Author Topic: new to pilsner / lager  (Read 10060 times)

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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new to pilsner / lager
« on: April 04, 2011, 07:39:34 PM »
In the ale world I will rack after a week to ten then bottle/keg in no more than three more. After that I risk autolysis and burnt tire taste does not a good beer make. Learned that lesson the lazy way.

At the moment I'm taking advantage of below 55 degree temps in the basement to try lager.

My secondary contains a brew that was racked after two weeks, and after two more weeks has a fair share of sediment along with constant tiny bubbles (glass carboy almost full) to show active fermentation.  Reminds me of a slow wine.

My primary contains a brew that, after a week, still has yeasty floaties but no foam. Temp has dropped as well which tells me the yeast is no longer furiously producing heat.

Here's my deal. 

I don't want to do a second rack of the secondary for fear of contamination, but I don't want it to taste like burnt tire.

I don't want to rack my primary early either.

I would kindly request advice from some lager brewers since I've no experience in the matter.
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Offline DaveinPa

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Re: new to pilsner / lager
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2011, 04:08:37 PM »
Most lager recipes I've come across do secondary ferment (lagering) at about 15 deg below the fement temp.  At this lower temp it's typical to leave it for 4-5 weeks in the secondary fermenter. 

Offline iipabrewer

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Re: new to pilsner / lager
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2011, 07:15:30 PM »
In the ale world I will rack after a week to ten then bottle/keg in no more than three more. After that I risk autolysis and burnt tire taste does not a good beer make. Learned that lesson the lazy way.

At the moment I'm taking advantage of below 55 degree temps in the basement to try lager.

My secondary contains a brew that was racked after two weeks, and after two more weeks has a fair share of sediment along with constant tiny bubbles (glass carboy almost full) to show active fermentation.  Reminds me of a slow wine.

My primary contains a brew that, after a week, still has yeasty floaties but no foam. Temp has dropped as well which tells me the yeast is no longer furiously producing heat.

Here's my deal. 

I don't want to do a second rack of the secondary for fear of contamination, but I don't want it to taste like burnt tire.

I don't want to rack my primary early either.

I would kindly request advice from some lager brewers since I've no experience in the matter.

First, I don't think your going to get autolysis in 10 days to 2 weeks.  Heck its not likely you'll get it in 3 weeks unless you have unhealthy yeast pitched.  You'd need to explain more about how your preparing your yeast (are you pitching fresh vials into a starter wort?)  Yeast cell can handle sustained pressure in small (homebrewer sized) batches in the fermenter for more than 3 weeks.  In fact, I keep most of my larger lagers in the fermenter for 3-4 weeks to ensure they finish fermentation and then provide a brief 1-3 days of diacetyl rest.  I've yet to taste autolysis nor have competition judges ever mentioned it.

When you make a lager, the colder temps tend to make the lager yeast ferment slower so you should expect it to take more time.  Similarly lager yeast don't flocculate very well which means they don't clump and rise to the top (like ale yeast) and eventually sink to the bottom.  Assuming your pitching a proper sized starter (see mrmalty.com for proper pitching rates) of healthy yeast you should be able to do a full fermentation of almost every sized lager in primary without fear of autolysis.

Of course this is a complex question so there are many factors that also could be at play including improper oxygenation of the wort, yeast health, yeast quantity, fermentation temps during growth phase, ... so my suggestion above assumes you've considered these during your brewing.

Offline vukotamick

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Re: new to pilsner / lager
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2011, 09:19:09 AM »
If your yeast is healthy you shouldn't reach autolysis in the timeframe you are worried about. I personally never secondary unless I'm making a DIPA and am dry hopping. I have won numerous First places and BOS leaving my lagers in the primary after fermentation has completed. This is usually about a month, initially this was because I travel and just couldn't get to them in time. Now it is just a part of my process. I keep my temp at 50 the entire time. I know others will disagree with me and that is great but my system works for me. The key is of course proper sanitation, using healthy yeast and a large starter.
Prost

Offline iipabrewer

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Re: new to pilsner / lager
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2011, 09:52:34 AM »
If your yeast is healthy you shouldn't reach autolysis in the timeframe you are worried about. I personally never secondary unless I'm making a DIPA and am dry hopping. I have won numerous First places and BOS leaving my lagers in the primary after fermentation has completed. This is usually about a month, initially this was because I travel and just couldn't get to them in time. Now it is just a part of my process. I keep my temp at 50 the entire time. I know others will disagree with me and that is great but my system works for me. The key is of course proper sanitation, using healthy yeast and a large starter.
Prost

I think we're in agreement on this.   I too have won numerous 1st places for my lager (many going to NHC 2nd round this year) and do the same, however i normally don't ferment for 4 weeks (just 3).  With a short diacetyl rest, i've never seen a reason to go beyond 3 weeks except for on a doppelbock.  Besides that I think we're saying the same thing.

Offline vukotamick

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Re: new to pilsner / lager
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2011, 12:42:13 PM »
Exactly. I can't remember the last time I went to a secondary. I will mention though that these brews are in better bottles. Not plastic buckets. I tend to get a slight oxidation sitting that long in a bucket.
Prost

Offline iipabrewer

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Re: new to pilsner / lager
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2011, 02:04:31 PM »
Exactly. I can't remember the last time I went to a secondary. I will mention though that these brews are in better bottles. Not plastic buckets. I tend to get a slight oxidation sitting that long in a bucket.
Prost

Good point i've done many is glass carboys and am now doing SS so am less sure about pourous plastic fermenters.  This is really more of an oxidation issue though and I'm not sure why that would cause premature autolysis.

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: new to pilsner / lager
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2011, 07:15:55 PM »
Thank you for the replies. I think I'll be doing some kegging this weekend.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline scaryeyes

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Re: new to pilsner / lager
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2011, 04:30:00 AM »
I sometimes skip the secondary. Last year I brewed one I put on primary then went to mexico for one and a half month. It was a great beer with creamy foam after some days on co2. Just leave it on primary a week longer than want. Dont rush it. Sometimes I have to brutally coldcrash to stop the fermentation. And the keep it at freezing point for two to four weeks. Then lager as possible
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Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: new to pilsner / lager
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2011, 06:45:03 PM »
Update to anyone who cares.
After sitting in the keg at near freezing temps the brew has transformed. It's nothing short of amazing.
I tasted it when putting it in the keg and it had this pronounced off flavor that was nothing short of unpleasant.

Now that flavor is gone. *poof*

What is left is, well, an awesome pils!

Come Fall and Winter I'm doing this again!
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline DaveinPa

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Re: new to pilsner / lager
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2011, 03:11:32 PM »
Amazing, isn't it.  Homebrew beer is a living beverage and clearly not in as much of hurry to mature as we are to drink it  ;D.