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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: hairyhood on December 12, 2011, 02:48:15 PM

Title: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 12, 2011, 02:48:15 PM
I brewed my first lager on Saturday.  I made a starter on Friday evening (WLP833)...just under a gallon.  By the time I was done my batch on Saturday there was still no activity in my starter.  Fearing it was dead I went to my brew shop and bought a vial of White Labs WLP800.  I had to go ahead and just pitch that vial, knowing that I was probably under-pitching.  I cooled the wort down to about 62 degrees F.  Pitched the yeast which was probably about 70 degrees F.  I am slowly letting it come up to 70 degrees F until I see activity and then was going to ramp it back down in temp.  

My question is:  Does it take a long time for fermentation to start in lager yeasts?  My ales don't take more than 8-12 hours to start rolling.  I typically make my ale starters 1-2 days before and they are rolling in a few hours.  Should I be seeing any activity?  Is there anything I can do to save my lager?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on December 12, 2011, 03:48:36 PM
I brewed my first lager on Saturday.  I made a starter on Friday evening (WLP833)...just under a gallon.  By the time I was done my batch on Saturday there was still no activity in my starter.  Fearing it was dead I went to my brew shop and bought a vial of White Labs WLP800.  I had to go ahead and just pitch that vial, knowing that I was probably under-pitching.  I cooled the wort down to about 62 degrees F.  Pitched the yeast which was probably about 70 degrees F.  I am slowly letting it come up to 70 degrees F until I see activity and then was going to ramp it back down in temp.  

My question is:  Does it take a long time for fermentation to start in lager yeasts?  My ales don't take more than 8-12 hours to start rolling.  I typically make my ale starters 1-2 days before and they are rolling in a few hours.  Should I be seeing any activity?  Is there anything I can do to save my lager?

Let's start with what might have been a better plan....make the starter at least a week in advance.  Let it ferment out and decant the spent wort so that won't be going in to your nice fresh beer.  Chill the wort to a few degrees below your intended fermentation temp, then pitch the yeast straight from the fridge.  The above procedure has always produced better results for me than the process you described.

OK, now on to what to do....did you pitch your starter as well as the tube?  If not, do it now.  And get the beer cooled to to lager fermentation temps.  Don't wait for fermentation to start.  Once that happens, by the time you can get it cooled down you may have developed too many esters.  Then just be patient.  It may well take 4 weeks for your lager to ferment.  Just forget about it and wait.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 12, 2011, 03:59:42 PM
I figured I was cutting it too close on the starter.  I foolishly dumped my starter out.  I only pitched the one vial of WLP800.  Should I get another vial today and pitch it also or just slowly bring the temp down.  I was going to ferment at about 50 degrees.  I was under the impression that I should wait until the fermentation started to show some signs and then lower the temp.  Will the fermentation be a rapid "boil" like you get in an ale?  Thanks for the response!
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on December 12, 2011, 04:48:14 PM
I figured I was cutting it too close on the starter.  I foolishly dumped my starter out.  I only pitched the one vial of WLP800.  Should I get another vial today and pitch it also or just slowly bring the temp down.  I was going to ferment at about 50 degrees.  I was under the impression that I should wait until the fermentation started to show some signs and then lower the temp.  Will the fermentation be a rapid "boil" like you get in an ale?  Thanks for the response!

You probably will need more than 1 more tube.  Check out mrmalty.com for the correct amount.  AND bring the temp down.  At lager temps, the fermentation usually is a lot more calm than an ale fermentation.  Although if you pitch the proper amount of healthy yeast you can get quite but of activity.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 13, 2011, 01:48:15 PM
Denny is of course spot on.  The only thing I would add is to pitch the yeast, after you decant it, in to the wort that is a couple of degrees below your target and let it warm a little.  If you pitch warm and wait to see activity before lowering the temp, you are inviting ester, sulphur and acetaldehyde production.  You will have to lager much longer to clean up the beer.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 13, 2011, 02:39:01 PM
Thanks guys.  I brought it down to 60 and fermentation started.  I will get it down into the 50s and maybe lower in the next day or two.  I did not pitch anymore yeast.  I realize the yeast has been stressed and it has been under-pitched, so I will be getting some esters.  So, you think a longer lagering, say 6 weeks after primary is complete, could still clean it up?  Or should I just give it my planned 4 weeks or so, cut my losses and follow your suggested procedures for the next one?  Thank you all for the advice!
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on December 13, 2011, 05:12:24 PM
So, you think a longer lagering, say 6 weeks after primary is complete, could still clean it up?  Or should I just give it my planned 4 weeks or so, cut my losses and follow your suggested procedures for the next one?  Thank you all for the advice!

I'd be skeptical of a longer lagering cleaning it up, but it's worth a try to find out.  Try our recommendations next time and I think you'll have better results.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: gmac on December 13, 2011, 05:28:56 PM
I started doing lagers this fall and I was surprised by how mild the fermentation is.  You won't get the aggressive ferment that you get with ales (since you asked this and I don't think it was answered directly). 

I have had good luck cooling my wort over night in the cold room with tin foil over the top and then pitching the next day into the cool wort.  I get it to about 70 with immersion and then cool it down to 50 in the cold room overnight.  I don't have a way to get below fermentation temps but I get to fermentation temp before I've been pitching and the results have all been very clean and crisp with no off-flavours.  I think this is better than pitching too warm just for the sake of pitching.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 13, 2011, 07:15:38 PM
Thanks.  No, I don't think that question of how aggressive the fermentation was directly answered.  I think I have a better plan for next time.  That's what I get for not doing enough reading.

This reminded me of another question that I had.  What are any of your thoughts on primary and secondary fermenters.  I talked to someone in my brew shop yesterday.  He said that he always leaves everything in the primary for fermentation and lagering.  Any thoughts on moving to a secondary?   
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on December 13, 2011, 07:30:31 PM
It's hard to generalize about the "ferocity" of fermentation.  Often, due to the lower temps, it's less active than an ale fermentation.  But I have a German pils in the fermenter now.  I used a 10 gal. keg for a 5.5 gal. batch and I was getting a VERY active fermentation, even with a bit of blowoff, with WY2784 (I think that's the number, it's the StaroPrague) at 42F.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 13, 2011, 07:34:40 PM
Well, I actually have krausen in my carboy now.  No blow-off.  I guess it all depends on the sugar and the yeast.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 13, 2011, 07:38:28 PM
I guess my question at that point was really due to the fact that my wort was still and there were no visble signs of fermentation (bubbles in my blow off jug, krausen, flocculation).  So, I was wondering whether lager yeast had any visible signs.  I now understand that the long lag time was due to my under-pitching and high temps.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 13, 2011, 07:40:14 PM
Any thoughts on moving the liquid to a secondary fermenter Denny?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: tschmidlin on December 13, 2011, 07:42:21 PM
This reminded me of another question that I had.  What are any of your thoughts on primary and secondary fermenters.  I talked to someone in my brew shop yesterday.  He said that he always leaves everything in the primary for fermentation and lagering.  Any thoughts on moving to a secondary?  
I always leave it in primary too, the secondary vessel is the serving keg.  The only time I do a secondary is if I am adding fruit or something.

I now understand that the long lag time was due to my under-pitching and high temps.
High temps will get you a shorter lag time, not a longer one.  Under pitching is the main lag-time problem here.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 13, 2011, 07:46:19 PM
Got it.  Makes sense.

So, no danger of off-flavors from sitting on the yeast too long, like I was always warned about in ales?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: morticaixavier on December 13, 2011, 07:52:49 PM
Got it.  Makes sense.

So, no danger of off-flavors from sitting on the yeast too long, like I was always warned about in ales?

doesn't really seem to be a practical problem for the homebrewer. at least not until you get to a very long timeframe (think many months). The risk of removing the beer from the yeast before the yeast has had time to clean up and added risk of contamination/oxidation is more of an issue to the homebrewer.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: tschmidlin on December 13, 2011, 08:07:47 PM
Got it.  Makes sense.

So, no danger of off-flavors from sitting on the yeast too long, like I was always warned about in ales?

doesn't really seem to be a practical problem for the homebrewer. at least not until you get to a very long timeframe (think many months). The risk of removing the beer from the yeast before the yeast has had time to clean up and added risk of contamination/oxidation is more of an issue to the homebrewer.
Right, I think it's safe to assume it is not a problem until you experience it.  I never have.  Oxidation and contamination on the other hand . . .
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 13, 2011, 08:15:09 PM
Sounds like a plan....easier too.  Just out of curiosity....do either of you move your ales to a secondary?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on December 13, 2011, 08:26:49 PM
Got it.  Makes sense.

So, no danger of off-flavors from sitting on the yeast too long, like I was always warned about in ales?

It's not particular to lagers.  Ales very seldom need a secondary, either.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: Kit B on December 13, 2011, 09:06:26 PM
One thing of note...
If you use kegs for your secondary & are at all impatient...
It is possible that you'll start "sampling" before the adequate lagering phase is complete.

But, maybe that's just me...
Man, that lagering doppelbock is a temptress!
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: morticaixavier on December 13, 2011, 09:10:19 PM
Sounds like a plan....easier too.  Just out of curiosity....do either of you move your ales to a secondary?

My experience is entirely from ales. so yeah I skip secondary on ales as well ;D

The exceptions being if i am going to dry hop (although I will often just do that in the keg), add fruit or, like with a strong ale, want to bulk age for a really long time and that is mainly because I don't like to leave the ale in plastic too long as I don't trust it to not pass o2 into the beer. I guess aging in a barrel could count as secondary as well.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: tschmidlin on December 13, 2011, 09:16:25 PM
Got it.  Makes sense.

So, no danger of off-flavors from sitting on the yeast too long, like I was always warned about in ales?

It's not particular to lagers.  Ales very seldom need a secondary, either.
Same here, I very rarely secondary ales.  I can't remember the last time I did.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 13, 2011, 09:23:34 PM
I'll have to give it a shot.  I have always put my ales in a secondary. 

I will post this as another thread when I am ready to go, but....I just aquired a 5 gallon whiskey barrel.  Anybody have any tips on barrel aging?  Anything as far as preparation of the barrel?  Sanitation?  I am not planning on using for souring...at least not in the beginning.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: morticaixavier on December 13, 2011, 09:28:59 PM
I'll have to give it a shot.  I have always put my ales in a secondary. 

I will post this as another thread when I am ready to go, but....I just aquired a 5 gallon whiskey barrel.  Anybody have any tips on barrel aging?  Anything as far as preparation of the barrel?  Sanitation?  I am not planning on using for souring...at least not in the beginning.

If it's a fairly fresh dump then no prep is required. just rack into it and let it ride. Be aware that small barrels will impart oaky charcter quite quickly (a couple of days potentially) so start tasting early and be ready to package.

One important note is that you NEVER NEVER NEVER want to use a sulphur stick on a barrel that recently held spirits. It will, at very least, burst into flame in a very interesting way.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: tschmidlin on December 13, 2011, 09:41:56 PM
I recently filled a bourbon barrel and the beer (RIS) had enough character after 3 days.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 13, 2011, 09:54:13 PM
Thanks.  Those are good tips.  I did know about the sulpher stick....but thanks for the reminder.  That would not be fun.

Also good to know that you seemed to get enough character after just a few days.  I would have probably gone a week before tasting.  Can you just keep reusing these barrels?....and if so, is there anything that needs to be done in between uses.  I have read many conflicting ideas on storing.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: morticaixavier on December 13, 2011, 09:59:04 PM
Thanks.  Those are good tips.  I did know about the sulpher stick....but thanks for the reminder.  That would not be fun.

Also good to know that you seemed to get enough character after just a few days.  I would have probably gone a week before tasting.  Can you just keep reusing these barrels?....and if so, is there anything that needs to be done in between uses.  I have read many conflicting ideas on storing.

I intende to reuse my barrel! for $50 I hope I can reuse it. After the first batch you can rinse it out with hot water and refill. You can probably store it for a short while with a bottle of whisky dumped into it but if you go to long it will either dry out and you will have to soak it to make it water tight again or make it into a planter. eventually you will get an infection, if you are lucky it will be a nice infection (or you can, at some point add your own bugs and make sure it's a nice infection) and at some point after that it will turn to vinegar then you can make vinegar!
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 14, 2011, 02:18:38 PM
Just reading through.  I recently pitched a gallon starter (decanted) in to a Winter Ale (1.072) which was bubbling in 4 hours and turned my blow off container brown with Krausen.  If you pitch the correct amount of yeast your lagers can very much look like an ale fermenting.  +1 on higher temps giving shorter lag time.

You would have to leave the yeast on the cake for a looong time for autolysis to start if you used a quality yeast, especially for a lager.  Keep it on the cake and let the yeasties do their thing.  If you produced a lot of esters, your only potential remedy is time.  If you produced acetaldehyde, you can try to blow it out with a couple of swirls or by purging a few times if kegged.  You have probably produced diacetyl.  What yeast did you use?  I would bring it up to 65F for 2-3 days at the end of fermentation.

I haven't used a secondary in several years.  Your best bet is to start kegging!  That's a great secondary.....

Jealous on the whiskey barrel.  Where did you guys buy them?

Dave
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 14, 2011, 02:38:32 PM
I used WLP800.  I am actually making a Munich Dunkel.  It came in higher than expected 1.062.  I was using WLP833 in a gallon starter.  The starter was still after almost a day at room temp (around 70), so I figured the yeast was bad.  I was already brewing at that point, so I got the mash going and ran to my home brew shop (a satellite shop with a stripped down inventory).  All they had was WLP800....so, I took the vial they had and pitched it when done.

I am down to about 52 degrees now and fermentation looks good.  I plan to bring it down to a little below 50 and leave it there.  I will do the rest to hopefully eat up that diacetyl. 

I do keg, but have never used them as a secondary.  I was transferring to a 5 gallon carboy after fermentation was complete.  I will have to think about just using the kegs.

My barrel came from one of my local breweries here in Florida.  There is a small 2-person outfit in Central Florida making whiskey.  They have been selling them to the brewer here, so I just asked him to get me one.  I don't know where you are, but check witha local brewer there if you have any breweries around.  They will probably have a line on one. 
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 14, 2011, 02:54:54 PM
Thanks for the tip on the barrel.  I'll definitely chase that one down.

Taste your hydrometer sample when you check next for FG or when you keg if you just leave it in primary.  If it tastes like green apples, that's acetaldehyde.  Try purging your keg once a week for a few weeks.  If it tastes like imitation butter, that's the diacetyl.  Let it warm up for a few days again.  If fruity/estery, let it sit and pray.......

Good luck!

Dave
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 14, 2011, 03:06:02 PM
What is the procedure for purging the keg?  I guess I am not really sure what you mean.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 14, 2011, 03:11:19 PM
Put it on CO2, release the pressure and let the CO2 refill to about 10-12 psi.  It clears the headspace and refills with fresh CO2. If you have a lot of acetaldehyde, you can help to reduce it in this way as well as with aging.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 14, 2011, 03:25:09 PM
OK.  That is what I thought you meant, but wasn't sure.  Thank you for all of the advice.  I will almost certainly have some off flavors to work on.  Good luck on finding your barrel.  It shouldn't be too hard to come across.  We get them for $50-$60 down here pretty easily.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 14, 2011, 03:30:53 PM
Just thought of something else.  If you had a lot of cold break transfer to the fermenter, you may not want to keep it in primary that long as it can produce sulphur.

There a good list of off-flavors at www.howtobrew.com and a better one in Brewing Better Beer by Strong with the given recommendations on how to fix them.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 14, 2011, 03:37:52 PM
Awesome!  I have both of those books.  Have not gotten into Brewing Better Beer yet.  I guess I better start reading.  Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: a10t2 on December 14, 2011, 03:42:48 PM
The starter was still after almost a day at room temp (around 70), so I figured the yeast was bad.

If you had nice fresh yeast, the starter could have finished out in less than a day.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: jeffy on December 14, 2011, 03:44:05 PM
Just thought of something else.  If you had a lot of cold break transfer to the fermenter, you may not want to keep it in primary that long as it can produce sulphur.

Never heard that before.  What is the reference?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on December 14, 2011, 03:46:57 PM
Just thought of something else.  If you had a lot of cold break transfer to the fermenter, you may not want to keep it in primary that long as it can produce sulphur.

Never heard that before.  What is the reference?

Agree, Jeff.  Never heard that one before.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 14, 2011, 03:51:47 PM
My yeast was 5 days past the Use By Date.  I should have probably taken that into account and made the starter earlier.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on December 14, 2011, 03:52:27 PM
My yeast was 5 days past the Use By Date.  I should have probably taken that into account and made the starter earlier.

That's not enough to worry about. 
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 14, 2011, 04:06:33 PM
I didn't think so either.  I don't know if maybe that vial was just bad.  I guess I will never know now.  Another thing I noticed.  The smell of the yeast was very different.  Bitter smelling....a buddy of mine decribed it as rancid.  I noticed it in both of the lager yeast....not nice and bready like the ale yeasts I am used to.  I assume this is a characteristic of lager yeast?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 14, 2011, 04:07:47 PM
Just thought of something else.  If you had a lot of cold break transfer to the fermenter, you may not want to keep it in primary that long as it can produce sulphur.

Never heard that before.  What is the reference?

Agree, Jeff.  Never heard that one before.

Strong:  Brewing Better Beer, Troubleshooting.  Sulphury:  ".........Reduce it's formation during fermentation by increasing yeast nutrients in wort, increasing lipids, increasing aeration, having healthy, active yeast, and removing hot and cold break and trub."

Goldammer:  The Brewer's Handbook, Chapter 12-Wort Cooling and Aeration, Removal of Cold Break.
"After the wort is cooled, the cold break must be removed before fermentation, or else the beer will taste wort-like, bitter, and even harsh. Opinions vary as to whether cold break should be removed at all before transferring the wort to the fermenter.
Traditional lager brewers advocate the removal of cold break prior to fermentation, and some even filter cold worts prior to pitching (14). Lager brewers believe cold break removal aids in colloidal stability in the beer, circumvents the formation of sulfury flavors, and removes harsh bitter fractions derived from hops."

When I started lagering, my first 2-3 really sucked, so I did a LOT of research as to why.  Now, they are pretty darn good!   ;D
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 14, 2011, 04:23:22 PM
Sounds like it is something to think about.  I think I am ok on the cold break.  I will pay attention to it in the future.

Any thoughts on the smell of the lager yeast vs. ale yeast?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 14, 2011, 04:31:38 PM
Sounds like it is something to think about.  I think I am ok on the cold break.  I will pay attention to it in the future.

Any thoughts on the smell of the lager yeast vs. ale yeast?

It really depends on the strain, but on a whole I have found the smell of lager yeast to be not nearly as yeasty/bready and more sour.

Guys?

Dave
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: Kit B on December 14, 2011, 04:42:15 PM
Just thought of something else.  If you had a lot of cold break transfer to the fermenter, you may not want to keep it in primary that long as it can produce sulphur.

Never heard that before.  What is the reference?

Agree, Jeff.  Never heard that one before.

Strong:  Brewing Better Beer, Troubleshooting.  Sulphury:  ".........Reduce it's formation during fermentation by increasing yeast nutrients in wort, increasing lipids, increasing aeration, having healthy, active yeast, and removing hot and cold break and trub."

Goldammer:  The Brewer's Handbook, Chapter 12-Wort Cooling and Aeration, Removal of Cold Break.
"After the wort is cooled, the cold break must be removed before fermentation, or else the beer will taste wort-like, bitter, and even harsh. Opinions vary as to whether cold break should be removed at all before transferring the wort to the fermenter.
Traditional lager brewers advocate the removal of cold break prior to fermentation, and some even filter cold worts prior to pitching (14). Lager brewers believe cold break removal aids in colloidal stability in the beer, circumvents the formation of sulfury flavors, and removes harsh bitter fractions derived from hops."

When I started lagering, my first 2-3 really sucked, so I did a LOT of research as to why.  Now, they are pretty darn good!   ;D

Dude...Nice post.
I'm impressed & interested.
I'll have to do some experimenting.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 14, 2011, 08:25:21 PM
Thanks Kit!  If you tasted my first few lagers, you would have done the research too!   :D
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on December 14, 2011, 09:15:21 PM
Thank you all.  I got a lot of good advice here.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on December 14, 2011, 10:06:05 PM
Strong:  Brewing Better Beer, Troubleshooting.  Sulphury:  ".........Reduce it's formation during fermentation by increasing yeast nutrients in wort, increasing lipids, increasing aeration, having healthy, active yeast, and removing hot and cold break and trub."

Goldammer:  The Brewer's Handbook, Chapter 12-Wort Cooling and Aeration, Removal of Cold Break.
"After the wort is cooled, the cold break must be removed before fermentation, or else the beer will taste wort-like, bitter, and even harsh. Opinions vary as to whether cold break should be removed at all before transferring the wort to the fermenter.
Traditional lager brewers advocate the removal of cold break prior to fermentation, and some even filter cold worts prior to pitching (14). Lager brewers believe cold break removal aids in colloidal stability in the beer, circumvents the formation of sulfury flavors, and removes harsh bitter fractions derived from hops."

When I started lagering, my first 2-3 really sucked, so I did a LOT of research as to why.  Now, they are pretty darn good!   ;D

I never remove cold break and I've never suffered any of those problems.  For that matter, I don't know of a commerc ial brewery that removes the break. 
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 14, 2011, 10:08:02 PM
Strong:  Brewing Better Beer, Troubleshooting.  Sulphury:  ".........Reduce it's formation during fermentation by increasing yeast nutrients in wort, increasing lipids, increasing aeration, having healthy, active yeast, and removing hot and cold break and trub."

Goldammer:  The Brewer's Handbook, Chapter 12-Wort Cooling and Aeration, Removal of Cold Break.
"After the wort is cooled, the cold break must be removed before fermentation, or else the beer will taste wort-like, bitter, and even harsh. Opinions vary as to whether cold break should be removed at all before transferring the wort to the fermenter.
Traditional lager brewers advocate the removal of cold break prior to fermentation, and some even filter cold worts prior to pitching (14). Lager brewers believe cold break removal aids in colloidal stability in the beer, circumvents the formation of sulfury flavors, and removes harsh bitter fractions derived from hops."

When I started lagering, my first 2-3 really sucked, so I did a LOT of research as to why.  Now, they are pretty darn good!   ;D

I never remove cold break and I've never suffered any of those problems.  For that matter, I don't know of a commerc ial brewery that removes the break. 

Just following what I have read dude......
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on December 14, 2011, 10:10:00 PM
Just following what I have read dude......

Oh, I completely understand and if it works for you, it's the right thing to do.  If I was having any of the problems mentioned in your post, I might try it, too.  But I'm too pragmatic to expend effort unless I know it will have a payoff. 
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 14, 2011, 10:15:20 PM
Just following what I have read dude......

Oh, I completely understand and if it works for you, it's the right thing to do.  If I was having any of the problems mentioned in your post, I might try it, too.  But I'm too pragmatic to expend effort unless I know it will have a payoff. 

I hear ya.  My first lagers were so bad I over-compensated and did everthing possible...... 

Maybe I could scale it back a bit now.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: jaggers on December 14, 2011, 10:17:17 PM
Strong:  Brewing Better Beer, Troubleshooting.  Sulphury:  ".........Reduce it's formation during fermentation by increasing yeast nutrients in wort, increasing lipids, increasing aeration, having healthy, active yeast, and removing hot and cold break and trub."

Goldammer:  The Brewer's Handbook, Chapter 12-Wort Cooling and Aeration, Removal of Cold Break.
"After the wort is cooled, the cold break must be removed before fermentation, or else the beer will taste wort-like, bitter, and even harsh. Opinions vary as to whether cold break should be removed at all before transferring the wort to the fermenter.
Traditional lager brewers advocate the removal of cold break prior to fermentation, and some even filter cold worts prior to pitching (14). Lager brewers believe cold break removal aids in colloidal stability in the beer, circumvents the formation of sulfury flavors, and removes harsh bitter fractions derived from hops."

When I started lagering, my first 2-3 really sucked, so I did a LOT of research as to why.  Now, they are pretty darn good!   ;D

I never remove cold break and I've never suffered any of those problems.  For that matter, I don't know of a commerc ial brewery that removes the break. 

Gordon Biersch does.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: a10t2 on December 14, 2011, 10:28:02 PM
Gordon Biersch does.

At all their locations, or is it at the brewer's discretion? Do you know what kind of equipment they have that allows them to do it? Filter after the heat exchanger, or maybe just a settling tank?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: jeffy on December 14, 2011, 10:28:35 PM
I don't have any problems with sulfur odors as long as I let the yeast finish up its work.  I switched from all the cold break going into the fermenters to very little of the cold break making it to the fermenters a year or so ago and I can't tell whether the beers are any better after than before.  No difference in sulfur that I can detect.  
I'm not winning as many contests as I used to though.  Perhaps I should revert back to retaining some cold break......
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on December 14, 2011, 11:39:13 PM
I've posted it here several times before, but a brewer in Europe posted the results of a test he did on the Brews and Views forum.  he left all the trub in one lager and removed it from the other.  Bottom line was that the beer with the trub was clearer and better tasting.  Only a single data point, but an interesting one.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 15, 2011, 12:17:27 AM
I've posted it here several times before, but a brewer in Europe posted the results of a test he did on the Brews and Views forum.  he left all the trub in one lager and removed it from the other.  Bottom line was that the beer with the trub was clearer and better tasting.  Only a single data point, but an interesting one.

I remember reading in my research, I'll try to find it, that it becomes more of an issue the longer you leave the beer in primary.  I do not think it matters in the short-term, but becomes a problem in the long-term.  That is why I posted above not to keep the beer in primary for an extended period of time if there was a lot of cold break.  I don't know how long you guys leave a lager on the cake, but I keg after 3 weeks (so long as I had a good fermentation and reach FG) and lager in the keg.  I try to lager 6-8 weeks minimum but usually break down earlier.... :)
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2011, 08:10:32 AM
I remember reading in my research, I'll try to find it, that it becomes more of an issue the longer you leave the beer in primary.  I do not think it matters in the short-term, but becomes a problem in the long-term.  That is why I posted above not to keep the beer in primary for an extended period of time if there was a lot of cold break.  I don't know how long you guys leave a lager on the cake, but I keg after 3 weeks (so long as I had a good fermentation and reach FG) and lager in the keg.  I try to lager 6-8 weeks minimum but usually break down earlier.... :)
I lost a primary carboy in a closet for a year, it was cool but not cold.  That beer won BOS.  I don't recommend doing the same, but it's not a black/white issue.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: davidgzach on December 15, 2011, 01:36:12 PM
I remember reading in my research, I'll try to find it, that it becomes more of an issue the longer you leave the beer in primary.  I do not think it matters in the short-term, but becomes a problem in the long-term.  That is why I posted above not to keep the beer in primary for an extended period of time if there was a lot of cold break.  I don't know how long you guys leave a lager on the cake, but I keg after 3 weeks (so long as I had a good fermentation and reach FG) and lager in the keg.  I try to lager 6-8 weeks minimum but usually break down earlier.... :)
I lost a primary carboy in a closet for a year, it was cool but not cold.  That beer won BOS.  I don't recommend doing the same, but it's not a black/white issue.

Tom, totally agree.  Never meant to imply it was.  Just trying to help with some of the reading I have done.

How do you lose a carboy for a year?  What style of beer?  Cool story.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2011, 05:02:17 PM
How do you lose a carboy for a year?  What style of beer?  Cool story.
I kind of vaguely knew it was there behind some boxes, but I got busy with other things and didn't get to it.  It happens (to me anyway).  It was a 100% rauch malt dopplebock.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: ynotbrusum on December 16, 2011, 01:35:48 AM
I use a kettle screen mainly for hops, but it also filters the cold break a little.  I didn't think about it, but it probably has helped with my lagers - I never get a sulphur issue (other than from the human output side of things).  Also, I bet it depends a lot on the yeast strain used, since some are pretty sulphury...


Good discussion.

Cheers.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: wildknight on December 16, 2011, 02:19:46 PM
I brewed my first lager on Saturday.  I made a starter on Friday evening (WLP833)...just under a gallon.  By the time I was done my batch on Saturday there was still no activity in my starter.  Fearing it was dead I went to my brew shop and bought a vial of White Labs WLP800.  I had to go ahead and just pitch that vial, knowing that I was probably under-pitching.  I cooled the wort down to about 62 degrees F.  Pitched the yeast which was probably about 70 degrees F.  I am slowly letting it come up to 70 degrees F until I see activity and then was going to ramp it back down in temp.  

My question is:  Does it take a long time for fermentation to start in lager yeasts?  My ales don't take more than 8-12 hours to start rolling.  I typically make my ale starters 1-2 days before and they are rolling in a few hours.  Should I be seeing any activity?  Is there anything I can do to save my lager?

Lagers are a difficult beast.  IMO, they take more work, more resources and definitely more time than ales.  I imagine that is (partly) why the craft explosion is centered around ales.  I highly recommend scrolling through the pages of the Jamil Show on the Brewing Network and listen to the podcasts on the lagers: light lagers, pilsners, dark lagers and bocks.  Jamil and Plise are great lager brewers and they go into great detail on their methods for making great lagers. 

Here is the link: http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/The-Jamil-Show
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 16, 2011, 04:31:02 PM
I need to listen to the Jamil show podcasts on lagers, thanks for reminding me.

Having done many lagers in the last several years, and trying to do 8 this year, I think they are more work, but not much more than for some big beers.  The brewdays can be longer if you do a decoction, or a multistep mash, 90 min boil, and it does take longer to get them down to pitching temps.  A pond pump and an ice bath are what I use for the last 30-40 degrees of chilling.

Why do I do lagers, I like them.  Nothing better than a good Pils in the Summer.  To paraphase a German saying "Pilsner is what God drinks on a Sunday afternoon in the Summer". 

Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on January 18, 2012, 06:55:33 PM
Me again.....so, it has now been 5 weeks and I am still getting bubbles coming out of my blow-off tube.  Is this normal to still be getting activity after all of this time?  I am ready to get it in a keg and move back to ales.  I have not done a gravity reading to see if it is done.  I obviously don't want to throw it in a keg if it is still fermenting.  Any ideas on why this thing is still active?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: tschmidlin on January 18, 2012, 06:57:52 PM
It might just be gas coming out of solution.  Take gravity readings.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on January 18, 2012, 07:00:55 PM
I have timed the bubbles for the last 4 days.  They are consistent at about 53 seconds. 

I will do some gravity readings.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on January 18, 2012, 07:04:40 PM
I have timed the bubbles for the last 4 days.  They are consistent at about 53 seconds. 

I will do some gravity readings.

Bubbles only tell you CO2 is being released.  They don't tell you why.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on January 18, 2012, 07:07:48 PM
If I am still offing gas at a consistent rate and it is enough to push bubbles through a 4 foot tube into a jug.....I would think it is not safe to keg it yet.  Correct?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: a10t2 on January 18, 2012, 07:21:20 PM
The pressure required to push gas through a tube is basically zero.

My experience has been that an airlock will continue to bubble steadily for weeks after fermentation is finished.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: hairyhood on January 18, 2012, 07:24:12 PM
OK.  I guess I am still comparing to my ales.  I get nothing in my airlock after a week in my ales.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on January 18, 2012, 07:58:50 PM
If I am still offing gas at a consistent rate and it is enough to push bubbles through a 4 foot tube into a jug.....I would think it is not safe to keg it yet.  Correct?

No, not necessarily correct.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: Alewyfe on January 19, 2012, 12:53:44 AM
I remember reading in my research, I'll try to find it, that it becomes more of an issue the longer you leave the beer in primary.  I do not think it matters in the short-term, but becomes a problem in the long-term.  That is why I posted above not to keep the beer in primary for an extended period of time if there was a lot of cold break.  I don't know how long you guys leave a lager on the cake, but I keg after 3 weeks (so long as I had a good fermentation and reach FG) and lager in the keg.  I try to lager 6-8 weeks minimum but usually break down earlier.... :)
I lost a primary carboy in a closet for a year, it was cool but not cold.  That beer won BOS.  I don't recommend doing the same, but it's not a black/white issue.

omg...I just read this. Denny!!! Can we organize a treasure/scavenger hunt at Schmidlin's place for the NHC?  Imagine what we might turn up.
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: tschmidlin on January 19, 2012, 01:32:10 AM
I lost a primary carboy in a closet for a year, it was cool but not cold.  That beer won BOS.  I don't recommend doing the same, but it's not a black/white issue.

omg...I just read this. Denny!!! Can we organize a treasure/scavenger hunt at Schmidlin's place for the NHC?  Imagine what we might turn up.
If we get into the crawl space we can find all kinds of lost beers.  :)
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on January 19, 2012, 05:18:21 PM
omg...I just read this. Denny!!! Can we organize a treasure/scavenger hunt at Schmidlin's place for the NHC?  Imagine what we might turn up.

Great idea for a pre conference event, Diane!  At NHC in Minneapolis I got a tour of Curt Stock's basement...this fits right in!
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: tschmidlin on January 20, 2012, 10:24:10 PM
When are you coming up?
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: denny on January 20, 2012, 10:52:19 PM
When are you coming up?

Sometime after you thaw out!
Title: Re: I am new to lager
Post by: tschmidlin on January 20, 2012, 10:55:14 PM
Thawing is in progress :)

Power is back on, the rain has moved in, now it's the flooding people need to worry about.  Not us though, we're not in a flood zone.  The snow is out of the trees and melting on the ground.  The roads are passable in our area too.