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Old 02-05-2011, 12:30 PM   #1
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Default Lager Fermentation questions

Hey guys. On Monday I plan on brewing my first lager and I have a couple questions about fermentation temps. I'll be using a lager yeast, and I wanted to know:
a) Do I need to pitch the yeast when the wort is within the yeast's ideal range(~55 degrees), or just around 70/75 like an ale yeast?
b) Do I need to keep the wort cool for the entire fermentation process (3 weeks I'm planning), or does it really only matter for the first 5-7 days of fermentation?
c) After bottling, should I keep the bottles around the ideal range while it carbonates, or should I keep it around 70 degrees?
d) When should I let the bottles condition in normal fridge temperature ranges as opposed to the slightly warmer ideal yeast temperature?

Thanks so much for any input!

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Old 02-05-2011, 01:19 PM   #2
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I made a bock just recently and pitched my yeast (wyeast 2206) at 73*F. Thats what the package said to do. So I left it at that temp for 15hrs and then placed it in the lower temps of 46*-55*F. Its been there for just over 2 weeks. I will take gravity readings closer to the 3wk mark. Transfer to secondary and do a diacytl rest for 24hrs at 58*F for 24hrs. Put it down in temp again for a few weeks. Bottle them and condition at room temp for 1 week. Store them at cooler temps until im ready to drink them. I saw a post here lager 1 week per 10 points from the OG. Hope this helps.

I will say this was only my second batch of beer so others may have more info. This is what im doing though.

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Old 02-05-2011, 01:26 PM   #3
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Having brewed 8 lager beers so far this winter my current 3 batches were pitched at 65F and then cooled over 12 hours and fermented at a constant 54F for 25 days. Over days 26 to 28 I let the temperature rise to 60F before I racked them to secondaries.

The secondaries have been in my refrigerator for 3 weeks and I'll leave them there for another 3 weeks before kegging 2 of them and bottling the third one.

After priming and bottling the third batch I'll move them to my basement where it's 58F to carbonate until ready....

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Old 02-05-2011, 03:10 PM   #4
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After doing many lagers, I feel strongly that the best results come from pitching a HUGE starter at slightly under optimum fermentation temperature. I'll pitch the yeast at 46 degrees into my 48 degree wort and allow the temperature to rise to 50 degrees.

The reason the yeast package says to pitch warm is to compensate for the gross underpitching of the yeast, not to make the best lager!

I don't pitch my ales at 90 degrees and then turn down to 70, and I don't pitch my lagers 20 degrees too warm either. There are several reasons- one is it is hard to "catch" the fermentation at the right time. You want yeast reproduction but not fermentation. Also, there are flavors produced during that reproduction/beginning of fermentation that you don't want in your beer. Another issue is dropping the temperature- it takes a LONG time for fermenting beer to drop 15 degrees! Most of the actual fermentation could be over before you ever get to 50 degrees.

The primary fermentation time period usually lasts 10-14 days, and that's at 48-52 degrees usually (depending on yeast strain). After that, the diacetyl rest is done (if doing) and the beer is racked and the lagering process begun.

I like to lager at 34 degrees for one week for each 8-10 points of OG. (That's from George Fix). So, for a 1.060 OG beer, I'll lager 6-8 weeks. I drop the temperature slowly, for diacetyl rest temperatures to 34 degrees, usually 5 degrees per day.

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Old 02-07-2011, 08:06 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info guys! This lagering is definitely going to be a bit more complex than I had initially planned, but I think it makes sense at least!

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Old 02-07-2011, 08:50 PM   #6
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I pitched about 10 degrees too warm in my last Helles and the beer has a nice green apple character to it. I did a 1.5L starter in a 5 gallon batch, so it may also have been a factor of underpitching.

-chuck

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Old 02-08-2011, 02:28 PM   #7
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these guys know way more than I do about this stuff. My Bock is sitting strong in the primary with krausen on top still. Thursday will be 3 weeks. Ive done 1 gravity yesterday and its at 1.042. Still needs more time. I had no idea what I was in for when doing this beer, other than knowing its perfect weather to do it. I only had 1 fermenter and I want to do another beer so I bought 2 more and they will be here tomorrow! Sunday my friends are coming over and we will do a Stout and a IPA. Very exciting.

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