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Old 11-01-2012, 12:15 PM   #1
Ust311
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Sep 2012
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I'm going to brew the Czech Pilsner Extract Kit w/ Specialty Grains from NB today and its my first lager. Any tips out there or best practices for lagering? I just purchased the thermostat control for a fridge I have so I can lager it in there.



 
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Old 11-01-2012, 05:21 PM   #2
Pie_Man
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Cool, good luck on your first lager.

A few suggestions:

1. Make sure the temperature controller you are using is accurate. The one I have, if I set the dial to 60, the ambient temperature in my fridge is about 64-65, and the fermenting beer is several degrees higher. I use a battery powered thermometer with a high-low temperature reading to track the temperature.
2. If lagering for extended periods, pick a secondary vessel that minimizes the head space.
3. Not related to the lagering process, but with a lighter extract beer, like a pilsner, I would probably add about 2/3 of your extract in the last 10-15 minutes of the boil to avoid darkening your wort.



 
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Old 11-01-2012, 06:40 PM   #3
yusupov
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I have only brewed 2 lagers (both AG), one problem I had was that fermentation didn't start at the lower-than-ale temp I wanted to use. So I had to increase the temp and shake it up to get it going, before dropping the temp again. I still don't know why it didn't start up like it should've???

 
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Old 11-01-2012, 06:47 PM   #4
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Make sure you have enough yeast. You either need to make a HUGE starter (HUGE!) or buy more packages of yeast. Four or five packages of yeast would be about right, if using liquid yeast. Othersize, a 1.5 gallon starter would be probably be about right. Consult mrmalty.com for the exact amount in the 'yeast pitching calculator'.

I think that's the biggest error with lagers. People pitch too warm (45 degrees is great, and then let it warm up to 50 degrees) and don't pitch enough yeast. IF you do pitch at 45 degrees and pitch enough yeast, you'll be all set.
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:41 PM   #5
yusupov
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Really? A starter that big is a significant proportion of the total batch!

So are you saying that you can't go by what it says on the liquid yeast package, I. E . "Use entire contents to ferment a 5 gallon batch"?

 
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:50 PM   #6
DrinkNoH2O
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yusupov View Post
Really? A starter that big is a significant proportion of the total batch!

So are you saying that you can't go by what it says on the liquid yeast package, I. E . "Use entire contents to ferment a 5 gallon batch"?
You need a ton more yeast for a lager than an ale. My advice to a new lager brewer would be to use dry yeast and not mess with liquid/starter.

For most lagers of average gravity, pitching two properly rehydrated packs of Saflager W-34/70 at about 45*
(then ramping naturally to 50*) will make an awesome beer.

 
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:53 PM   #7
Pie_Man
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yusupov View Post
Really? A starter that big is a significant proportion of the total batch!

So are you saying that you can't go by what it says on the liquid yeast package, I. E . "Use entire contents to ferment a 5 gallon batch"?
I would follow the guidelines on mrmalty.com, or yeastcalc.com. Healthy yeast, at the correct amount, are vital to making great beer. Even whitelabs admits that a single vial may not be enough, http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/homebrew_information.html.

Also, a 1 gallon+ starter doesn't mean you actually need to pitch that much extra liquid into the wort. The starter can be left alone to allow the yeast to settle and then the majority of the liquid can be decanted. I leave enough liquid to swirl, bring all the yeast into suspension about off the bottom of my flask, and then pitch. I hope this helps. I know I was a little over whelmed with the amount of yeast these online calculators recommended at first.

 
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pie_Man View Post

Also, a 1 gallon+ starter doesn't mean you actually need to pitch that much extra liquid into the wort. The starter can be left alone to allow the yeast to settle and then the majority of the liquid can be decanted.
Right! You make the starter, let it ferment out, and stick it in the fridge for 3 days or so. Pour off the spent wort, and then just use the yeast.

Lagers really require more yeast than ales, but even one vial (or smack pack) of yeast is almost always underpitching even with ales.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:19 PM   #9
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Be very careful and precise about what you do. Brew by the numbers exactly and you will be much more likely to be happy with the results.

Pilsners in particular, have only a few basic ingredients which are light in color and mild in flavor profile. So, this actually makes them more of a challenge than some more robust beers to brew in a homebrew environment. For example, if you are brewing a Porter then the robust taste is more likely to mask small flaws -- with a Pilsner there is nothing for the flaws to hide behind.

The first Pilsner I ever brewed was, and still is, one of the best beers I've ever made. Because, it was my first one and I was very careful. I've brewed a couple of good, but not great, Pilsners after that because I was less careful.

 
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Old 11-02-2012, 02:52 AM   #10
yusupov
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Good info all, thanks!



 
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