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What's the deal with kolsch and cold storage?

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BlendieOfIndie

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Lots of the stuff I read recommends a "lager-like" cold storage after primary fermentation for these German ales. I have no problem believing that a kolsch needs to be aged for a period of time, but what's the deal with the low temp? I'm using WhiteLabs WLP029, and WhiteLabs says the yeast doesn't ferment well under 62F. I would imagine that at a low temperature (say 40F) the yeast would go almost completely dormant - this IS an ale yeast after all. Furthermore, I've read posts stating that a warm aging process works well (Age it warm longer). So why should I "cold age" my kolsch? Is there something about kolsch ale's that lends them better to cold aging?
 

cubbies

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I cant give you the answer, but I keg my beer so all my beer pretty much gets cold aging. My beer is 1-2 weeks in primary, then 1-2 weeks in secondary, and then into the keg for at least a week. At this stage, it is just sitting in the cold, essentially cold aging and I can tell you that every ale gets better over time in the cold.
 

Arneba28

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I have wondered this too. #1, all fermentation should be done (for the most part) when your beer goes to secondary. So that just aging basically, from what I understand. I have 2 batches going now and I am using a secondary for the first time with both of them. I waited till the gravity readings had stopped changing and were only changing very slow before I tossed them to secondary. cold does seem to age ales very nice from what I have seen.
 

blacklab

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For any beer, a period of 'cold crash' after fermentation is completed will help the beer clear up. This is esp effective with a light, clear beer. Cold crash should be done after all fermentation is done.

During the winter, I just take the secondary out into the garage for a week or so.
 

Funkenjaeger

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The book "Designing Great Beers" says cold conditioning is the norm for kolsch, but it does say that the temps used are generally higher than for lagers (41-50F), indicating that since the objective is to SLOW the metabolic activity of the yeast, not stop it, the temperature does need to be a bit higher than for lager yeast which can work in even colder temps. But, he's also talking about kolsch yeast which ferments well between mid-50's to mid-60's, so if your particular yeast doesn't work well that low then perhaps you'll need to make the 'cold conditioning' temp even higher to keep the yeast from going completely dormant... or find another yeast.

But, that info is based on his examination of commercial brewing practices for the style. Among the NHC 2nd-round entries that he reviewed, he states that the procedures varied wildly, from some people fermenting it as a lager, to some people fermenting it with ale yeast and never dropping it below 60F at any point... So it's not like cold conditioning is necessarily a 'must'.
 

BierMuncher

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Kolsch yeast is designed to be a very "clean" fermenting yeast. That is, it will, if given time and the right conditions, fall out nearly as completely as a lager yeast.

The "cold" conditioning should only be done after active fermentation is complete.

I use Kolsch yeast a lot. I ferment at 65 degrees (same temps as my other ale yeasts). Once the beer has dropped (2-3 weeks) I cold condition the keg (or secondary) for another 1-2 weeks at around 40 degrees.

This gets the remaining yeast to fall the the beer to clear.

Now, this is pretty much the same protocol I used for all my ale yeasts and they seem to clear just as well (except my wits).
 

ArcaneXor

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BlendieOfIndie said:
Lots of the stuff I read recommends a "lager-like" cold storage after primary fermentation for these German ales. I have no problem believing that a kolsch needs to be aged for a period of time, but what's the deal with the low temp? I'm using WhiteLabs WLP029, and WhiteLabs says the yeast doesn't ferment well under 62F. I would imagine that at a low temperature (say 40F) the yeast would go almost completely dormant - this IS an ale yeast after all. Furthermore, I've read posts stating that a warm aging process works well (Age it warm longer). So why should I "cold age" my kolsch? Is there something about kolsch ale's that lends them better to cold aging?
The fundamental difference between ale and lager yeasts is where they do their work (at the top vs. the bottom of the fermenter), not so much at what temperature. Koelsch is fermented cool-ish because Cologne is at about 50 degrees north - their cellars are chilly.

The cold conditioning comes after the yeast has done its work - it helps settle the yeast out (Koelsch yeast is pretty slow at doing that) and imparts that wonderful, lager-like crispness to the beer that sets it apart from most other light ales.
 
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BlendieOfIndie

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Funkenjaeger said:
... so if your particular yeast doesn't work well that low then perhaps you'll need to make the 'cold conditioning' temp even higher to keep the yeast from going completely dormant... or find another yeast.
This is an interesting idea of adjusting the cold storage temp based on the yeast. Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of temp. control. If I do cold storage, it'll be in my kitchen fridge (can you tell I'm a bachelor?), which I don't want to take above the low 40s. It might still be worth it for clearing purposes.


ArcaneXor said:
The cold conditioning comes after the yeast has done its work ... and [it] imparts that wonderful, lager-like crispness to the beer that sets it apart from most other light ales.
So is there a flavor difference between warm aging and cold aging?
 

slnies

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BierMuncher said:
Kolsch yeast is designed to be a very "clean" fermenting yeast. That is, it will, if given time and the right conditions, fall out nearly as completely as a lager yeast.

The "cold" conditioning should only be done after active fermentation is complete.

I use Kolsch yeast a lot. I ferment at 65 degrees (same temps as my other ale yeasts). Once the beer has dropped (2-3 weeks) I cold condition the keg (or secondary) for another 1-2 weeks at around 40 degrees.

This gets the remaining yeast to fall the the beer to clear.

Now, this is pretty much the same protocol I used for all my ale yeasts and they seem to clear just as well (except my wits).
Not to be a pain, but the kolsch yeast strains I have been using stay in suspension forever. This said cold crashing does help, but most of the time, filtering is the norm. That said, kolsch yeast is great for American Wheat beers. Everything else sounds about right though.
BierMuncher, what strain do you use? I want to try it out, I like the sound of not filtering.
 

brewt00l

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slnies said:
Not to be a pain, but the kolsch yeast strains I have been using stay in suspension forever. This said cold crashing does help, but most of the time, filtering is the norm. That said, kolsch yeast is great for American Wheat beers. Everything else sounds about right though.
BierMuncher, what strain do you use? I want to try it out, I like the sound of not filtering.
My kolsch came out crystal clear & many folks thought it was a light lager/low hopped pils....course, I lagered it for a few weeks at 35 degrees after two week low 60s fermentation.
 

mykayel

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I made a Kolsh/Marzen and a Mocktoberfest pitched on top of that batch (using WL029). I fermented at 62-63 degrees for 1-2 weeks and another 1-2 weeks in secondary and then transfered to a keg and kept them in my fridge and drank. A lot settled out in seconday and after a couple weeks in the keg each was very clear. Now a lot settled out in the keg to as when I took one of them to a party it stirred it up a little and it was a touch cloudy but after bringing it back home, after a couple of days it was crystal clear again.

I very much recomend this yeast if you want that "lager like" taste but don't have the means to actually lager. It took a little more than a month - 6 weeks for each of these to mature to where they were drinkable (before they had that definate "green/young" beer taste) but once they hit that spot they were great and only got better with time. I think this might be what some are refering to needed to cold lager a kolsh as it they just need a little time to reach perfection.
 

malkore

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slnies said:
Not to be a pain, but the kolsch yeast strains I have been using stay in suspension forever. This said cold crashing does help, but most of the time, filtering is the norm. That said, kolsch yeast is great for American Wheat beers. Everything else sounds about right though.
BierMuncher, what strain do you use? I want to try it out, I like the sound of not filtering.
I know you asked BM, but I'll offer up that I've only used Wyeast 2565 Kolsch per the better reviews I've seen, compared to white labs kolsch strain.

I get crystal clear Kolsch. I just give mine a cooler 2 week secondary in my basement (45-50F).
 

Brew-boy

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I made a crystal clear Kolsch with the wyeast product and it won me first place at the Michigan state fair in 2007. I am getting ready for another comp and decided to try the White labs yeast so I am not sure how well that will clear. I love the taste of a good Kolsch you just can't beat it.
 

slnies

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malkore said:
I know you asked BM, but I'll offer up that I've only used Wyeast 2565 Kolsch per the better reviews I've seen, compared to white labs kolsch strain.

I get crystal clear Kolsch. I just give mine a cooler 2 week secondary in my basement (45-50F).
Thank you for the advice. I will try the Wyeast. I have had great results with the White labs Kolsch yeast in my Wheat though, so I think I will keep it just for that. The next kolsch I will be brewing on the first weekend of March so I am excited to check it out. Thanks again. S.
 

jeff967

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I've only used Wyeast 2565 Kolsch
one of my best beers, we brew and bottle it biweekly. 4 weeks in the bucket, 3 weeks in bottles, chill and drink. looks good and its very tastey.
 

batesjer

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Not trying to hijack this thread but this question seems related and I can't find the answer anywhere. If I want to brew a Kolsch but am bottling, should I still cold crash after primary fermentation or will this drop too much yeast out of suspension and result in slow or under-carbonation. I was thinking about dropping the temp in the secondary to low to mid 50's (F) but not all the way to 40 as some suggest.
 

brewt00l

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batesjer said:
Not trying to hijack this thread but this question seems related and I can't find the answer anywhere. If I want to brew a Kolsch but am bottling, should I still cold crash after primary fermentation or will this drop too much yeast out of suspension and result in slow or under-carbonation. I was thinking about dropping the temp in the secondary to low to mid 50's (F) but not all the way to 40 as some suggest.
I lager in a fridge @ 33~34 degrees for a few weeks then bottle as normal.
 

batesjer

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Want to expand a little on my previous post. I understand that there are a certain types of beer which call for a cold conditioning period after primary fermentation. I know that a lot of yeasts take forever to fall out of suspension and cold crashing helps out this process. I guess my question is whether cold crashing is a bad practice for someone who bottles their beer, and would it just be a better practice to cold condition within the bottles only. The disadvantage to this would obviously be a layer of yeast sediment within the bottle but ultimately wouldn't cold conditioning within the bottle accomplish the same thing as cold conditioning in a secondary?
 

anderj

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I have had good luck with my Kolsch, here is my schedule

-primary at ~60 for two weeks or so

-secondary at ~60 for three weeks

-prime and bottle and keep the bottles at ~68 for two weeks, or until I am happy with the carbonation

-stick all of the bottles in the fridge at ~40 and see how long they last

after a few weeks they are crystal clear (usually only a few bottles left at this point)

-ander
 

Dextersmom

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how are you guys carbing if you're secondarying around 40-50? Is there still suspended yeast somehow when you bottle and prime or are you just kegging and force carbing?
 

brewt00l

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batesjer said:
The disadvantage to this would obviously be a layer of yeast sediment within the bottle but ultimately wouldn't cold conditioning within the bottle accomplish the same thing as cold conditioning in a secondary?
I haven't compared bulk lagering to bottle lagering to comment.
 

brewt00l

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Dextersmom said:
Is there still suspended yeast somehow when you bottle and prime
In my case, yes...enough to carb. If you are concerned, you can always pull a bit over when you rack I suppose.
 

Reverend JC

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slnies said:
Not to be a pain, but the kolsch yeast strains I have been using stay in suspension forever. This said cold crashing does help, but most of the time, filtering is the norm. That said, kolsch yeast is great for American Wheat beers. Everything else sounds about right though.
BierMuncher, what strain do you use? I want to try it out, I like the sound of not filtering.

My Kolschs come out very clear. I use the White Labs tube and have been very happy with it other than the sulphury smell of the beer, which cold conditioning also helps eliminate.
 

TerapinChef

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I used White Labs Kolsch with a three week cold conditioning in a fridge at around 36. I had no trouble with carbonation at the end of the "lagering" period. The brew (EdWort's Bee Cave Kolsch) came out clear, clean, and carbonated beautifully.
 
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