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Old 09-24-2012, 02:44 PM   #1
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Default contemplating trying a lager

I have brewed quite a few batches, and have been asked to try a lager. I THINK I can get the temps where I need em so other than that is it substantially more difficult to brew than an ale?

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I started brewing 69 days ago, 35 gal so far. SWMBO hasnt complained yet! Better than the hookers, gambling, and crack I used to do, I guess.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:49 PM   #2
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Temperature control is the key. If you have that, you should be good. The other issue is lagering time. Greg Noonan, lager guru, says lager one week for every 4 degrees of original gravity.

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Old 09-24-2012, 02:59 PM   #3
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thanks

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I started brewing 69 days ago, 35 gal so far. SWMBO hasnt complained yet! Better than the hookers, gambling, and crack I used to do, I guess.
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Old 09-24-2012, 04:17 PM   #4
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Pitching rate and temp control.

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Old 09-24-2012, 07:21 PM   #5
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Is true, pitch a generous quantity of a good starter. If temperature control is otherwise an issue, I have found that the California Common yeast (California Lager) has a very forgiving temperature range tolerance, such that I can brew lager in my basement at 66F and it retains the lager characteristics.

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Old 09-25-2012, 12:58 AM   #6
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ok now what to try.. friends all drink keystone and busch light....so something very very tasteless and bland lol... Actually I wouldn't mind trying to replicate corona.. I kinda like it.

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Old 09-25-2012, 03:15 AM   #7
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Couple thoughts from someone in a similar position (though it's me asking me to try a lager).

First, although I've been doing ales, I've been working on understanding how well I can control temperatures with my makeshift fridge system. It's not as critical to hit temperatures (or so I'm told) with an ale, but I have been trying to be as precise as I can. If you haven't tried to hold your ferment to a temperature that you chose beforehand---one that's not just where it ended up---I would probably get that under control before making a beer that may be awful if you find you don't yet have a handle on your system.

Second, I think shooting for an American light lager or a Corona-style whatever-it-is would be a really tough place to start with a lager. There's so little flavor in the styles that you're going to detect any errors you make. Trying for a fuller-flavored lager at least gives you something to hide behind if you get some off flavors.

When I asked a similar question recently, Yooper recommended an Oktoberfest or a Maibock as good first lager styles.

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Old 09-25-2012, 01:46 PM   #8
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I agree with the California Common, so easy to do.

I have been using my regular refrigerator lately to do lagers. haha Yep, I just take out the middle shelf and the fermenter fits in there, I still have plenty of space for my food.

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Old 09-25-2012, 03:12 PM   #9
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I can add "why the heck try to make a beer that you can go down and buy relatively cheap?" I know there's plenty of interest out there on making "clones" but I'm more interested in creating beers that are not well represented by commercial offerings. Classic American Pilsner is an example. It is all grain and six-row barley if you can get it, with corn or rice as an adjunct, and very tasty at about 6%ABV. Beer from the days when a mug was a nickle and lunch was free.

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Old 09-25-2012, 05:01 PM   #10
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Lagers are no more difficult than an ale. They are really not that much different until pitching and fermentation. They do however require patience, a higher level of attention to detail, and a few more steps.

Don’t waste your time until you have temperature control (IMO). Temperature is important from the time you start building your starter until the time you finish lagering 2+ months from now. Having a fridge that you think you can control consistently, is no longer an option for me. Dump the $65 on a temp controller and you won’t have to guess/hope your temps are where you think they are.

Lager yeast is USUALLY slower than ale yeast so don’t freak out. Just give the yeast time, remember your training and we’ll see you on the beach. Use a big starter and give yourself more time to build the starter. Consider doing the starter at your planned fermentation temps. This includes cold pitching the starter and the beer (at those temps) instead of pitching at 70-75 and then dropping once it starts. This will help lower the chance of diacetyl buildup. Decant the starter too.

If you are looking to get a beer in the pipeline soon, don’t do a lager as they take time to finish and take up fermenter space that some folks my not have much of.

Be prepared to raise the fermentation temps when you are around 66% (others may say further along) of the way to your targeted FG to do a diacetyl rest if you are going to. I seem to always catch this to late but I also do all cold pitching so I have not had any issues with diacetyl.

Secondary is really not an option with a lager since you need to “lager” (move to secondary and drop 5 degrees a day until you hit your planned lagering temps). I HAVE lagered in the keg when I have a lot of batches going.

So if you have the temp control, your processes, down and a couple months to burn, do a lager.

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