Lager reaching FG too fast?

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Stand

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This is my first lager after 10 years of making ales, and I used L28 Urkel.

I have gone from 1.048 to 1.015 (FG is supposed to go to 1.012) in 4 days! I'm using L28 Urkel @54 degrees. I calculated the yeast starter and hit my numbers, so I don't think it's that, but I'm shocked how fast it is going. Anybody have experience with this? I usually raise temp at the end of my ale fermentations to give the yeast a boost, can I go ahead and ramp temp to start a diacetyl rest let it go for awhile longer?

I was really expecting things to take weeks and weeks. I had active fermentation going right at 14 hour mark, and no experience with lager yeasts at all.

Thanks!
 

EDF713

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I haven’t used that yeast, but that’s in line with other lager yeasts I’ve used in the low to mid 50s. I say go ahead and ramp up for your d rest.
 

GoeHaarden

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can I go ahead and ramp temp to start a diacetyl rest let it go for awhile longer?
Yes. It's fine to go ahead and do a d-rest. Before I got a tilt hydrometer, I used to just do a D-rest on day 7-10 without knowing the gravity. Never had an issue.

FWIW. I've never had a lager take weeks and weeks to reach FG. I've never used that strain, but since I started using my tilt I've noted some have finished in about 4 days so it's not unheard of for a lager.

Also, there are a lot of people who don't even do a D-rest and report good results. Claiming that pitching a healthy adequate yeast starter in place of a D-rest yields similar results. I do a D-rest, well, because it's what I've always done with my lagers but I also generally pitch a huge decanted starter...
 
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Thanks guys!

Makes me feel much better. I am going to start ramping to maybe 65? How high do you usually go?
 

GoeHaarden

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Thanks guys!

Makes me feel much better. I am going to start ramping to maybe 65? How high do you usually go?
I usually just do 65F as well. Have done 62 and 68, but it all seems to work...
 

sicktght311

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but most beers, whether they’re lagers, ales, etc all finish initial fermentation fairly quickly. It’s the secondary portion that really can take days, weeks, months etc depending on what you’re brewing
 
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Lagering takes a long time, but I honestly don't know what it is doing besides clearing the beer. Hopefully it is also getting rid of the sulfur smell. Yuck This being my first lager I feel rather in the dark.

I am somewhat skeptical about secondary fermentation really taking as much time as we usually give it. I used to give it a lot of time because I didn't want to take samples and introduce oxygen with my wine thief. I go grain to glass in under 2 weeks almost always now that I have good temp control and a digital hydrometer. Also, I use gelatin.

I did 1 week primary and 2 weeks secondary for years, but now I just ramp the temp up once I get close to terminal gravity and let it hang there a few days before cold crashing.

Cheers!
 

sicktght311

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Yeah for sure. I don’t think I’ve brewed a single ale that stayed in the fermenter longer than 2 weeks. It just unnecessary to me

Lager, those just take time to condition at those temps, and that’s what brings out the clarity and crisp’ness

Stouts however. Minimum 2-3 weeks fermentation, and then another minimum 3-4 weeks before I drink them. All of those roasted grains just require conditioning time. And that’s if I keg. If I bottle, the best bottles are always in the 2-3 month aged period to me
 

Jag75

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Thanks guys!

Makes me feel much better. I am going to start ramping to maybe 65? How high do you usually go?
Once the beer is 75% done fermenting I ramp up about 4 degrees a day until I hit 66. I leave at 66 for 3 days then go back down 4 degrees a day until it's about 38-40 then I keg.
 

kh54s10

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I have never found that yeast will listen to me. They do what they do on their own timetable. Lagers don't necessarily take any longer to ferment nor do stouts they will be done when they hit FG then a couple of days to totally finish. It is the lagering or conditioning phase that takes the time.

I have only gone 2 weeks with lagers for the lagering phase. I have gone as little as 2 weeks with some porters or stouts and over 6 months with others. It depends on many factors, I just wait what I feel is long enough and have a taste. If it is not to my liking, I just wait longer.
 
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I have never found that yeast will listen to me. They do what they do on their own timetable. Lagers don't necessarily take any longer to ferment nor do stouts they will be done when they hit FG then a couple of days to totally finish. It is the lagering or conditioning phase that takes the time.

I have only gone 2 weeks with lagers for the lagering phase. I have gone as little as 2 weeks with some porters or stouts and over 6 months with others. It depends on many factors, I just wait what I feel is long enough and have a taste. If it is not to my liking, I just wait longer.
That sounds right to me as well. I also wonder if lagers are traditionally conditioned so long because of the powdery yeasts? It seems there are some lager yeasts that flocculate pretty well now.

I'm curious if you guys have tasted your lagers along the way? What changes?
 

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Lagering accomplishes a lot more than just clarity.
If done properly (more on that later), lagering clears up off flavors and aromas, like that sulfur smell, and protects the beer from oxidation to some degree.

Doing it properly: DO NOT COLD CRASH!!!
Instead you want a gentle ramp down, like 5 degrees F a day or less, down to about 32F/0C. Most home brewers don't know this and they cold crash to get clarity faster, but what cleans up the beer in the lagering phase is the yeast, which go into a very slow metabolic state, but are still active to some degree, and THEY are what cleans up the fermentation byproducts in the beer.
If you cold crash, you shock the yeast, and they go immediately dormant and fall out of suspension. If they do that, they don't do anything for you while you're lagering.

While there are proponents of "fast lagering", all they are getting from that period is clarity, but not cleanup from the yeast. If all you care about is clear beer faster, then why bother making a lager - just make ales with clean yeast.

Also, if you are going to take the time to do a proper long lagering period, don't add gelatin or any fining agents. That will drop the yeast out of suspension and, again, they will do nothing for you.

That is why there is a traditional lagering phase for German beers - it's not because they don't know how to get beer clear faster, it's because they know there are benefits beyond clarity.
 
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Lagering accomplishes a lot more than just clarity.
If done properly (more on that later), lagering clears up off flavors and aromas, like that sulfur smell, and protects the beer from oxidation to some degree.

Doing it properly: DO NOT COLD CRASH!!!
Instead you want a gentle ramp down, like 5 degrees F a day or less, down to about 32F/0C. Most home brewers don't know this and they cold crash to get clarity faster, but what cleans up the beer in the lagering phase is the yeast, which go into a very slow metabolic state, but are still active to some degree, and THEY are what cleans up the fermentation byproducts in the beer.
If you cold crash, you shock the yeast, and they go immediately dormant and fall out of suspension. If they do that, they don't do anything for you while you're lagering.

While there are proponents of "fast lagering", all they are getting from that period is clarity, but not cleanup from the yeast. If all you care about is clear beer faster, then why bother making a lager - just make ales with clean yeast.

Also, if you are going to take the time to do a proper long lagering period, don't add gelatin or any fining agents. That will drop the yeast out of suspension and, again, they will do nothing for you.

That is why there is a traditional lagering phase for German beers - it's not because they don't know how to get beer clear faster, it's because they know there are benefits beyond clarity.
I've been making ales for 10 years, but I'll be the first to admit I don't know basically anything about lagers. I'm planning to do this fairly traditional, but I thought a temperature ramp for a diacetyl rest was where most of the cleaning up took place? I won't cold-crash if that's not the typical practice, and I've got BrewPi, so it's not a problem to drop the temperature slowly.

I know the taste changes with time, but I'm not all that clear on what's happening chemically / biologically beyond yeast/protein dropping out of solution in the aging process. I have a good sense of when the ales I make are going to "peak" from experience, but I'm just realizing I've never really looked into the question for a more technical answer.

I need to do more reading, but if you've got any insights I'm listening.

Update: First thing I'm reading : https://www.whitelabs.com/sites/default/files/Diacetyl_Time_Line.pdf

Cheers!
 

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During lengthy lagering, excess hop polyphenols will drop out so there is more to it than just getting more yeast out. There are entire books written about lagers, so I'm certain that I'm way oversimplifying it, but there are things going on during the lagering that makes a difference. Sure, there are very good quick lagers but they might be award-winning if lagered longer and colder.
 

Cavpilot2000

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I've been making ales for 10 years, but I'll be the first to admit I don't know basically anything about lagers. I'm planning to do this fairly traditional, but I thought a temperature ramp for a diacetyl rest was where most of the cleaning up took place? I won't cold-crash if that's not the typical practice, and I've got BrewPi, so it's not a problem to drop the temperature slowly.

I need to do more reading, but if you've got any insights I'm listening.

Update: First thing I'm reading : https://www.whitelabs.com/sites/default/files/Diacetyl_Time_Line.pdf

Cheers!
In the D-rest, the yeast are cleaning up only ONE of their fermentation byproducts (diacetyl, which is avoidable with a big pitch of healthy yeast). Others, like the sulfur and more, don't get cleaned up by then, but only over time.
A cold crash is common among people who are trying for the "fast lager" method, but then they aren't benefiting from what the yeast can do.
Like I said earlier, the slow ramp down from the D-rest allows them to adjust to the cooling temp and slow down rather than just get shocked and go dormant.

But this process is why traditional lagers are said to be "clean" tasting.
I lay terms, it is often said that yeast eat sugar, burp CO2 and piss alcohol. That's kinda true, but they also vomit, crap, and sit around in their own sweat and BO from all their work (in lay terms). This is where you get the other byproducts like diacetyl, acetaldehyde, sulfur, fruity esters, et cetera.

During lagering, the yeast have time to clean up their own messes, since they aren't working so hard at the easy stuff (eating and making alcohol). Those messes aren't always catastrophic, or even bad, but they're there.

Be patient with the beer and you will be rewarded.
 

Home_alone1

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With 34/70 pitched at 50 and fermented at 55 I have to start my D rest on day 6. It’s pretty quick yeast .
 
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With 34/70 pitched at 50 and fermented at 55 I have to start my D rest on day 6. It’s pretty quick yeast .
I hit my FG with L28 Urkel on day 4. I couldn't believe it. I kept reading about slow fermentations, and mine went off like a rocket. My chart says L28 is WLP800 or WY2001 equivalent, so I'm not sure what the performance expectation is.

During lengthy lagering, excess hop polyphenols will drop out so there is more to it than just getting more yeast out. There are entire books written about lagers, so I'm certain that I'm way oversimplifying it, but there are things going on during the lagering that makes a difference. Sure, there are very good quick lagers but they might be award-winning if lagered longer and colder.
I'm hoping I like this beer enough to keep my interest because it seems like there's a lot that goes into this process that might improve my general knowledge. The sample I pulled today to check gravity (I don't trust my digital hydrometer) tasted delightful, so I'm half-hooked already.

I didn't realize phenols dropped out, but I'm realizing I don't really understand what makes hop character change so drastically over time either. I'll be buying books on this I'm sure.

I have no intention of rushing the process. I'm a Chesterton's Fence kinda guy.

Cheers!
 
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