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Old 06-23-2011, 07:58 PM   #1
Robusto
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Default Can I brew a lager without a dedicated fridge?

Ok guys, time for my dumb question of the day:
Can I brew a good lager without a dedicated, temp controlled fridge?
I have a cool (temp, not style) basement that hovers around 60-65 degrees. I want to brew a light lager, like Grolsch or Stella. I have an insulated chamber that I made from 2 inch thick rigid foam insulation that I can pack with ice or dry ice I guess. So is it possible?

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Old 06-23-2011, 08:06 PM   #2
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Your basement sounds cool (style, not temp).

To be a little more helpful, it would sound like if you can keep steady lagering temps with your enclosed chamber then you're all set. Just make sure you can keep those temps steady. I don't have a way to keep temps incredibly steady myself or i would have hands on experience for ya.

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Old 06-23-2011, 08:09 PM   #3
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Yes you can, but be prepared for some off flavors. It will probably come out very fruity and might have a lot of diacetyl taste to it. Depends on the strain, but you probably won't get the clean, dry flavor you are looking for at ale temperatures.

Your insultated chamber with ice should work just fine.

Short answer: YES it is possible.

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Old 06-23-2011, 08:25 PM   #4
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I imagine it will be tough to keep it at 50 degrees, but it's not impossible

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Old 06-23-2011, 09:46 PM   #5
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So there is 1 annoying problem... lagering the beer. You might be able to get the thing to 50-55 with a lot of work and such, but honestly 45 is the temperature that I have found I like for a lager. Typically the way I do it is to pitch at about 52, drop the temp after 1 day to 45 and let it sit for 3 weeks. I then lager 1 week for every 10 points, a 1.060 beer takes 6 weeks, but I lager at 32-34, at least 10 deg cooler than your fermentation. Short answer is that I would hate to waste all that time and effort to get a beer with off flavors. Actually though, you happen to have the PERFECT temperature range to do a California Common or Steam ale. That might be worth considering, but honestly I don't think it's possible to do a lager outside of the winter time without a dedicated fridge.

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Old 06-24-2011, 01:34 AM   #6
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A good lager will be tough with your setup. You might consider a hybrid beer like a California Common Ale, or maybe something like a Kolsch. Or a well-made pale ale might be close enough to what you are looking for.

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Old 06-24-2011, 01:53 AM   #7
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kolsch might be a good choice, or if your looking for something on the lighter side of things, with the cripsness of a lager, try a blonde or a cream ale and use a very clean yeast like nottingham or s05. I have heard great things about nottingham in the very low 60s to high 50s even. It is supposed to have a lot of lager characteristics while still being an ale. Also a good or even above recommended pitch rate should help you out as well.

Also if you have the fridge space for bottles, you could put them in there for several weeks after they are carbonated, and that will also give it a quasi-lagering effect.

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Old 06-24-2011, 02:35 AM   #8
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It can be done. I wanted to see if there was really any issues using a lager yeast at 60-62 degrees so I threw something together to find out. I made a starter using WLP 0830 German Lager yeast and used it with a Coopers Australian Bitter kit and 1.5lbs of cane sugar for an O.G. around 1.040. For the record Australian bitters use a high percentage of cane sugar as they're adjunct lagers.

So I fermented it at 60-62 for couple weeks and then let it sit for 10 days or so at 50. After that I kegged and bottled a few. It turned out fine. I've also done a few of these kits that were fermented at 50 degrees and lagered at 34 for 2 weeks. Can't say there was a huge difference. That doesn't mean I'd ferment my authentic German lagers at 60 but you get the idea.

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Old 06-24-2011, 10:10 AM   #9
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I would use the Wyeast 2112 California Lager yeast if I had a basement like that. It's optimal temp range is 58-68*F, right in your zone.

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Old 06-24-2011, 10:35 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robusto View Post
Ok guys, time for my dumb question of the day:
Can I brew a good lager without a dedicated, temp controlled fridge?
I have a cool (temp, not style) basement that hovers around 60-65 degrees. I want to brew a light lager, like Grolsch or Stella. I have an insulated chamber that I made from 2 inch thick rigid foam insulation that I can pack with ice or dry ice I guess. So is it possible?

I know in Winter here in Ohio, the Unheated side of my basement avg's about 50-55 Still a tad warm but i do plan to do a dark lager this winter at that temp.
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