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Old 06-15-2010, 10:26 PM   #1
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Default Why are my lagers so sweet?

First off, long time reader, first time poster. Thank you all for the wisdom you've provided over the years.

Now, the issue: I've only done three lagers, and they were all a bit on the sweet side.
The first, a red, was still quite drinkable, as the malts were clean and crisp.
The second, a pilsener, was almost cider-sweet when I racked to secondary, so I boiled 2 oz of hops for an hour to cover it up, and it is now an uber-hoppy pilsener-wannabe.
Last night, when racking my doppelbock to secondary, I noticed that it was somewhere between a sweet stout and a honeyweiss on a sweetness scale.

All three hit the projected OG/FG +/- 0.005, and I used very basic recipes (which I can post when I get home if need be). They all lagered for 4-6 months prior to kegging. Is there any guidance about this phenomenon? I've never had this problem with ales, or even ciders.

Thank you for the continued shared wisdom, and cheers!


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Old 06-15-2010, 10:46 PM   #2
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Damn, you lagered for 6 months? I've prayed for deliverance from temptation, but I can't wait more than 4 weeks.

Anyhoo, since you say your FG is where it should be, the problem must be your hops. If you believe your are getting full utilization out of them, maybe they are not what you think they are (they all sorta look the same, heh?). Buy some new stuff for your next brew. Posting the recipes might be a good idea, but I would guess you know what you are doing (despite your single post to this forum).

Because lager yeasts are very good attenuators, your beers should be anything but sweet.


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Old 06-15-2010, 11:13 PM   #3
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Pilsner malt has a sweet, bready flavour that is characteristic of the malt. That may be what you are tasting.

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Old 06-16-2010, 12:05 AM   #4
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Impossible to trouble shoot without the recipe(s) with mash temps, etc.
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:20 AM   #5
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What COLObrewer said. There is no way to give an informed answer without knowing more specifics about your recipe, mash schedule, yeast pitching etc. As a guess only, the beers sound like they are not well attenuated which is likely due to too high a mash temp and perhaps exacerbated by underpitching yeast resulting in a sluggish fermentation. Trying to cover it up with more hops is not the answer.
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigEd View Post
What COLObrewer said. There is no way to give an informed answer without knowing more specifics about your recipe, mash schedule, yeast pitching etc. As a guess only, the beers sound like they are not well attenuated which is likely due to too high a mash temp and perhaps exacerbated by underpitching yeast resulting in a sluggish fermentation. Trying to cover it up with more hops is not the answer.
1.005 is not well attenuated? How you came up with any of this post is beyond me.
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:52 AM   #7
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Where did he say it got down to 1.005? He said +- .005 of his projected FG
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:57 AM   #8
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Lets see the recipes. That will enable us to troubleshoot....

Did you write them, or did you get them from a trusted source? Did you use lots of crystal malts (..........probably would leave those out of the lagers next time...) or roasted malts?
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:37 AM   #9
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Mash temps... didn't even think of that, but I guarantee that's a contributing factor. I recently replaced my thermometer (old one sucked), and it's entirely possible that I was steeping about 20 degrees too hot. My ales tend to be a bit hoppier, which would explain why I never noticed this problem with them.
It seems I misplaced my recipe book (all came from my LHBS), so I'm sorry that I can't share my secret family recipes with everyone.

BigEd: I'm in SoCal, where more hops is ALWAYS the answer. I've seen it save failing marriages.

Thank you all for the quick and intelligent responses. I'll resurrect this thread in 6 months with my next lager.
Lesson learned: don't ever post without the recipe handy.
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Old 06-16-2010, 11:40 AM   #10
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My 2 cents: Mashing higher gets you more dextrins/unfermentable sugars and will result in a higher FG and more body...but not much more sweetness.

However, if the yeast don't quite attenuate all the way THEN you have residual fermentable sugars and those are sweet. Of course, then your FG would be high but you could always mash at a lower temp to get your FG down...however that doesn't address the 'problem' (i.e. underattenuation). You'd just have less body but still the sweetness.

If you do Fast Ferment Tests it's much easier to see exactly what's going on. I do them as a matter of course. What I've found is that lagers are more finicky when it comes to getting those last few points of attenuation. You need a LOT of healthy yeast and the wort needs to be very well aerated (when cool) for the lager yeast to not peter out at the very end.

Kaiser's Understanding Attenuation article explains this better than I can (and it has a link for the Fast Ferment Test article).


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