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Old 07-17-2012, 09:58 PM   #1
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Default Fermentation/Lager Schedule

Long-time reader, first-time poster, with a super-long post–

I know that traditionally an Oktoberfest is brewed around the end of Winter/beginning of Spring to be ready for the end of Summer/beginning of Fall, however, I recently realized I had the ingredients (except the yeast) on hand to brew something along the lines of an Oktoberfest so I went for it this past weekend.

The yeast I am using is Wyeast 2366 Oktoberfest Lager Blend and I will have the beer ready by October 1st, after brewing it on July 15th.

I was recently given a copy of the Brooklyn Brew Shop recipe book (some delicious looking stuff in there by the by) and noticed that their suggested schedule for lagers is 3 weeks in primary at 54ºF followed by a 3 week lagering period at normal fridge temps. They also suggest 2 weeks in the bottle to condition/carb and I also like to give the beer at least a week in the fridge after bottling.

This is 9 weeks total and based on my October 1st target date, so I have some extra time to play with and originally developed this schedule, based on some other brews I have done–

Primary: 3 weeks
Diacetyl Rest: 3 days
Secondary/Lager: 3 weeks
Bottle Condition: 3 weeks
Chill: 10 days

Then after some reading about lagers on these forums, in How To Brew, etc. I developed an alternate schedule that looks something like this–

Primary: 2 weeks
Diacetyl Rest: 3 days
Secondary/Lager: 40 days
Bottle Condition: 2 weeks
Chill: 1 week

So my question to y'all is which would you follow? Or would you do something entirely different? It mainly boils down to more time in the primary/bottle or more time lagering. Which one, in your opinion/experience, gives the most benefit, and why?

Thanks,

–Chris

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Old 07-17-2012, 10:05 PM   #2
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If you make a large enough starter (and you should, for a lager), primary is usually done in 7-10 days and then it's time for the diacetyl rest. You want to do the diacetyl rest at the tail end of primary, while the yeast is still very active to encourage them to clean up the diacetyl (probably around 1.020). So, a longer primary is NOT advantageous. Just do the primary until you're ready for the diacetyl rest.

After the diacetyl rest, the beer can be racked and lagered. Traditionally, a good length of time for lagering is one week for every 8-10 points of OG. So, for a 1.060 lager, lagering for 6-8 weeks is a good amount of time. The closer to freezing temps, the better, as that will create the "smoothest" and crispest lager because it will encourage more polyphenols to drop.

It will probably take more than 2 weeks to bottle carb unless you're adding some dry ale yeast at bottling, so I'd allow more time in the bottle if there is extra time. No one will like it if it's flat!

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Old 07-17-2012, 10:31 PM   #3
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Awesome, thank you for the advice! The Bears play on MNF Oct. 1st and hoping to have a nice beer to drink for that.

The wort came out right around 1.060 so even though 6-8 weeks lagering would be ideal, I'll probably stick with the 40 days there, since it's just about 6 weeks.

Then I can hopefully shave a few days off the primary period–keeping an eye on the SG, of course–and my chilling time to add some time for longer bottle conditioning. Probably back to the 3 weeks.

And, I guess, depending on how quickly the primary goes, I may be able to add a few days of lagering as well.

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Old 07-17-2012, 10:49 PM   #4
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If I'm following your advice correctly, the general rule of leaving the beer in primary longer that seems to be followed around these parts for ales, does not work the same for lagers?

Rather, for lagers, one should get the beer off of the yeast as soon as possible (as allowed by the yeast/fermentation process) and let the lagering process do the cleaning up, rather than letting the yeast do the cleaning.

And as I'm typing this out, I realize how much sense it all makes.

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Old 07-18-2012, 01:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidLightning View Post
If I'm following your advice correctly, the general rule of leaving the beer in primary longer that seems to be followed around these parts for ales, does not work the same for lagers?

Rather, for lagers, one should get the beer off of the yeast as soon as possible (as allowed by the yeast/fermentation process) and let the lagering process do the cleaning up, rather than letting the yeast do the cleaning.

And as I'm typing this out, I realize how much sense it all makes.
Well, I'm not one for super long primaries for ales either. But in the case of lagers, it's not necessarily about getting the beer off of the yeast quickly, but instead doing the diacetyl rest when the yeast is still active. If you wait until fermentation is over, the yeast may be reluctant to get active again and go back and digest diacetyl. A diacetyl rest is most effective when done when the yeast are still active, but finishing up. A good rule of thumb is 75% of the way to FG, usually about 1.020, but you can notice a slow down in the rate of fermentation at about day 7-10 and that's a good time to do the diacetyl rest.

Remember that the yeast cake doesn't do any "cleaning"- it's a place where the flocculated yeast goes. It's the yeast in suspension that are actually doing the "work" of digesting their own waste products. But leaving a beer on a yeast cake can create some flavors, and in an ale some people like those flavors. In a lager, it's normally not something that is a part of the lager's profile and would be considered a flaw as lagers are noted to be "clean" and "crisp".

It's true that IF a lower diacetyl-producing yeast strain is used, and IF a large starter is done, then a diacetyl rest may not even be necessary. But it's simple to do one as a matter of course, and detecting diacetyl in small amounts can be tricky. So for newer lager brewers, I'd suggest doing a diacetyl rest as a matter of course, at about day 7-10.
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:49 PM   #6
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Really good info here.

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Old 07-22-2012, 11:18 PM   #7
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Indeed Bill!

And I figured I'd keep this updated for anyone interested. Took a hydro sample this morning (day 7) and it was right around 1.020 so I pulled it out of the mini fridge for a 3 day diacetyl rest. I'll rack and pop it back in Wednesday morning before work with the fridge set to around 34*F, where I will keep it for 6 weeks. Then bottle condition for 3 weeks, and chill for a little less than one week before serving.

I also tasted the sample and it was pretty good. Good mouthfeel, good flavor and already tasted lager-esque, even with being so young.

Still haven't decided on a name, but I'm a sucker for puns so given the timing it will either be Oktoberferst or Oktobearfest. Maybe Oktobearferst, but that's probably overkill. But I'm leaning toward Oktoberferst since it will be ready Oct. 1st and it's my first Oktoberfest and first lager.

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Old 07-23-2012, 12:31 AM   #8
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I have a question - after the diacetyl rest, is there any point in ramping the temperature slowly down to lagering temperature, or can it be taken down quickly?

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Old 07-23-2012, 01:23 PM   #9
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I did mine quickly, came out just fine, but then again I got lucky on a few points during the process (I was so not ready for lagering).

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Old 07-23-2012, 09:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeafSmith View Post
I have a question - after the diacetyl rest, is there any point in ramping the temperature slowly down to lagering temperature, or can it be taken down quickly?
The point is for the yeast to get acclimated to the temperature and not shocked by going from warm to cold too quickly.

Personally I think this is being overly cautious (especially the people who do and recommend a change of 1 degree per day) as a liquid does not cool down from room temp to near freezing very quickly when you just stick it in the fridge and let it do it's thing, especially not 5 gallons of liquid. It took my Oktoberfest nearly 12 hours to go from ~54ºF fermentation temp to the ~68-70ºF room temp yesterday.

I think just sticking it in the fridge and letting it do its thing is fine, but if you have the time/patience/equipment, I don't think taking it down 5 degrees per day over the course of a week would hurt. Just not sure how much it would help, if at all.
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