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Old 02-17-2011, 11:58 AM   #1
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Default What is actually happening to my beer while it lagers for 8 weeks?

I made a bock using Wyeast Hella-Bock yeast and I'm leaving it in my fridge near 32F for 6-8 weeks. What is happening to my beer that it has to sit for that long?


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Revvy>>You shouldn't worry about ANYTHING, you didn't hurt the yeast, they know what they need to do, they want to eat all that sugar they are swimming around in. They want to pee alcohol and fart co2, it's their nature.

Bobby_M>>I flood the keg with CO2 for one minute with the lid off, rack the beer in to the bottom gently, seal it, flood it, vent it. If there's still O2 in there after that, F it.
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:27 PM   #2
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You know how we say that "the yeast like to go back and clean up after itself?" That's exactly what is happening during the lagering phase.

Here's what palmer has to say..It's kind of over simplified, if you want more info look for stuff written by Noonan, including his book on lager brewing.

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Originally Posted by Palmer
Lager yeast produce less fruity esters than ale yeasts but can produce more sulfur compounds during primary fermentation. Many first time lager brewers are astonished by the rotten egg smell coming from their fermentors, sometimes letting it convince them that the batch is infected and causing them to dump it. Don't do it! Fortunately, these compounds continue to vent during the conditioning (lagering) phase and the chemical precursors of other odious compounds are gradually eaten up by the yeast. A previously rank smelling beer that is properly lagered will be sulfur-free and delicious at bottling time. Speaking of Time...

...Lager comes from the German word "lagern" which means to store. A lager beer is in cold storage while it ages in the conditioning phase. Temperature influences lagers in two ways. During primary fermentation, the cooler temperature (45-55 F) prevents the formation of fruity esters by the yeast. In addition to producing fewer byproducts during the primary phase, the yeast uses the long conditioning phase to finish off residual sugars and metabolize other compounds that may give rise to off-flavors and aromas.
Basically lager yeasts, even more than ales produce a lot of sulphuric and other compounds during fermentation, and then slowly during the lagering phase, clean it up.


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Old 02-17-2011, 12:31 PM   #3
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I would think the yeast wouldn't be doing anything at 34F. But hey, I'm new.
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Revvy>>You shouldn't worry about ANYTHING, you didn't hurt the yeast, they know what they need to do, they want to eat all that sugar they are swimming around in. They want to pee alcohol and fart co2, it's their nature.

Bobby_M>>I flood the keg with CO2 for one minute with the lid off, rack the beer in to the bottom gently, seal it, flood it, vent it. If there's still O2 in there after that, F it.
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetmac View Post
I would think the yeast wouldn't be doing anything at 34F. But hey, I'm new.
Ale yeast yeah...but that's one of the inherent differences between lager and ale yeast...their operating temp range. There's still a few swimming around taking out the garbage, after the party.
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
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I would think the yeast wouldn't be doing anything at 34F. But hey, I'm new.
If you look at the specification sheet of a typical lager strain, <40F is not within the temperature range of the yeast, so your comment would make sense.

However, that temp range is what the manufacturer consider ideal for primary fermentation where the yeast is working in their full mode. The lager yeast is very versatile; it ferments way beyond its given range, even at Ale temps but also at very low temps.
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Old 02-17-2011, 02:01 PM   #6
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It's all starting to make sense
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Revvy>>You shouldn't worry about ANYTHING, you didn't hurt the yeast, they know what they need to do, they want to eat all that sugar they are swimming around in. They want to pee alcohol and fart co2, it's their nature.

Bobby_M>>I flood the keg with CO2 for one minute with the lid off, rack the beer in to the bottom gently, seal it, flood it, vent it. If there's still O2 in there after that, F it.
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Old 02-17-2011, 03:15 PM   #7
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Ok.. got me thinking and wondering.. I read somewhere that your lager temp should be 10 to 15 degF below your fermentation temp. A lot of folks 'round here seem to express the idea that the closer you get to freezing without freezing the better.

I'm bringing this up because it seems that maybe the 10 to 15 deg rule is really right and maybe going close to freezing just clears things better and faster but doesn't let the yeast clean as well? I'm planning my first lager later this year (been only doing ales so far) and am still trying to decide what temps I am going to use etc.
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Old 02-17-2011, 04:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetmac View Post
I would think the yeast wouldn't be doing anything at 34F. But hey, I'm new.
In the traditional practice they do. Most of the good lager homebrewers I know let the beer fully attenuate and mature at the primary temperature or an elevated temperature. If you do that, the beer is clean going into lagering and then the lagering phase is just to remove protein-polyphenol complexes and yeast. If you did not do a decoction (which creates excess tannins) this won't take all that long.
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Old 02-17-2011, 04:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theonetrueruss View Post
Ok.. got me thinking and wondering.. I read somewhere that your lager temp should be 10 to 15 degF below your fermentation temp. A lot of folks 'round here seem to express the idea that the closer you get to freezing without freezing the better.

I'm bringing this up because it seems that maybe the 10 to 15 deg rule is really right and maybe going close to freezing just clears things better and faster but doesn't let the yeast clean as well? I'm planning my first lager later this year (been only doing ales so far) and am still trying to decide what temps I am going to use etc.
Not sure where you read that but German lager breweries lager at -1 to -2 Celcius, so they aren't following that rule.
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Old 02-17-2011, 04:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by remilard View Post
In the traditional practice they do. Most of the good lager homebrewers I know let the beer fully attenuate and mature at the primary temperature or an elevated temperature. If you do that, the beer is clean going into lagering and then the lagering phase is just to remove protein-polyphenol complexes and yeast. If you did not do a decoction (which creates excess tannins) this won't take all that long.
I've asked this question point blank before since reading Chris White's book where he says the yeast just aren't going to do much/anything below 40F. Why chill the yeast and make them work slower? Never made a lot of sense to me. I've read that the colder the better in precipitating out the protien-polyphenol complexes you mention.


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