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Old 01-03-2013, 02:03 AM   #1
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Default Can I use a corny keg as a secondary for lagers?

I'm thinking about trying a lager for my next beer. I don't have any carboys and it seems buckets as secondaries are frowned upon due to the large head space. The idea I had was after a week or two of primary fermentation, transfer to a corny to lager and age, then transfer from there to a bottling bucket to be bottled. Though I have the means to keg, I do not have a kegerator yet, so I still have to bottle for the time being.

The garage is where I let my beers ferment. Now, it's been around 57-58 degrees constant, so I thought I would take advantage of this and start doing some lagers. If this isn't ideal, I have no problems staying with ales. I just hate to have to splurge on 5 gallon carboys when I have a few empty cornies laying around.


EDIT: Just to clarify, I do have a temp controlled freezer in the garage. The freezer is set at 60, but it hasn't turned on much due to the temps staying just below that. I worry about doing more ales as the days start getting colder, hence my questions.

Thanks everybody.

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Old 01-03-2013, 02:26 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yesfan
I'm thinking about trying a lager for my next beer. I don't have any carboys and it seems buckets as secondaries are frowned upon due to the large head space. The idea I had was after a week or two of primary fermentation, transfer to a corny to lager and age, then transfer from there to a bottling bucket to be bottled. Though I have the means to keg, I do not have a kegerator yet, so I still have to bottle for the time being.

The garage is where I let my beers ferment. Now, it's been around 57-58 degrees constant, so I thought I would take advantage of this and start doing some lagers. If this isn't ideal, I have no problems staying with ales. I just hate to have to splurge on 5 gallon carboys when I have a few empty cornies laying around.

EDIT: Just to clarify, I do have a temp controlled freezer in the garage. The freezer is set at 60, but it hasn't turned on much due to the temps staying just below that. I worry about doing more ales as the days start getting colder, hence my questions.

Thanks everybody.
Pretty sure a keg for secondary is just fine, especially as many people go straight from primary to keg anyway. Just make sure to purge the oxygen.
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Old 01-03-2013, 02:50 AM   #3
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I think to technically lager you need to be able to bring it down to like 35-38 degree's for several weeks/months.

57-58 is also kind of on the high end for a lager, and not many lager yeasts are going to like it that hot, especially after they go up past 60F during fermentation.

Is there a reason you cant set your freezer to 50 atleast for the fermentation, even if you dont plan on lagering it long term?

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Old 01-03-2013, 02:58 AM   #4
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I think to technically lager you need to be able to bring it down to like 35-38 degree's for several weeks/months.

57-58 is also kind of on the high end for a lager, and not many lager yeasts are going to like it that hot, especially after they go up past 60F during fermentation.

Is there a reason you cant set your freezer to 50 atleast for the fermentation, even if you dont plan on lagering it long term?


Yeah, I can turn it down to 50. No problems there. I just have it at 60 since I'm doing ales for the time being.

My current batch is still in the freezer, so what I thought about doing was do two lagers. By the time I get ready to brew those, my last ale will be bottled. I figured maybe just do a couple of lagers at the same time, so I can step them down to temps at the same time.
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yesfan

Yeah, I can turn it down to 50. No problems there. I just have it at 60 since I'm doing ales for the time being.

My current batch is still in the freezer, so what I thought about doing was do two lagers. By the time I get ready to brew those, my last ale will be bottled. I figured maybe just do a couple of lagers at the same time, so I can step them down to temps at the same time.
Good plan.

Also, it is most certainly possible to use kegs and is common enough that my LHBS sells replacement lids fitted with airlocks
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:41 AM   #6
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Yeah, I can turn it down to 50. No problems there. I just have it at 60 since I'm doing ales for the time being.

My current batch is still in the freezer, so what I thought about doing was do two lagers. By the time I get ready to brew those, my last ale will be bottled. I figured maybe just do a couple of lagers at the same time, so I can step them down to temps at the same time.
Cold crashing your ale down to 45-50 with Lager #1 instead of doing 2 might also not be a bad idea if your looking for clarity.
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:49 AM   #7
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Our secondaries always have a lot of sediment. Getting Corney's clean is easier than carboys, but it's mighty dark inside the keg.

I have no direct experience brewing lagers, but the wizards I talk to, use terms like 28 F (below water freezing). The alcohol is an antifreeze.

The reason I have not made lager is that I ferment in my basement (65 F) and that I prefer bitter. I have been brewing twice a month for 10 years and have yet to feel deprived.

No kegerator here. I use a 20 cu ft KitchenAid free standing fridge for my Corney's. It holds three, The CO2 bottle is in the door and hoses are everywhere. Made custom (wooden) shelving for the eggs and butter as the kegs take about 60% of the space. There is a dispensing hose hanger that accommodates two such hoses. The pints and halves are kept in the vegetable crispers.

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Old 01-03-2013, 04:55 AM   #8
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Forewarning: I drank 3 "Sixth Glass" from Boulevard Brewing tonight, so if what I'm about to say is not clear, I'll tidy it up in the morning

I think the word "lager" can be confusing. Lagering as a stage, involves dropping the temp cold enough (low 30's) to have the yeast drop out and provide clarification. You can do this with an ale.

Lager yeast is a different story. Lager yeast is bottom fermenting (as opposed to top fermenting ale yeast) and ferments better at lower temps.

I think you can ferment with a lager yeast and then transfer it to a keg for the lagering phase. I would recommend that during the lagering phase that you have some way to pressurize the keg to avoid oxidation. You won't have an airlock. Chill that puppy down and you're good. My process for lagers is always primary for a couple weeks and straight to kegs. In my opinion secondaries are silly unless you have fruit or some other extenuating circumstance.

Good luck!

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Old 01-03-2013, 10:18 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone. I appreciate the advice. Now to see what to brew next.

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