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Old 01-14-2012, 11:47 AM   #1
SolidBrewRider
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Default Planning a lager fermentation schedule with a new temp controller

I am preparing to make a Munich Helles with WLP838. I have purchased a Ranco temp controller to maintain temps. What can you recommend for a fermentation plan? I am planning:
Create a starter ~1.5L in my 2L flask
Ferment starter at room temps for a couple of days
(I do this for ales, but lagers?)
Chill in fridge and decant
Pitch at fridge temps into wort chilled to 50
Primary at 50 until yeast starts to fall out
Raise to 65 for two days
(Should I look for fermentation to finish before this Drest?)
Transfer to secondary
Drop to 45 and lager for two or three weeks

At the end of the day, I am looking for some comments/recommendations on my plan as this is the first time I am going to be able to control the temperatures beyond moving carboys between my basement and a closet to control the temperature.

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Old 01-14-2012, 11:58 AM   #2
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For a lager you're going to want (per mrmalty.com) a bigger starter than that. If you did two packs, and you swirled the flask whenever you were around, you could probably get away with a 1.5 liter starter. It'd probably be easier to do a 1.5 - 2 liter starter (shaking when possible), let it ferment out, then cool and decant it, then add another ~1.5 liters and shake that new starter when you can.

Your fermentation schedule looks fine, except that the lagering phase is usually down closer to 32 degrees.

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Old 01-14-2012, 12:28 PM   #3
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Thanks. I have a second 2L flask that I can employ. I'll split the yeast into the two.
As for the secondary temps, The carboy will be sitting in a 10gal cooler with water recirculating based on the controller. I do not expect that I'll be able to get close to 32deg. I'll shoot for as low as possible.
Thanks for the advice.

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Old 01-14-2012, 03:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolidBrewRider View Post
I am preparing to make a Munich Helles with WLP838. I have purchased a Ranco temp controller to maintain temps. What can you recommend for a fermentation plan? I am planning:
Create a starter ~1.5L in my 2L flask
Ferment starter at room temps for a couple of days
(I do this for ales, but lagers?)
Chill in fridge and decant
Pitch at fridge temps into wort chilled to 50
Primary at 50 until yeast starts to fall out
Raise to 65 for two days
(Should I look for fermentation to finish before this Drest?)
Transfer to secondary
Drop to 45 and lager for two or three weeks

At the end of the day, I am looking for some comments/recommendations on my plan as this is the first time I am going to be able to control the temperatures beyond moving carboys between my basement and a closet to control the temperature.
Make sure you pitch enough yeast. If this is your first or one of your first lagers, consider using dry yeast--two packages rehydrated of W-34/70 or S-189. Underpitching is asking for trouble. If you are certain you can get enough cells with your current plan, great.

"Until yeast starts to fall out" is not good. Use your hydrometer--your d-rest should be around 1.020, or about 8-10 points above expected FG (no, fermentation should not be finished before your d-rest; in fact it is safest to err on the "high side" for d-rest). I also don't like to see a discussion of "days." Calendars are only useful for lager brewing insofar as they help you keep track of how long your beer has been stored at 32 degrees. For all other stages your hydrometer is your guide.

Lastly, you might want to consider lagering for longer than 2-3 weeks. You may need to employ gelatin, polyclar, or another clearing agent (or filtering if you have the ability) if you want a nice, clear Helles after only 2-3 weeks of lagering.

Good luck!
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osagedr View Post
"Until yeast starts to fall out" is not good. Use your hydrometer--your d-rest should be around 1.020, or about 8-10 points above expected FG (no, fermentation should not be finished before your d-rest; in fact it is safest to err on the "high side" for d-rest). I also don't like to see a discussion of "days." Calendars are only useful for lager brewing insofar as they help you keep track of how long your beer has been stored at 32 degrees. For all other stages your hydrometer is your guide.

Lastly, you might want to consider lagering for longer than 2-3 weeks. You may need to employ gelatin, polyclar, or another clearing agent (or filtering if you have the ability) if you want a nice, clear Helles after only 2-3 weeks of lagering.

Good luck!
The d-rest is the one aspect that I have been considering the most. I'll keep an eye on the hydrometer readings. Is it safe to consider transferring to secondary once the d-rest is complete?
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:50 PM   #6
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The d-rest is the one aspect that I have been considering the most. I'll keep an eye on the hydrometer readings. Is it safe to consider transferring to secondary once the d-rest is complete?
You've got it. Check the gravity readings once this slow down. With 15-25% of the anticipated attenuation left (typically 1.018-1.022 or so) is the right time to start raising the temp for a D-rest.

Once The d-rest is complete, you can transfer to secondary and start lagering. I'd give it a day or two longer than you think it needs though.
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:25 PM   #7
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You've got it. Check the gravity readings once this slow down. With 15-25% of the anticipated attenuation left (typically 1.018-1.022 or so) is the right time to start raising the temp for a D-rest.

Once The d-rest is complete, you can transfer to secondary and start lagering. I'd give it a day or two longer than you think it needs though.
This is correct. You want the beer off the yeast cake once d-rest is complete, although it's less of an issue with darker lagers than lighter, more delicate ones. I've heard of people lagering on the yeast cake, though it's not something I would typically do.
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Old 07-05-2012, 02:55 PM   #8
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So I have a question along these lines... I just brewed my first lager yesterday (Okterbfest, 1.055, WLP838, fermenting @ 52) I pitched about 1000ml of fresh slurry pulled from the cone of a local microbrewery. The fermentation started within a few hours and is going crazy!

The question I have is that I see everyone saying to start the D-rest when the fermentation is mostly done but in general for lagers how long should that be? I know that with most of my ale ferments that I reach that point after about 3-5 days, but is it longer for lager ferments? I dont want to needlessly pull samples and waste beer. Thanks

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