2017-10-12

1A - American Light Lager: Crud Light

Style: 1A - American Light Lager

And away we go! First brew of the BJCP Project is Crud Light. Sounds tasty, right?

Literally the day after I brewed this (10/19) I ran across an article on Brulosophy about a "short and shoddy" American Light Lager, which is 95% my process (except for my screw up on the rice purchase). I do tend to go a bit longer on the mash and add a sparge step to squeeze out a few extra efficiency points.

Recipe is posted on Brewer's Friend, but here's the TL;DR:
  • Brewed: 2017-10-18
  • 21L Batch, 30 minute boil
  • 2600g 2-row (80%)
  • 600g flaked crushed (oops) rice (20%)
  • 250g sugar (crushed rice doesn't do much if you don't cook it first)
  • 5g Magnum hops, 30 min FWH
  • 10g Saaz @ 5m (I couldn't resist)
  • Saflager W34/70 yeast (house lager yeast)
Final
  • OG 1.037, FG 1.006, ABV 4%
  • Kegged: 2017-10-24, 24hrs @ 42psi, fully carbonated on 10-25
  • Clarity: ~98%

2017-11-7 update!
I seem to have rushed this a bit too much as it is showing signs of diacetyl, or something is causing a buttery off flavor reminiscent of a sweet Chardonnay. I'm about 90% sure this will fade over time. As with a lot of brews: if you don't like it, wait 2 weeks. I won't have any problem staying out of the Crud Light...

Here are the ranges in BeerSmith:

I'm pushing the ranges as I don't want it to be any more watery and boring than it has to, but with this style that is somewhat unavoidable.

2017-10-18:
Brewday... or night as I'm doing this on a Wednesday after work!

And we have a problem. I picked up the only rice product I saw at the local homebrew shop and it doesn't look like flakes. Oh well, I'll throw it in and see what we get.

** As I found out later, this is the crushed rice byproduct used by the big guys like Coors. It needs to be boiled first, like regular rice, then mashed to extract the sugars. I would have pressure-cooked it a bit having known that, but to make everything easier for next time I'll just get some actual flaked rice.

Can't think of the last time I used so few hops. If ever...

Filling the kettle to 23L (it's a 60L so there's a bit of head space). Also this is the new hood. I was worried about hauling bags of wet heavy grains out of the kettle and into the sparge bucket, but there seems to be enough room.

I usually don't do a gravity check pre-boil, and just power through, but the weird rice product made me nervous. Which was well-founded: gravity was quite low at 1.030/brix 7, and my target was 1.035/8. Having just made a Belgian Strong with 20% (!) table sugar that came out pretty tasty (still needs to age/clear a bit but that's another story) I knew I could cheat and bump up the numbers a bit. 100g brought it to brix 8 or 1.034 which was close enough. We're going for a post boil gravity of 1.038/brix 9, and hoping to end up around 4% ABV.

After the boil, the gravity was still lower than I wanted at 1.035/8.4 (though it would have been fine and still to style to just go with it), so I added some more cheat powder to get 1.038/brix 9. That ended up being 150g, so 250g of sugar total or 7% of the bill.

I rehydrated one packet of W34/70, my house workhorse lager yeast and tossed that in after chilling. This will ferment at basement temp (usually about 17C) for a week then I'll check the gravity and see if it is ready for the chiller.

2017-10-19: Fermentation is going well and there's a healthy-looking layer of foam on top with lots of airlock activity.
Active Fermentation

Cold Crashing after only 4 days

Already clear after gelatin - going into the keg

1 week from brew date, carbonated and ready!

This was the fastest "grain to glass" beer I've ever made. Taste is boring but drinkable in spite of my crushed rice screw up. In the end, flaked rice adds fermentable sugars without body and the actual sugar had no adverse effect on the final product. Refreshing? Ok, but so is water. I'm not a fan of the style but my take on it came out fine and should hold its own against the Big Lights out there.

3 days after kegging

I know there are some homebrewers who will crank this out once in a while as a crowd pleaser and it is a crazy fast recipe to make (1 week!), but I can't see myself ever making it again. I'd rather brew up a 100% pils with some actual malt and hop flavors, or a bitter, or blond, or... or... 

2018-11-5 a bit more clarity