewed at the Siebel Institute in November of 1990. If you want to go all the way with this beer, you’ll need to Krauesen it, but for those of us who don’t adhere to the Reinheitsgebot a basic carbonation of 2.0-2.5 volumes will do just fine. Let’s brew it!

Chief Oshkosh Red Lager

Boil Volume: 7 Gallons
Batch Size: 5 Gallons
Single-step infusion Mash at 152º
60 Minute Boil

OG: 1.048
FG: 1.012
IBU: 19
SRM: 11
ABV: 4.6%

Grain Bill
American Six-row Pale: 5.25 lbs (58.7%)
American Two-row Pale: 3.0 lbs (33.6%)
Belgian CaraMunich: 8 oz (5.6%)
Belgian Special B: 3 oz (2.1%)

.4 oz Willamette Pellet hops (55 Minute Boil Time)
.2 oz Czech Saaz Pellet hops (55 Minute Boil Time)
.2 oz Willamette Pellet hops (30 Minute Boil Time)
.1 oz Czech Saaz Pellet hops (30 Minute Boil Time)
.2 oz Willamette Pellet hops (At flame out)
.1 oz Czech Saaz Pellet hops (At flame out)


Wyeast 2035 North American Lager Yeast
Ferment at 48º-58º
When Primary Fermentation is complete, rack to secondary and lager at 10º cooler than your average fermentation temperature for an addition two-four weeks.

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