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Lager Fermentation

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gresc

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Hi, this is my first lager and I've read a bit about it on the forums and I realize that my temp is probably on the cold side (43f) but it's fermenting and that's good. I can move it so that the temp is 54f. It's either 54 or 43f, nothing in between. My gut says to keep it at the lower temp and be patient.

Anyway, what affect will this have on the beer (if any)?
Also, bubling around once every six seconds (48 hrs into the primary); I'm used to ales blowing my carboy lid off. Is this normal for lagers ?
 

Judd

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Lagers are always slow to start, and take much longer. Lager yeast is still just yeast, and ferments faster at a higher temperature, just as with ale or wine yeast. Don't worry if it seems too slow, as long as you're bubbling you're probably fine. As for the effect a slightly lower temperature will have on the beer, it may be none. It means you might was to do a diacetyl rest before going into secondary, but it should taste the same, or even cleaner. Just look out for stuck fermentations, if it gets too cold in there or the temp drops suddenly.
 

menschmaschine

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Most lager yeasts, under normal conditions, aren't as vigorous as ale yeasts. So, no blow-off is pretty normal. As long as it gets a decent krausen, you're OK. 43 is a bit low, but if it's working, I'd go for it. As Judd said, do a diacetyl rest at the end, if for no other reason than to ensure fermentation is complete since it was done at such a cold temperature.
 
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gresc

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I'll give that a shot but does anyone know if it's better to lager at a lower temp v. higher. In this case, I can go to about 54f but I really can't regulate it. 54 or 43 f that's it :(
 

Yooper

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Well, we're switching some terms around here. Lager means "to store", so lagering is when the beer is 100% done, and then you lower the temp until you're at 34 degrees for about 4-6 weeks or so.

Fermentation temperature should be decided by which yeast strain you're using- usually 50 is perfect for primary fermentation for most lager yeasts. After the primary period is about 75% done, then you do the diacetyl rest. That's done at around 65 degrees for 48 hours. I often skip the d-rest, if I pitch the yeast cold into cold wort and some yeast don't produce much diacetyl. So I taste it, and if there is no diacetyl, I allow it to finish up at 50 degrees.

After either finishing primary, or the d-rest, then I rack to the carboy and put it around 55 degrees again, and then lower the temperature 5 degrees per day until I'm at lager temperatures.
Since you can't lager at those low temperatures, when you do lager, you'll have to do it at 43.
 
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gresc

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Right... Didn't mean Lager, I should have said primary fermentation for this strain w/ is between 47f and 52f (Bavarian Lager).
So, I don't know which is better, going high (54f) or going low (43f). 43f is where I am now and I'm getting fermentation (about 1 bubble six seconds). I can raise to 54f but nothing in between.
 

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gresc said:
Right... Didn't mean Lager, I should have said primary fermentation for this strain w/ is between 47f and 52f (Bavarian Lager).
So, I don't know which is better, going high (54f) or going low (43f). 43f is where I am now and I'm getting fermentation (about 1 bubble six seconds). I can raise to 54f but nothing in between.
Well, if you're having fermentation, I bet that inside that fermenter, it's probably in the 47 range. I'd leave it, if it seems to be going. If it seems to stall, though, you could raise it to the 54 level.

I have my Yooper Lagerator (see my gallery for pictures) which is just a cooler with a styrofoam lid to help me have some more temperature variations. I don't know what your setup is, so I'm not sure if you have any other options.
 

Kaiser

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43 and 54*F should work if these temps are fairly steady.

I'd say keep the carboy at 43 and wrap it into a blanket which should keep some of the fermentation heat in and raise it into the mid to upper 40s. Once the fermentation starts to slow down significantly move it to the 54 *F zone, maybe rouse the yeast a little bit and keep it there until the fermentation seems complete. Take a gravity reading and it should be close to 1.012 (was this extract ?). Now rack to a secondary and move back to the 43 *F zone where it will stay for about a month. After that bottle with priming sugar or DME.

here is an article that might be helpful.

Kai
 
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gresc

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Thank You ! I'll keep an eye on it. The cooler looks like a good idea;
Thanks again Yooper...
 
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gresc

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Thanks Kaiser; this was an extract. I'll probably lager it in a keg, simply because I can then put it in my kegerator and control the temp much better. I would do that with the primary but I have two ales on tap, so no room. They will be done after Sunday which will free up some space.
 

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Sorry to hijack this thread but there seems to be some lager folk in here. I asked a question but never really got a good answer.

When I'm lagering, would it be ok to raise the temp back up to fermentation range so I could do another batch? I only have one freezer to do this in and I'd like to start another lager.
 

Kaiser

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HangDawg said:
When I'm lagering, would it be ok to raise the temp back up to fermentation range so I could do another batch? I only have one freezer to do this in and I'd like to start another lager.
Give it a try. If there is not much yeast left in the lagering batch there shouldn't be a problem if it gets active again. I read that the yeast should not be "activated" again after it has been brought to lagering temperatures due to autolysis concerns.

But I think I have done that before when I was unhappy with the amount of fermentable sugars that were left after it has been "lagering" for a while and it didn't have an ill effect.
Kai
 
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