Author Topic: Fermenting Lagers  (Read 3446 times)

Offline CheersToGreatBeers

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Fermenting Lagers
« on: May 15, 2017, 06:58:51 PM »
I have been an all grain ale homebrew for several years and recently strarting brewing lagers to learn how clean of a beer that I can brew.  I am looking for suggestions regarding lager beers and yeasts:

1.)  I have read that it is important to pitch your yeast into your wort with both being at the initial lager temperature.  I have been lagering at 50 degrees F.  It is difficult to get the wort down to 50.  Would it be best to place the primary and the yeast starter into the 50 degreee fermentation chamber for a day before pitching?

2.) At what point is it best to do the Diacytal rest? 

3.) When would you suggest transfering to a secondary?

4.) The Vienna Lager that I just brewed has little carbonation after 2-1/2 weeks of bottle conditioning.  Because, I lagered only at 50 degrees F (for 45 days) versus a lower temperature, I figured that I would have enough viable yeast for carbonation. I may have been wrong...though I will give it more time.   Related:   I have a Czech lager in the primary and plan to lager at 50 or the low 30 degrees.  How does one calculate the amount yeast to add at bottling time?

 Thanks

KellerBrauer

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Re: Fermenting Lagers
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2017, 05:12:58 AM »
I have been an all grain ale homebrew for several years and recently strarting brewing lagers to learn how clean of a beer that I can brew.  I am looking for suggestions regarding lager beers and yeasts:

1.)  I have read that it is important to pitch your yeast into your wort with both being at the initial lager temperature.  I have been lagering at 50 degrees F.  It is difficult to get the wort down to 50.  Would it be best to place the primary and the yeast starter into the 50 degreee fermentation chamber for a day before pitching?

I have always pitched my yeast at 68 degrees F, then brought the fermentation temp down to about 50F. However, I have read about folks who have brought their starter down to 50F with the wort and pitched at that temperature. 

2.) At what point is it best to do the Diacytal rest?

I do my Diacytal rest when fermentation is nearly over - when bubbles in the airlock slow to about one in a minute; about 7-10 days.

3.) When would you suggest transfering to a secondary?

I transfer mine to the secondary/bottling bucket after about three days of Diacytal rest and I rest at about 68-70 degrees.  However, I have never allowed it to remain in the secondary.  I have always bottled right away.

4.) The Vienna Lager that I just brewed has little carbonation after 2-1/2 weeks of bottle conditioning.  Because, I lagered only at 50 degrees F (for 45 days) versus a lower temperature, I figured that I would have enough viable yeast for carbonation. I may have been wrong...though I will give it more time.   Related:   I have a Czech lager in the primary and plan to lager at 50 or the low 30 degrees.  How does one calculate the amount yeast to add at bottling time?

I have always allowed my beer to condition at about 68-70 degrees for about three weeks before lagering.  Once I'm sure the carbonation is where I want it, I Lager for several weeks, or sever months depending on the style.  Now, I'm not suggesting that's the proper approach, I'm only stating my practice.  I will be interested in learning what other brewers do.  I too am an Ale brewer who enjoys a nice Octoberfest in the fall and the above information is my method for making one.

 Thanks

I hope this information helps!

Good luck!
« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 05:16:00 AM by KellerBrauer »

Offline Oginme

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Re: Fermenting Lagers
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2017, 05:47:03 AM »
I have been an all grain ale homebrew for several years and recently strarting brewing lagers to learn how clean of a beer that I can brew.  I am looking for suggestions regarding lager beers and yeasts:

1.)  I have read that it is important to pitch your yeast into your wort with both being at the initial lager temperature.  I have been lagering at 50 degrees F.  It is difficult to get the wort down to 50.  Would it be best to place the primary and the yeast starter into the 50 degreee fermentation chamber for a day before pitching?

I am lucky in that my well water is pretty cold in the winter.  It takes very little time for the immersion chiller to get my wort down to the 50's and a little bit longer to get it down into the low 40's.  As for the yeast, I will have made a yeast starter in a flask and cold crashed it before brew day.  At the start of the brewing, I remove the flask and decant the excess starter off the top of the yeast cake.  At the end of the brewing, I take my chilled sample for gravity reading and add it into the flask with the yeast and swirl to break up the yeast cake.  It then sits at room temperature for a few hours until I start to see signs of fermentation activity.  I then pitch it into the oxygenated wort somewhere in the low 50's (50F to 54F.)

2.) At what point is it best to do the Diacytal rest? 

Like KellerBrauer, I let the initial fermentation go for about 7 to 9 days in my fermentation chamber.  I start with the first three days at 50F then slowly raise it about 1 degree each day to 54F to 56F.  Then I bring it up to around 62F to 64F for three days for the diacytal rest. 

3.) When would you suggest transfering to a secondary?

I don't do secondary with many of my brews, ale or lager.  Once the diacytal rest is done, I bring the carboy into my sauna room which is around 40F during the winter.  I let it cold crash for about a week or so before bringing it back to room temperature for bottling.

4.) The Vienna Lager that I just brewed has little carbonation after 2-1/2 weeks of bottle conditioning.  Because, I lagered only at 50 degrees F (for 45 days) versus a lower temperature, I figured that I would have enough viable yeast for carbonation. I may have been wrong...though I will give it more time.   Related:   I have a Czech lager in the primary and plan to lager at 50 or the low 30 degrees.  How does one calculate the amount yeast to add at bottling time?

I've never had to add extra yeast even after cold crashing.  After bottling, I allow it to sit at room temperatures (low to mid 60's) for 2 to 3 weeks and it usually carbonates pretty well by the end of the 3rd week at the longest.  The bottles then go back down to the sauna for lagering for a month or so.  Over the past four years, I have found myself brewing more and more lagers to the point where about 50% of my brews this past winter were lagers


 Thanks
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Offline durrettd

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Re: Fermenting Lagers
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2017, 03:12:23 PM »
I have been an all grain ale homebrew for several years and recently strarting brewing lagers to learn how clean of a beer that I can brew.  I am looking for suggestions regarding lager beers and yeasts:

1.)  I have read that it is important to pitch your yeast into your wort with both being at the initial lager temperature.  I have been lagering at 50 degrees F.  It is difficult to get the wort down to 50.  Would it be best to place the primary and the yeast starter into the 50 degreee fermentation chamber for a day before pitching?    The following is my opinion and how I brew. Please don't consider anything I say "the right way" or "the best way" or "the only way!"  I use dry lager yeast (34/70) almost exclusively, so I worry less don't worry about pitching temp. About 30 minutes before the wort reaches pitching/fermentation temp (50F), I add about 100 ml (about 3 - 4 oz) of cooled/boiled water to my fermenter (it has a shallow conical bottom section) and sprinkle my dry yeast on top of the water. If I were using liquid yeast, I would make a starter a few days ahead of time and pour the slurry into the fermenter immediately before draining the chilled wort into the fermenter. When using the saved yeast from a previous batch - my usual method - I treat the saved slurry as if it were a starter. The starter or saved slurry is always at refrigerator temperature. My impression is that yeast doesn't mind being warmed up when it's pitched, but sometimes doesn't like being chilled. It sounds like you're using the term "Lager" to describe what I call "fermentation". Terminology will not affect your beer, but it can cause some confusion when reading forum posts and brewing books.

2.) At what point is it best to do the Diacytal rest? IF the beer needs a diacytal rest (taste it to determine that) I'll do it once it has reached final gravity, meaning three gravity measurements (each three days apart) are the same. Some are satisfied with fewer measurements fewer days apart.

3.) When would you suggest transfering to a secondary? Never. The rumors about yeast autolysis are leftover from the not so good old days.

4.) The Vienna Lager that I just brewed has little carbonation after 2-1/2 weeks of bottle conditioning.  Because, I lagered only at 50 degrees F (for 45 days) versus a lower temperature, I figured that I would have enough viable yeast for carbonation. I may have been wrong...though I will give it more time.   Related:   I have a Czech lager in the primary and plan to lager at 50 or the low 30 degrees.  How does one calculate the amount yeast to add at bottling time? I ferment starting at 50F. Lagering seems to work best as near freezing as you can get. (If you're kegging, you'll eventually push it too low and freeze a keg of beer; no problem; just let it thaw and press on.)   Back to your question: Just throw in a half-pack of dry yeast when you bottle. The carbonation level is determined by the amount of priming sugar, not the amount of yeast.

 Thanks

Offline CheersToGreatBeers

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Re: Fermenting Lagers
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2017, 09:37:36 PM »
Hi durrettd, Oginme, and KellerBrauer.
Thanks for your suggestions.  It sounds like there are varied ways to ferment and lager; and achieve good lager beer.

The next time that I brew a lager, my inclination is to try to pitch the yeast starter at my initial lager temperature.  Following immersion chilling (down to around 60F) I would bring the wort down to 50F either via an ice bath or the fermentation chamber.  The yeast starter would be chilled in the same manner as the wort.

For the lager that I brewed on 5/6/17, I checked the gravity the last two days and found that it is within several points of the FG.  Tonight I moved it to a 68-70 degree area for a 2-3 day dicetyl rest.  Then, I plan to transfer to a secondary to get it off the trub.  (For now, I am still old school regarding getting my ales and lagers off the trub and dead yeast even though it may not matter...and I risk additional exposure to oxygen.)

From there, I plan to continue to ferment at 50 degrees.  I have not decided yet whether to lager at this same 50 degrees F or bring it down to the low 30's F.  If I do the latter, I am inclined to add the suggested 1/2 pack of  dry yeast to my 5 gallon batch in the bottling bucket prior to bottling.  Then let it carbonate in the bottle for 2 (plus) weeks.

durrettd: You are correct. I misused the lager term in my initial post...should have stated fermenting.  And thanks for the yeast prior to bottling information...including reminding me that the priming sugar and not the yeast quantity will drive the carbonation levels.

Oginme: You have given hope that my Vienna lager that was bottled nearly 3 weeks ago may yet acheive the desired carbonation levels.

KellerBrauer: Question: You noted that you condition your lagers at about 68-70 degrees for about three weeks before lagering.  Do you anticipate creating any unwanted esters in your lager via conditioning at this high of a temperature?  Or is this not an issue because fermentation is basically done by then.

Cheers all!

KellerBrauer

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Re: Fermenting Lagers
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2017, 05:49:38 AM »
Greetings cheerstogreatbeers - that's a great question that I have already put a lot of thought into.  The reason why I condition at that temperature is basically a fear I have that there will not be enough yeast activity to fully condition the bottles.

No, I have never tasted any esters in my lagers.  I suppose this is not the accepted method of condition a lager, but I'm afraid if I condition at 50F I might not get the carbonation.

All that said, my experience with lagers is not very extensive - maybe a half dozen batches.  Perhaps I will one day try conditioning at lagering temperature and see how it goes.  I've also learned a lot from these posts in this subject.

Great question, thanks for asking!
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 05:52:56 AM by KellerBrauer »