Lager question

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bionicbelly

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So, I'm still pretty new. I have full temp control for my fermenters, and just started brewing some lagers. I had done a couple before with 34/70 at ale temps, and had mixed results. Had a great marzen, and terrible marzen, (diacetyl) and a pilsner that started terrible (diacetyl again), but after six months in the keg, ended up being pretty great.
I've only done two lagers so far with temp control. For both, I did 50F for a week, 60F for a week, and 33F for a week. Both beers turned out nice, with no off flavors. I loosely based this on one of the exbeeriments from brulosophy.

My questions are, is this a common practice at all, would this work with all kinds of lagers, and are there any glaring drawbacks to fermenting like this?? Both of the lagers I used this temp schedule for were 1.050ish dark lagers.
 

marc1

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The temp is going to depend somewhat on the yeast - 34/70 is recommended by Fermentis at 12°C – 18°C (53.6-64.4°F) so 50 would be a little low. IIRC I run that one now at 54 or 55 to start.

You're probably going to get a lot of opinions on this; I can tell you what I do. I ferment low to mid 50s (depending on yeast) until it is more than halfway done fermenting, then raise the temp over several days to the mid 60s. I leave it there until it is done and then maybe 2-3 more days to be sure and cold crash. Leave it in the 30s for a week or so then keg.
 
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bionicbelly

bionicbelly

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The temp is going to depend somewhat on the yeast - 34/70 is recommended by Fermentis at 12°C – 18°C (53.6-64.4°F) so 50 would be a little low. IIRC I run that one now at 54 or 55 to start.

You're probably going to get a lot of opinions on this; I can tell you what I do. I ferment low to mid 50s (depending on yeast) until it is more than halfway done fermenting, then raise the temp over several days to the mid 60s. I leave it there until it is done and then maybe 2-3 more days to be sure and cold crash. Leave it in the 30s for a week or so then keg.

This is perfect. Thanks for the reply. It looks we are doing roughly the same thing. I am probably bumping the temp up faster than you though. I don't let it go all at once, but I raise it 10 degrees over about a day and a half.
 

Sammy86

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I ferment 34/70 anywhere from 60-66° F all depends on the other half of the 12 gallon batch that I'm fermenting. I always pitch two sachets and never have an issue with diacetyl.

Any and all lagers benefit from time cold conditioning. I've found my lagers really hit their stride 4-6 weeks post kegging.
 

Kickass

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It seems a little odd that you got diacetyl from the warm ferment and not from the cold ferment.

If your practice is working for you, I’d say not to change it.
 

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Be careful cold crashing, you can introduce oxygen due to suck-back of air to the fermentor if you do not have means of controlling it. I now transfer at ambient, then bring the keg down to 34F. Nobody likes oxidized beer. Well actually if is better than no beer!

I typically pitch at 46-48F, ferment at 48-50F, then after 2-3 weeks ramp it up to ambient temps slowly at about 5 degrees per day for a D-rest. Agree on the 4-6 week aging, in fact I prefer 90 days on most lagers. I put them on tap and sample them along the way. It’s great tasting them as they mature!
 
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bionicbelly

bionicbelly

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It seems a little odd that you got diacetyl from the warm ferment and not from the cold ferment.

If your practice is working for you, I’d say not to change it.

After reading a few things, I wonder if I underpitched. It may have been that more than the temperature. I was pitching one packet per batch. I see most people pitch two or three.
-FYI, this is no longer an issue. I have started a yeast bank, and canned a bunch or wort to make nice, big, multi-step starters.
 

jtgoral

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I pitch yeast around 60-65F ales and lagers.

For lagers I set my BrewJacket at 50F which a new brew reaches on next day. Then I ferment for 3 days and rise the temperature to 55F for next 3 days. After that another 3 days at 60F and 3+ days at 65F.

No secondary fermentation. I keg after 2-3 weeks of fermentation both, ales and lagers. The keg connected to a small CO2 bottle waits for its turn to go to the kegerator.

I have 4 CO2 lines but only 3 taps. The 4th keg waits for its turn to be tapped until one of the other kegs runs out of beer. This is like minimum 3 weeks of lagering at 52F. I remove an empty keg and replace it with one outside the fridge. This now is lagering for ~3 weeks and I am ready to make a new BIAB beer.
 

MikeCo

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For you guys who keg after 3 weeks, are you transferring to a different keg after a lagering period? If not, doesn't the keg end up with a lot of yeast trub as fermentation/lagering progresses?
 

jtgoral

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For you guys who keg after 3 weeks, are you transferring to a different keg after a lagering period? If not, doesn't the keg end up with a lot of yeast trub as fermentation/lagering progresses?
In my case the beer is clear after 3 weeks. Lager and ale. I do not transfer to another keg and I do not use secondary fermenter.
Wheat beers and some Belgian are hazy.
 

Sammy86

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For you guys who keg after 3 weeks, are you transferring to a different keg after a lagering period? If not, doesn't the keg end up with a lot of yeast trub as fermentation/lagering progresses?

No transfers once its in the keg...the stuff will usually come out the first pint or two but after that its clear beer!
 

marc1

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For you guys who keg after 3 weeks, are you transferring to a different keg after a lagering period? If not, doesn't the keg end up with a lot of yeast trub as fermentation/lagering progresses?

I use a CBDS floating dip tube, so all the stuff that settles out over the entire life of the keg stays at the bottom until the very end.
 

jdauria

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Besides 50 being a tad low, unless you are pitching a lot of yeast (some ferment at 48, but you need a real big starter for that), one tip I can give you, especially with your diacetyl issues, is to take gravity readings before 7 days. You want to do diacetyl rest BEFORE the beer is at final gravity, and if you just wait 7 days, you could already be at FG. I do the 80% method...if I have a 1.050 beer that I expect to get to 1.010, that's a 40 point swing, 80 of 40% is 32, 50-32 = 1.018 would be when I raise temps to 62-65. Not sure if 60 is warm enough for a D rest either, so go to mid 60's.
 
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bionicbelly

bionicbelly

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I do the 80% method...if I have a 1.050 beer that I expect to get to 1.010, that's a 40 point swing, 80 of 40% is 32, 50-32 = 1.018 would be when I raise temps to 62-65.

Had not heard of this before. That seems like a great way to do it. From what I understand (and I could be totally wrong), most of the off flavors happen while the yeast are reproducing, and this is when temp really matters to prevent off flavors. Once they are done being fruitful, temp doesn't matter nearly as much, and you can let it rise to get the little buggers excited and busy.
 

marc1

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I do the 80% method...if I have a 1.050 beer that I expect to get to 1.010, that's a 40 point swing, 80 of 40% is 32, 50-32 = 1.018 would be when I raise temps to 62-65.

Had not heard of this before. That seems like a great way to do it. From what I understand (and I could be totally wrong), most of the off flavors happen while the yeast are reproducing, and this is when temp really matters to prevent off flavors. Once they are done being fruitful, temp doesn't matter nearly as much, and you can let it rise to get the little buggers excited and busy.

Because I raise my temps more slowly, I start upping the temp a little earlier (as I said above, when it gets below about half way done). From my last lager with WLP800:

02Jun - 1.050, temp set at 53F
05Jun - 1.037
06Jun - 1.029, raise temp to 55
07Jun - 1.023, raise temp to 59
08Jun - (no gravity reading), raise temp to 63
09Jun - 1.017, raise temp to 67
10Jun - 1.015
11Jun - 1.013
stayed at 1.013, dropped to 34
 
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