How long should a lager...

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TrustyOlJohnson

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Lager??

I've posted this question inside another thread of mine, 2014: A year of German Beers, but I wanted to get it out to a larger group.

What determines the length? A Kolsch and an Alt lager for a month, bocks are recommended 2 months or up to 6 months for bigger specialty ones like Eisbocks.

Is there some calculation based on abv or sg?
 

BigFloyd

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One week per 10 points of original gravity is a common guideline. Probably a conservative one.
+1.

My German ancestors were smart. That extra time spent in the cold is brewing magic.
 

Jayhem

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4-6 weeks is about right for most Lagers. Lagering is a good reason to buy a second chest freezer!
 

progmac

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from the traditional school, i see one week for either 1 degree plato or 2 degrees plato (depending on source). from the newer school, i am seeing as little as 1 week for 4 degrees plato (using the accelerated maturation method)
 

Yooper

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I think Fix's "rule" was 1 week for every 8-10 points of OG. So for a 1.040 lager, 4-5 weeks would be great while for a 1.085 OG lager, 9-12 weeks or so would be a good rule of thumb.

One of the things to keep in mind is temperature. "Colder, longer" will give different results that "warmer, shorter". What I mean is this- lagering at 34 degrees will take a bit longer than lagering at 40 degrees, as the colder temperature slows down aging a bit. However, there are advantages to the colder temperature like more dropping of polyphenols, so that may be a trade-off time-wise.
 
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TrustyOlJohnson

TrustyOlJohnson

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All good info! Ty very much! Now, a further question:

An Eisbock is simply a high ABV dopplebock with slight modifications to the grain bill that is freeze concentrated. After terminal gravity is reached and its racked to secondary, it is recommended to lager for 4 weeks. Seems to me longer wud be better. Mine started at 1.105. So Im considering about 12 weeks lagering, then freeze concentrate and bottle. Thoughts??
 

BigFloyd

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3-4 months for something as high grav as the Eisbock.
 

mjohnson

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Until it tastes good. It usually ends up being perfect when I pull the last pint.
 

ledbed6b

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I think Fix's "rule" was 1 week for every 8-10 points of OG. So for a 1.040 lager, 4-5 weeks would be great while for a 1.085 OG lager, 9-12 weeks or so would be a good rule of thumb.

One of the things to keep in mind is temperature. "Colder, longer" will give different results that "warmer, shorter". What I mean is this- lagering at 34 degrees will take a bit longer than lagering at 40 degrees, as the colder temperature slows down aging a bit. However, there are advantages to the colder temperature like more dropping of polyphenols, so that may be a trade-off time-wise.
The head brewer at chukanut brewery, which is a very well regarded and in my opinion amazing lager brewer, presented at the NHC that the colder the lager temp the shorter the lager time required. I'm personally experimenting with this right now with a beer storing at 37 degrees and one at 29 degrees.
 
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TrustyOlJohnson

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Ive heard colder = quicker yes, given that a purpose of lagering is to cause any precipitate to fall and then clarify the beer, but....

Another purpose of lagering is to allow the yeasties to slowly eat away and coplete their different jobs, which improves flavor, and they do that better at temps closer to ferm temps. My goal has been to lager at 38, a happy medium. I hope. Im interested in how your experiment is gonna come out.
 

TAK

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Ive heard colder = quicker yes, given that a purpose of lagering is to cause any precipitate to fall and then clarify the beer, but....

Another purpose of lagering is to allow the yeasties to slowly eat away and coplete their different jobs, which improves flavor, and they do that better at temps closer to ferm temps. My goal has been to lager at 38, a happy medium. I hope. Im interested in how your experiment is gonna come out.
I'm just lagering my first now, I always assumed colder is better, but this is an interesting insight. I opted to take the time to slowly cool into lager temps to avoid shocking the yeast. It seems to make sense that the upper end of lager temps would promote the evolution if flavor during aging.

An added benefit is that I am lagering in my kegorator, and lager temps are a bit cold for my ideal serving temp (for other beers in the same fridge). Would low 40's be too high for lagering? Would they be acceptable but require a bit longer?
 

ledbed6b

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Ive heard colder = quicker yes, given that a purpose of lagering is to cause any precipitate to fall and then clarify the beer, but....

Another purpose of lagering is to allow the yeasties to slowly eat away and coplete their different jobs, which improves flavor, and they do that better at temps closer to ferm temps. My goal has been to lager at 38, a happy medium. I hope. Im interested in how your experiment is gonna come out.
I think it depends a lot on your primary fermentation profile. The braukaiser site has a lot of plots on fermentation profiles. If you ferment and hold a constant cooler temp around 50deg then yes as you cool the yeast is still working, however if you do a 4 day rest at 65 or so I think the yeast has done all that it is going to do for the beer. Of course I will have the results in a few weeks. I will say that so far I have noticed a quicker "mellowing" of the beer that has been sitting at very cold temps. I have 2 kegs each of an amber, an oatmeal stout and a pale ale. One is at mid ~37 and one at ~30. So far it seems that the colder beers become "cleaner" faster but the warmers ones are not much different. By far the greatest effect come from the temperature you drink it at.

Fun stuff
 

bajaedition

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I like the 10 to a month formula for most of my lagers

my Oktoberfest goes 5 months and it is amazing when it is tapped
smooth, malty, balanced.
You actually want to have one with a danish for breakfast, and then with some veal for lunch

My American lights go 3 weeks

most my German clones go 4 to 6 weeks

I drop about 5 degrees below the ferm temp the first week and another 5 the second
the Oktoberfest goes at 38 degrees
 
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