Nigel Thornberry’s SMASHing Red Pseudo-Lager

Let’s get back to the basics. This is the first thing I’ve been able to brew in a while – but I’m so happy that this is what I got to have be my comeback. As some readers will know, I’ve been on a bit of a dad lager kick for the past few months. Constrained by equipment, I haven’t been able to lager myself. Unwilling to sacrifice my new bathtub for more than an afternoon, I needed to search for something else.

Then I saw it, Omega Yeast Labs’ Lutra – a yeast that alleges it can pseudo-lager even at 90F. I had to try it out.

I thought it would be wise to do a SMASH (single malt and single hop) recipe to best showcase the yeast. Little did I know, there’d be two stars this time around.

For a 5 gallon batch:

Not to give too much away, but I’ve fallen in love with this recipe.

Our brewday taught us a few valuable lessons about Wall Brew Co.’s Roscoe Village brewhouse: 1) This stove is a monster. 2) I’m probably going to just buy a mash tun after burning a hole in my Brew-in-a-bag bag (see point 1). 3) Old Style holds up.

After the brewday, this yeast got right to work – starting visible fermentation after only 6 hours. For those interested, we pitched this yeast at 75F.

Pretty….

Sadly, the kegging system stayed with Nick following the move, so I’m back to bottling – making this review all the more special in my mind, having had to wait longer.

My friends, it was worth the wait.

This beer has easily entered one of the better ones I’ve ever made. It’s straightforward, crisp, and massively refreshing. However, this shouldn’t be mistaken for your average dad lager.

Having only used Red X, this beer is endlessly complex. The beautiful ruby hue of this malt is intriguing – a siren that makes the drinker lose their way in its effervescent currents.

It smells of a bountiful grain harvest in the German heartland and has a distant crackle like a summer night bonfire. Then, a sip offers more questions than answers.

How can a base malt, alone, taste this good and offer this much complexity? Maybe because of how well it pairs with this yeast.

Drinking this beer feels like watching a Broadway drama where two world renown actors have to share the spotlight becoming best friends in the process – like a superstar malt and showstopper yeast come together for one last reunion show. Luckily for us, we can view this show as often as we want.

In the future, I may experiment with different hops and ratios. I really tried to stay balanced on this one, keeping abv, IBUs, and OG all well-within the parameters for a standard lager.

Seriously, make this beer if you want to know what I’m talking about – it’s wonderful. Cheers, my friends. Na zdrowie!

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