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Lagering - Cold crashing steps and can you carbonate at the same time?

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Brian66

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I have a honey lager that is done fermenting - this is my first lager. I'm going to start cold crashing today.
1. Temp is at 68F I've slowly raised it from 50F during this past week. Can I just lower to 35F all at once or do I need to step it down 5 degrees at at time.
2. Once the cold crash is done I plan to put it in the keg for a couple weeks. Can I carbonate during that two weeks or should I wait until the 2 week lagering is done?
 

McKnuckle

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If you don't need the yeast to continue fermenting or metabolizing fermentation byproducts, then it's safe to drop it down without steps. The stepping technique is done to prevent yeast from going (nearly) dormant as the temperature drops.

Unless you have a means of preventing suck-back from your fermenter's airlock, consider racking to your serving keg before the cold crash, and leaving the beer there, carbonating in place (yes you can and should do that). There is no need to wait to carbonate. Any transferred yeast will flocculate in the cold temps and should be a non-issue for serving, clouding perhaps one or two glasses.

Lagering is not a 2 week process that is suddenly "done," but rather an extended multi-week affair that should coincide with periodic sampling and eventual giving in to the desire to just serve the beer. Try to think of it less as having these discrete stages and milestones, and more like a continuum of gradual conditioning, clearing, and becoming ready to fully open the tap.
 

bobeer

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I tend to cold crash for a month before I rack to a keg and carbonate and i do not step it down. I want to clear the beer and leave as much trub behind as possible. Plus, it'll continue to condition and clear in the keg once it's racked over. Lagers take much more time than ales and they will continue to get better and better the longer you can wait on it.
My process is pitch the yeast at the right temp the strain calls for and let it ride for 2-3 weeks. After the time has passed I move it to a 70 degree area for 3-5 days then throw it in the fridge as cold as I can get it for 30 days, then package.
 

McKnuckle

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^As you can see, there are many ways to do things. I would venture that @bobeer force carbonates, and if so, the amount of yeast transferred to the keg can be "none" if that's achievable.

In contrast, I either spund at the end of fermentation, or use priming sugar in my kegs. So I will always seek to ensure that some active yeast are present. Regarding trub; I keep this out of the fermenter from the beginning, so it's not a factor in my process.
 

bobeer

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^As you can see, there are many ways to do things. I would venture that @bobeer force carbonates, and if so, the amount of yeast transferred to the keg can be "none" if that's achievable.

In contrast, I either spund at the end of fermentation, or use priming sugar in my kegs. So I will always seek to ensure that some active yeast are present. Regarding trub; I keep this out of the fermenter from the beginning, so it's not a factor in my process.
Yes, many ways to brew beer! I do force carb 90% of my beer but I also cold crash before bottling as well. If I'm on top of everything, ales get a cold crash for a week or so, and like I said above, lagers for a month. When I bottle there's still enough yeast in suspension to carbonate the beer. If you're worried you can tap the racking cane a couple times on the bottom of the fermenter while racking but it's usually not necessary. Once the beer is carbonated in the bottle the yeast will drop out, wait 3 weeks at 70 degrees, then put in the fridge for 5-7 days before enjoying. Even when the beer is crystal clear going into the bottling bucket there's yeast at the bottom of the bottle by the next day. It's pretty cool.

Doing a whirlpool before you transfer the wort to a fermenter will help keep trub out as well as having a false bottom in the brew kettle if you can accommodate one.
 
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Brian66

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Thanks! I'm in no hurry. Yes, I have CO2 bag attached so during cold crash it will only suck back CO2. So I'll lager and carbonate after the cold crash. Thanks again!
 
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