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Old 04-30-2010, 10:36 AM   #1
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Default Lagering 101... what are the basics of using Lager yeast

I want to make a few Lagers properly, I have made a Cooper's European Lager which does use a lager yeast and it turned out fine, at room temperatures.

I have since tried a Dutch Lager from an Extract/Grain kit and a Cerveza using California Lager yeast and an all liquid kit. The Dutch Lager, never took so I tossed in a Cooper's yeast after 24 hours and it seemed to brew and clear fine, tasted great on kegging day but now tastes awful (will try again after a few weeks in keg and I do have 12 bottles as well) The Cerveza seems to have also brewed fine at room temp but was taking forever to clear so I put my carboy in my keggerator, that might have been a mistake, we'll see.

I have everything I need to make a German Pils.

So now I want to do it right. I think I have gotten pretty good with ales, so what do I need to do. I plan to use my keggerator as a laggering fridge, I know there is a temp variance, so I plan to insulate the bucket and carboy so the temp inside will vary a lot less than the air in the fridge.

So far, after all my research, the only thing I really know is to ferment at 33-50 degrees, that's it. Don't know how long to ferment, how long to rack and bottle etc.

I read something about slowly reducing temps etc.

This winter I plan to make lager in my garage, I have a small heated room and plan to get a more sensitive thermostat so I can keep the temps around 40 during the winter months.

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Old 04-30-2010, 11:25 AM   #2
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You need to ferment at 50-60 degree range. When the primary fermentation is done then you "Lager" in the 32-45 degree range.

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Old 04-30-2010, 11:39 AM   #3
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Ok, how long does fermentation take and how long do you lager for? Am I Laggering in a carboy?

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Old 04-30-2010, 11:44 AM   #4
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Well from what I have seen. Fermentation time is the same as an ale. Check your gravity before you transfer to carboy and then lager. Lager time depends on you. I see that most people lager 1-2 months. Oktoberfest is made in March and lagered all summer and drank in the early fall.

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Old 04-30-2010, 11:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craigbrew View Post
Well from what I have seen. Fermentation time is the same as an ale. Check your gravity before you transfer to carboy and then lager. Lager time depends on you. I see that most people lager 1-2 months. Oktoberfest is made in March and lagered all summer and drank in the early fall.
This would work very well for my winter plan, start 3 or 4 lagers in late fall and drink them in the summer. After they have laggered for a few months, can they be stored at room temp or should they be refrigerated?

I have read that you can use lager yeast at room temp bot for longer periods (10 days in the primary) but I am starting to doubt that after my attempts.
BUT the Cooper's Eur Lager does say just that, maybe their Lager yeast is special.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:23 PM   #6
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Lager fermentation is a little slower. My ales are done in a few days, but my lagers take at least a week. I just pulled a sample from a german pils I made 5 days ago and the yeast is still thick in suspension.

  • I ferment lagers right at 48F for 2 weeks.
  • Then, I move the temp up to 65 for 2 days. This helps the yeast clean up any intermediate by-products and ensures the fermentation is complete.
  • Then it's cold lagering at 30F for as long as possible. I usually can't wait more than 2 weeks, but double that is usually advised. If you are bottle conditioning and cold lagering for many weeks, you might consider pitching a half packet of dry yeast (ale or lager) into the bottling bucket.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by passedpawn View Post
Lager fermentation is a little slower. My ales are done in a few days, but my lagers take at least a week. I just pulled a sample from a german pils I made 5 days ago and the yeast is still thick in suspension.
  • I ferment lagers right at 48F for 2 weeks.

    et: temps right but i usually let mine go for 4-6wks. i do this since i don't do diacetyl rests but rather let it start at room temp then drop it down to ferm temps.
  • Then, I move the temp up to 65 for 2 days. This helps the yeast clean up any intermediate by-products and ensures the fermentation is complete.

    et: ^^^^^diacetyl rest^^^^^
  • Then it's cold lagering at 30F for as long as possible. I usually can't wait more than 2 weeks, but double that is usually advised. If you are bottle conditioning and cold lagering for many weeks, you might consider pitching a half packet of dry yeast (ale or lager) into the bottling bucket.

    et: if bottling i suggest using the same strain of yeast for bottling as you did for ferm. i lager for the same time as my ferment was down to freezing temp(32)



it's best if you keep your lagers cool if not cold for storage rather then let them warm up to room temp as this can cause chill haze to appear.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:54 PM   #8
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Chill wort to just under the ferment temp range.
Pitch a one gallon starter's worth of slurry.
Warm to low end of ferment temp range (probably 49F)
Ferment there about 10 days, then slowly warm to about 60F until all activity is done.
Chill to 35 for 2 days, rack to secondary and leave it at 35F for 2+ months.

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Old 04-30-2010, 01:07 PM   #9
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My lager ferments take about 2 weeks, and usually poop out around 1.020. However, I'll then move the fermenter up to room temp for another week and it'll get down to 1.014. After that I'll rack to a secondary and use gelatin and hold at lager temps for as long as march will allow --- usually 2-3 weeks and I'll bottle and just cellar until serving.

My biggest difficulty with making lagers though is getting the wort down to the 40s before pitching, it's actually impossible for me without top off water.

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Old 04-30-2010, 01:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
Chill wort to just under the ferment temp range.
Pitch a one gallon starter's worth of slurry.
Warm to low end of ferment temp range (probably 49F)
Ferment there about 10 days, then slowly warm to about 60F until all activity is done.
Chill to 35 for 2 days, rack to secondary and leave it at 35F for 2+ months.
That's what I do, too. Except, I rack after the diacetyl rest, and THEN lower the temperature.

- chill wort to 50 degrees
- pitch HUGE amount of 48 degree yeast into wort
-ferment at 50 degrees for approximately 10-14 days.
-Raise temperature to 60-65 degrees for 48 hours (if diacetyl rest is needed)
-rack to secondary
-lower temperature to 34 degrees
-leave for one week for each 8 points of OG (1.064= 8 weeks of lagering)
-bottle or keg
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