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Old 03-04-2010, 07:51 PM   #1
kcinpdx
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Default moving to the lighter side - lagers!

Not sure what's happening - perhaps tastes changing, expanding. etc. But I find myself enjoying pilsners and lagers more and more. It started with Full Sail's series of pils and lagers and oddly enough the reviews on those are not that great. I supose that's what got me thinking what I might be missing. In any event I now need to figure out how to begin lagering at home. Any good places to start? Noonan's book perhaps?

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Old 03-04-2010, 08:19 PM   #2
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Yes, Noonan's book is a comprehensive resource for lager brewing (and it's not just for lager brewers).

Temperature control is probably the biggest factor. A dedicated chest freezer with a temperature controller is probably the best option if you can afford it. There are other less expensive ways to achieve primary fermentation and lagering temps for lagers if you can't swing the chest freezer. The only other thing you'll need is secondary carboy(s), but you probably already have those.

Welcome to the world of lagers. I know some homebrewers poo-poo them, but I don't understand why. Lager brewing can be very rewarding because of the time and care one puts into them. There's nothing like waiting 2+ months to enjoy a delicious Pils, Helles, Dunkel, Oktoberfest, Alt, Bock, and the list goes on.

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Old 03-05-2010, 01:49 AM   #3
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Lagers can be dark and full bodied as well. Don't limit yourself to the lighter styles.

If you're already kegging, suggest lagering in kegs. They're going to be in the fridge anyway. Just don't carbonate until you've finished lagering.

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Old 03-05-2010, 03:41 AM   #4
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Was intimidated by the thought of lagering but it's easy with the right equipment. IMO it is more challenging but that makes it fun!

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Old 03-05-2010, 03:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menschmaschine View Post
Welcome to the world of lagers. I know some homebrewers poo-poo them, but I don't understand why. Lager brewing can be very rewarding because of the time and care one puts into them. There's nothing like waiting 2+ months to enjoy a delicious Pils, Helles, Dunkel, Oktoberfest, Alt, Bock, and the list goes on.
Well said. I love lagers. I love ales too of course, but lagers are the bomb-diggity
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Old 03-05-2010, 04:42 AM   #6
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keep in mind I am in ale capital - portland!

I do 10 gallons at a time, so I am looking for an upright freezer or smallish fridge to lager in, perhaps using a 10 gallon corny. Any suggestions? I want to stick with bigger batches since the wait time will be longer.

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Old 03-05-2010, 12:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcinpdx View Post
keep in mind I am in ale capital - portland!

I do 10 gallons at a time, so I am looking for an upright freezer or smallish fridge to lager in, perhaps using a 10 gallon corny. Any suggestions? I want to stick with bigger batches since the wait time will be longer.
10 gallons is a lot to lift at one time. You're probably better off splitting 10 gallons batches into two carboys or Better Bottles. The only realistic way to ferment/lager lagers in one vessel is with a conical fermenter (there's no secondary vessel... you just dump the trub/yeast after primary fermentation).

You'll need a temp. controlled freezer not only for lagering (~33°F), but also for primary fermentation (~50°F) (this doesn't mean you need 2 freezers... both primary and lagering can be done in one). If you can find an upright freezer that works, fine, but a chest freezer usually ends up being the most cost efficient and space efficient.

Chest Freezer w/ two 6 Gallon Better Bottles- German Pils:
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Old 03-05-2010, 01:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcinpdx View Post
keep in mind I am in ale capital - portland!

I do 10 gallons at a time, so I am looking for an upright freezer or smallish fridge to lager in, perhaps using a 10 gallon corny. Any suggestions? I want to stick with bigger batches since the wait time will be longer.
Remember that in order to properly pitch 10 gal. it's gonna take a LOT of yeast.

I always use a keg for secondary. They have a smaller footprint, are easier to lift, are relatively unbreakable, and you can pressurize them. Plus you can do a keg-to-keg closed transfer and not let the beer contact any oxygen during racking from secondary to serving keg. I like to let lagers naturally carbonate in a keg by racking them a little early but there's many ways to skin that cat.

IMO/IME, in addition to temp already mentioned yeast health and proper pitch rate are even more important for lagers. You might want to check out Kaiser's Fermenting Lagers article (as well as everything else) on Braukaiser.

I use an upright refrigerator as my 'lagerator' for the main fermentation. Then I use my keezer for lagering. The keezer holds 6 kegs and has 4 taps so there's 2 spots in there for on-deck kegs and lagering. The freezer portion of the lagerator is useful for letting big starter vessels settle and even storing hops (although it's not as cold as a regular freezer).
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Old 03-05-2010, 03:51 PM   #9
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Remember that in order to properly pitch 10 gal. it's gonna take a LOT of yeast.
Good point. I forgot all about that ever since they came out with Saflager W-34/70. 4 rehydrated packets does a good job for a 10 gallon batch (of a not-too-high OG).
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Old 03-05-2010, 04:05 PM   #10
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Good point. I forgot all about that ever since they came out with Saflager W-34/70. 4 rehydrated packets does a good job for a 10 gallon batch (of a not-too-high OG).
I STILL haven't tried making a batch solely from it even though I have 3 packets in the fridge. It's prob my favorite strain just judging from the liquid versions. I always seem to have a vial/pack that needs to get used before too long...then mason jars of washed yeast that need to be used before too long...etc. One of these days!
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