Quantcast

Lager Primary Duration

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
Im doing my first lager and per the recipe was do a primary at 55 for 2 weeks then a long secondary at 35.

With my ales I do a primary of 4 weeks. Will it hurt or help my lager if I do 4 versus 2 weeks at 55 degress before the long secondary at 35?
 

mysterio

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2005
Messages
698
Reaction score
4
Location
Glasgow, Scotland
Although it depends on yeast and pitching rate, 2 weeks is fine for primary fermentation, if your pitching rate was high enough then you'll probably find fermentation is done in 7 - 10 days, but it never does any harm to leave it for another week. To leave it for a full month, I have done this once before and it didn't do the beer any harm. In answer to your question, it will probably neither hurt nor help.
 

Indyking

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2010
Messages
691
Reaction score
13
Location
Indy-Madison (WI)
In my experience, 4 weeks for primary before lagering is way too much because I do a diacetyl rest.

Your beer will benefit from a long lager period of at least 4 weeks but if you are doing a diacetyl rest, you want to move the fermenter from primary to room temperature when airlock activity is very low but not completely ceased (no fermentation). One bubble per minute seems to work for me and that generally comes after 10-14 days after pitching.

If you transfer the fermenter to room temperature when fermentation has completely ceased, the diacetyl rest will likely not take place properly and that may result on undesirable tastes, especially in light or less complex lagers like Pilsners.

Now, if you are skipping the diacetyl rest by progressively reducing the primary fermentation temperature, then waiting 4 weeks on primary may not give your beer any problems; however, it is known that some lagers benefit from some degree of residual sugar fermentation during the lagering process (SG should be less than ¼ of the OG).
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
My initial plan was to primary for a week to 10 days do my rest then slowly lower it until I hit the 35 degree mark and then leave it at that temp for months. But then I started thinking about my ales being better when I left them in the primary for a month. With a lager I wasnt sure about the chemistry taking place and how that differed from an ale.
I think Ill stick with my original plan and do the rest near the end of the primary fermentaion, then cool it down for the lagering.
 

Indyking

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2010
Messages
691
Reaction score
13
Location
Indy-Madison (WI)
mlyday said:
My initial plan was to primary for a week to 10 days do my rest then slowly lower it until I hit the 35 degree mark and then leave it at that temp for months. But then I started thinking about my ales being better when I left them in the primary for a month. With a lager I wasnt sure about the chemistry taking place and how that differed from an ale.
I think Ill stick with my original plan and do the rest near the end of the primary fermentaion, then cool it down for the lagering.
Good plan. Like I said before, you got have some residual sugar available for fermentation in your primary before the diacetyl rest, so the yeast has the substrate, in other words, the food to carry on the job of cleaning up the diacetyl. At 35F you don't need to lager for months unless you want to, because it should not hurt. Just 1 month at 35F will be enough I believe.

I do want to ask this: what is you primary temp? It is not advised a temp difference of more than 15F between primary and lagering because that can throw the yeast in dormancy. Have never actually experienced this myself, but it is published out there. I usually primary at around 50-52 and lager at 38-40F. It works great for me!
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
Good plan. Like I said before, you got have some residual sugar available for fermentation in your primary before the diacetyl rest, so the yeast has the substrate, in other words, the food to carry on the job of cleaning up the diacetyl. At 35F you don't need to lager for months unless you want to, because it should not hurt. Just 1 month at 35F will be enough I believe.

I do want to ask this: what is you primary temp? It is not advised a temp difference of more than 15F between primary and lagering because that can throw the yeast in dormancy. Have never actually experienced this myself, but it is published out there. I usually primary at around 50-52 and lager at 38-40F. It works great for me!
Well the recipe said 55 for the primary and 35 for the lagering, but my primary was set to 54, but when I go down to check on it, its been at 53 or so. I can lager at what ever temp seems right. I will be slowly lowering it also, which I have heard helps the dormancy problem.

The bubling has slowed down to once every 3 or 4 seconds, Im checking it every day and when its a little slower Ill take a reading to see where Im at.

Im doing a long secondary because it was a fairly big beer 1.066, and because keg space is at a premium and this is my birthday bock which is 5 months away.
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
Well I was at home for lunch and took a look in the fridge and it was barely bubbling at all, so I sanitized and measuring cup poped the lid and grabbed a sample. The krausen had dropped, but the top was covered with yeast, hop junk and whatever. I took a hydrometer reading and once the foam settled, it looks like its a 1.023. The final gravity listed on the recipe is 1.018, so it was almost done. I pulled it out a put it someplace warmer, about the mid 60's. I never expected the lager yeast to ferment out so quick, 1.066 to 1.023 in 4 days. Although I did pitch a big healthy starter. Im going to leave it out for a couple of days and see where Im at. When I get home tonight Ill taste the sample and see if I detect any diacetyl. It was a little to chunky to test right away.
 

Indyking

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2010
Messages
691
Reaction score
13
Location
Indy-Madison (WI)
Well I was at home for lunch and took a look in the fridge and it was barely bubbling at all, so I sanitized and measuring cup poped the lid and grabbed a sample. The krausen had dropped, but the top was covered with yeast, hop junk and whatever. I took a hydrometer reading and once the foam settled, it looks like its a 1.023. The final gravity listed on the recipe is 1.018, so it was almost done. I pulled it out a put it someplace warmer, about the mid 60's. I never expected the lager yeast to ferment out so quick, 1.066 to 1.023 in 4 days. Although I did pitch a big healthy starter. Im going to leave it out for a couple of days and see where Im at. When I get home tonight Ill taste the sample and see if I detect any diacetyl. It was a little to chunky to test right away.
Yep, you do have a very good and healthy yeast count, which is normal going from 1.066 to 1.023 in 4 days. I believe you started the diacetyl in a perfect time! I do my rests for only 30 hours and it works for me, but most book authors and experienced brewers recommend 48 hours. Did you notice increased activity in the airlock after moving it to the mid 60'? Sometimes it increases, but sometimes it does not, so I'm just curious. I would lager at around 40F in your case. I think this will be a nice lager... what style is it?
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
Well I just moved it about an hour ago, so I can tell yet.

40 seem pretty good. I usually have my kegs in that same freezer and its set to serve at 39, so that will work out perfectly.

It was this recipe.

Munich Madness Bock

Recipe for 5 US gallons (19L)
Description: Steeping caramel and chocolate malts adds just the right touch of deep flavor to this rich and malty
traditional German lager.

Quantity Ingredients Comment
6.6 lbs Briess CBW® Munich LME
1.5 lbs Briess CBW® Pilsen DME
1 lb Briess Caramel Malt 90L
2 oz Briess Dark Chocolate Malt
1 oz Hallertau Pelletized Hops 45 min boil time
1 tsp Irish Moss
1 vial WLP833 German Bock

Brewing Procedures:
1. Steep grain in 5 gallons 150-180®F water for 30 minutes.
2. Remove from heat.
3. Add CBW® Munich LME and Briess CBW Pilsen DME.
4. Bring to a boil.
5. Add hops and boil for 30 minutes.
6. Add Irish Moss & boil for 15 minutes.
7. Remove from heat.
8. Cool, oxygenate wort and pitch yeast.

Fermentation:
Primary: 3 weeks at 55ºF
Secondary: 4 weeks at 35ºF

Original Gravity: 1.068
Final Gravity: 1.018
Alcohol by vol: 6.6%
IBU: 24
Color: 41º L

I used the Southern German lager yeast WLP838 Instead. The LHBS didnt have the 833.
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
It smelled pretty damn good when I popped the top of the bucket, I cant wait to try this one.

The recipe was from the briess website.
 

Indyking

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2010
Messages
691
Reaction score
13
Location
Indy-Madison (WI)
Beautiful grain bill! Love their recipe. The bock yeast was a smart choice because of the higher gravity than amber or pale lagers. I believe the final product is going to be a malty lager with a red copper to brownish, not quite as dark as a bock and not quite as light in body and alcohol as a Vienna, something in between. Delicious! I love lagers… Unfortunately, they are so much underrated because of the crappy commercial ones we have in the market, but a real lager, like this one you are brewing is a fine beer!
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
Our local nursery\greenhouse place sells beer and wine stuff too, and they have a program where when you buy stuff, you get these 1 dollar coupons for like every $10 you spend. We ended up buying some lawn furniture they so I ended up with a boat load of these bucks, they only stipulation is that they have to be redemed on this one specific weekend. By time I got there things were picked over, but I ended up with 4 cans of the munich extract. I looked around for a while, until I found this recipe and got my temp controled freezer.
 

Indyking

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2010
Messages
691
Reaction score
13
Location
Indy-Madison (WI)
Our local nursery\greenhouse place sells beer and wine stuff too, and they have a program where when you buy stuff, you get these 1 dollar coupons for like every $10 you spend. We ended up buying some lawn furniture they so I ended up with a boat load of these bucks, they only stipulation is that they have to be redemed on this one specific weekend. By time I got there things were picked over, but I ended up with 4 cans of the munich extract. I looked around for a while, until I found this recipe and got my temp controled freezer.
Nice. I designed a Vienna to brew next month and it kinda looks similar to the recipe you are using, except it's all grain and lower gravity. Munich is the way to go for Viennas. Crystal or Caramel adds nicely to the color, head retention, and some sweetness and a little bit of chocolate malt is the ultimate touch for color too and a very mild roast character, which is nice in this style as long as it only gives a faint hint of it.
 

menschmaschine

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2007
Messages
3,259
Reaction score
49
Location
Delaware
Don't focus on time, per se, with primary fermentation of lagers. When it's done fermenting (including D-rest if applicable), rack it to secondary as soon as reasonably possible. Most lagers are supposed to be very "clean" beers. The longer they sit on primary yeast sediment/trub, the more risk you have of noticeable off-flavors, primarily due to yeast cell decay (not autolysis).

So, 2 weeks for a medium gravity beer is about normal. 3 weeks for a higher gravity beer would be fine. This would include D-rest and bringing the temperature down 3-5°F per day to get it closer to lagering temps (this preserves more CO2 in solution when racking). 4 weeks is starting to get up there. I wouldn't let my lager in the primary that long (but I'm picky).
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
Menschmashine,

My plan is now this. I checked the gravity today and it was 80-85 of the way done so I pulled it out and am doing my rest now. Ill do that for 2 days, then slowly bring the temp down to the 38-40 degree mark and leave it there for a couple of months or until another keg is ordered or I finish one of the ones I have kegged now.
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
Well I tasted the sample that I took yesterday, and didnt really detect any buttery flavors from diactyl, so Im not sure the rest was total needed, but Im going to do it anyways.

I didnt taste that big of a swig though, my sample had some sludge chunks in it and the yeast hadnt fallen out at all, so it was really cloudy with yeast. I couldnt really get a good read on the taste yet, because of all the yeast.
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
Just wanted to post an update on this one. I kegged it last week, and couldnt wait any longer and pulled one last night. Still needed a little more carbonation, but poured and nice dark copper color and one finger head. Nice and malt with a very clean taste. I could detect an alcohol taste on the tail end, and more so as it warmed up. I would expect this as it was over 6.5% abv. All in all a very good beer, that will probably get better as it ages.
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
Another update on this beer. When I tasted it a month and a half a go. It was good, but the strong alchohol taste made it not as enjoyable as it should have been. Everytime I went to pull a pint of it, I remembered the alchy taste and I went for something else. In the month and a half since then, the alch taste is mellowed out significantly, this is one damn good beer. Its not a really good summer drinker, but give this another two month it will be fantastic on a cool fall day.
 
OP
M

mlyday

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
915
Reaction score
33
Location
Bay City, MI
One more quick update on this. I killed all my kegs but this one, so I started drinking on this one again. It was good 2 month ago but is fantastic now, Its a really good beer, all the flavors have mellowed and married together. This beer really needs about 6 months to be good. I think I might try and do an all grain version of this one during the spring time again so it will be ready for next fall.
 
Top