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Cascade Lager: tasty, but don't bother

For what it’s worth:

I don’t do many lagers, just a few during winter while my basement is cold. This winter I made up a SMASH lager using pils malt and Cascade hops. I love Cascade, and thought I’d like something different in a lager.

It’s a good beer from a technical (but not traditional) standpoint, and it tastes great.

The thing about it is that the Cascade taste is wasted in a lager - or the lager is wasted with the Cascade taste. It’s like drinking an ale.
I like it, but will save future lager efforts to be more traditionally hopped. Ale is easier for me to brew, and I’ll keep the Cascade there.

True. I had New Belgium’s Shift pale lager this weekend and it’s basically a pale ale or IPA…doesn’t have any lager qualities except maybe a cleaner taste to showcase the hops. I don’t see the point either.

I had Sam Adams IPL few weeks back and thought the same thing.

I made an American Pale lager a few years ago and came to the same conclusion.

Yeah I’ve read that they use Nelson Sauvin hops in Shift from New Belgium. I wasn’t impressed either…

I’ve made a few hoppy lagers, and I really like the combo. The tough part is finding the right balance where you get enough character from the malt and yeast where you can say “yep, this is a lager” without shifting the balance so far to the malty side where it overpowers the hops.

My most recent lager was sort of a Helles Bock crossed with an APA using WY2207. The yeast was too clean and the malt character wasn’t quite rich enough to really distinguish this from an APA. (killer beer, though!) On the other hand, my Hoptoberfest last year was a bit too malty and the hops weren’t quite as prominent as I’d like. As with most hybrid styles, there is a sweet spot that has the right balance, but it’s generally a lot narrower than the traditional styles.

I’m still trying to dial this in, but I think there is a butter zone for a hoppy lager that retains enough lager characteristics yet doesn’t overpower the hops. I think the key is a lager yeast that will leave a touch of sulfur behind, with the right level of maltiness. I’m still trying to dial the malt bill in, but I think the ballpark I’m shooting for is 50-60% Pils, 35ish% Munich, with some combo of Vienna, CaraMunich and/or Aromatic to fill in the rest.

I said something similar when I made an AG Wheat IPA. Sometimes style norms exist for a reason.

Well, if your basement is 50F in the winter, ain’t nothing wrong with a hoppy lager.

Like a Czech Pilsner?

Like a Czech Pilsner?[/quote]No, there’s nothing wrong with a hoppy lager like a Czech Pilsner. The point I got from the OP is that doing an American Pale Ale style as a lager isn’t worth the effort and having done one myself, I agree.

Like a Czech Pilsner?[/quote]No, there’s nothing wrong with a hoppy lager like a Czech Pilsner. The point I got from the OP is that doing an American Pale Ale style as a lager isn’t worth the effort and having done one myself, I agree.[/quote]

Pretty much my point.

good to know - i was thinking about doing one of these, but was on the fence. i think you just pushed me back into the noble hops for lagers only camp.

My most recent hoppy lager used Mosaic, Citra, Amarillo and Motueka and it is incredible. But it is virtually indistinguishable from an APA brewed with a clean ale yeast. There’s no reason not to use West Coast or Southern Hemisphere type hops in a lager. Just understand that the results will be closer to an APA.

FYI - Motueka would be an excellent choice for a hoppy lager that has just a bit of a fruitier edge to it. It is a daughter of Saaz, and you can definitely pick out some of that spicy Saaz character. but it also has a bit of lemongrass/lime zest to it as well. It’s also not super oily, so it doesn’t get overpowering in small amounts (the way something like Citra, Mosaic, Nelson, etc would).

Not sure I understand…if it tastes good, why should one ‘not bother’ '???
Did it perhaps ‘taste too much like an ale’ because it was highly hopped (as many homemade ales tend to be)?? Also, how long was it lagered for?
Just curious.

[quote=“The Professor”]Not sure I understand…if it tastes good, why should one ‘not bother’ '???
Did it perhaps ‘taste too much like an ale’ because it was highly hopped (as many homemade ales tend to be)?? Also, how long was it lagered for?
Just curious.[/quote]

Valid question. I would not bother because it is more trouble for me to brew lager than to brew ale. I have a very narrow window for fermenting lagers, basically January and February. I can only handle 3 brews at a time, staggered by 2 weeks. So, for the very good taste of Cascade, I’ll go with an easy ale, and save the lagers for more traditional flavor.

[quote=“The Professor”]Not sure I understand…if it tastes good, why should one ‘not bother’ '???
Did it perhaps ‘taste too much like an ale’ because it was highly hopped (as many homemade ales tend to be)?? Also, how long was it lagered for?
Just curious.[/quote]

Very good point on the lagering time. The longer you lager it the more “lager” character develops and starts to cut through the hops. To me, it tastes good enough for me to keep shooting for that magic balance point. If you’re just shooting for a clean APA, then it is probably much simpler to just ferment low with a clean ale yeast.

I’m totally lost.

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