Qingdao by way of Oslo.
Before I get too far into this post, I’d like to acknowledge that, no, the beer I describe here is not a lager. It was not brewed with lager yeast, and it was not lagered aside from incidental cold-conditioning in my keezer.
That said, it looks like a lager and tastes like a lager, and if I entered it as a lager in a BJCP-sanctioned competition, I doubt judges would know it wasn’t a lager. They certainly wouldn’t be able to tell that it was brewed and kegged within a span of six days and fermented at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, you tell me: what’s the value of gatekeeping a term like “lager”?
Here’s how this beer came to be: Back in the spring, Hop of the Month Club reached out to me to ask if I’d like to try some Qingdao Flower hops from China. Obviously, I said yes. Unfortunately, this was just before I broke my ankle and by the time I was recovered, I’d kinda forgotten about them. A gentle reminder last month brought them back to mind.
So I designed a basic German pilsner recipe and immediately set about fucking with it. I’ve made a few beers recently with the reputedly “lager-like” Oslo strain, but hadn’t tried a lager-like grist, so it seemed like an obvious yeast choice. To play up the pairing with the Chinese hops, I decided I also wanted to try using toasted flaked rice. So, a German-Norwegian-Chinese pseudo-lager. Perfect!
What’s in it?
- Method: BIAB, no sparge, squeeze-o-rama
- Batch size: 3.5 gallons
- Mash: 75 minutes at 150F
- Boil: 90 minutes
- OG: 1.046
- FG: 1.008
- ABV: 5.1%
- IBU: 35
- 4.5 lb Mecca Grade Pelton (Pilsner)
- 1 lb Toasted Flaked Rice
- 0.5 lb Mecca Grade Metolius (Munich)
- 28g Qingdao Flower [6.5% AA] @ 25 minutes
- 28g Qingdao Flower @ 5 minutes
- Water: 4.5 gallons Bend tap + 0.5 tsp gypsum & 0.25 tab campden
- Yeast: 2 tbsp Oslo slurry mixed into 1 cup of wort drawn off halfway through mash
How’s it taste?
I mean, being completely honest, it tastes like a craft take on a macro lager like Singha or Tsingtao, which is pretty much what I was going for.
Appearance: Clear, with maybe a touch of chill haze. Frothy white head that lasts for a bit, then settles and all but completely disappears, leaving the faintest lacing around the edges. Straw gold.
Aroma: Sweet malt. Very floral, lightly herbal hop notes, which is what I’d expect from a Cluster-derived hop regardless of where it’s grown. There’s also a slightly toasty thing that I think must be from the rice. Definitely reminds me of a lot of the international light lagers I’ve had in my time.
Taste: Initially very clean and crisp, with the floral/herbal hops dominating. The finish is lightly bitter, particularly on the back of the tongue, and a slight breadiness makes itself apparent after you swallow. The breadiness/maltiness intensifies just a little as it warms. The toasted rice doesn’t come through identifiably in the taste as much as it does in the aroma, at least not at this percentage of the grist. Overall, not quite a German pils—missing the certain je ne sais quoi that lager yeast contributes—but in the same ballpark.
Mouthfeel: Super crisp, probably thanks to the gypsum, high carb, and the toasted rice drying out the finish—plus the lingering back-of-tongue bitterness. Makes you want to take another sip. Definitely refreshing.
Would I brew it again?
Absolutely, probably keeping the grist and yeast and messing with other hop combos. This is a great summer quencher and something that anyone I have over for BBQ or whatever could enjoy, craft beer fan or no.