Author Topic: judging when lager is ready to rack  (Read 6944 times)

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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judging when lager is ready to rack
« on: January 19, 2013, 11:57:05 AM »
I've got a pils that I started fourteen day ago and I'm not quite sure that it's done. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know. Check the gravity. Well, I'm checking the thermometer. The one next to it that has been racked and is currently in dry hop reads two degrees less than the primary. The primary looks ready to rack. It isn't bubbling much. The yeast is mostly settled. But it's producing enough heat to read a full two degrees warmer than it's non-fermenting neighbor.
To rack, or not to rack, that is the question.
Yes, I know many of you skip the secondary completely, but I don't have much choice if I want to make more than one batch a month. I have one big glass (8 gallons maybe I've never measured it) primary vessel and three 5g secondaries. Racking frees the primary for the next batch, and the brews in secondary can hibernate until I feel like putting them into a keg. It works for me.
Anyway, what's with the heat? Is the yeast still doing something productive, or should I siphon the brew onto some dry hops?
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: judging when lager is ready to rack
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2013, 05:24:22 PM »
I've got grain all ground for the next batch, and there isn't any convection that I can see. I'm racking it.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline mm658

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Re: judging when lager is ready to rack
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2013, 10:07:50 AM »
Sounds reasonable, you should be okay.  I'm wondering if some of the difference might be explainable by the location of the blower in your fridge?  E.G., is one of the secondaries closer to where the cool air comes out than the other one?
Either way, you're probably just fine.

Offline tom_hampton

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Re: judging when lager is ready to rack
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2013, 10:28:11 AM »
Either way I think you will be fine. There is still yeast in suspension to keep working. 2 degrees is still signs of activity.So, expect it to take longer to fully finish after you rack. Maybe warm it by 5 degrees to keep it going and clean up any diacetyl and acetaldehyde.

That said, you method is very similar to how Gordon biersch brews their lagers.

I'm normally a big proponent of no secondary. But, you know what you're doing and use it to solve a specific problem in your brewery.  It makes sense for you, and you know not to do it until the beer is ready. As you know, most new Brewers don't. They read a recipe that says to rack after 4 days or whatever, and blindly follow to the detriment of their beer.

As long as you keep it warm until the butter and/or apple flavors are gone, you'llbe fine.   Just expect it to progress a little slower with less yeast to do the job.
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Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: judging when lager is ready to rack
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2013, 07:35:14 PM »
Quote
Sounds reasonable, you should be okay.  I'm wondering if some of the difference might be explainable by the location of the blower in your fridge?
I am able to keep the basement stays a nice lagery 50 degrees in the winter time. No blower. The temperature difference is all yeast.

Quote
As long as you keep it warm until the butter and/or apple flavors are gone, you'llbe fine.

I'm on my third lager season now, and I've never done this nor have I had a problem.
I just try to avoid carrying a full glass carboy up and down a flight of stairs when it can be avoided. Does it make that noticeable of a flavor difference? Could I take it upstairs in a keg and have the same effect, or does it need to be in something with an airlock?

Then there's that 90 minute boil for lagers you guy talk about. I've never done that either and my lagers taste fine to me. I try to avoid topping off a batch with tap water (awesome water from a well, but it's the principle of the matter) when I can avoid it, which I would have to do if I boiled for another half hour. Again, does it make that noticeable of a flavor difference?

Maybe it's something you would taste in my brew but I don't notice because I don't know what to look for. Kinda like how I enjoyed my extract brews until I learned what all-grain tasted like.

Just for the heck of it I'm making a wheat lager for my next batch. Wheat malt was on the shelf and the basement is lager temp. Why not? Will be using 6# lager, 1# carapils and 2# wheat malt (already ground so it ain't changing) mashed low and slow in the low to mid 140s with a gentle Saaz hopping (choices are Saaz, Tettnanger, and Fuggle), and a scoop of Fermentis Saflager 23 from the previous batch. Sound good?

Turns out I didn't rack or anything. Will do that next weekend when I start the wheat.
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Offline tom_hampton

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Re: judging when lager is ready to rack
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2013, 08:07:10 PM »
Wow. Lots of questions!

If you don't taste anything don't worry about it.  It's something that can happen depending on yeast strain. Pitching temp, and pitching rate. If you don't taste it, I doubt I would either.  These techniques are things to use to solve a flavor problem. If you don't have the problem you don't need to fix it.

Re: 90 minute boil. It's not a lager thing, it's a pilsner malt thing. 2row can need it too, but it's mostly pilsner.  If you chill quickly that will mitigate a lot of the risk for dms--overcooked green vegetable flavor.  Again, if you don't taste it, don't worry.

Re water addition:  if you did try a 90 minute boil, then you simply top up the kettle before the boil.  That way everything gets boiled .

Re: wheat lager. Why not? Sounds interesting. Saaz sounds like a good choice to me. It will be interesting to hear howit turns out.

R.I.P.:Belgian Blonde
On Tap: Apfelwein, Kolsch(v2), Pumpkin Ale, Belgian Specialty 
Aging/Storing: Coffee Porter, Chocolate Porter, Flanders Red, English Barlywine
Fermenting: Maggie's Altbier
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Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: judging when lager is ready to rack
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2013, 08:39:49 PM »
Quote
If you don't have the problem you don't need to fix it.

Works for me.

Quote
It's not a lager thing, it's a pilsner malt thing. 2row can need it too, but it's mostly pilsner.

Pilsner malt is 6 row? If I remember correctly the bags I've had read 2 row.

Quote
if you did try a 90 minute boil, then you simply top up the kettle before the boil.

Not enough room. I gather as much as I can boil without it going over, and after 60 it's where I want it to be.

Quote
It will be interesting to hear howit turns out.

If I remember I'll post it on this thread.
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Offline tom_hampton

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Re: judging when lager is ready to rack
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2013, 08:58:15 PM »
Pilsner malt is malt from Germany (pilsen)  that is very lightly killned and is used in pilsner lagers, and most other German lagers. It is a 2row variety, but it is not the same as "2row".   2row is often American 2row,  and is slightly more killned than pilsner malt. 

Pilsner has a distinct flavor, I find it slightly sweet and "soft"  in a way that American 2row is not.  UK 2row is often called pale malt, and is slightly more killned than us 2row. 

6row is really limited to the us, and is mostly restricted to use by the mass produced American light lagers.  It is very high in enzymes, which allows the bmc Brewers to use more adjuncts(rice, corn)  and still fully convert it to maltose. 6row is higher in protein and typically need a protein rest to reduce those products trins to shorter chains. 
R.I.P.:Belgian Blonde
On Tap: Apfelwein, Kolsch(v2), Pumpkin Ale, Belgian Specialty 
Aging/Storing: Coffee Porter, Chocolate Porter, Flanders Red, English Barlywine
Fermenting: Maggie's Altbier
Next Up: PtE(1.1), Belgian Dubbel?

Working thru all BCS recipes

 

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