We’ve brewed and bottled a beer called 95 Munich Lager to celebrate our Anniversary this October. It’s a style we’ve always loved, but it’s particularly suited for Fall because of its rich color and smooth, easy-drinking flavor profile.
About the Munich style…
Munich malt can provide a bready, richly malty quality that enhances the malt backbone of a beer without adding residual sweetness. Darker Munich malts can add a deeply toasted malt quality similar to toasted bread crusts. Dunkel is the German word meaning dark, and dunkel beers typically range in colour from amber to dark reddish brown, and are characterized by their smooth malty flavor.
Malts are grains that have undergone the process of malting. Grains like barley, wheat, and rye are germinated (sprouted) in a warm, moist environment and then cooked at controlled temperatures to halt the germination process.
After germination is stopped and the grains are dried, they are sometimes put through the additional step of roasting to enhance the depth of flavor and color. This gives brewers a rainbow of possibilities from pale to black malts from which to create recipes, resulting in beers with a range of malt sweetness and character from subtle to intense.
These steps increase the amount of sugar that can be extracted from the grains when boiled and rinsed during the brewing process. This sugary liquid is then boiled and reduced, with hops added at different stages to provide bitterness, aroma, and a preservative effect. Yeast is added to the finished brewed liquid, and eats the available sugars, transforming it into beer.
The history of the lager dates back to the times before refrigeration, when unpredictable warmer temps put beer at risk of spoiling.
“In the 1500s, Bavarian lawmakers forbade the brewing of beer between April and September to ensure quality. In the warmer months, wild yeast and bacteria could thrive, leading to nasty, spoiled beer for the people […] Fermented and stored in cool caves, the beers produced in the winter and early spring would eventually evolve into the modern dunkel (“dark”) lager.” (source)
Lager is a German word meaning storeroom or warehouse, and refers to a beer fermented and conditioned at cooler temperatures. And when it comes to the chemistry of beer, it’s all about the yeast.
“For the average beer drinker, the difference between an ale and a lager comes down to how the beer looks, smells, and tastes. Ales tend to be fruity-estery, while lagers are clean-tasting and frequently described as “crisp.” But to a brewer, the difference is more fundamental than that […] Simply put, lagers use an entirely different type of yeast during fermentation. (source)