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Old 02-20-2008, 04:57 AM   #1
BlendieOfIndie
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Default What's the deal with kolsch and cold storage?

Lots of the stuff I read recommends a "lager-like" cold storage after primary fermentation for these German ales. I have no problem believing that a kolsch needs to be aged for a period of time, but what's the deal with the low temp? I'm using WhiteLabs WLP029, and WhiteLabs says the yeast doesn't ferment well under 62F. I would imagine that at a low temperature (say 40F) the yeast would go almost completely dormant - this IS an ale yeast after all. Furthermore, I've read posts stating that a warm aging process works well (Age it warm longer). So why should I "cold age" my kolsch? Is there something about kolsch ale's that lends them better to cold aging?

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Old 02-20-2008, 01:24 PM   #2
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I cant give you the answer, but I keg my beer so all my beer pretty much gets cold aging. My beer is 1-2 weeks in primary, then 1-2 weeks in secondary, and then into the keg for at least a week. At this stage, it is just sitting in the cold, essentially cold aging and I can tell you that every ale gets better over time in the cold.

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Old 02-20-2008, 01:28 PM   #3
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I have wondered this too. #1, all fermentation should be done (for the most part) when your beer goes to secondary. So that just aging basically, from what I understand. I have 2 batches going now and I am using a secondary for the first time with both of them. I waited till the gravity readings had stopped changing and were only changing very slow before I tossed them to secondary. cold does seem to age ales very nice from what I have seen.

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Old 02-20-2008, 01:35 PM   #4
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For any beer, a period of 'cold crash' after fermentation is completed will help the beer clear up. This is esp effective with a light, clear beer. Cold crash should be done after all fermentation is done.

During the winter, I just take the secondary out into the garage for a week or so.

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Old 02-20-2008, 01:35 PM   #5
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The book "Designing Great Beers" says cold conditioning is the norm for kolsch, but it does say that the temps used are generally higher than for lagers (41-50F), indicating that since the objective is to SLOW the metabolic activity of the yeast, not stop it, the temperature does need to be a bit higher than for lager yeast which can work in even colder temps. But, he's also talking about kolsch yeast which ferments well between mid-50's to mid-60's, so if your particular yeast doesn't work well that low then perhaps you'll need to make the 'cold conditioning' temp even higher to keep the yeast from going completely dormant... or find another yeast.

But, that info is based on his examination of commercial brewing practices for the style. Among the NHC 2nd-round entries that he reviewed, he states that the procedures varied wildly, from some people fermenting it as a lager, to some people fermenting it with ale yeast and never dropping it below 60F at any point... So it's not like cold conditioning is necessarily a 'must'.

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Old 02-20-2008, 01:40 PM   #6
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Kolsch yeast is designed to be a very "clean" fermenting yeast. That is, it will, if given time and the right conditions, fall out nearly as completely as a lager yeast.

The "cold" conditioning should only be done after active fermentation is complete.

I use Kolsch yeast a lot. I ferment at 65 degrees (same temps as my other ale yeasts). Once the beer has dropped (2-3 weeks) I cold condition the keg (or secondary) for another 1-2 weeks at around 40 degrees.

This gets the remaining yeast to fall the the beer to clear.

Now, this is pretty much the same protocol I used for all my ale yeasts and they seem to clear just as well (except my wits).

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Old 02-20-2008, 01:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlendieOfIndie
Lots of the stuff I read recommends a "lager-like" cold storage after primary fermentation for these German ales. I have no problem believing that a kolsch needs to be aged for a period of time, but what's the deal with the low temp? I'm using WhiteLabs WLP029, and WhiteLabs says the yeast doesn't ferment well under 62F. I would imagine that at a low temperature (say 40F) the yeast would go almost completely dormant - this IS an ale yeast after all. Furthermore, I've read posts stating that a warm aging process works well (Age it warm longer). So why should I "cold age" my kolsch? Is there something about kolsch ale's that lends them better to cold aging?
The fundamental difference between ale and lager yeasts is where they do their work (at the top vs. the bottom of the fermenter), not so much at what temperature. Koelsch is fermented cool-ish because Cologne is at about 50 degrees north - their cellars are chilly.

The cold conditioning comes after the yeast has done its work - it helps settle the yeast out (Koelsch yeast is pretty slow at doing that) and imparts that wonderful, lager-like crispness to the beer that sets it apart from most other light ales.
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funkenjaeger
... so if your particular yeast doesn't work well that low then perhaps you'll need to make the 'cold conditioning' temp even higher to keep the yeast from going completely dormant... or find another yeast.
This is an interesting idea of adjusting the cold storage temp based on the yeast. Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of temp. control. If I do cold storage, it'll be in my kitchen fridge (can you tell I'm a bachelor?), which I don't want to take above the low 40s. It might still be worth it for clearing purposes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcaneXor
The cold conditioning comes after the yeast has done its work ... and [it] imparts that wonderful, lager-like crispness to the beer that sets it apart from most other light ales.
So is there a flavor difference between warm aging and cold aging?
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher
Kolsch yeast is designed to be a very "clean" fermenting yeast. That is, it will, if given time and the right conditions, fall out nearly as completely as a lager yeast.

The "cold" conditioning should only be done after active fermentation is complete.

I use Kolsch yeast a lot. I ferment at 65 degrees (same temps as my other ale yeasts). Once the beer has dropped (2-3 weeks) I cold condition the keg (or secondary) for another 1-2 weeks at around 40 degrees.

This gets the remaining yeast to fall the the beer to clear.

Now, this is pretty much the same protocol I used for all my ale yeasts and they seem to clear just as well (except my wits).
Not to be a pain, but the kolsch yeast strains I have been using stay in suspension forever. This said cold crashing does help, but most of the time, filtering is the norm. That said, kolsch yeast is great for American Wheat beers. Everything else sounds about right though.
BierMuncher, what strain do you use? I want to try it out, I like the sound of not filtering.
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Old 02-20-2008, 09:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slnies
Not to be a pain, but the kolsch yeast strains I have been using stay in suspension forever. This said cold crashing does help, but most of the time, filtering is the norm. That said, kolsch yeast is great for American Wheat beers. Everything else sounds about right though.
BierMuncher, what strain do you use? I want to try it out, I like the sound of not filtering.
My kolsch came out crystal clear & many folks thought it was a light lager/low hopped pils....course, I lagered it for a few weeks at 35 degrees after two week low 60s fermentation.
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