Leave 'em on the Yeast. Applies for Lagers too?
I've been actively following the site for about a year now and have become a "leave 'em on the yeast in primary" believer for my ales. I've seen steady quality improvement using a 3-4 week primary with no secondary unless I am dry-hopping.
I am branching off into lagers again (haven't made one in over 10 years) and had a couple of questions:
Question 1 - Leave it on the yeast for Clean Up?
I am building a Stella-like recipe. I'm looking at 1.048-50 OG, using Safelager S-23. I am looking at approximately 10-12 days of primary ferment (55F) followed by 3 days at 65F.
My question is about what to do after the diacetyl rest. Do I rack to secondary immediately, or would my beer benefit from going back down to 55 for another week before moving to secondary and lagering?
The answer to question 1 may change question 2. But here is what I have for now.
Question 2 - Ferment/Lagering Schedule
Today is 10/3/10. I am targeting a 10/9/10 brew day with hopes of serving this beer to family and friends on Thanksgiving Day 11/25/10. I think it gives me plenty of time, but I wanted to run my proposed ferment/lager schedule by the collective knowledge base and get some feedback.
1. Brew/chill/pitch (2 packets of S-23, re-hydrated). Target pitching temp, 65F. (10/9)
2. Drop temperature to 55F once I hit full krausen. (10/10)
3. Primary ferment at 55F (10/10-23)
4. Ramp temperature to 65F for diacetyl rest (10/23-25).
5. Bring temperature back to 55F for a few more days of yeast clean up. (10/25-30).
6. Cold Crash then rack to secondary for lagering (10/30-11/14)
7. Rack to keg for force carbonation and additional lagering (11/14-25)
8. Happy Thanksgiving! (11/25)
I am considering 2 possible changes.
Change 1 would be to eliminate step 5 and just cold crash and rack off the yeast after the diacetyl rest.
Change 2 would be to combine steps 6 and 7 and just lager in the keg. My only concern there is yeast flocc. I could cold crash after the diacetyl rest, but how much yeast should I expect to drop out in the secondary (during lager)? Do I need to secondary for at least a week to drop the remaining yeast out of suspension before going to the keg? Or am I OK to just cold crash after the D rest and count on pulling a pint or 2 before Thanksgiving Day to suck any yeast out of the keg?
I am not worrying about oxidation, so multiple transfers are OK if it makes more sense in cleaning up the beer. I'll do all transfers under CO2. And I have a big family. We'll be together for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. With all the pro and college games on tap, I expect my dad, uncle, cousins and I will float this one before the weekend is out. This is not going to be around long enough for the long term effects of oxidation to set in.
Lagering is one of the few reasons I rack to secondary. I still leave my beer in primary for a month, then I warm it up for a D-rest, then rack it, and then plunge it in the cold for severaql months. It is getting the benefit of a few weeks cleanup before going into the lagering phase.
So would you suggest 2 weeks primary and then going back to 55 for another week after the D rest? Or would you recommend 3 weeks at 55 and then a 3-4 day D rest before lagering?
I don't really "time" my lagers. I'm a big believer in doing the diacetyl rest at 75% of the way to FG. That tends to be about 10-14 days, but not always. It could be 10 days, but I guess it could be three weeks if I didn't make a big enough starter.
When I'm 75% of the way to FG (roughly 1.020ish usually), I do the diacetyl rest. Once the fermentation is completely finished, and there is NO hint of diacetyl, I rack to a carboy and start dropping the temperature. I lager at 34 degrees for a week for each 8-10 points of OG. So, for a 1.060 OG lager, I'll lager for 6-8 weeks.
I agree with Yooper's procedure. Don't depend on the calendar. Yeast can't read. ;)
You can wait until FG is reached before increasing to diacetyl rest temperature, too. I've done that (out of town and missed 75% of attenuation), and the beer turned out fine.
That being said, I could go to 75% and then diacetyl rest. Then just go straight to the keg and slowly take the temp down to 34.
Since I have not lagered in a long time, and I know I would need to force carb in the last 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, my question is, assuming I don't get a stuck ferment, is brewing a 1.050 beer on 10/9, the fermenting, diacetyl rest and lagering to have it ready by 11/26 a reasonable expectation on my part?
I'm not Yooper, but I'll take a stab at it.
Six weeks is not a lot of time. You might squeak through.
"Lagering" in the keg is an option. It'll let you skip two transfers. Just don't put it under any pressure until it's absolutely necessary. If you can put an airlock on it, it's better than sealing it - positive pressure while the beer is maturing (or especially during the ferment) can cause off-flavors. There'll be a lot of precipitate in the keg, too; you'll have to deal with losing the first couple of pints as sludge. You should probably fine, too, to ensure star-bright lager beer.
Another option is to lager, then filter it bright and force-carbonate. Some LHBSs will rent plate-and-frame filters for winemakers. A polish with 1-micron pads will remove the stuff that makes it cloudy and give you perfectly bright beer to carbonate with top-pressure.
OK. So I decided to make 2 beers this past weekend to give me plenty of time to complete the lager. So the family will be getting a blonde ale for Thanksgiving. The pilsner will be ready for Bowl season after Christmas. That should definitely give me the entire month of November and a little of December to lager after fermentation, plus a couple of weeks before Christmas to force carb in the keg.
As I am still new to the lager game, a couple of additional questions:
1. Used S-23 (2 packs rehydrated in about 250ml of boiled and cooled water). Due to the fact that Oklahoma is still fairly warm this time of year, I wound up pitching around 74F. Got the beer in the fermenting fridge and brought it down to 65F overnight. I pitched at 830pm Friday; had full krausen at 9 the next morning when I checked in on it. Thermometer on the fermentor showed 70F. I spend the next 8 hours dropping the temp into the 50s. It is currently sitting at 52F and bubbling away happily. Should I expect some fruity esters from pitching that warm or can I still expect a crisp, clean lager because I was able to drop into the proper fermenting range within the first 24 hours?
2. Diacetyl rest. Is there a way to time this based on airlock activity and appearance of the krausen? I am concerned about air exposure by taking numerous samples just to see if I have hit 75% of the sugars consumed. It fermented all day Saturday, Sunday and today. As of 3 pm today, I am still getting a bubble through the airlock every second. I have heard a couple of different theories on diacetyl rest. 75% fermentables consumed; minimal airlock activity, venting a bubble every 10 sec or so. I have also heard that it is time to go to diacetyl rest when the krausen subsides. My krausen was about 1.5 inches right as fermentation took off. Since cooling the beer into fermenting temps, it has compressed to about a 3/4 inch thick blanket on the top of the beer. Any thoughts on timing diacetyl rest by appearance?
3. If I wind up going to diacetyl rest by hydrometer reading, I am a little confused about measuring the 75%. Am I looking for 75% attenuation (which for many yeasts will be the limit of what it's capable of, which would mean fermentation was largely over)? Or am I looking at it getting 75% of the way to its expected gravity. For instance, I got a starting gravity of 1.056 (1.058 was expected). The calculator I am using predicts the beer should finish at 1.015. Would it be proper to say I am expecting a 31 point drop, so 75% of the way there would be about 1.033?
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