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Old 03-01-2013, 02:15 PM   #1
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Default First lager, need advice.

I got a book for Christmas, Brewing Classic Styles, and when I got to the section about Oktoberfests, I was highly intrigued. So I'll be making my first lager, and I want to check my info on the process to mak sure I got this right. I am essentially copying the recipe in the book so I'm not really looking for guidance on that.

I'll be brewing on Sunday, so being Friday, I got the first step of my starter going. I'll step it up again tomorrow to make sure I have enough yeast.

After the boil, rack down to the fermenter below 60F. My basement is around 56 right now and I'll put my carboy in a tub of water as a swamp cooler, that should keep my fermentation around 50-52. When fermentation is done, start removing some of the water each day to slowly raise temperature back up to ambient and open a heating vent to get a few more degrees if I need to. This should keep the yeast roused enough to clean up, no?

When that is done, rack over to secondary and into the fridge for a good two month long lagering. A couple questions on this front, first, will an extended lagering hurt it, meaning, it won't hurt the beer if if I keep it in there longer than 6-8 weeks will it? Second, I've searched quite a bit on whether people lager in a corny and there doesn't seem to be much info. I couldn't imagine why it would be a problem, but it should be ok, yeah? Just looking for confirmation on this one.

After this, is there anything else I need to do or am I basically done? Basement stays around 62-65 in the summertime, will this be alright for lager storage or does that need to be cold as well?

Anything else I should consider? I haven't been this excited about brewing a new style in quite a long time so Ill be really disappointed if this doesn't turn out well. I don't like putting that kind of pressure on myself so I want to cover as many bases as I can before I launch this bad boy.

Thanks for any help I can get on this.

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Old 03-01-2013, 02:51 PM   #2
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I have yet to do a lager myself, but I think I can help on a few points...I'm sure if I'm wrong, someone will correct me!

Lagering is just cold storage, so I would skip secondary, and rack to a corny, and put it in your kegerator, if you have room. I think you want to lager cold, like mid 30's, so I don't know if 62-65 deg would get the same effect.

As for how long you can lager, Oktoberfest and marzen's were brewed in march, and drank as late as Sept/Oct, so I don't think you have to worry about that.

Hope some of this helps!
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Old 03-01-2013, 03:28 PM   #3
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When fermentation is done, start removing some of the water each day to slowly raise temperature back up to ambient and open a heating vent to get a few more degrees if I need to. This should keep the yeast roused enough to clean up, no?
Ideally, you want to do the Diacatyl rest once you are 75% of the way to FG, which for a lager is pretty close to when active signs of fermentation are over (i.e., bubbling in the airlock). You don't want to wait until fermentation is 100% over, as then there will be no active yeast to eat the diacatyl and other byproducts. The yeast need to still be active, but the most active part of fermentation needs to be complete.

You can do the D-Rest at room temp, so I would just bring it upstairs for 48 hours. The thermal mass of the wort ensures that the temps won't rise fast enough to cause any issues.

THEN, start your lager in the fridge. No issues with doing it in a corny, and no issues with leaving it in there longer than 8 weeks.

Good luck!
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Old 03-01-2013, 03:29 PM   #4
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Right. I was planning on lagering in the fridge. It stays pretty consistent at 35F. Then if I needed to take it out of the fridge then I wanted to make sure that 65 wasn't too hot. But if I can keep it in there until September then I won't have to worry about that.

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Old 03-01-2013, 03:33 PM   #5
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Ideally, you want to do the Diacatyl rest once you are 75% of the way to FG, which for a lager is pretty close to when active signs of fermentation are over (i.e., bubbling in the airlock). You can do the D-Rest at room temp, so I would just bring it upstairs for 48 hours. The thermal mass of the wort ensures that the temps won't rise fast enough to cause any issues. THEN, start your lager in the fridge. No issues with doing it in a corny, and no issues with leaving it in there longer than 8 weeks.

Good luck!
Ok. I remember seeing a lot of instruction about raising temps slowly so that's why I figured remove the water over a couple of days. But if you're right then I won't worry about it. I try to keep everything uncomplicated anyway, so this makes me very happy. I especially like the confirmation on long term storage. I may have to carbonate it so I can sample it. You know, for quality assurance purposes.
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Old 03-02-2013, 03:15 AM   #6
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Raising temp fast is OK, it'll help the D-rest, but lowering must be < 4 degrees per day to keep the yeast from going to sleep. Lager in the carboy or keg.

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Old 03-03-2013, 09:19 PM   #7
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Ok. Brew day went pretty smooth. I had one hiccup and that was my new false bottom on my brew pot. The pickup tube got clogged with the pellet hops and I ended up having to use the old school racking cane method for now. I'll work on solutions for that later.

Got the wort temp down to 50f, and is now sitting in my basement in the swamp cooler. I got just a hair over six gallons of wort at 1.062. If I'm expecting the fg to come in at 1.018, then 75% should be right around 1.029, yes? Or is there some other secret math formula that I don't know about.

And on the subject of lowering the temp after the diacetyl rest, anyone have any cool ideas? The fridge in my basement is also food storage space. It was supposed to be a fermentation chamber but got repurposed for an actual fridge. Any which way, I really can't put a temperature controller on it without adversely affecting a bunch of food. So any suggestions there would be welcome.

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Old 03-04-2013, 02:49 AM   #8
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Your math on the 75% point looks correct to me. I always do SG - 0.75*(SG-FG) = time for the diacetyl rest.

As for lowering the temp, I wouldn't worry about it, just throw it in the fridge. I do the slow lowering now that I have a temp controlled freezer, but for my first few I just stuck them directly in my kitchen fridge. (The wife loved that!) I don't see a difference in the final product.

Question about lagering in a keg (I want to start doing this too). Do you have to periodically pull the pressure release valve when you are lagering it? Or is not enough CO2 produced that it matters?

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Old 03-04-2013, 10:58 AM   #9
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Your math on the 75% point looks correct to me. I always do SG - 0.75*(SG-FG) = time for the diacetyl rest.

As for lowering the temp, I wouldn't worry about it, just throw it in the fridge. I do the slow lowering now that I have a temp controlled freezer, but for my first few I just stuck them directly in my kitchen fridge. (The wife loved that!) I don't see a difference in the final product.

Question about lagering in a keg (I want to start doing this too). Do you have to periodically pull the pressure release valve when you are lagering it? Or is not enough CO2 produced that it matters?
Good to know! I saw the article in BYO about the temperature controlled fermentation chamber and I want to build one, but I have about a dozen other projects around the house to finish first before I start that one.

I was under the impression that fermentation was pretty much done by the time lagering started and that no more CO2 would be produced. Maybe I'm not understanding it correctly. Any which way, I still want to learn more about it so I'll be watching for an answer on this one as well.
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