Beer-Flavoured-Beer (Light Lager)

My more regular readers may have noticed that my posting activity is down quite a bit over the summer. This poor productivity is a product of a summer full of thrills and adventure (camping and cottaging, which at my age, qualifies). And, with that busy summer, came the dreaded empty keezer.

Yes, dear reader, I found myself in the joyless wasteland of a keezer containing nothing more than a half-keg of fizzy water and a few desultory bottles of commercial beer.

It’s was also fucking hot. And I had nearly run out of malt and had a meagre 10 g of hops to my name.

So what is a brewer to do in such dire circumstances? The answer – brew a light lager using a quick-lager approach.

(note: if you don’t get the “beer flavoured beer” thing, you really need to listen the the Brulosophy podcast)

Recipe: Desperation Light Lager

There isn’t much of a backstory or vision to this recipe. I literally had 4 kg of Pilsner malt, 10 g of target hops, and one very old tube of frozen W-34/70 lager yeast to make this from…so the recipe wrote itself.

Desperation Light Lager
Let it Boil: Desperation Light Lager in the kettle!


  • 4 kg Pilsner malt
  • 10 g (12 IBU) Target Hops (9%, 60 min boil)
  • W-34/70 yeast

Stats: OG: 1.046, FG: 1.010, 4.7% ABV

Mash for 1 hr at 66 C and collect 29 L of wort. Boil for 1 hr, adding the Target hops at the beginning of the boil. If you have it (I didn’t), Irish Moss or Wirflock 10 min before the end of the boil is a good idea.

After the boil, chill to pitching temperature (~18 C), pitch a strong starter of yeast, and ferment at cellar temperatures (~18 C) for 14 days. Keg as per usual, using gelatin to help clear.

Tasting Notes

Its beer!

I am not really a fan of BMC-style light lagers, and while I’ve given this beer the “light lager” name, it is a far cry from your average commercial lager. If anything, it is a dry helles rather than an American-style lager.

Appearance: Very pale in colour, crisp white head, some very slight haziness.

Aroma: It smells like a bag of pilsner malt – bready and malty. No noticeable hop or yeast aroma, but even so, it is a very pleasant smelling beer.

Flavour: If BMC beers tasted like this, I’d drink them all the time. This is a light lager, and with that comes a light malt taste, but there is more malt character here than in a American-style light lager. This beer has a soft but full malt flavour, with hints of white bread. There is just enough hop bitterness to balance the malt character, making the beer neither sweet nor bitter.

Mouthfeel: The lower mash temperature and high carbonation make for a very crisp and refreshing beer. There is a subtle lingering malt flavour (but not sweetness) that fades quickly. This beer is extraordinarily refreshing.

Overall: I am not usually a light lager drinker, mostly because I find the typical mass-marker lager to be flavourless and boring. This beer is what I wish the big guys would make – real malt flavour, balancing hop bitterness, but light and easy drinking. A great beer for quaffing on the hot dog days of summer…and probably a good recipe to convert a BMC-loving friend to homebrewing.

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