Live Oak Brewing in Austin, Texas, is best known for their old-fashioned, highly drinkable, award-winning lagers and wheat beers. Many of those beers involve Old World ingredients, traditional decoction mashes, or significant portions of smoked malts.
In this wide-ranging, opinionated, 68-minute conversation, founder Chip McElroy and head brewer Dusan Kwiatkowski detail the how and why of the recipes and processes behind their beers—in particular, they zoom in on their pre-Prohibition–style Pre-War Pils and remarkable Polish-style Grodziskie, brewed with 100 percent oak-smoked malt.
Among other topics, they discuss:
- the benefits of decoction mashing
- adjuncts and cereal mashes for pale American lagers
- working with corn grits, from mash to lauter to clarity
- fully avoiding DMS in adjunct lagers
- bitterness and hopping in various styles of pilsner
- yeast pitch rates, fermentation, harvesting, and lagering
- the particularities of certain Czech and German lager strains
- the benefits of horizontal tanks for fermenting and lagering
- combining spunding and forced CO2 to hit target carbonation
- brewing “Polish champagnge,” aka grodziskie
- classic ingredients and step-infusion mash for grodzisikie
- the challenges of lauering 100 percent smoked wheat malt
- building great smoked beer based on classic styles
- embracing smoke flavor
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