The theory behind lagering

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sempf

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So, in a drunken haze, I brewed a half-remembered partial-mash recipe from a magazine in my LHBS that uses a lager yeast, since I now have a fridge. (Yay!) I don't remember the exact recipe but it was simple - 7 lbs of ultralight malt, 1 lb of crystal 15, yada yada.

Anyway, for some reason now forgotten I fermented it for 4 days at 68F and it put off a bunch of CO2, so I was happy. Then I racked it to secondary, and put it in the fridge at 44F and it has been there for about a month.

I have no idea where I came up with this process. Additionally, I don't know any of the gravity numbers 'cause this is the batch I broke my hydrometer into. Questions are - what would you do now? Did I miss a step? Isn't the lagering step more about finishing the beer and less about fermentation?

Curious about your thoughts.

S
 

menschmaschine

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The high primary fermentation temperature will have produced a ton of flavor-active compounds. It should have been fermented around 50°F, then lagered. Just drink it with a side of fruit and it'll taste fine.

This is why, to me, drinking and brewing don't mix.:D
 

pompeiisneaks

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first, I've never lagered, so I'm definitely not an expert, but I recall reading repeatedly that a lager is supposed to ferment at lower temperatures, 50-55ish, not 68, the only lager yeast taht does is a "steam beer" type used in anchor steam, but its the exception. Therefore, if you didn't ferment it at that range, you could have stressed the yeast and caused some off flavors. I know some lager yeasts ARE supposed to be raised in temps up to about 68 ish after most primary fermentation is done... if I recall reading correctly...
 

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Bill, I'll make a deal with you. I'll help you with lagering if you help me with Visual Basic (well, VBA).;)
 

menschmaschine

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I'd have to agree on this one. Just bottle and drink it and hope it isn't too fruity or sulfury. For future reference, here's my lager fermentation schedule in a nutshell:

-Pitch lots of yeast at ~50°F (either a big starter or two packs of dry lager yeast per 5 gallons)
-Primary ferment at 50°F
-When primary fermentation slows down, raise temp. to 60°F for a diacetyl rest for a couple days (even though I probably don't need a D-rest)
-Lower temp by 5°F/day until it's at 50°F again (this usually takes me to the 2-week mark)
-Rack to secondary, lower temp by 5°F/day until it's at ~33-34°F
-Lager for ~7 days per 8 points of gravity. On most of my lagers, that's ~6 weeks.
-Bottle or keg
 
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sempf

sempf

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So here is the deal. After 4 days of primary (ending at about 1.018) and 4 weeks of secondary (ending at about 1.012) it had a fair amount of dissolved CO2 and ... tasted pretty damn good! So, assuming that there was still some active yeast and certainly lots of sugar, I just bottled it right from secondary. No DME, no nothing. I am now bottle conditioning at around 64F. I drank some right from the secondary and it is actually pretty darn good. So, we will see in a few weeks.

S
 

HOOTER

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So, assuming that there was still some active yeast and certainly lots of sugar, I just bottled it right from secondary. No DME, no nothing.

I'm not sure your going to have any carbonation at all. If fermentation is complete, which it probably is, your beer will be flat without the addition of more fermentables. If fermentation isn't complete, you could have bottle bombs depending on how much fermentable sugars still remain. In the future, allow fermentation to fully finish, then prime with corn sugar or DME. This is the only way to have control over your carbonation and avoid the dreaded bottle bomb.
 
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sempf

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Proof positive that RDWHAHB is the answer.

I have left this beer sit, and I finally served it for Cinco de Mayo, to a group of 35 or so. As it turns out, it is great. There is a little problem with the carb as many surmised, but the flavor is amazing. The fruity overtones have given up, and it is full of lager flavor.

Problem is, IT IS STRONG. I have had 4, (and this is in 12 oz bottles) and I can feel it in a big way. I have to stop using 7 lbs of malt.

Thanks for the advice. I'm gonna brew it again after vacation, and try not to drop the lead in it, etc etc.

S
 
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