newb making lager...am i doing anything fundamentally wrong?

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zenit

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So i made a batch of lager pilsner (can of liquid malt, some powdered malt and 2 packets of hops). Now i have a question about fermentation...I put everything in a bucket fermenter with an airlock, wrapped it in tin foil to prevent light from getting in, duct taped the foil so it doesnt get blown away by the wind and put it on the balcony. The temperature outside fluctuates from 28F at night to 55F during the day. Is this a bad range for fermentation? Right now its 35F outside and the airlock is bubbling rather vigorously. What is the freezing point of raw beer anyhow?

Will i be okay with these temperatures or am i doing something fundamentally wrong?

I also dumped the hops straight into the pot when i was boiling the whole mess and now it is all in fermenter, hops and all. Should i have removed the hops somehow from the mixture before fermenting?
 

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So i made a batch of lager pilsner (can of liquid malt, some powdered malt and 2 packets of hops). Now i have a question about fermentation...I put everything in a bucket fermenter with an airlock, wrapped it in tin foil to prevent light from getting in, duct taped the foil so it doesnt get blown away by the wind and put it on the balcony. The temperature outside fluctuates from 28F at night to 55F during the day. Is this a bad range for fermentation? Right now its 35F outside and the airlock is bubbling rather vigorously. What is the freezing point of raw beer anyhow?

Will i be okay with these temperatures or am i doing something fundamentally wrong?

I also dumped the hops straight into the pot when i was boiling the whole mess and now it is all in fermenter, hops and all. Should i have removed the hops somehow from the mixture before fermenting?
Temperature fluctuation is going to stress the yeast. Especially that big of one. Once there is ethanol in beer (which it sounds there is), the freezing temp is below 32F, so you should be fine there.
 

oguss0311

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You can use a steeping bag for your hops next time if you want- and you'll just pull out the bag and all the hops with it.
If you want to control the temp ranges that your yeast are going through- consider putting the bucked into a cooler filled with ice water, and rotate frozen water bottles every day to keep temps more consistent. It does not Need to be covered (Who has a cooler that can fit a fermentation bucket!)
 
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zenit

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What are the taste consequences when it comes to yeast that has been stressed a bit?
 

z987k

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What are the taste consequences when it comes to yeast that has been stressed a bit?
various off flavors. I find it usually has a "hot" flavor which is higher chain alcohols. Esters would also be possible, which is undesirable in a lager.
 

Saccharomyces

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Let it ride and let us know how it turns out. I bet it'll turn out fine. :) The yeast produce heat as they ferment, so it will keep itself significantly warmer than the ambient temp during the nights.

The key to avoiding yeast stress is to pitch plenty of healthy yeast and aerate well. I pitch a 2L starter and aerate with an O2 stone as standard practice. If you do that the yeast will be chillin' and it takes a LOT to get them stressed out. I've heard stories of fermentations that got into the upper 80's and still turned out great when proper pitching rates and aeration were used.
 
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zenit

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wel i let it ferment for a week and bubbling slowed down. So i transferred it into secondary today, so no more hops and other gunk in there.

However now after 2 hours in secondary its fermenting and bubbling like crazy again. Is that normal? I tried a little and it tasted good, only slightly sweet. Unfortunately i broke the hydrometer trying to sterilize it so i could not take the reading.

This is what it looked like in primary,.....does this look fine?

 

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That looks like actively fermenting wort. It's too late now, but next time wait about two weeks in primary for a lager. Lagers tend to take longer, due to the lower fermentation temperatures. It should be ok, you'll just have more sediment in the secondary.
 
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zenit

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ahhh ok. recipe called for 7 days in primary, so i followed it....thats good to know for the future. Right now the fermentation seems to be still goign strong in the secondary. The beer developed a 3 inch "head" and looks like a giant glass of beer with bubbles coming up. Pretty cool.

How long should i keep it in the secondary before bottling? the recipe calls for 3 weeks, but i dont trust it any more.
 

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ahhh ok. recipe called for 7 days in primary, so i followed it....thats good to know for the future. Right now the fermentation seems to be still goign strong in the secondary. The beer developed a 3 inch "head" and looks like a giant glass of beer with bubbles coming up. Pretty cool.

How long should i keep it in the secondary before bottling? the recipe calls for 3 weeks, but i dont trust it any more.
Don't bottle until fermentation is complete, the best way to tell that is with a hydrometer. You may want to do a tertiary since it is still fermenting pretty good (if possible) however I've never done a fermentation with such high temp swings in the ambeient temperature. Otherwise, with a lager I'd wait a couple weeks after fermentation is complete.
 
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zenit

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well i let it sit in the secondary without messing with anything, and checked it today. By now all fermentation looks like its over, and the beer looked rather clear, so i bottled it.

The taste wasnt actually too bad, tastes similar to czech pilsners, but more hoppy, perhaps a bit too much. Its actually not bad, and rather pleasant to drink, even though it is flat now. Would the intense hoppy flavor mellow up a bit after it sits another few weeks in bottle?
 

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+1 On the above. The hops will mellow in time. You should have an outstanding lager in a few weeks.:tank:
 

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This wouldn't happen to be Better Brew's Continental Pilsner kit would it? I've got that one carbing up in bottles right now. I gave it a week at room temps (65-70) then two weeks in the fridge (35-40). No hydro readings on this one, because I didn't have a hydrometer at the time. What I will say is, it is the clearest beer I've done to date. It did have a bit more hop than I was looking for, but I'm hoping a month in the bottles will even that out.
 
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zenit

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it wasnt a kit, just a bunch of ingredients the local store suggested.
 

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Things to do different next time:

1. Ferment at proper range, avoiding temp swings.
2. Use a hydrometer to check the gravity before bottling (I am worried that you may end up with bottle bombs just using visible signs for determining fermentation activity).
3. RDWHAHB! ( but at least you came here to get answers for your questions!)

Sounds like you got a handle on the process pretty good.
 
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zenit

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Things to do different next time:

1. Ferment at proper range, avoiding temp swings.
2. Use a hydrometer to check the gravity before bottling (I am worried that you may end up with bottle bombs just using visible signs for determining fermentation activity).
3. RDWHAHB! ( but at least you came here to get answers for your questions!)

Sounds like you got a handle on the process pretty good.
i will be more careful for sure next time. Now that i think about it, the temperature swings were not that bad. Even though the temperature fluctuated between day and night, the temperature strip indicator on the carboy fluctuated in 40-50F range. Probably wrapping everything in tin foil and 2 blankets kept things semi insulated.

As for hydrometer i did have one when i started the batch, but i broke it in the sanitizing accident right when i was about to take the reading of freshly boiled wort. I will have to go buy a new one when i make my next batch.

here is another question: should i keep bottles now at room temprature for a couple of days to get the yeast going or should i put them in the cold garage? So far i kept them at room temperature for 48 hours or so.
 
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