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Old 12-23-2008, 06:36 AM   #1
BrewOnBoard
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Default Basics of Lagering...

So I was thinking, as I stare at the foot of snow outside the boat, of doing a schwarzbier. Problem is that I don't know how to lager. Enter homebrewtalk.com

Is it just a matter of using lager yeast, letting it ferment at room temp and then secondarying in the cold for a good long time? Or is there more to it? Can someone give me the basics on lagering? Also if it's far too advanced a technique you can tell me that too and I'll take it personal, get pissed off, and brew it anyway.

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Old 12-23-2008, 06:50 AM   #2
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A lager is fermented at cooler temps than an ale, usually around 50-55. Because of this it takes a little longer for a lager to get done fermenting. Also, lager fermentations are a little trickier than regular ale fermentations because. Yeasts are finicky at cooler temps, and need to stay at a very constant temp to not quite the job early. Since fermentation is an exothermic reaction, this means monitoring the beer temp, and not the ambient temp to keep it steady.

Also, sometimes lager fermentations need a diacetyl rest before the lagering phase begins. This involves raising the temp to ale temperatures for a period of 24 or so hours when there is only a few points left before FG is reached. Good yeast handling practices can often eliminate the need for a D-rest.

Lagers tend to be more delicate beers also, so more care need to be taked to insure no off flavors will be produced anywhere, because there is nothing for off flavors to hide behind.

That said, schwarzbier is one of my favorite styles of beer, I highly recommend brewing one. I have an award winning recipe posted in the database (and in my recipe dropdown).

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Old 12-23-2008, 01:49 PM   #3
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+1 to everything BW says. Depending on how you look at it, brewing lagers aren't that much different than brewing ales. Here are most of the differences:

-Temperature control (probably the most important factor)
-Yeast type (obviously) and pitch rate (~double)
-Time (longer)

Doesn't seem like too many differences, but temperature control and time are huge. The yeast starter can be fermented at room temp (depending on who you ask), but if it is, the starter beer must be crash-cooled and decanted prior to pitching. This usually requires making the starter ~2 weeks in advance. It's best to chill the wort to ~45°F before pitching. and let it warm up to a controlled 50°F. Then it's about 10 days or so for the average primary fermentation time of mid-OG lagers. If you need/want to do a diacetyl rest, near the end of primary fermentation, warm up the beer to about ~60°F for a couple days. Then slowly lower it (5°F per day) to the upper 30s/upper 40s°F and rack. Then slowly lower it to lagering temperature of about 32-34°F. Let it lager for about 1 week per 8 points of OG (1.048 = 6 weeks).

That's about it for the average homebrewer, but there are some other differences depending on ingredients and other variables. And that's all ideal. If you deviate from that, you will still get good beer and may or may not notice differences in flavor. So, get brewin'!

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