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Any way around tying up fermenter while lagering

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JONNYROTTEN

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I want to start lagering but tying up my chest freezer for a month kinda sucks. Even the fast lager method looks like at least 3 weeks of temp control. Before buying a separate chest freezer is there any way around it...I'm thinking not but people around here seem to figure out a way around everything so I thought I'd ask.
 

Wagon_6

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What will you need the chest freezer for, brewing another batch after the lager? You could follow the fast lager method and then take the lager out of the freezer to raise the temp to 65ish for the d-rest (if you have a basement). You're safe to leave it there for a couple more weeks before cold crashing it down and packaging it. That'll free up the freezer for 2 weeks.
 
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JONNYROTTEN

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What will you need the chest freezer for, brewing another batch after the lager? You could follow the fast lager method and then take the lager out of the freezer to raise the temp to 65ish for the d-rest (if you have a basement). You're safe to leave it there for a couple more weeks before cold crashing it down and packaging it. That'll free up the freezer for 2 weeks.
I brew around every 2 weeks. So its take the beer out put the beer in for the most part. If I leave a single batch in the fermenter for a month its throws a wrench in the system. It looks like there's step ups and step downs with the temp with lagering which would take the fermenter to regulate?
 

stella_tigre

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I brew around every 2 weeks. So its take the beer out put the beer in for the most part. If I leave a single batch in the fermenter for a month its throws a wrench in the system. It looks like there's step ups and step downs with the temp with lagering which would take the fermenter to regulate?
Do you have a garage that does not freeze?
 

Murphys_Law

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I brew around every 2 weeks. So its take the beer out put the beer in for the most part. If I leave a single batch in the fermenter for a month its throws a wrench in the system. It looks like there's step ups and step downs with the temp with lagering which would take the fermenter to regulate?

I've done it both with and without the steps in temp and honestly couldn't tell one from the other. Just something to think about as a way to shave a few days.
 

BigMack

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I use coolbrew bags to control fermentation temps. Its really easy to keep the fermentation temp at 58, and using 34/70 that's perfect. I've made about 5 lagers that way keeping them at 58 for a week to ten days before letting them free rise to ambient temps for another week. Then they get cold crashed and kegged to lager in my keezer until they're ready to serve.
 

Cascadesrunner

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Is it a space issue in the fermentation chamber? You would have to jog between lager and ale, but it is doable. If you executed the fast ferment method on the lager, you could then raise the temp for the D-rest and that would put it the temp up in the ale range. You could then crash and package both.
 
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JONNYROTTEN

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Do you have a garage that does not freeze?
No but my basement is in the 50's depending on how cold it gets. It looks like lagering has pretty precise temp requirements. I'm thinking I should just bite the bullet and get a second chest freezer. I'm going to need it in the summer when I really want a lager I would think? If I'm going to need it eventually I don't have much problems getting one unless theres a way around it?
 

Sadu

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There's a few ways to approach this - had similar issues myself but had good success with a combination of these. Eventually my fridge broke, I got a new one, then fixed the old one :D

1. If it's wintertime you can get away with putting the fermentor into a tub of water and swapping ice packs daily. It won't get anywhere near 32f but under 50f should be doable, and that makes a pretty good lager. Use the freezer for the new batch.

2. If your fermentation freezer is big enough you put both the fermentors in there and set the freezer to lagering temps (say 40c). Then add a heat pad/belt on it's own temp controller + blankets onto the new batch so it warms up to fermenting temps. Haven't tried this myself but you would be good to go with 2 lagers, not sure about warming one up to ale temps inside the cold freezer.

3. Ferment the new ale batch in a swamp cooler outside of the fridge. Nothing wrong with swamp coolers, other than the time requirement to change bottles.

4. Give your lager 3 days diacetyl rest outside the freezer, and while that happens put your new batch into the freezer so it has stable temps for the first 3 or so days of fermentation when that is most important. Then swap them around to lager the first batch and let the new batch finish at room temperature (with swamp cooler if necessary).

5. Bottle your lager and lager in batches however you can after it's carbonated. Sometimes it's easier to work with smaller bottles vs a full fermentor, gives you more options. Thing to watch when shuffling bottles around with this method is tracking which bottles have had lagering time and which haven't.

Also, I started with 1-3 gallon lager batches. These are good because less liquid volume makes the swamp cooler a lot more effective and you have less bottles that need a fridge at any given point. 1 gallon = 7-8 pint bottles which you can stick in the food fridge if you have to. I just found the small batch lagers more convenient and treated them as special-occasion type beers given the amount of time/work involved.
 

TheMadKing

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You only need about 4-5 days of cool fermentation for a lager then you can warm it to room temp to finish attenuating. + 1 week for the yeast to clean up.

Once it's done fermenting, keg it and lager it in the keg right along with the beers you're serving.
 

madscientist451

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If your basement is in the 50's, you can easily get 10 degrees below ambient with an insulated box and frozen 2 liter bottles of water.
Just get a 24 x 24" cardboard box, line it with 1" insulation board and seal the inside seams with gorilla glue duct tape. Put your carboy or keg in there and it will stay nice and cold, add a cheap thermometer and change out the ice as needed. No its not a precise temperature, but its cold, steady and will work fine. I used this setup for several years before getting a chest freezer and still use it sometimes in the winter for lagers.
 

RM-MN

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No but my basement is in the 50's depending on how cold it gets. It looks like lagering has pretty precise temp requirements. I'm thinking I should just bite the bullet and get a second chest freezer. I'm going to need it in the summer when I really want a lager I would think? If I'm going to need it eventually I don't have much problems getting one unless theres a way around it?
I think this is a load of bull made up in the last few years. Lagering is just an extended cold crash to settle out more of the suspended yeast to get that clean lager flavor. Refrigeration wasn't available very many years ago and controllers are a very recent invention. Try a batch where you lager it for a few month in that basement which is in the 50's. That will more closely approximate the storage in caves that was done in the old country.
 
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JONNYROTTEN

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This is all good news.
Also it looks like you raise the temp 1/2 way through the fermentation?
Is this checked with multiple readings? Say I do a 1.050 beer, do I begin the free rise at around 1.025, leave it at room temp till I hit terminal gravity and begin the crash?
It sort of goes against the Ale method of "don't open primary" while fermenting.
I'm a Noob all over again :p
 
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JONNYROTTEN

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If I raise the temp for a fast fermet does that only apply to 34/70 that's rated up to 70 deg or can I do it with any lager yeast, say wlp840 that's only rated for 50-55 deg.
 

jmitchell3

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i think this is a load of bull made up in the last few years. Lagering is just an extended cold crash to settle out more of the suspended yeast to get that clean lager flavor. Refrigeration wasn't available very many years ago and controllers are a very recent invention. Try a batch where you lager it for a few month in that basement which is in the 50's. That will more closely approximate the storage in caves that was done in the old country.

+1
 

RM-MN

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This is all good news.
Also it looks like you raise the temp 1/2 way through the fermentation?
Is this checked with multiple readings? Say I do a 1.050 beer, do I begin the free rise at around 1.025, leave it at room temp till I hit terminal gravity and begin the crash?
It sort of goes against the Ale method of "don't open primary" while fermenting.
I'm a Noob all over again :p
From what I have read you want to do a diacetyl rest at about 75% of the expected attenuation as you want the yeast to be done with the early part of the ferment so you don't create unwanted esters but while the yeast are still active enough to clean up any diacetyl. Hitting that exact time is difficult unless you take multiple hydrometer readings. I'd probably watch for activity to have slowed and then do the diacetyl rest. A diacetyl rest isn't need if you don't have diacetyl but it also won't hurt as the warmer temperature will make sure you get complete fermentation and thus the lowest FG possible.
 

TheMadKing

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From what I have read you want to do a diacetyl rest at about 75% of the expected attenuation as you want the yeast to be done with the early part of the ferment so you don't create unwanted esters but while the yeast are still active enough to clean up any diacetyl. Hitting that exact time is difficult unless you take multiple hydrometer readings. I'd probably watch for activity to have slowed and then do the diacetyl rest. A diacetyl rest isn't need if you don't have diacetyl but it also won't hurt as the warmer temperature will make sure you get complete fermentation and thus the lowest FG possible.
In the past 6 months I have made 4 lagers, all of them using the "Quick lager method" with time estimations instead of specific gravity checks. 3 of them were ~1.050 gravity beers and I turned off my temp controller let them warm to room temp after about 4 days at 50F. I then let them sit at room temp for an additional 10 days or so.

1 of them was a doppelbock with an OG of 1.088 and I let it sit at 50F for 7 days before ramping and following the same procedure.

None of them had detectable esters, and I've actually entered 1 of them in the Georgia Peach State Brew off, so I can give you some actual tasting notes when I get that back from them. The doppelbock has been in the keg for 3 days and it's already one of the best beers I've ever made.

I think the real key, as has been speculated by Marshall Schott and Jamil is that the lager yeast simply need to consume all of the available oxygen at low temperatures, since that is the stage in their lifecycle where most esters are produced. That occurs usually within the first 24 hours, so multiple days is really just adding safety. Once the dissolved oxygen is consumed, the temperature is less important. Again, this is speculation and has not been confirmed by research, but my anecdotal experience shows that I can make beers with esters below my taste threshold using an accelerated temperature schedule.
 

Sadu

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I took gravity readings early on to decide when to ramp up. Now I just pay attention to the fermentation. At the point where the airlock noticeably slows and the krauesen starts to fall, start ramping up the temperature.
 
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