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Bulls Beers

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I'm ready to starting largering. I've tried to read alot on this subject. Those of you that have been lagering, what have your experiences been? Have you lagered many beers? Have they met your expectations? What would you do differently?

I enjoy the beer that i make, but it lacks the crispness that i like.
 

cheezydemon

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Just recently sampled my first lager. It is a Helles Munich. It is as crisp and as clear as you could want. It tastes good, but I jumped straight to a Marzen. I guess the Helles just has less flavor than I prefer. It is good, and I am glad I brewed it. It was good experience.

I did not like the extra time a lager takes, and I guess I prefer more "ale-like" characteristics in beer.
 

HP_Lovecraft

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I've made a few lagers, and they all turned out very nice.

For me, I'm not so interested in the crispness, as I sometimes like a beer where the main flavor is the malt (ie Dunkel, or Bocks), with no fruitiness, and very mild hops. The Sam Adams Dark Lager is an example of a lager that I like.

I don't use a refrigerator. Instead, I only lager in the winter when my basement is around 50 degrees. I then use lager yeasts that work best around 50 degrees, like the WYeast 2278. I don't use starters, but instead use those WYeast Activator packs. They are really nice!

nick
 

Evan!

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If you're looking for that crispness, then lagering is definitely the way to go. I will say, however, that I wouldn't bother with them unless/until you get a fridge or chest freezer and a temp regulator. Temp is so important, and the last thing you want to do is sit around worrying all the time about it.

I've made 4 lagers to date, and have liked every one of them. They're hard to do right, though, because that crisp, clean palate means that any mistakes are evident, whereas with an ale, imperfections can be covered a little easier.
 
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Bulls Beers

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Recently, Ive been drinking alot of German lagers. It's what i like. The ales i've made are good, but not the same.
 
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Bulls Beers

Bulls Beers

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Evan! said:
If you're looking for that crispness, then lagering is definitely the way to go. I will say, however, that I wouldn't bother with them unless/until you get a fridge or chest freezer and a temp regulator. Temp is so important, and the last thing you want to do is sit around worrying all the time about it.

I've made 4 lagers to date, and have liked every one of them. They're hard to do right, though, because that crisp, clean palate means that any mistakes are evident, whereas with an ale, imperfections can be covered a little easier.
I agree. I'm getting a chest freezer w/ temp control soon.
 

Evan!

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Well, I wouldn't go into it thinking that lager brewing will necessarily make your beers better.
 
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Bulls Beers

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Evan! said:
Well, I wouldn't go into it thinking that lager brewing will necessarily make your beers better.
Right. I think(hope) it will give me a taste that i'm looking for.
 

Kaiser

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Basically every other batch for me is a lager. Now, that my basement is to cold for ales, I only do lagers.

I have been satisfied with most of them, but don't often get a chance to do a side-by-side to a good commercial example. To this point I'm not completely satisfied with the outcome. I think my process is alright and that I have to work on subtleties like smoothness of the bitterness and hop flavor/aroma. The latter doesn't seem to carry over into the finished beer like it does for my ales.

One thing that I have found very useful when brewing lagers is the idea of the forced ferment test. It takes the guesswork out of determining if a sweet beer is the result of an incomplete fermentation or dextrines left by the mashing process. At this point I wouldn't brew w/o this test, but it's not widely used in the home brewing community and many brewers turn out fine beers w/o it.

If you are really going down the path of making lagers and want to perfect them you will have to invest in temperature control of the fermentation.

Kai
 
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Bulls Beers

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Kaiser said:
Basically every other batch for me is a lager. Now, that my basement is to cold for ales, I only do lagers.

I have been satisfied with most of them, but don't often get a chance to do a side-by-side to a good commercial example. To this point I'm not completely satisfied with the outcome. I think my process is alright and that I have to work on subtleties like smoothness of the bitterness and hop flavor/aroma. The latter doesn't seem to carry over into the finished beer like it does for my ales.

One thing that I have found very useful when brewing lagers is the idea of the forced ferment test. It takes the guesswork out of determining if a sweet beer is the result of an incomplete fermentation or dextrines left by the mashing process. At this point I wouldn't brew w/o this test, but it's not widely used in the home brewing community and many brewers turn out fine beers w/o it.

If you are really going down the path of making lagers and want to perfect them you will have to invest in temperature control of the fermentation.

Kai
Kaiser, I read your article. It's really good. Yes. It's seems that temp control is almost everything. I'm not gonna do lagers until I'm able to control it. When I buy my freezer, what should I buy for a temp controller? Haven't done a side by side yet? Let me know, I'll swing by Marty's liquors in Newton and pick up some Weihenstephaner and other good German Lagers and do a taste test...:D
 

Kaiser

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Bulls Beers said:
When I buy my freezer, what should I buy for a temp controller?
I, and many others, are using the RANCO temperature controller. Search for it on ebay or buy it from one of the home brew stores. You only need the one stage RANCO to control a freezer.

BTW, since you are in the area (at least somewhat), I plan to host a Maerzen-Brewing at the end of March. Maybe this year we will get a better turn-out as I have seen quite a bunch of MA folks posting here lately. This would be a good time to taste some beers.

Kai
 

Glibbidy

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Bulls Beers said:
I'm ready to starting largering. I've tried to read alot on this subject. Those of you that have been lagering, what have your experiences been? Have you lagered many beers? Have they met your expectations? What would you do differently?
I have been brewing lager beer since 2006. I was inspired reading up on Decoctions, and wanted to rise to the challenge and try something new.
I have lagered several different beers, and continue to expand on this brewing style. The have all met or exceeded my expectations. IMHO doing a decoction for lager beers really makes a difference. As far as doing thing differently, I'd say strict temperature control is key. I still use my ghetto temp control device and it makes fine lager beer.
Good luck, and don't forgt your diacetyl rest.;)
 
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Bulls Beers

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Kaiser said:
I, and many others, are using the RANCO temperature controller. Search for it on ebay or buy it from one of the home brew stores. You only need the one stage RANCO to control a freezer.

BTW, since you are in the area (at least somewhat), I plan to host a Maerzen-Brewing at the end of March. Maybe this year we will get a better turn-out as I have seen quite a bunch of MA folks posting here lately. This would be a good time to taste some beers.

Kai
Cool. Let me know where and when..
 

Bobby_M

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I'd say decide if your favorite commercial beers are ales or lagers first. If they're ales, why bother with lagering yourself? If they're lagers, I'd ask myself if it's really the "lager" character that you like or what else it might be. I thought I liked lagers more than ales because I really like SABL but then I tried the Boston Ale and like that more. I've done a few lager/ale split batches and always like the ale more.

Lagers basically remove the fruity ester flavor of ales and add a touch of "sulpher".
 

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I got the Johnson Digital Temp controller from Apex...I sacrificed a power cord and wired it myself (saved some $$$).

I set it at 55* as the upper temp with a 2* variance. I have seen my temp range from 49* to 55* (my chest freezer is in the basement and tends to be chilly down there). I have a 5 gallon carboy of water in the chest freezer as well as the probe submerged in water to help moderate the temp readings (don't want it turning on everytime I take a peek).

My first lager is on day 6 of its first stage. It is a Steam clone from Walpole. After 24 hours in the fermentor, it was bubbling away like crazy (3-4 bubbles per second)...after 48 hours it had slowed down to a bubble every second....also...I was almost overwhelmed by the smell when I opened the freezer on the second day!!! WOW! I thought that it must have gone bad or something! Steve at Blackstone Valley said that was normal with the lagering yeast.

Guess I will have to wait and see...

Also, paulthenurse said he will be having a homebrew gathering the last weekend in March in Stoughton.

Good luck. Worse case senerio...you find you don't like to brew lagers...then you convert your freezer into a kererator!

-JMW
 
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Bulls Beers

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Bobby_M said:
I'd say decide if your favorite commercial beers are ales or lagers first. If they're ales, why bother with lagering yourself? If they're lagers, I'd ask myself if it's really the "lager" character that you like or what else it might be. I thought I liked lagers more than ales because I really like SABL but then I tried the Boston Ale and like that more. I've done a few lager/ale split batches and always like the ale more.

Lagers basically remove the fruity ester flavor of ales and add a touch of "sulpher".
That's a good question. I'm not sure now. What I've been drinking lately is Spaten, Hofbrau, Weihenstephaner Original. Even some Stella. What do you think?

Maybe I should cold condition my kegs and bottles longer? Maybe that'll help me to get that bite or crispness I'm looking for.
 
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Does anybody know how many 5 gallon carboys fit into 5 cuft, 7cuft and/or a 9cuft. a chest freezer?I went and looked at a 5 today and it looked very small.
 

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It's a ton cheaper to make a lager cabinet out of 2x2's, 1/4 inch plywood, insulating foamboard, an old window air conditioner and a ranco controller. Take a look around the DIY section for ideas/details. Then you can make it exactly the right size for the number of fermenters you want (make sure it's big enough to hold cornies too:) ).

Second, I have to second the smell comment! My first lager smelled like a dozen horribly spoiled eggs for about the first month. It took about 3 months after lagering stage began until it really started to taste good, so if you don't have extreme patience, don't even think about lagers. At two months, it tasted bad, so time is almost as important as really good temp control.
 

JustMrWill

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Bulls Beers said:
Does anybody know how many 5 gallon carboys fit into 5 cuft, 7cuft and/or a 9cuft. a chest freezer?I went and looked at a 5 today and it looked very small.

I cut out a few cardboard circles from old boxes and brought them with me when I was looking at something to put my kegs in. If you have a keg...use it as a template...if not..I think they can be either 8" or 9" diameter...so make a 9" dia circle to be be safe...

-JMW
 

cheezydemon

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Bulls Beers said:
How long did it take? What did you lager your beer in?Would you do it again?
It took about 9 weeks to be ready to drink.

I lagered in my garage and basement.

I am lagering the Marzen right now, so Yes, I am doing it again, and probably will again after that.

I fermented at about 52 for 2 weeks or so, brought it up to 60 for 2 days, and then it fluctuated between 34 and 48 for 4 weeks or so.

It is as crisp and clean as anything I have tasted. Maybe a hair more malt then miller (shudder). But that is enough to make it better than BMC.(IMHO)

It is worth trying.
 
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cheezydemon said:
It took about 9 weeks to be ready to drink.

I lagered in my garage and basement.

I am lagering the Marzen right now, so Yes, I am doing it again, and probably will again after that.

I fermented at about 52 for 2 weeks or so, brought it up to 60 for 2 days, and then it fluctuated between 34 and 48 for 4 weeks or so.

It is as crisp and clean as anything I have tasted. Maybe a hair more malt then miller (shudder). But that is enough to make it better than BMC.(IMHO)

It is worth trying.
So after 2 weeks and 2 days you racked to a secondary?Then dropped the temp for 4 weeks? Then bottle and/or keg as usual.
 

Kaiser

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Bulls Beers said:
Does anybody know how many 5 gallon carboys fit into 5 cuft, 7cuft and/or a 9cuft. a chest freezer?I went and looked at a 5 today and it looked very small.
Look into using kegs for lagering. There are more space efficient than carboys and you can keep them under pressure during lagering.

Kai
 

Kaiser

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Bulls Beers said:
So after 2 weeks and 2 days you racked to a secondary?Then dropped the temp for 4 weeks? Then bottle and/or keg as usual.
What was your specific gravity when you racked to the secondary?

Kai
 

JustMrWill

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Opps... just re-read...I used the cardboard templates for my carnie kegs...so...

I can fit 2 - 6.5 gallon carboys in my freezer.

I can fit 4 carnies...more if I can use the compressor hump (need to build a collar).

-JMW
 
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Kaiser said:
Look into using kegs for lagering. There are more space efficient than carboys and you can keep them under pressure during lagering.

Kai
So after the Primary you can rack to a keg(secondary) just like going to a carboy?

What PSI do you want to keep it at while lagering?
 

Kaiser

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Bulls Beers said:
So after the Primary you can rack to a keg(secondary) just like going to a carboy?
Yes

What PSI do you want to keep it at while lagering?
Any. Mine are fully carbonated while they are lagering. Makes it much easier to pull a sample once in a while since you don't have to hook up CO2.

some pressure will be necessary to keep the lid sealed.

Kai
 
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How do you regulate the temp when you have many beers at different stages? Is it done in a separate cooler until your ready to chill it down to the 32ish mark, where the other kegs are for the last stage in largering?
 
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