Newbie question about brewing lagers.

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KarenHauck

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I've been thinking about brewing a black lager. I don't have the proper equipment to brew under proper, strict lager conditions. BUT, we are having a cold winter. And I have a cellar! My concern is what happens to lager if the temperature goes up a bit. Say into the 50s?
 

Spartan1979

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I've been thinking about brewing a black lager. I don't have the proper equipment to brew under proper, strict lager conditions. BUT, we are having a cold winter. And I have a cellar! My concern is what happens to lager if the temperature goes up a bit. Say into the 50s?

You actually want to ferment it in the low 50's. Below that, the yeast probably won't do much. Once it is done fermenting then you want to lager is in the 30's for several weeks.
 
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KarenHauck

KarenHauck

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Thank you! I really appreciate your advice. Fermenting in the 50s would be the easy part. I don't have a second fridge where I can keep it cool enough for the next few weeks.
I'll keep it in mind if I get another fridge!
 

Jayhem

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You can still brew a lager without the lagering at 32-35F part, it just won't taste quite as clean as if you lager it cold for several weeks or months. Just make sure you use Lager yeast and ferment around 50F and it will be a nice beer.
 
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KarenHauck

KarenHauck

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Thank you! I was thinking about a black lager. Any suggestions?
 
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Karen: Based on 3 Maine winters of brewing lagers, you certainly can 'ghetto lager'. Just make sure you have a good thermometer and while fermenting, check twice daily. My basement varies between 55-65 depending on how close to the furnace. I put the fermenters in a swamp cooler of water to even out the temp variations and move the setup around to get it to stay where I want. I even sometimes put it near a propped-open door to cool down. At DRest time she comes out of the swamp cooler and into a styrofoam box next to the furnace. Complicated, yes, but I can get temps. of the beer anywhere I want between 45*-68*. Then when I rack for lagering, she goes back in the swamp cooler and out to the garage where this winter it's varied between 15*-45*. While you do want it around 35*, the lagering temp can vary, especially because the swamp cooler moderates temps. I've had 2 inches of ice in the water, but the beer was not frozen.
 

ColoradoHomebrew

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Considering the lager was invented prior to refrigeration, I say go for it. They used to place the beer under ground and lager (store) for many months. Rarely does a cave or under ground go below 50F. Your primary concern is temperature control during primary fermentation and yeast pitching. You want to keep the lager temp from changing in the 50s. If you are doing this in your basement, great. If you are in the garage, try to stabilize it. And make sure you have enough yeast as in 4 times what you had for ales.
 
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Addition: Last winter I did a 'Cascadian Dark Lager' that started out as a Black IPA kit from Vermont Homebrewing supply(we were visiting Burlington). Tweaked it and used WY Oktoberfest blend yeast from a 'Novemberfest'. It was ...... interesting. I'd share the recipe if you are interested, but IMO it really isn't worth it.
If I were to do something similar, I'd check to see if there was a Sammy Black Lager clone.
I do like that one. Guiness Black lager isn't bad either, but not as good as the Sam Adams.
 

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I don't know about a black lager but the Vienna lager I'm about to bottle tasted awesome on the sample! Vienna lager is a dark lager using 50-100% vienna malt so it has a nice malty/biscuity taste but clean and crisp. Other than American Pale Ale this is my favorite well rounded beer style. I don't like Lagers that taste like bud light.
 
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I don't know about a black lager but the Vienna lager I'm about to bottle tasted awesome on the sample! Vienna lager is a dark lager using 50-100% vienna malt so it has a nice malty/biscuity taste but clean and crisp. Other than American Pale Ale this is my favorite well rounded beer style. I don't like Lagers that taste like bud light.
Yum, I agree Vienna lagers are great. My 'Opening Day Vienna' that I brewed on 11/2/13 and bottled the week before Christmas is almost gone. Everyone seems to like that one. Similar to Sammy lager with a touch of oktoberfest.
Now that recipe, I'd be willing to share......
 

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I just kegged my first lager and it's pretty good. My advice would actually be to make you give it a good d-rest. It's my understanding that certain yeast strains have a tendency to through off more diacetyl than others.

My own $.2 is to watch your hydrometer samples, and don't rely on the calendar. That'll help keep it clean.
 

Jayhem

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I just kegged my first lager and it's pretty good. My advice would actually be to make you give it a good d-rest. It's my understanding that certain yeast strains have a tendency to through off more diacetyl than others.

My own $.2 is to watch your hydrometer samples, and don't rely on the calendar. That'll help keep it clean.
Agreed. A D-rest (Diacetyl-Rest) is done by raising the beer temp slowly to 60 or 65F and holding for a couple days right at the tail end of primary fermentation and before transferring to secondary for cold lagering.

All this talk makes me want to go have a pint of my flat lager that is sitting on the rack waiting to be bottled this weekend!
 

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Agreed. A D-rest (Diacetyl-Rest) is done by raising the beer temp slowly to 60 or 65F and holding for a couple days right at the tail end of primary fermentation and before transferring to secondary for cold lagering.

All this talk makes me want to go have a pint of my flat lager that is sitting on the rack waiting to be bottled this weekend!
You're tellin' me!
 
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KarenHauck

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This is sounding possible! Had I mentioned that our basement is about 2/3 dirt cellar. Walls and foundation are big blocks of limestone! House is about 108 years old. We do have an outside door, besides the stairs to the kitchen. So it just might work!
Jim, can you tell me more about your biscuity Vienna lager? You are willing to share your recipe?
Thank you!
 
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Hi Karen, Sorry about the delay. I was on a skiing trip with a bunch of Scouts.
There is an online recipe site called 'brewtoad.com'. All my recipes(both good and bad) are on there under 'JimRMaine'. Check that out in case my attempt at posting the recipe here is unsuccessful.
Opening Day Vienna Lager: OG=1.051, FG=1.013, ABV=5.0%, SRM=13, IBU=21, IBU/OG=0.42. An all grain recipe. If you do extracts, you can substitute the Pilsner and some of the Vienna with a light LME or DME. But you do want to keep at least a couple lbs. of the Vienna malt which gives it most of the character. So, you'll have to do a partial mash(it's easy, we can talk you through it if you haven't before).
Fermentables:
6.0lb Vienna malt
2.0 lb Pilsner malt
0.5 lb Caramunich1
0.5 lb Caramunich3
0.5 lb Carared
2 oz. Chocolate malt(I used chocolate rye)
1 oz. Roast Barley
4oz. Acid malt (needed only because of my water profile)
1 oz. Hallertau hop 1st wort hop
1oz. Tettanger hop also at 1st wort hop
1oz. Saaz hop at 5 min.
Total boil time was 75 minutes. Batch size was 5.25 gal. into bucket.
Yeast was Wyeast Bavarian Lager. 1 liter starter, but stepped up twice.
Really turned out nice. Beautiful light orange color with a cream colored head that lasted nicely. Light hoppy aroma and flavor but definitely the major sense is the malty/nutty/bisquity flavor. This is one I'm definitely going to make a regular 'winter brew experience'.
 
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KarenHauck

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Thank you!
If you were with your Scouts, no apology necessary! I'm the daughter of an Eagle Scout!
 
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