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Old 06-04-2012, 09:07 PM   #1
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Default Fermentation Temp for Pilsner? (First Brew)

I brewed my first batch ever yesterday. It was the Anniversary Pilsner from AHS. Being new to brewing, I didn't realized that lager yeasts are supposed to ferment at cooler temperatures before I purchased this kit. The instructions that came with the kit said that fermentation should be done at lower temperatures (not sure exactly what they were), but then there was another section that said "If you have to ferment at room temperature" to follow different steps.

That being said, the primary is in a closet in my basement (which isn't really a basement, just the first floor of my townhouse which is above ground) and was sitting at 70 degrees when I checked this morning. So my question is, is this too warm? Is my first batch ever going to be ruined, or will it be fine sitting at 70 degrees?

Any help, tips, advice is greatly appreciated, I don't want to screw up my first batch!

Forgot to mention, the yeast I used was White Labs Pilsner Lager WLP800

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Old 06-04-2012, 09:22 PM   #2
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Welcome!

Sadly, 70 degrees is pretty dang hot for any lager. Lager yeasts tend to throw off weird flavors, including sulphur which takes a long time to go away and sometimes never does.

Lagers are definitely not first-brew-material, especially not pilseners that don't have as many bold flavors to cover up mistakes.

But don't be discouraged. Here's what I recommend:

1) Taste the beer after a few weeks. If it is not good, put it in a corner and forget about it for a long time.

2) Get a very simple ale kit that you would literally have to try to screw up. American Ambers, Pale Ales, Hefeweizens, simple Stouts... these are all crazy easy and use yeasts that don't require special attention to the needs of the yeast.

There are other styles to choose from that are simple for first-timers but those are just the first that come to mind.

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Old 06-04-2012, 09:25 PM   #3
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Yeah, that's way too warm. Throw it in a tub of water, and cycle out frozen water bottles. Using this technique you can easily keep it at 58 or so. There's a only a few lager yeasts that can handle warm temps. Some are saflager s23, San Fran lager, Cali lager, Munich lager 2 are some.

You might be better off using a kolsch or alt yeast in the future if you can't maintain lager temps.

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Old 06-05-2012, 12:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reno_eNVy View Post
Welcome!

Sadly, 70 degrees is pretty dang hot for any lager. Lager yeasts tend to throw off weird flavors, including sulphur which takes a long time to go away and sometimes never does.

Lagers are definitely not first-brew-material, especially not pilseners that don't have as many bold flavors to cover up mistakes.

But don't be discouraged. Here's what I recommend:

1) Taste the beer after a few weeks. If it is not good, put it in a corner and forget about it for a long time.

2) Get a very simple ale kit that you would literally have to try to screw up. American Ambers, Pale Ales, Hefeweizens, simple Stouts... these are all crazy easy and use yeasts that don't require special attention to the needs of the yeast.

There are other styles to choose from that are simple for first-timers but those are just the first that come to mind.
+1000 to all of this. Could not have said it better.

Just for reference, I've been brewing for over two years and have yet to work up to a Pilsner. I just started doing lagers and I want to get them right before I move up to the Pilsner styles. Kudos on being brave!!
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:54 PM   #5
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I guess I should have done some research before attempting a Pilsner! I know I like to drink beer but apparently there is a lot I don't know about how it's made (like the fact that a Pilsner is a type of lager - whoops).

Thanks for all the input, I took the advice from above and put the container in a tub with water. I've got the temp down below 60 now so I'm gonna try to keep it there and see how it goes.

If I'm able to keep it around 58 degrees how long should I leave it in the primary before transferring to the secondary carboy? The instructions that came with the kit said at one point that I would need to get the temp down to like 40 degrees for a period of time, is that necessary?

Any other helpful tips for salvaging this one would be helpful! I'm thoroughly confused now! I do have a Dale's Pale Ale clone on the way, sounds like I should have tried my hand with that kit first, oh well, live and learn!

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Old 06-05-2012, 02:17 PM   #6
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Don't get too discouraged. You are making beer. Yes you will have some esters that are uncharacteristic for a Pilsner, but it will still be beer. Cool it as low as you can. You can bottle it up, let it carb, and then throw the bottles into the fridge for 3-4 weeks prior to drinking which will mimic a lagering phase.

I will be attempting my first Pilsner in a month or two (second lager). Will be about my 25th batch or so by then. Agree with others that its a tough style to perfect, it will likely take me a few tries to get it right. A temp controlled fridge is a good investment for lagers.

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Old 06-05-2012, 04:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmandaK

+1000 to all of this. Could not have said it better.

Just for reference, I've been brewing for over two years and have yet to work up to a Pilsner. I just started doing lagers and I want to get them right before I move up to the Pilsner styles. Kudos on being brave!!
Great pilsners are not hard to make. The most important steps are temp control, and pitching the proper amount of yeast. Other than that, the grain bill and hop schedule are pretty straight forward.

If you're already making great lagers, you'll surprise yourself when you make a great pilsner.
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by TimTrone View Post
Great pilsners are not hard to make. The most important steps are temp control, and pitching the proper amount of yeast. Other than that, the grain bill and hop schedule are pretty straight forward.

If you're already making great lagers, you'll surprise yourself when you make a great pilsner.
These things I know (don't forget oxygenation!), I just wanted to make a point to the OP. I have a CAP lagering right now that is pretty on point, so next step is BoPils.


Back to the OP, I think you should keep it in the primary at below 60* and monitor the gravity readings and the taste. Once you are happy with it, you should probably lager it, that is, bring it down to as close to freezing as possible for around 4 weeks. Lagering will smooth out some (not all) or the undesirables created by the fermentation process.

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Old 06-06-2012, 03:01 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by AmandaK View Post
These things I know (don't forget oxygenation!), I just wanted to make a point to the OP. I have a CAP lagering right now that is pretty on point, so next step is BoPils.


Back to the OP, I think you should keep it in the primary at below 60* and monitor the gravity readings and the taste. Once you are happy with it, you should probably lager it, that is, bring it down to as close to freezing as possible for around 4 weeks. Lagering will smooth out some (not all) or the undesirables created by the fermentation process.

Ok, so I've got it down to around 52* right now and am going to try to keep it between 50 and 55. However, I'm not seeing any activity in my airlock at this point. I used the full bottle of yeast that came with the kit and the pitching temp was probably 78* or so. Then it sat for about 24 hours around 70*. It was then cooled to about 58* for 24 hrs and now its down to 52*.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get the OG since when I went to get my hydrometer I realized it was shattered. Another is on the way so as soon as I get that I will be able to start checking the gravity.

Anything else I should be doing at this point? Also, for the lagering phase, what should that be done in? The secondary, bottles, what's best?
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:52 PM   #10
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Ok, so I've got it down to around 52* right now and am going to try to keep it between 50 and 55. However, I'm not seeing any activity in my airlock at this point. I used the full bottle of yeast that came with the kit and the pitching temp was probably 78* or so. Then it sat for about 24 hours around 70*. It was then cooled to about 58* for 24 hrs and now its down to 52*.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get the OG since when I went to get my hydrometer I realized it was shattered. Another is on the way so as soon as I get that I will be able to start checking the gravity.

Anything else I should be doing at this point? Also, for the lagering phase, what should that be done in? The secondary, bottles, what's best?
Just wait it out for now. It should get going. Unfortunately, another thing about lagers is that you need lots and lots more yeast as a rule, and one vial is underpitching by about three or four times. Four vials wouldn't have been too much yeast.

In any case, the first day or so is when the yeast are reproducing, so once they reproduce and have enough yeast they can get to the business of fermentation. Lagers use a species of brewer's yeast that is bottom fermenting- so you may not see a huge krausen anyway. (Lager yeast are actually a different species than ale yeast). Just wait for a few more days and keep the temperature as stable as possible and it should get going.

I lager in a carboy or keg, but if you want to lager in the bottle that's fine.
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