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Old 01-23-2010, 03:24 PM   #1
breadbohn
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Default Lager questions

Hi Group,

After brewing six (okay, five and a half) terrific ales, I'm mentally prepared to try a lager. I'm hoping you all can clarify some issues for me.

First, as much as I'm grateful for advice here about not needing to rack to secondary for ales, it's a different case for lagers, isn't it? My understanding is that I want to avoid the possibility of autolysis.

I'm following the recipe for "Propensity Pilsener" from Papazian's book. His directions are to "ferment until there is little activity." I assume I would still follow the gravity, and rack when it stabilizes, just like for ales. Is this correct?

Also, Papzian specifies a second step of fermentation at temperatures below 60F, but does not specify a temperature for the initial fermentation. For lagers, this should also be cold, shouldn't it? More to the point, what should be the wort temperature when I ptitch the yeast?

Thanks in advance for advice,
Newbie McNovice

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Old 01-23-2010, 03:51 PM   #2
Budzu
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There are slightly different approaches to lagering. I usually lager this way:

Lagers should start well below 60, yeah. It will depend on your yeast choice, but you have some flexibility. A good starting point is 50-52 F primary fermentation. However, pitch your yeast a little colder if you can (I pitch about 47), and allow it to warm up to 52 as it approaches full fermentation. This can help you avoid diacetyl from the yeast's growth phase. Close to the end of primary fermentation, taste a sample and check for diacetyl (buttery taste). If there is a noticeable amount, bring the fermenter out of the fridge and into room temp for a day or two (over 60 F). This is called a diacetyl rest.
I always rack to a keg after all fermentation is finished, then lower the temp by no more than 5 degrees per day, and then leave it to lager at 40 or below for a number of weeks more. It would be best to lager as close to freezing as you can.
The most important things to remember for good fermentation are to pitch plenty of yeast (twice as much as a similar gravity ale) and to pitch it on the cool side.

Papazian's sub-60 recommendation for conditioning is for ales, not lagers.

As long as you have good cooling capacity and patience, this will be a really fun and delicious experience. I wish you the best of luck! Keep reading up before you start.

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Old 01-25-2010, 01:10 AM   #3
breadbohn
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Many thanks! It was the "well below 60" part that needed clarifying.

Patience I have, but now I need to convince myself I can handle the temperatures.

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