Taylor Caron, the manager of Hops & Berries homebrew supply store in Fort Collins, Colorado, shared this recipe for a dry-hopped American light lager. This is a solid template for swapping hops and yeast to suit or playing with the relative percentages of rice and corn. It’s an easy-drinking summer beer, but he really uses it to propagate the yeast needed for a good 10-gallon batch of Helles or German Pils.
Brewhouse efficiency: 75%
3.7 lb (1.68 kg) Domestic 2-row
1.75 lb (794 g) Flaked maize
1.75 lb (794 g) Flaked rice
0.3 lb (136 g) Acidulated malt
0.5 oz (14 g) Spalter [5% AA] at 60 minutes
0.5 oz (14 g) Spalter at 0 minutes
2 oz (57 g) Crystal, 4-day dry-hop during diacetyl rest
White Labs WLP860 Munich Helles or your favorite lager yeast, especially if you are planning to harvest and brew a particular style of beer afterward.
Whichever yeast you select, you need plenty. I stir a couple of smackpacks/vials into about ½ gallon (2 liters) starter wort for a day, then leave it for 3 or 4 days on the counter before refrigerating it the night before brew day. However you do it, hopefully you can come up with close to ½ cup (100 ml) of thick slurry to pitch. You can certainly get away with less.
Dough in with 9.5 quarts (9 liters) brew liquor at 162–164°F (72–73°C) for a strike temperature of 148–150°F (64–65°C) and rest for 60 minutes. I have very soft water and like to add ½ teaspoon calcium chloride and ¼ teaspoon gypsum to the mash as well.
Mash-out, vorlauf, and lauter as you like, but with such a small beer my setup gets fine efficiency with a quick-and-easy double-batch sparge. Don’t sweat it if your gravity is a bit high or low in a beer like this! You’ll want a full 75-minute open and rolling boil, so let it rock for at least 15 minutes before adding your first hops.
After knockout, chill the wort to 48–50°F (9–10°C) before oxygenating and pitching the yeast.
Pitch the yeast or slurry into your 48°F (9°C) well-oxygenated wort and let it rock for a week before turning it up to 58°F (14°C) for 4 days. Check your gravity, but at this point it should be at or very near final gravity. Spend a couple of days dropping the temperature down to 38°F (3°C) before racking into secondary, carefully saving all of that awesome yeast. Add the dry hops, then rack again in four days to allow the beer to drop bright. Lager for at least a week. Add finings if you like, and bottle or keg.
This beer can handle a bit more carbonation than usual if you want to brighten it up a bit and make those hops pop.