What’s the first beer we’re going to brew at Moonwake? The answer, Lager.
Responses range from “Why would you want to brew that!?!” to polite perplexity but this is the beer we knew we wanted to brew as soon as we knew we would be in Leith.
The short answer is in the water. We were not going to shy away from one of the best local resources.
Beer styles from around the world were all originally dictated by local water, the most abundant ingredient in beer.
Edinburgh water is incredibly soft and as any local will tell you, clean and delicious. A welcome change to the hard London water some of the team had gotten used to. It is also perfect for the delicate nature and flavours of lager. Whereas the hard water in Ireland was perfectly suited to brew rich Stouts.
Our Head Brewer, Vinny wants to brew Lager as it tests you as a brewer.
“Lager takes precision and control. There is nowhere to hide any flaws. It is the ultimate style for precision brewing. Lager is a style that has a simple class much like a well-baked Victoria sponge.
“It is the style that took me the longest to get to grips with and to be confidently able to brew. It is also the style that has given me the most satisfaction. As much as I enjoy brewing new and innovative styles, I keep coming back to lager to hone my skills.”
After decades of macro breweries giving lager a bad name, we are excited to brew with precision and bring back that nuanced quality you would get in the OG lagers you would drink by the Stein in Franconia but with our own modern, creative twist.
What Is Lager?
- Lager brewing began in Germany and the Czech Republic because they had the ideal soft, mineral-free water.
- The name came from the German word ‘lagern’ meaning ‘to store’. Lager was traditionally brewed and kept in German caves.
- The yeast strain used for Lager, Saccharomyces Pastorianus, is most effective at converting the sugars in the beer into alcohol at cold temperatures.
- Lager takes time. After the yeast has fermented in the beer for a week the beer should be left chilling for a few weeks. When Vinny was first trained as a brewer, he was told you could not call it a lager unless it has seen four Sundays in tank. A value still held dear.
- Malts in the golden style of lager we are brewing will give the beer notes of fresh dough and biscuit. What Is Malt? Malt is a grain, barley that is germinated slightly to give us the starchy sugars needed for the yeast to ferment into alcohol.
- Some Central and Eastern European hops were developed for brewing with delicate styles like lagers, specifically Pilsners. What Is A Hop? Hops are climbing plants that brewers use the flower of to add bitterness, aromas, and flavours to their beers.
- Lager is 70% of what the world drinks but it is only in the last few years that well-brewed craft lagers have become more common and grown in popularity.
For our lager, Vinny has taken inspiration from his heritage, using all New Zealand hops alongside all Scottish barley and Edinburgh water, with no added minerals.
Vinny was visiting family, breweries in NZ and brewing at few popular breweries in Wellington, a proper bus man’s holiday when he tasted how the hops could enhance a lager. The delicate floral, fruity hops of the region could expand the experience without destroying the delicate nature of the beer.
Many New Zealand hops have parentage from German Lager hop varieties, a traditional but modern match for our Scottish barley and water.
Using Motueka and Wai Iti, descendants of old-world noble hop varieties Saaz and Hallertau, we have created what we believe is a beautiful blend of noble and new.
We are excited about making use of our local produce and working with local farmers but adding a little inspiration from history and a dash of new world flavours in our grain to glass lager.