Corny Bois: Flaked Maize for Light Lagers
Spring, and a brewer’s attention turns to Crispy Bois: Mexican-style lagers, pre-Prohibition and American lagers, and other warm-weather crushers. Besides having wide appeal during patio season, light lagers are a way to offer calorie- and carb-conscious consumers and taproom visitors an alternative to heavier beer styles and seltzer.
Flaked maize is perhaps best known as significant component of adjunct-heavy American light lager; it’s also a useful addition to the grist for Mexican-style lagers, pre-Prohibition lagers, and cream ale. Many of these examples incorporate American 6-row malt, which is high in nitrogen and protein as well as enzymes. Adding flaked maize has the effect of dilutes the nitrogen content and reduces the risk of protein-derived haze, and the high enzyme levels are more than capable of converting the unmalted grain’s starches.
Rahr Standard 6-Row is an ideal choice for any throwback or historical American lager style, or any formulation that uses a healthy charge of unmalted grain.
Crisp Torrefied Flaked Maize is made from corn grits which have been micronized at high temperatures, which bursts open and gelatinizes the kernel’s starches. This adjunct does not require milling, and is certified non-GM to boot.
OiO Flaked Corn is mash-ready, pre-gelatinized flakes that also do not require milling.
Although these beers tend to not emphasize hops, a classic noble variety is traditional – the spicy, woodsy, floral qualities of Czech Saaz really shine in a light, pale lager.
A workhorse lager yeast like W-34/70 from Fermentis is a solid choice for producing beers with clean flavors and high drinkability. Thanks to its high attenuation, S-189 is a good option to maximize a dry, crisp finish and low TG.
Depending on flavor and color targets, flaked maize can be used from 5% to 40% of the grist – lower proportions will naturally have a less-noticeable effect, while lightness and crispness will increase with higher proportions.
Because flaked maize is pre-gelatinized, an intensive mash regimen is not required – flakes can be added directly to the mash with the rest of the grist, and a simple single infusion is adequate for conversion.