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Old 04-22-2010, 06:57 PM   #1
jangelj
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Default First lager attempt with limited ingredients

OK, I have made several batches of ales (fantastic!), but want to play aroung with lagering. I will have access to a full sized refrigerator all summer while my mother-in-law is out of town. I'd like to build a recipe using ingredients on hand (except the yeast, I'll buy that). I'll do a 5 gal. batch.

Here's what I have on hand:

Extra Light DME (lots)
Crystal 60L (lots)
Chocolate Malt (~.6 lb)
Black Malt (~.6 lb)
Fuggle Hops (1 lb)
Cascade hops (1 lb)

With a full sized fridge, I can ferment at whatever temp I want, so what yeast and temp should I use?

Thanks a lot!

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Old 04-22-2010, 10:40 PM   #2
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This is similar to a schwartzbeir I brewed all grain, which came out delicious.
I used about 3.5lbs of munich in mine though, and would reccomend you buy and use some munich extract(2.5-lbs. if you can get it) in place of 2.5lbs of DME. It will be good w/o the munich, but--hell everything is better with munich in it. Not sure of your boil volumes so I didn't calc. the weight of the hops. I have to brew this again--wife says it tastes like her chocolate silk coffee.


LB OZ Malt or Fermentable ppg °L

81% 6 lbs. Light Dry Extract (or 4lbs DME, 2.5lbs munich extract)

10% 12oz. Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L

5% 6oz. Chocolate Malt (US)

3% 4oz. Black (Patent) Malt (I used carafa II)

22 IBUs fuggles @ 60mins. (I used hallertau)

Yeast- 2 pkgs. W-34/70 dry or wlp 830 pitched and fermented @ 50F. 6qt.(3X3 stepped) starter for liquid yeast.
Lager 4 weeks @ 36F

Bottle w/ 1/2 cup table sugar priming mix.
Batch size: 5.5 gallons (to account for trub loss)

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Old 04-22-2010, 10:42 PM   #3
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I'd double check the temperature of your fridge. There is no fridge I know of that can be set to keep it at 50 degrees without an external controller. My fridge, at the highest setting, only goes up into the low to mid 40s. I think my highest reading was 44 with the fridge on the highest setting.

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Old 04-22-2010, 11:18 PM   #4
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Is it possible to ferment at 44 (or whatever is the highest temp I can get from that fridge) for a longer period? Say 5 weeks at 44 instead of 3 at 50? Or maybe use a different yeast that works at lower temps? Since this won't be at my house, I want to make it as "set it and forget it" possible.

john

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Old 04-22-2010, 11:25 PM   #5
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Your yeast would crap out at that temp. before they finished the job. I thought you had a controller. You can always use a swamp cooler and frozen water bottles.

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Old 04-22-2010, 11:26 PM   #6
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I can't think of any lager yeast strains off of the top of my head that work well under about 48 degrees. If you make a huge starter, it might be possible but I wouldn't attempt it without being able to get the correct fermentation temperatures. You could try putting the fridge on the highest setting for a couple of days and see what it reads. Maybe you'll get lucky and it'll be 48-50 degrees.

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Old 04-23-2010, 12:34 AM   #7
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I put my 20 year old mini fridge on the lowest setting and it made it to 60, dialed it back up a bit and hit the sweet spot for my 2 gallon Rauchbeer which is currently lagering at 34 in the same fridge. I think you should give it a go and see what you can get out of the fridge, get a decent thermometer and after you've warmed the fridge up leave it in for an hour then give it a check.

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Old 04-23-2010, 03:01 AM   #8
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T-stats on fridges are limited (all that I've played with) to just above 40 degrees. There is a calibration screw on the t-stat but I didn't have much luck with the one unit I toyed with. Best bet is to build or buy an external t-stat.

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Old 04-23-2010, 04:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
I can't think of any lager yeast strains off of the top of my head that work well under about 48 degrees. If you make a huge starter, it might be possible but I wouldn't attempt it without being able to get the correct fermentation temperatures. You could try putting the fridge on the highest setting for a couple of days and see what it reads. Maybe you'll get lucky and it'll be 48-50 degrees.
I just bought a Johnson Control a19 on ebay, so I should be able to set and hold fermentation temps.
Question about the yeast. I'll probably just use 2 packs W 34/70 as recommended. Can I wash and store that yeast when the beer is done? Is it the same process as ale yeast?
Last question (for now): After I pitch the yeast, I want to ferment at 53 deg until I reach my FG, then warm it up for a couple of days, then lager 4 weeks at 36F? Is that right? Do I need to rack to a secondary to lager? I don't usually use a secondary for my ales, mostly out of laziness I suppose.
thanks,
John
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Old 04-23-2010, 06:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jangelj View Post
I just bought a Johnson Control a19 on ebay, so I should be able to set and hold fermentation temps.
Question about the yeast. I'll probably just use 2 packs W 34/70 as recommended. Can I wash and store that yeast when the beer is done? Is it the same process as ale yeast?
Last question (for now): After I pitch the yeast, I want to ferment at 53 deg until I reach my FG, then warm it up for a couple of days, then lager 4 weeks at 36F? Is that right? Do I need to rack to a secondary to lager? I don't usually use a secondary for my ales, mostly out of laziness I suppose.
thanks,
John
Yes, it can be washed. I have washed w-34 in the fridge right now.

For the D-rest, I like to watch the airlock for signs of a slow down. When I see it, I take a grav. reading. If it's down around 1.020 or lower, I will start the rest. This ensures that the yeast will finish strong and you will have no worries of phenols that late in the fermentation. By the time the beer warms to room temp--the fermentation is over.

For secondary--yes you need to. I agree with Greg Noonan (who knew a crapload more than me) in that homebrewers leave lagers on the cake for too long. As per his suggestions, when the beer has dropped clear, rack to secondary. I usually leave it on the cake for a couple days after it has cleared--just to be sure. Good luck and welcome to lagers--a test of patience.
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