Fast lager fermentation

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DaveSeattle

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My lagers routinely ferment out in about 5-7 days. This is true with several different yeasts. Any idea why? I do always pitch the full Mr. Malty recommended pitch rate, often from washed yeast or a big starter, which I typically crash and decant before pitching. I have temperature control and ferment at 50, with a thermowell so the controller is measuring wort temp and not air temp, and I get the temperature at least below 60 before pitching. My only guess is that the viability or density of my washed yeast is much higher than Mr. Malty estimates. But this has also happened with fresh yeast pitched from a starter.

The beer tastes fine, but I wonder if it might taste even better if it fermented a little slower. I may try a lower fermentation temperature for my next batch.

My ales also ferment fast, as quickly as 2-3 days, but that troubles me less.
 

BigFloyd

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It depends on what strain you are using, but I typically will pitch a lager at 44-45*F and set the controller at 48*F for the first 3-4 days before bumping it to 50. Even then, it can sometimes get close to finished in a week and ready for a d-rest. It may be that I, like you, make a focused effort to get a good pitch rate. I also bubble O2 if using liquid yeast.

You might want to pitch cooler and drop it a few degrees to start, but as long as you keep controlling it like you do, I wouldn't worry to much about it.
 
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DaveSeattle

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Thanks. Yeah I forgot to mention that I use an aquarium pump to aerate until the surface is foamy, and I add yeast nutrient to the starter. I'll try pitching cooler. Some of the yeasts I've used are American Lager, Bavarian, and Bohemian.
 

SpeedYellow

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Wait, why do you think that a 5-7 day fermentation is so fast that it's hurting your beer? I see no basis for that. That said, if you really want a longer fermentation, pitch a quarter of the yeastcalc / mrmalty recommended amount. Easy. Could also try fermenting in the mid-40s too. Of course, I don't recommend either course of action.
 

beerbeer95648

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Yep. That is my preferred time line for primary fermentation of a lager. I know of at least 2 major lager producers that turn around their lagers in 21 to 28 days. That starts with a 5-7 day primary.
 
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DaveSeattle

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I had read Kai's article before, and a bunch of other resources too. I always assumed that consistently fermenting out so quickly must be a sign of some kind of problem, since everyone is always talking about their lager fermentations taking multiple weeks and I couldn't find any posts like this one on HBT that were reassuring. Even though 1 week is the low end of the normal range for primary fermentation, it seemed weird to me that I hit it so consistently. I knew about the major producers turning things around quickly but they're the pros so I figured they had special tricks and equipment (e.g. Budweiser's beechwood). I guess this is my reward for good yeast management. I'll take it :). I may try dropping my fermentation temp a couple degrees to 48 to see what difference it makes in the quality. Thanks all!
 

02fx4dude

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FWIW all my lagers from the first have gone from about 1.054 to 1.018 in 5 days @ 50F. 1.018 is when I warm it for a d-rest. Didn't seem to matter how big a starter I used.
 
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