Lagering beer...

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GraniteRiverBrewing

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I'd like to start lagering my beer. Are there any links or a step by step on temp control? I just got a freezer and a temp control.
 

John Beere

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I agree that this is convoluted, but it is what I do... My schedule for a "normal" lager is 14 days minimum at 54 degrees; step up to 68 degrees over 2 days and then let it sit there for another 2 days; drop the temp in increments of 3 degrees per day for 11 days; keg and let sit in the cold room for another 6 weeks at 34 degrees.
 

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I ferment my lagers at 50 degrees until they reach 75% of their expected final gravity (about 10 days), and then taste for diacetyl. If I'm using a yeast that produces very little diacetyl, and I don't taste any, I go ahead and let fermentation finish at 50 degrees (another few days). If I am using a yeast that is noted for diacetyl, and I taste a little slickness in the sample, I raise the temperature to 65-68 degrees for 24 to 48 hours for the diacetyl rest. Then, I rack the beer into a carboy, and begin the lagering process. I start at 50 degrees, and then drop the temperature 5 degrees per day until I am at 34 degrees. I keep it at 34 degrees for 6-12 weeks (depending on what I'm making and how "big" of a beer it is) and then bottle.

I pitch my yeast cold, so I don't get a ton of diacetyl even with big diacetyl producers, so I skip the diacetyl rest about 75% of the time.

Here's some great info on lagers: How to Brew - By John Palmer - What is Different for Brewing Lager Beer?
 

menschmaschine

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You might have to piece information together, but you can find most of it here. Lagers aren't talked about as much, so ask away. I can also highly recommend buying the book "New Brewing Lager Beer" by Greg Noonan. Invaluable for lagers and for brewing in general. Other than that, here's a quick run-down which will hopefully answer some of your questions:

-Yeast starter temp: You'll hear differing opinions on this... some say room temp is fine for lagers (but you definitely have to pitch ONLY the yeast slurry), and it probably is fine. Others say to ferment the starter at primary fermentation temps (50-ish) because then the yeast get used to fermenting cooler and you don't have to dump the the starter beer, and there's logic to that ideal, too.

Pitching temps: It's best to pitch low (in temp) and let it rise a few degrees to primary fermentation temp. So, you could pitch at 45dF and let it warm to 50dF. This is because more diacetyl and esters are produced if you pitch warmer and let it cool down to primary fermentation temps.

Primary fermentation temps: Keep it at your chosen temp... 50dF is usually good but check your yeast's preferred temps. The lower in the optimal range, the cleaner (but slightly slower) the fermentation will be. You can even go a few degrees lower than the listed optimal range. Don't let your temperature probe just sit in the freezer, attach it to the fermenter, insulating it with a couple layers of bubble wrap or similar insulating material. This will give a more accurate measurement of fermentation temp as opposed to ambient temp.

Diacetyl rest: I do these everytime whether I need it or not, just to clean up the beer. Raise the temp from primary temps (say, 50) to 60-65 for a couple days near the end of fermentation. Text book rule is 6 points shy of target FG, but since this is difficult to gauge, you can do it when the krausen is about half fallen and you should be fine.

Lagering temps: From either primary temp or diacetyl rest temp, lower the temp to lagering temps (33-34dF) by about 5 degrees per day. If you crash cool it, you might shock too much yeast out of suspension.... they still need to work during lagering. Lager for about 7 days per 8 points of gravity. So, a 1.048 OG beer would be 6 to 7 weeks lagering. This timing depends on other factors, including how dextrinous was your wort (mash temps, decoction mash). The more dextrinous the wort, the longer to lager. The lighter the beer (less dextrinous), the shorter you can lager.

Hope that helps.
 
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GraniteRiverBrewing

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Is it possible to lager more than one batch in a fridge or a freezer at one time? I guess I would have to do two batches at a time..
 

Yooper

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Is it possible to lager more than one batch in a fridge or a freezer at one time? I guess I would have to do two batches at a time..
Of course it is if you have the room! Just keep in mine that you want to ferment around 50-52 degrees, and lager in the 30s, so try to have the batches in the same time period.
 

Piotr

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Lagering temps: From either primary temp or diacetyl rest temp, lower the temp to lagering temps (33-34dF) by about 5 degrees per day. If you crash cool it, you might shock too much yeast out of suspension.... they still need to work during lagering. Lager for about 7 days per 8 points of gravity. So, a 1.048 OG beer would be 6 to 7 weeks lagering.
When is good time for priming and bottling, before or after this lagering period?
 

menschmaschine

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When is good time for priming and bottling, before or after this lagering period?
It's better to lager to-be-bottled lagers at atmospheric pressure (not in bottle), then prime, bottle, and carbonate for a few weeks. You have to wait a long time for lagers!

EDIT: To add, after lagering, priming and bottling, you can have the beer carbonate at room temperature as long as you're using dextrose/corn sugar to carbonate. If you use a malt-based sugar for priming (DME, LME, saved wort), they need to carb at primary fermentation temps. This is because the lager yeast will ferment dextrose cleanly at room temperature, but when they ferment maltose at room temp, they will produce esters, etc.
 

Piotr

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Thank you menshmashine, your posts gave me lots of interesting information. I will try this lagering scheme this season.

One more question: is there any room for secondary fermentation in this lagering scheme? I might want to rack the beer to secondary fermentor after diacetyl rest, before lagering...
 

menschmaschine

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One more question: is there any room for secondary fermentation in this lagering scheme? I might want to rack the beer to secondary fermentor after diacetyl rest, before lagering...
Unless you have a specific need for it (can't think of an example), this isn't necessary. Lagering, in a sense, is secondary fermentation. Once the primary fermentation is complete (including diacetyl rest), there is nothing to be done but lager (then bottle). Depending on how dextrinous your wort is, you will lose another point or two of gravity during lagering. This is because lager yeast have the ability to ferment a few more types of sugar molecules that ale yeasts can't ferment. They do this slowly during lagering, in addition to cleaning up other compounds.
 

tdavisii

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Let me throw in my .02
You are going to hear a billion different ways to lager your beer and all billion of them will work. I try to keep it simple and since i am an impatient beer drinker i primary for two weeks at 50. Two day D rest at room temp. Three degree walk down to 33. Then i lager as long as i can before my beer addiction makes me drink it. I am a new lagerer (if that is a word) but my last one was one of my top two beers ever.
 

Piotr

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You are going to hear a billion different ways to lager your beer and all billion of them will work.
Well, your scheme is quite similar to this descibed by menschmashine, only the temps are a bit different.

Last year I used something completely different, focused on minimasing contact with trub: short primary to 8-12 points above FG, racking to secondary to reach FG, and racking to lagering. Results are mixed, best of the beers got 42 points, some other I got under attenuated.

This year I must try this cold pitch, long, no-secondary fermentation, it is in fashion nowadays :D

Question: how important is lagering near 32F? In my cellar I have at most 40-42F in winter, will it do for lagering?
 

menschmaschine

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Question: how important is lagering near 32F? In my cellar I have at most 40-42F in winter, will it do for lagering?
The closer to 32 the better, but I think 40-42 would turn out pretty good too. I say do it... it will be better than not lagering at all!:)
 

menschmaschine

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I try to keep it simple and since i am an impatient beer drinker i primary for two weeks at 50. Two day D rest at room temp. Three degree walk down to 33. Then i lager as long as i can before my beer addiction makes me drink it. I am a new lagerer (if that is a word) but my last one was one of my top two beers ever.
Yeah, that's pretty much what I do. Except I try to calculate my lagering time based on the dextrinity (word?) of the wort.
 
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GraniteRiverBrewing

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Once the largering is done and I rack to a keg. How should I store the keg? Does it have to be refridgerated or can it be stored in room temp?
 

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Once the largering is done and I rack to a keg. How should I store the keg? Does it have to be refridgerated or can it be stored in room temp?
It's fine at room temp. The flavor profile has been "set" and it'll be fine at either room temp (within reason) or cellar temps. When you bottle lagers, you keep them at room temperature to carbonate for at least three weeks. With a keg, you may not be priming to carbonate, but the room temperature storage will be fine.
 

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Let me see if I understand this. Are some of you recommending lagering in the primary - on the trub? My routine has been to let fermentation run it's course (3 to 5 weeks) then rack to a carboy for lagering. My temp control isn't fine enough to allow me to lower the temp slowly. I ferment in my crawl space where the temp is between 35 and 45 during the winter. I wrap a heating pad around the bucket during fermentation to keep it warm and then just put the secondary back in the crawl space. Would you recommend that I just remove the heating pad from the bucket rather than racking to secondary?
 

menschmaschine

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Let me see if I understand this. Are some of you recommending lagering in the primary - on the trub? My routine has been to let fermentation run it's course (3 to 5 weeks) then rack to a carboy for lagering. My temp control isn't fine enough to allow me to lower the temp slowly. I ferment in my crawl space where the temp is between 35 and 45 during the winter. I wrap a heating pad around the bucket during fermentation to keep it warm and then just put the secondary back in the crawl space. Would you recommend that I just remove the heating pad from the bucket rather than racking to secondary?
No, I don't think anyone is suggesting that. Lagers should be taken off the trub as soon as possible after fermentation (and diacetyl rest, if applicable) is complete. If it were in a conical fermenter, you could just dump the trub. But most of us need to rack it to a secondary.
 

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No, I don't think anyone is suggesting that. Lagers should be taken off the trub as soon as possible after fermentation (and diacetyl rest, if applicable) is complete. If it were in a conical fermenter, you could just dump the trub. But most of us need to rack it to a secondary.
Exactly! When fermentation is complete, the beer should be racked (or as Mensch said, in a conical, the trub should be dumped). Rather, the beer should be racked after the diacetyl rest, since the yeast cake is needed for that rest. As soon as that is complete, though, the beer should be racked and then the lagering can begin. Ideally, it would be a gradual temperature change, but since your crawl space doesn't have that ability, that's fine.
 

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Yes. Once you've racked off of the yeast cake, there will still be some yeast in suspension which will fall out during lagering. So you will still have a bit of yeast in the keg, but only in the first few pints.
 

Ty_Deschaine

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Just wanna chime in with a quick question... I am doing my first lager and the info in this thread has been super helpful. I just pulled my lager from the chamber to do a diacetyl rest at room temp. Once this process is done. I will then rack to a keg for lagering. Obviously I will bleed off the oxogen, but should I pressurize the keg to serving pressure (8-10psi) during the lagering phase or wait until the lagering process is complete. I know the yeast will still be active and may produce additional carbonation during the lagering phase and I want to make sure I don't over carb the beer or more importantly prevent the yeast from working.

Thanks in advance for the help.
 

DHUKILL

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I like to put a small amount of C02 on a keg when used for lagering. Not serving pressure, but to displace any O2. I burp it a few times and leave a small amt inside the keg.
 

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I am fermenting an American Lager yeast WYEAST 2112 and my swamp cooler with the fermenter in it. The temp now is at 49F and the website states the min temp is 58F is this an issue for me? BTW it hasn't started bubbling yet. which is not an issue yet since is has only been 12 hours.

edit; my cooler is almost full to the top with plain water no ice. should i be taking some of volume of water out of the bucket? Maybe half full?
 

progmac

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I am fermenting an American Lager yeast WYEAST 2112 and my swamp cooler with the fermenter in it. The temp now is at 49F and the website states the min temp is 58F is this an issue for me? BTW it hasn't started bubbling yet. which is not an issue yet since is has only been 12 hours.

edit; my cooler is almost full to the top with plain water no ice. should i be taking some of volume of water out of the bucket? Maybe half full?
how much yeast did you pitch?
 

progmac

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the entire pouch of WYEAST 2112. 4 1/4 ounces or 128 grams.
if this is for a 5 gallon batch, that may not be enough yeast. most people make a starter when doing lager beers. a starter is a miniature batch of unhopped beer that is made to increase the yeast population.

if you have the ability to add pure oxygen and yeast nutrients, you should do so immediately if you haven't already.

if you do not have oxygen and nutrients, you should warm the beer up to room temperature until you see signs of fermentation (bubbles on the surface), then cool it back down to typical lager temps for the duration of fermentation.

it's good that you mentioned this now rather than waiting.
 

fischfam

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thanks, actually since I am using WYEAST 2112 California Lager yeast which the mfg say the temp range is 58-68 degrees F, so I might leave it at room temp for a while since my house is near 68.
 

progmac

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thanks, actually since I am using WYEAST 2112 California Lager yeast which the mfg say the temp range is 58-68 degrees F, so I might leave it at room temp for a while since my house is near 68.
Sounds like you've got a plan. You could just put the whole thing in a water bath with no ice and let it ride. The water bath will keep the ferment from creeping up in the 70s, which can happen if ambient is 67-68.
 

prohl84

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A starter is a miniature batch of unhopped beer that is made to increase the yeast population.
You can totally hop a starter. In fact my starters are basically a half batch of low gravity, lightly hopped beer. I know some folks that draw a quart or two of wort at the end of brewday and pitch into that and let the rest of the wort come down to lager ferm temp in the fridge overnight. By the next morning the "starter" is at high krausen and ready to go on the full batch.
 

fischfam

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thanks everyone for the help, it just started bubbling after 48 hours and the temp is a steady 64 sitting on my floor inside my house which is on a slab. So unless I see it getting over 68 which the mfg says is ideal for this Cali Lager yeast. If it gets even close to that I will put it in the tub w/o ice.
 

fischfam

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Any suggestions regarding a great recipe for a guy who has been doing IPA'S and Stouts?
I just did this clone of 'Anchor Steam Beer' which uses California Lager yeast that is good up to 68F. I am sure that I left something out but give it a try.

OG 1.050 IBU 45 SRM 18

1.Steep 14 oz of 80L crystal malt for 20 minutes in 1/2 gallon 150F water. 2.Strain and then sparge with 1/2 gallon of 150F water.
3.Add water to the brew pot to make 1.5 gallons and bring to a boil. 4.Remove pot from heat and add;
4lb of pale malt syrup
2.75lbs of light DME
1.25oz northern brewer 8%
5.Add water to bring to 2.5 gallons and boil for 45 minutes.
6.Add 1/2oz northern brewer hops and and 1 tbs irish moss boil for 14 minutes
7.Add 1/2oz northern brewer hops and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes and strain and then add enough water to equel 5 gallons.
8.Pitch WYEAST 2112 California Lager yeast.
 

fischfam

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I just did this clone of 'Anchor Steam Beer' which uses California Lager yeast that is good up to 68F. I am sure that I left something out but give it a try.

OG 1.050 IBU 45 SRM 18

1.Steep 14 oz of 80L crystal malt for 20 minutes in 1/2 gallon 150F water. 2.Strain and then sparge with 1/2 gallon of 150F water.
3.Add water to the brew pot to make 1.5 gallons and bring to a boil. 4.Remove pot from heat and add;
4lb of pale malt syrup
2.75lbs of light DME
1.25oz northern brewer 8%
5.Add water to bring to 2.5 gallons and boil for 45 minutes.
6.Add 1/2oz northern brewer hops and and 1 tbs irish moss boil for 14 minutes
7.Add 1/2oz northern brewer hops and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes and strain and then add enough water to equel 5 gallons.
8.Pitch WYEAST 2112 California Lager yeast.
btw, make a starter, my yeast took 48 hours to kick in.
 

fischfam

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I have another question for the experts. If I am using 'WYEAST 2112' California yeast which the ideal temp according to the mfg web site is 58-68F and if I put in back in my tub which is only water but at 48F will that be too low a temp for this yeast. My issue is that if I leave my fermenter out at room temp (currently fermenting @ 64F) how do I do a rest when it reaches 75%?
 
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