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Njaim

What Should the American Lager Taste Like?

14 posts in this topic

Got my first kit, and it came with American Lager LME and a booster.

 

I noticed that the wort didn't smell all that great when I was preparing it. Figured it would change as it fermented, maybe LME just smells bad. I let it ferment for 2 weeks, but it didn't seem ready. Taste was exactly the same as the smell (not very good). Waited another week before bottling, and then let it condition for 2 weeks. Planning to let the rest condition longer, but figured I may as well try one out to see if carbonation worked (it did) and if the taste was any different. It wasn't. it tasted almost exactly the same way it smelled when preparing and during my first test. The smell/taste is almost a little on the umomi end... like a beef boullin or something?

 

I suppose my questions are this:

1. What is the American Lager LME really supposed to taste/smell like really? I was expecting something akin to Sam Adams, maybe more like PBR or another cheaper beer. I'm no beer snob, but this stuff is hard to drink with any amount of pleasure. Not flat out undrinkable, but I'd rather just drink a PBR.

 

2. Should the LME/wort smell the same way the final product would smell/taste?

 

Thanks for any input.

MRB Tim likes this

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Welcome to the obsession!

 

The American "Lager" is in fact an ale, not a lager.  It will NOT taste like Sam Adams Boston Lager, it will taste closer to a PBR.  https://www.mrbeer.com/american-lager-standard-refill

 

The can's contents will not smell like the final beer, because it hasn't fermented yet.  Therefore, there is a bunch of fermentables (i.e. sugars) that you smell that will be gone after fermenting, which is what makes the alcohol.  

 

The wort (i.e. after you mix the can into the hot water, and put it in the LBK with a bunch of cold water) should smell fine.  It should also be ok if you taste it, but again will be sweet.

 

Just to check - you did put in the yeast for the 3 weeks of fermenting?

 

Bottle condition for 4 weeks, refrigerate for 3 days and it should be drinkable.  

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Yes, I definitely pitched the included yeast, and it was obvious that it was having a reaction during the first few days of fermentation (after that point, I put it out of my mind and left it to do it's thing).

 

I tasted the wort, which I had added the booster into prior to the boil, so it was definitely sweeter than it is now. That much is true, but the smell/taste was similar still. Seemed like it to me, but of course I'm saying that with tasting quite a bit apart.

 

Not great flavor whatsoever, but the LME wasn't expired, and I only had it sitting around a few days before brewing. I suppose it could have been stored poorly prior to receiving it (I bought it on Groupon, so who knows how it was handled before I received)?

 

I was expecting more of a PBR, but it's really nothing like that at all. Has a rather strong flavor to it in my opinion.

 

I understand conditioning should go longer. I'll definitely give it the benefit of the doubt and let the rest condition a couple more weeks and refrigerate a few days before trying it again. Too eager, for sure.

 

I bought a Bavarian Weissbeer LME and may do some additions, so looking forward to the next batch.

 

Thank you for your input!

MRB Tim likes this

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I don't know, my very 1st batch wasn't at all what I was expecting either. It was a Classic American Light standard refill. I was expecting something like Bud Light or Miller Light, and it's not even close. MB batches really doesn't taste like any commercial beers, I think large in part to the fact that many of the commercials are lagers as @RickBeer stated. As for the smell, I personally love the aroma of unfermented malt, ESPECIALLY when it's unhopped and has to be boiled! Patience is the key however, because they absolutely get better with age. Stick with it, continue to learn, and soon you'll PREFER your beers over the ones you're naming. CHEERS!

Shrike likes this

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On a whim I added Smooth LME and nugget hops to my American Lager wort .  It's nothing earth shattering but I'm drinking one right now and I have certainly had worse.

 

 Reading that I see it's not much of a recommendation is it? :D

Njaim likes this

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I'll second what epete28 said; the American lager is one that definitely needs to age. Honestly, I'd put it away until the summer. It should then have developed a pleasant taste, and it's a hot weather beer anyway. 

 

And welcome to the best hobby in the world!!

 

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Thank you all so much for the well wishes and input. I admit, I felt like my questions were pretty dumb, but you've all been super nice, and I really appreciate the welcoming attitude at these forums! This seems like a great community to crack a beer open with!

 

Despite not being that impressed with initial results, I'm definitely not discouraged from continuing. I love beer, and I believe I could get pretty good at brewing with some time and building my knowledge.

 

Per your suggestions, I will age it much longer, at least two weeks before I crack open another bottle, and then likely much longer after that for the last 10 bottles. I'll just have to get more bottles for my next batch!

 

Is there a shelf life I should be aware of while storing in a dark closet? It will remain fairly cold through the winter as we don't have HVAC in our apartment and it's a 100-year-old building, and it is completely dark. Does it make sense to move to a fridge if it gets over 70 degrees?

 

Very excited to start in this hobby!

MRB Tim likes this

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Your first beer is not going to be your best, just like your first game of golf or anything else that requires practice. Plus, you'll learn more along the way. Keep your first few beers simple, don't add a ton of extras or experiment. Ferment at the lower range of recommended temperatures for three weeks, then bottle condition for  month (or more). Before you know it, you will be making beer that your friends will ask for.

Beer.jpg

Shrike likes this

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Hi @Njaim, and welcome! Please let us know if the beer still isn't tasting very good after you've given it more time, and we'll be happy to help find out what went wrong, and send out a replacement if necessary. 

hotrod3539 and Pantooka like this

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to me no matter what I am brewing, unfermented wort smells like raisin bran cereal.  only when it is fully done does it take on hoppy smells or smells like just beer to me.

 

unfermented wort tastes waaaay different from done beer.  conditioned beer tastes way different from your bottling sample. 

 

if it tastes good at bottling it likely will be great after a couple weeks or more. if it tastes like meh at bottling, you cant judge the final product by your bottling sample. beer tends to get better with aging.

 

you need to be aware of your yeast's needs when fermenting. ale yeasts typically like to be about 64f while fermenting.  fermentation makes heat. if your wort starts at 60f, once it gets brewing up a storm it can be 70f or more in the fermenter. too hot? you end up with possible cider tastes. too cold? yeast go to sleep.

 

lots of great research for you can be found in rickbeers signature block usually.

 

stored finished beers can age indefinitely but undergo changes.  hop presence slowly mutes. malt presence slowly melds and goes to the foreground. a very old ipa might taste more like just a imperial ale. 

 

your first few beers will likely be mediocre. don't get discouraged. welcome to your new obsession!

hotrod3539, epete28, TonyKZ1 and 1 other like this

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Been awhile now, and tried my beer again just out of curiosity. Didn't taste much, if any, better, but the temperature in the house may not be ideal either. Gonna leave this batch alone for several months and move on to a new one. Can't get worse! Haha. Picked up a second full kit real cheap, so might even try two at once.

 

I am worried about temperatures. Getting cooler lately and our home doesn't really get heated and likes to stay cold.  Bought a couple stick on thermometers to watch it, waiting on those to get started, but not totally sure how I'd warm the lbk if it's too cold for good fermenting. Might be fine, though, seeing as the wort  usually warmer than ambient temperature if I understand correctly.

 

Thank you all again for the warm welcome and information and encouragements. Lots to learn still!

 

 

dale hihn likes this

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Lots of good posts to read if you want to learn more.

 

As to maintaining fermentation temperature, yes, you are correct, the wort will get warmer than ambient temperature during peak fermentation.  The stick on thermometers, applied below the water line, will show you a pretty accurate temp for the wort.  You want the wort to be around 65 - 68.  At peak fermentation, it will climb up to 8 or 10 degrees higher.  If you need to cool it, an inexpensive way is a cooler and rotating frozen water bottles.  If you need to warm it, you can try hot bottles, an aquarium pad, or building a simple fermentation chamber.

 

An old frig / freezer (or dorm frig) with a temp controller works great.  The cold source is the device itself.  The heat source is a paint can (you can buy them new for $5 or less) with a light bulb mounted inside it.  

 

Be careful putting your LBK in a cooler and not monitoring temps.  In a cold apartment, the heat inside the cooler is still going to build, and if you ferment in the high 70s you're going to get off flavors.

 

Again, lots of posts on this.  

hotrod3539 likes this

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Thank you again Rick and everyone for your input and friendliness. I've been hesitant about my second  batch, but finally pulled the trigger today since I can be home for the first few days to monitor temperatures. I've opted to use a stick on thermometer on the LBK placed inside a cooler. I have a stash of bottles in hopes that I can control the temperature. Still quite cold here, but with any luck, I can add warm water bottles to the cooler if it cools too much or cold water bottles to the cooler if it heats up too much.

 

My first batch is still conditioning, though the cold probably means it hasn't really changed much if at all. Leaving it until Spring or Summer before I even bother with it again. Before I know it, California heat will coming in.

 

It seemed to go much smoother this time around from start to finish! Excited to hopefully have much better results this go around.

 

Have one more can of HME on hand and now I own two LBKs, so maybe I'll do that one shortly.

Shrike likes this

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