How long should I lager?

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Reddog68

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Hi Yall
I brewed my first lager a few weeks ago, and I am wondering if any of you could give me an idea of how long i need to lager. The kegerator is empty, and i am growing thirsty! Here is some info.
10 gal, 5 gal got saflager s23, and the other 5 got 34/70.
OG- 1.050, fermented 12 days at 53 degrees.
Put into fridge with gravity of 1.012 on November 22.
Is it ready to drink yet???
 

Yooper

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Hi Yall
I brewed my first lager a few weeks ago, and I am wondering if any of you could give me an idea of how long i need to lager. The kegerator is empty, and i am growing thirsty! Here is some info.
10 gal, 5 gal got saflager s23, and the other 5 got 34/70.
OG- 1.050, fermented 12 days at 53 degrees.
Put into fridge with gravity of 1.012 on November 22.
Is it ready to drink yet???
I think it was George Fix who recommended 1 week per each 8-10 points of OG, at a low temperature. I like to lager at 34 degrees, and so for a 1.050 beer I'd lager 5-8 weeks.
 

Malticulous

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I might be good by Christmas. I lager until it's gone, but like to hold off drinking it until it pours clear at 33F.
 
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Reddog68

Reddog68

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You guys (and gals) are killin' me! February? Christmas sounds better to me.
Thanks for help everyone, I will wait as long as i can!

thanks!
 

mlyday

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Lagers really need about 6-8 weeks. I say tap one of them at christmas and hold the other the full time. Maybe tap it for the superbowl.
 

Exbeerienced

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The notion that lagers are horrendous until properly aged, I found to be one of the biggest brewing myths out there, strictly in my personal opinion. There may be some yeasts that put off a nasty smell initially, but I haven't used enough different varieties to run into one of them. Lagers typically aren't vile concoctions after primary!

By all means, you should at least try your beer young, at least if it's clear. Keg it up. It will age while carbonated. Judge for yourself. To deny yourself that opportunity (and gained experience) is crazy. Enjoy!

What you will hear is that lagers improve with age. My experience tells me the more pronounced flavors may settle out somewhat, allowing subtler flavors to come through, but this is a very slight swing in flavors and aroma. Nothing terribly dramatic.
 

mlyday

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They do get better when they are aged longer. Some of them have a sulphury smell when fermenting, and that can hang around for a while, time usually gets rid of it. Like I said before drink one a save one.
 

Aschecte

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Lager temp plays a role in the amount of time needed in lagering. A rule of thumb is colder=longer warmer=shorter and the longer you lager the cleaner the final product. as for time figure for about a 40 degree lager temp is 1 day per point if original gravity. A 1.050 OG then would be lagered about 50 days.

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osagedr

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Lager temp plays a role in the amount of time needed in lagering. A rule of thumb is colder=longer warmer=shorter and the longer you lager the cleaner the final product.
So...you are saying if you lager warmer, you can lager shorter? I've never heard that rule of thumb before.
 

samc

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The best pint is almost always the last one.
Drink the last one first ! :ban:

Not a big fan of most Lagers, but nothing worse than rushing one and tasting defects that will clean up over time. With Ales you can often rush them a bit and the "flavors" get in the way of the minor defects. ;)
 

mlyday

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This is from "How to Brew":

The lagering temperature and duration are affected by both the primary fermentation temperature and the yeast strain. These are the four primary factors that determine the final character of the beer. Some general guidelines for fermentation times and temperatures are listed below:


1. Check the yeast package information for recommended fermentation temperature(s).
2. The temperature difference between the primary phase and the lager phase should be roughly 10°F.
3. Nominal lagering times are 3 - 4 weeks at 45°F, 5 - 6 weeks at 40°F, or 7 - 8 weeks at 35°F.
4. Stronger beers need to be lagered longer.
5. Nothing is absolute. Brewing is both a science and an art.
 

Aschecte

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osagedr said:
So...you are saying if you lager warmer, you can lager shorter? I've never heard that rule of thumb before.
Yup the longer lagering times are directly influenced by lower temps. Mlyday has the best response above to support this.

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pjj2ba

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There are two things accomplished by lagering. One is removal of diacetyl. This will occur faster at warmer temperatures. The second is clearing the beer. This occurs faster at colder temperatures. So a compromise must be struck. This is why many commercial outfits will slowly cool down over several days to the coldest point of their lagering, it gives some extra warmer time to remove diacetyl, before the clearing portion begins.

I usually keg up my lagers and then let them sit for a week at ~50 and then move them to my lagering chamber. However this often has more to do with pipeline management and no room in the chamber rather than a specific reason.

I find 1 month of cold lagering is plenty. I'll go longer for a bigger beer though.
 

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The notion that lagers are horrendous until properly aged, I found to be one of the biggest brewing myths out there, strictly in my personal opinion.
Oh, lagers are usually drinkable long before "finished" lagering! I didn't say they were not, but they are usually better (crisper, clearer, etc) after lagering.


So...you are saying if you lager warmer, you can lager shorter? I've never heard that rule of thumb before.
Yes, that is true as beer ages faster at a higher temperature. However, some things happen at a colder temperature that I like. A colder, longer lagering period tends to end up with a crisper, "cleaner", result. I lager at 34 degrees for 1 week for every 8 points of OG as a rule. I like the results.
 

soupfist

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My experience with lagers thus far leads me to believe if it's clear & tastes good and you don't have any upcoming brewing contests, you're ready to roll. That being said I've never needed more than about 4 weeks.

One caveat; I'm not an AG brewer and I suspect the finished product of a mostly-extract recipe has a lot less nastiness that requires settling out. Don't know if that's true or not, but the worst thing I can say about what I've tasted out of a primary in a lager fermentation is a slight taste of sulfur that actually wouldn't be all that unpleasant in the beer...
 

BenS

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The notion that lagers are horrendous until properly aged, I found to be one of the biggest brewing myths out there, strictly in my personal opinion. There may be some yeasts that put off a nasty smell initially, but I haven't used enough different varieties to run into one of them. Lagers typically aren't vile concoctions after primary!

By all means, you should at least try your beer young, at least if it's clear. Keg it up. It will age while carbonated. Judge for yourself. To deny yourself that opportunity (and gained experience) is crazy. Enjoy!

What you will hear is that lagers improve with age. My experience tells me the more pronounced flavors may settle out somewhat, allowing subtler flavors to come through, but this is a very slight swing in flavors and aroma. Nothing terribly dramatic.
I agree with this. I have been primarily brewing lagers for the last 8 months and have found that a mid gravity lager will be very good to drink after a month or so. I mean, I've even started clarifying my lagers with gelatin so I can serve them after being on tap a week. I also agree that they will get better the longer you let them lager.

I think the longer you let them lager, the less they will improve with each passing day, week, etc. That's not to say they won't get better, they will, it's just that the lagering process will 'slow down' the longer you go. If this doesn't make sense to the OP, I apologize. I feel like I'm swimming through mud trying to explain this.
 

BenS

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Oh, lagers are usually drinkable long before "finished" lagering! I didn't say they were not, but they are usually better (crisper, clearer, etc) after lagering.




Yes, that is true as beer ages faster at a higher temperature. However, some things happen at a colder temperature that I like. A colder, longer lagering period tends to end up with a crisper, "cleaner", result. I lager at 34 degrees for 1 week for every 8 points of OG as a rule. I like the results.
As usual, Yooper has done an excellent job of summing things up. You don't have to lager at the temp and for the amount of time that Yooper does, but if you have the patience of a hybernating bear, go for it.

I have started brewing double batches of lager just for this reason. They last longer.
 

osagedr

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I'll start lagering at 80 degrees for three days. Should be equivalent to 10 weeks at 30 degrees, right?

I would buy that diacetyl would go away faster if you are "lagering" at essentially fermentation temperatures (45 degrees). But it's silly to suggest that lagering warmer for shorter periods yields the same beer as lagering very cold for longer periods. For example, I just finished freeze distilling my doppelbock to yield an eisbock. Would any serious lager brewer really argue that beer would be the same after three weeks of warm "lagering" as it will be after 10 weeks of cold lagering? I guess it might be worth doing a tasting experiment to find out.

Like Yooper, I notice a crisper, cleaner beer after longer lagering periods. But it can be difficult to have the patience necessary for that. Frankly if I want light coloured beer fast I can just make APAs or bitters.
 

Aschecte

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Ok I'll spell it out in an example. Lets say you brew a 1.050 beer at 50 degrees you would then lager at 40 degrees for appx 50 days or 1 day per point. The same example of a 1.050 beer but now its fermented at 45 degrees you would then lager at 35 degrees but because of the colder temps and therfore longer SLOWER conditioning time you may lager for 60 days on that same beer. you want a 10 degree diff between fermentation and lagering temps . These are all rules of thumb and the "art' of brewing can and does sometimes contridict the science of brewing. No one is suggesting to lager at 80 degrees... simply that's not lagering. I'm not trying to sound like an A**hole but you asked "us" how long should you lager for and we have given you legitimate answers. If for some reason you don't agree then do some trials and let us know what you find.
 

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Is it not true that you can lager an ale to similar effect? That is, will an ale also lose some of its stronger flavors, allowing the more subtle ones to come through, just like typical lagering does? I ask this because I never brew ales, and am wondering if aging works with any beer.
 

Aschecte

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Ok I'll spell it out in an example. Lets say you brew a 1.050 beer at 50 degrees you would then lager at 40 degrees for appx 50 days or 1 day per point. The same example of a 1.050 beer but now its fermented at 45 degrees you would then lager at 35 degrees but because of the colder temps and therfore longer SLOWER conditioning time you may lager for 60 days on that same beer. you want a 10 degree diff between fermentation and lagering temps . These are all rules of thumb and the "art' of brewing can and does sometimes contridict the science of brewing. No one is suggesting to lager at 80 degrees... simply that's not lagering. I'm not trying to sound like an A**hole but you asked "us" how long should you lager for and we have given you legitimate answers. If for some reason you don't agree then do some trials and let us know what you find.
I stand corrected osagedr you were not the op and you did not directly ask the question.
 

osagedr

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I stand corrected osagedr you were not the op and you did not directly ask the question.
No worries. It would be great of shorter lagering periods at warmer temperatures yielded the same beer. I'm trying to convince myself it could be true. I visited Weihenstephan (oldest brewery in the world) in Sept 2010 and they only lager for 3-4 weeks. Some people think their lagers are okay ;)

As an aside some of their ales are fermented out within three days then stored cold for 5-6 days before bottling.
 

Yooper

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No worries. It would be great of shorter lagering periods at warmer temperatures yielded the same beer. I'm trying to convince myself it could be true. I visited Weihenstephan (oldest brewery in the world) in Sept 2010 and they only lager for 3-4 weeks. Some people think their lagers are okay ;)

As an aside some of their ales are fermented out within three days then stored cold for 5-6 days before bottling.
No, it's not the same beer. But the differences are small, really.

I still aver that a longer, colder lagering period gives a "crisper" finish with a cleaner taste. But it's not like the beer lagered at 40 degrees will be loaded with polyphenols or be cloudy. It just may not be a "crisp" as the beer longer longer at near freezing. The colloidal stabilization will occur at 40 degrees, just as at 34 degrees.

For more scientific info on WHY this is, and how, I'd suggest delving into Kai Troester's excellent information: Fermenting Lagers - German brewing and more about 1/2 way down the page under "maturation". He's two million times smarter than I could ever hope to be, and has done many scientific papers and research on German techniques including lagering.
 
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