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Bulls Beers 02-07-2013 12:49 AM

The original Lager thread.. Everything you ever wanted to know or ask
 
Light or dark, I love lagers. I love brewing them and especially drinking them. Some of them come out good , even very good. Some I brew might not be as good as they should be. I'm so critical of my lagers styles. I see so many posts about lagers. Questions, issues. I hope we can keep them all in one thread and try and have all our questions answered.

Yooper 02-07-2013 12:51 AM

I don't make too many lagers any more, but I usually have a few.

I think, aside from bigger starters and possibly doing a decoction, that they're very much like ales. I don't treat them all that differently, aside from different fermentation temperatures and the lagering phase.

megalomani 02-07-2013 12:54 AM

Is it really that important to get off the yeast cake early? I always leave my ales in primary for 4-8 weeks or even longer. Will this be detrimental to a lager? What if after fermentation I crank down to lagering temps for a few weeks more prior to racking?

Bulls Beers 02-07-2013 12:55 AM

I'll start. It's the consistency that pisses me off. I have a freezer for fermenting and a freezer for lagering. Also, my yeast count is right on. I seem to have everything I need to make a consistent lager beer. I'm trying to duplicate beers that have been brewed for hundreds of years, but I can't get it totally down. Sorry all, I just tapped a keg. It's good, but not where I think it should be.

Yooper 02-07-2013 02:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by megalomani (Post 4873685)
Is it really that important to get off the yeast cake early? I always leave my ales in primary for 4-8 weeks or even longer. Will this be detrimental to a lager? What if after fermentation I crank down to lagering temps for a few weeks more prior to racking?

It depends on what your preferences are.

I dislike a long primary, even for ales, as I can pick up a flavor imparted by the yeast. Some people prefer that, though. So if you like the flavor of the yeast in an 8 week primary, you probably won't mind it in a lager. I'm the other way- I want my lagers super "clean" and crisp, and without yeast character.

I leave both ales and lagers in primary about 10 days or so, normally.

There was a podcast by Basic Brewing Radio that did an experiment with a traditional short primary and secondary, a slightly extended primary only, and a long (month) primary. This was only for ales, but the interesting thing was that there were differences and it was about even on what the preferences were! Some really preferred the longer primary, while just as many did not. All said they were different, though!

I would extrapolate that to lagers as well. If you like the flavor imparted by a lenghty primary for ales, you very while may like that with a lager as well.

Yooper 02-07-2013 02:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bulls Beers (Post 4873691)
I'll start. It's the consistency that pisses me off. I have a freezer for fermenting and a freezer for lagering. Also, my yeast count is right on. I seem to have everything I need to make a consistent lager beer. I'm trying to duplicate beers that have been brewed for hundreds of years, but I can't get it totally down. Sorry all, I just tapped a keg. It's good, but not where I think it should be.

Is that different from your ales? Aside from fermentation temperatures, the actual process is basically the same.

It could be water related, if you're trying to make light lagers and having some "not quite right" results.

Darwin18 02-07-2013 02:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bulls Beers (Post 4873691)
I'll start. It's the consistency that pisses me off. I have a freezer for fermenting and a freezer for lagering. Also, my yeast count is right on. I seem to have everything I need to make a consistent lager beer. I'm trying to duplicate beers that have been brewed for hundreds of years, but I can't get it totally down. Sorry all, I just tapped a keg. It's good, but not where I think it should be.

As Yooper said, it could be your water.

Having solid fermentation temperature control is definitely critical to brewing lagers and it sounds like you've got that under control.

The other impact aspects to lagers are pitching a lot of active and healthy yeast, and also aerating your wort. Are you doing this?

Bulls Beers 02-07-2013 08:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darwin18 (Post 4875342)
As Yooper said, it could be your water.

Having solid fermentation temperature control is definitely critical to brewing lagers and it sounds like you've got that under control.

The other impact aspects to lagers are pitching a lot of active and healthy yeast, and also aerating your wort. Are you doing this?

Yeah, I'm pitching the proper yeast count. I believe so anyway. As far as water, The style calls for a water that is hard, but my local water is soft. When I mash I'm doing my proper additions.

Don't get me wrong, I love my beers that I brew. It's just when I drink some of my favorites like Augustiner and Weihenstephaner, my beer seems somewhat off. Whether it's the smoothness or just not right. It's frustrating when you think you have it down and you don't.. Fermentation temp, yeast count, water and time..Ugh!!

These breweries have been brewing beer for hundreds of years. I've been brewing for 8. I have a little catching up to do I guess...

Yooper 02-08-2013 01:45 PM

Actually, most lagers don't call for "hard" water so maybe some of your additions aren't exactly right? Just a thought! We can help with a water profile if you want, as when I make lagers my additions to RO water really are minimal. Sulfate in the brewing water can make noble hops sort of harsh and "not quite right" tasting.

MikeInMKE 02-08-2013 03:23 PM

Yooper, I'm going to be brewing an Oktoberfest (extract) tomorrow using RO water, and would love to hear your suggestions for a water profile.

FWIW, I did a three step starter of 2124 to get up over 424B cells called for, and will be fermenting in a water bath in my 57 degree basement.

Thanks in advance.


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