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I am thinking about making some Mexican-style lager using one of the following kits:

  • Coopers Mexican Cerveza
  • Bulldog Beer Kit - Cortez Gold Mexican Cerveza
  • Better Brew Bandit, Tequila and lime

Now I managed to find the instructions for one of these and it recommends a primary brewing temperature of 20-25 degrees C. This suits me as that is roughly the temperature of my kitchen. These are the questions I have:

  • If lager brewing requires a temperature of 7 degrees C, why do these kits suggest a brewing temperature of 20-25?
  • Generally speaking its hard to find proper instructions for most lager kits online. If there are no instructions, how do I know what temperature to brew it at (before purchase)? This is a problem for me, as I don't have the facilities to make lager the proper way, so I need to be sure in advance of buying a kit that it is suitable to be brewed at room temperature.
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There are kits with call themselves "lager" kits, but if you make them with the yeast provided and at the temperatures suggested, they will not produce a true lager beer. The beer they produce might taste quite similar to a light lager, but they will be ales. They would probably fit into one of these (2015) BJCP categories:

  • 1C Cream Ale
  • 18A Blonde Ale

I'd suggest going ahead and trying a few of these. I'm an all-grain brewer now, but I used to make Morgan's Blue Mountain Lager a lot. I really enjoyed it, though I knew it wasn't really a lager.

I would modify the kits slightly if the directions ask you to add sugar before fermentation. Replace that sugar with LME (liquid malt extract) or DME (dry malt extract). But go ahead and use sugar for priming at bottling time.

Maybe one day you can get some temperature-control equipment (and a different yeast) and try these as true lagers. But until then, I bet you'll enjoy them as they are.

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http://www.bjcp.org/docs/2015_Guidelines_Beer.pdf

  • That's an interesting point you make about replacing brewing sugar with LME or DME. Do you keep the quantities the same e.g. if it recommends a 1 kg of brewing sugar, should I replace that with 1 kg of DME? I'm guessing you wouldn't do this for a cider kit though? – Daniel Ball Apr 26 '16 at 8:39
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    You can find calculations online to convert between quantities of different fermentables, but using the same amount should get you pretty close. I think I usually used to add 1 litre of LME to a canned extract kit, to make roughly 23 litres of ~5% beer. I've never made cider, so not sure about what to do with that. – Jeff Roe Apr 26 '16 at 19:45
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Check this out-

The author brews two identical batches using a true lager yeast (Saflager 34/70) but ferments one at a "lager" temp of 50˚F/10˚C and the other up at 70˚F/21˚C. He then runs a taste test that included BJCP judges in the panel and found that they "were unable to reliably distinguish between pale lagers of the same recipe fermented 20˚F/11˚C apart."

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20-25°C, 68-77°F are Ale temps, Lagers ferment at 55°F or below. Above 72°F is usually only a few styles of Ales.

There is a short time called a Diacetyl Rest where your Lager fermentation temperature is raised to 68°F for a couple of days at the end of primary.

You really need good temp control for Lagers. Heating and Cooling.

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The reason they say to ferment at that range is because it's within reach of the typical homebrewer without any additional equipment. The kit producers can then sell to the widest possible audience.

To get the most lager-like results you can try:

  • fermenting lower with the yeast you have - 17/18C will reduce the fruitiness (esters) that's produced
  • use a pseudo-lager strain. These are mostly ale yeast (with the exception of California common). They produce a clean beer by fermenting at even lower temperatures, or in the case of WY2112, produce an acceptable beer when fermented warm for a lager strain:

    • California Common yeast (steam beer); WY2112/WLP810
    • Kolsch yeast; WY2565/WLP029
    • WY1007 German Ale - can be fermented down to 55F/13C
    • California Ale yeast; WY1056/WLP001 - this can also ferment down to 60F/15C
  • add beer enzyme - this will break down some of the unfermentables to create a drier beer. A true lager yeast can ferment more than ale yeasts - the beer enzyme helps the ale yeast ferment more.

  • As far as i know, California Common strains are bottom fermentation, aren't they? WLP810 is even described as "A unique lager strain" on lab's website. Counting them among ale strains is far from accurate. – Mołot Apr 24 '16 at 18:44
  • ok, I've added the info needed to make it more "accurate" but I feel now the presentation is more confusing and gets distracted on making the distinction between ale/lager strains, while the point I was making is that these yeasts can be used at cool room temps to produce a lager-like beer. – mdma Apr 28 '16 at 10:23

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