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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: el_capitan on January 21, 2014, 02:40:38 AM

Title: Stop That Lager!
Post by: el_capitan on January 21, 2014, 02:40:38 AM
I'm fairly new to lager brewing - currently fermenting my 3rd lager, a Munich Helles.  It's been at 50 degrees for 14 days now.  I took a gravity reading just now, and found that it was somewhat lower than expected. 

The recipe is from BCS, and I did a 3-gallon batch.  I made a 2-step stirred starter (1 Liter for each step) of WY2308 Munich Lager.  OG was 1.051, and the gravity right now is 1.006.  I was expecting it to finish out around 1.011

So I have a couple questions:

1) With lager brewing, am I supposed to halt fermentation by chilling the beer when it reaches the desired level of attenuation?

2) If so, should I have been taking more frequent gravity readings and stopped it sooner? 

3) Will a 3-gallon batch typically ferment faster than a 5-gallon batch?  In the past I've brewed 2 lagers with this strain and I've given them 3-week primaries. 

4) Is two weeks in primary enough?  Am I ready for the next step?

5)The beer tastes pretty clean, with a slight sulfur aroma which I'm sure will diminish with lagering.  I detected no diacetyl whatsoever - do I need to bother with a D-rest? 

Man, I feel like a noob all over again   ;D
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: klickitat jim on January 21, 2014, 03:11:23 AM


So I have a couple questions:

1) With lager brewing, am I supposed to halt fermentation by chilling the beer when it reaches the desired level of attenuation?

2) If so, should I have been taking more frequent gravity readings and stopped it sooner? 

3) Will a 3-gallon batch typically ferment faster than a 5-gallon batch?  In the past I've brewed 2 lagers with this strain and I've given them 3-week primaries. 

4) Is two weeks in primary enough?  Am I ready for the next step?

5)The beer tastes pretty clean, with a slight sulfur aroma which I'm sure will diminish with lagering.  I detected no diacetyl whatsoever - do I need to bother with a D-rest? 

Man, I feel like a noob all over again   ;D
1 No
2 yes, maybe, but not so you can crash before it's done
3 No time frame, its done when it's done. 6 days to 6 weeks I suppose
4 It could be. See 3
5 if no Diacetyl no Diacetyl rest needed
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: el_capitan on January 21, 2014, 04:32:41 AM
Thanks for the quick reply, Jim.  I should add one more question:

What should I read so that I know the answers to these basic lager-brewing questions?
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: klickitat jim on January 21, 2014, 05:11:37 AM
To qualify my response, I'm no expert.

I'd look to Palmers book How to Brew. I'd check out Brew Strong on brewers network online. The Yeast book is supposed to be excellent too though I haven't bought it yet.

I think your low FG is probably due to a mash temp issue, if not a faulty hydrometer. You might check it in 68° water (if it's a 68° hydrometer). Should read 1.000

I suppose an infection could cause it but seems like you'd detect some off flavor.

Assuming all is well, try mashing a little higher next time if all grain. I just don't think that force stopping at your desired FG is a great idea. The yeast can still have some byproducts to clean up even after the gravity levels out.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: Mark G on January 21, 2014, 06:12:41 AM
1) No.
2) No.
3) No, assuming the same pitching rate.
4) Yes, if it's done, it's done. If you pitched enough healthy yeast, you should be ready.
5) No.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: majorvices on January 21, 2014, 12:53:31 PM
I know I pose this question to everyone experiencing odd readings but .... are you sure your hydrometer is calibrated? All of mine are off by a few points except one and I have several. Even the lab ones are off. The one that is not off has a special "pinch" in the tube that keeps the paper measuring strip from sliding.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: AmandaK on January 21, 2014, 01:01:46 PM
I know I pose this question to everyone experiencing odd readings but .... are you sure your hydrometer is calibrated? All of mine are off by a few points except one and I have several. Even the lab ones are off. The one that is not off has a special "pinch" in the tube that keeps the paper measuring strip from sliding.

My thoughts exactly. I have four hydrometers (no, I have no idea why either) and they are all varying degrees of "off". One reads 0.004 low, another 0.001 high, another 0.001 low, etc. I check them in distilled water every time I take a reading since they all look the same.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: klickitat jim on January 21, 2014, 01:26:58 PM
I hope they are supposed to slide because that's how I adjust mine. Gentle tap in the direction in needed to go. Its at 1.000 now and I check it every time I clean now. Never off since first adjust.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: yso191 on January 21, 2014, 02:44:18 PM
OK I'll completely derail this thread...

I am surprised by the number of people that use a hydrometer.  Is there a reason for using a hydrometer rather than a refractometer that I am not aware of?  When I got into homebrewing, I looked at both and decided that there was no reason to own a hydrometer.  What am I missing?
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: AmandaK on January 21, 2014, 02:59:30 PM
OK I'll completely derail this thread...

I am surprised by the number of people that use a hydrometer.  Is there a reason for using a hydrometer rather than a refractometer that I am not aware of?  When I got into homebrewing, I looked at both and decided that there was no reason to own a hydrometer.  What am I missing?

I don't like using an equation to calculate final gravity. It is an estimate at best.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: reverseapachemaster on January 21, 2014, 03:14:27 PM
OK I'll completely derail this thread...

I am surprised by the number of people that use a hydrometer.  Is there a reason for using a hydrometer rather than a refractometer that I am not aware of?  When I got into homebrewing, I looked at both and decided that there was no reason to own a hydrometer.  What am I missing?

Refractometers are imperfect devices for calculating gravity. It's not intended to measure gravity in a liquid with alcohol, which is why you have to take the extra step to convert the FG reading into useful data. The accuracy of the refractometer can change based upon how high the ABV is and the color of the beer. Hydrometers do not suffer those problems.

I also use a refractometer.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: denny on January 21, 2014, 04:37:50 PM
OK I'll completely derail this thread...

I am surprised by the number of people that use a hydrometer.  Is there a reason for using a hydrometer rather than a refractometer that I am not aware of?  When I got into homebrewing, I looked at both and decided that there was no reason to own a hydrometer.  What am I missing?

I have 2 refractometers.  Neither of them agrees with my hydrometer, no matter how I calibrate them.  I just gave up and went back to the hydrometer.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: yso191 on January 21, 2014, 05:28:54 PM
Very, very interesting!  I have been assuming that the refractometer was the more accurate of the two, including the conversion in BeerSmith to get FG/ABV.   I may have to buy a hydrometer.  Using a hydrometer means increasing one's batch size by how much?  I assume a minimum of two tubes of wort/beer.  What does that equal?  right now I make 5.5 gallon batches.  Might just take it to six as I'd rather have too much than too little.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: majorvices on January 21, 2014, 05:45:55 PM
Agree with Denny. Never had 2 readings on a refracto that were the same. Yeah, sometimes kinda close, but the hydrometer just gives me a solid reading.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: denny on January 21, 2014, 06:02:29 PM
Very, very interesting!  I have been assuming that the refractometer was the more accurate of the two, including the conversion in BeerSmith to get FG/ABV.   I may have to buy a hydrometer.  Using a hydrometer means increasing one's batch size by how much?  I assume a minimum of two tubes of wort/beer.  What does that equal?  right now I make 5.5 gallon batches.  Might just take it to six as I'd rather have too much than too little.

It takes me 8 oz. for each hydro reading.  Although, after the beer is fermented I take 14-16 oz. samples.  After I get the reading I put the samples in a 20 oz. PET bottle with a carbonator cap.  Hit it with 30 PSI, put it in the freezer for 45 min., and I've got a cold carbed sample.  I also make 5.5 gal. batches.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: HoosierBrew on January 21, 2014, 06:16:32 PM
Never had 2 readings on a refracto that were the same. Yeah, sometimes kinda close, but the hydrometer just gives me a solid reading.

+1.  I pretty much use a refractometer now just for a preboil reading, but I check the preboil sample 3 or 4 times to be sure I'm getting a pretty consistent reading.

Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: udubdawg on January 21, 2014, 06:20:38 PM
refractometer for preboil/OG and checking progress of mead fermentations.  hydrometer for FG, for everything.

I understand where the OP is coming from though.  Fairly small beer, fairly small batch, plenty of healthy yeast pitched, and though new to lagers he's not new to brewing.  BCS uses pils with small amounts of munich/melanoidin in this recipe; it seems like once you know what you're doing that creating a highly fermentable wort in this situation is fairly simple.  Yet the style demands a bit more malt remain.

I have brewed the same recipe multiple times and when mashing it at 150F as the book states it did not take long to get a wort that finished lower than 1.011 FG.  Adjusted and was happier last time.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: el_capitan on January 22, 2014, 02:37:35 AM
I will check my hydrometer and see what's up.  I mashed at 150 and the temp dropped 3 degrees over the course of an hour. 

Any other good resources for lager brewing?
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: Jeff M on January 22, 2014, 02:40:15 AM
So if you mashed from 150 down to 147 for an hour you definitely mashed dry.  No surprise then that you are below your estimate FG.

I heard this is a good book to read for lagering.

http://www.amazon.com/New-Brewing-Lager-Beer-Comprehensive/dp/0937381829/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390358352&sr=8-1&keywords=lager+beer

I bought it but since im not set up to lager i havent bothered yet with all the other material(a bookshelf worth) id like to plow through.

Cheers,
Jeff
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: ynotbrusum on January 22, 2014, 03:07:54 AM
My hydrometer is off 2 points.  I used to have a limited scale lab grade hydrometer, but I'm heavy handed and broke it, so I use my refractometer for Preboil, post boil and chilled OG, then use my hydrometer for FG, adjusting for the reading, which is two points lower than actual.  That works for me.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: Pinski on January 22, 2014, 04:16:23 AM
Very, very interesting!  I have been assuming that the refractometer was the more accurate of the two, including the conversion in BeerSmith to get FG/ABV.   I may have to buy a hydrometer.  Using a hydrometer means increasing one's batch size by how much?  I assume a minimum of two tubes of wort/beer.  What does that equal?  right now I make 5.5 gallon batches.  Might just take it to six as I'd rather have too much than too little.

It takes me 8 oz. for each hydro reading.  Although, after the beer is fermented I take 14-16 oz. samples.  After I get the reading I put the samples in a 20 oz. PET bottle with a carbonator cap.  Hit it with 30 PSI, put it in the freezer for 45 min., and I've got a cold carbed sample.  I also make 5.5 gal. batches.

+1
This is my favorite thing about hydrometer samples!
Accurate readings post fermentation is a close second. I've been taking both refractometer and hydrometer readings for my last few batches at various stages of fermentation and entering the readings into a spreadsheet. After a few more batches I'll start charting the results to see what sort (if) a pattern emerges. I hope to be able to come up with a close correction factor for my refractometer readings post fermentation and maybe a better understanding of why it varies if the results are not consistent.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: jeffy on January 22, 2014, 12:55:14 PM
I can also recommend the late Gregg Noonan's book, Brewing Lager Beer.  I have the old version, before it was "New."  It was the first book I bought that helped me with technical all grain brewing issues and I used it as reference for many years.  It is still an excellent resource.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: denny on January 22, 2014, 04:35:50 PM
So if you mashed from 150 down to 147 for an hour you definitely mashed dry.  No surprise then that you are below your estimate FG.

I heard this is a good book to read for lagering.

http://www.amazon.com/New-Brewing-Lager-Beer-Comprehensive/dp/0937381829/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390358352&sr=8-1&keywords=lager+beer

I bought it but since im not set up to lager i havent bothered yet with all the other material(a bookshelf worth) id like to plow through.

Cheers,
Jeff

I'd give that book a solid "Meh" in regards to homebrewing.  It's really aimed at commercial brewing.  Interesting info and science, but way over the top for most of us.  Noonan feels like every mash needs to be decocted.  In addition, it's getting a bit long in the tooth in regard to ingredients.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: a10t2 on January 22, 2014, 08:44:39 PM
I have been assuming that the refractometer was the more accurate of the two, including the conversion in BeerSmith to get FG/ABV.

At the very least, you should use a better tool. ;)

http://seanterrill.com/refractometer

In my own brewing, I've found that I can get precision about on par with a cheap hydrometer (standard deviation of about one "point"). A lot of people haven't had such good results. To be honest, I suspect it comes down to most people not being as anal about their calibration and measurement technique.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: denny on January 22, 2014, 08:49:16 PM
A lot of people haven't had such good results. To be honest, I suspect it comes down to most people not being as anal about their calibration and measurement technique.

I'm one of those "lot of people".  Got any tips on calibration and use?
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 22, 2014, 09:02:55 PM
A lot of people haven't had such good results. To be honest, I suspect it comes down to most people not being as anal about their calibration and measurement technique.

I'm one of those "lot of people".  Got any tips on calibration and use?

Zero with RO or distiller.

Make a 10% solution with table sugar and RO water, it should read 10 Brix. You can also make enough solutions of different concentrations to plot a curve. Use the solution to check your hydrometer while you are at it. It helps if you have a gram scale for the sugar and a good way to measure the water volume.

Sean may have better techniques.

Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: denny on January 22, 2014, 09:19:27 PM
Zero with RO or distiller.

Make a 10% solution with table sugar and RO water, it should read 10 Brix. You can also make enough solutions of different concentrations to plot a curve. Use the solution to check your hydrometer while you are at it. It helps if you have a gram scale for the sugar and a good way to measure the water volume.

Sean may have better techniques.

Thanks, Jeff.  I already do the first one.  I'll try the second.  I assume that's 10% of the water weight as sugar?  For example, 100 gr. water and 10 gr. sugar.  Or is it 90 gr. water and 10 gr. sugar?
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 22, 2014, 10:05:53 PM
Zero with RO or distiller.

Make a 10% solution with table sugar and RO water, it should read 10 Brix. You can also make enough solutions of different concentrations to plot a curve. Use the solution to check your hydrometer while you are at it. It helps if you have a gram scale for the sugar and a good way to measure the water volume.

Sean may have better techniques.

Thanks, Jeff.  I already do the first one.  I'll try the second.  I assume that's 10% of the water weight as sugar?  For example, 100 gr. water and 10 gr. sugar.  Or is it 90 gr. water and 10 gr. sugar?

It is a 10% solution, so 90 gr water and 10 gr sugar.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: Jeff M on January 23, 2014, 03:29:08 AM
Kal Over at TEB put this together.  Might help answer some of your questions?  Might raise a few more even!

http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=26975

Cheers,
Jeff
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: ajk on January 23, 2014, 06:13:55 AM
Did you happen to use Rahr Pilsner malt as your base grain?  It's thought to be pre-acidified by the maltster, causing its acidity contribution to the mash to be greater than other base malts.  That could result in better attenuation than expected.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: yso191 on January 23, 2014, 04:16:23 PM
Am I reading between the lines correctly that the refractometer calculator in BeerSmith may be inaccurate when calculating fermented/ing wort?
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: blatz on January 23, 2014, 04:30:23 PM
Am I reading between the lines correctly that the refractometer calculator in BeerSmith may be inaccurate when calculating fermented/ing wort?

once i got my correction factor adjusted through some trial/error, mine has never been off my hydrometer.  I do both on occasion and they always match within .01 gravity points.  and this has been the same through 3 hydrometers over the years.

not sure why some folks have problems.  starting to think its guys who wear glasses or something...

Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: denny on January 23, 2014, 05:11:22 PM
It is a 10% solution, so 90 gr water and 10 gr sugar.

Thanks, Jeff.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: Pinski on January 23, 2014, 05:34:49 PM
Am I reading between the lines correctly that the refractometer calculator in BeerSmith may be inaccurate when calculating fermented/ing wort?

once i got my correction factor adjusted through some trial/error, mine has never been off my hydrometer.  I do both on occasion and they always match within .01 gravity points.  and this has been the same through 3 hydrometers over the years.

not sure why some folks have problems.  starting to think its guys who wear glasses or something...

What correction factor do you use?
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: blatz on January 23, 2014, 06:25:12 PM
Am I reading between the lines correctly that the refractometer calculator in BeerSmith may be inaccurate when calculating fermented/ing wort?

once i got my correction factor adjusted through some trial/error, mine has never been off my hydrometer.  I do both on occasion and they always match within .01 gravity points.  and this has been the same through 3 hydrometers over the years.

not sure why some folks have problems.  starting to think its guys who wear glasses or something...

What correction factor do you use?

will need to check at home.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: a10t2 on January 23, 2014, 08:01:01 PM
Got any tips on calibration and use?

Jeff pretty well covered it:


That's all that comes to mind. A two-point calibration is definitely where to start.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: Jeff M on January 24, 2014, 12:04:32 AM
Sean, do you have a link to a good set of pro brewer level hydrometers?

Would be interesting to look at the difference between those and the cheap ones we use:)

Jeff
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: el_capitan on January 24, 2014, 12:40:03 AM
Did you happen to use Rahr Pilsner malt as your base grain?  It's thought to be pre-acidified by the maltster, causing its acidity contribution to the mash to be greater than other base malts.  That could result in better attenuation than expected.

Interesting.  I haven't heard a lot of positive feedback on Rahr pilsner, but I use Rahr 2-row quite a bit.  For this batch I used the end of a bag of Best Malz pilsner.  Good stuff! 
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: a10t2 on January 25, 2014, 06:59:47 PM
Sean, do you have a link to a good set of pro brewer level hydrometers?

Any decent supplier will carry them as a set of three. They're large (~16" long) for high precision, generally cover something like 0-8, 8-16, and 16-24°P, and have a thermometer and correction scale. Just an example: http://www.gwkent.com/plato-hydrometers-with-build-inthermometer.html If you have a Foxx account, theirs are about half the price.

I have one of these and it's nice, but annoying since it's only marked in SG. They're more delicate than the "pro" ones and not as large: http://www.williamsbrewing.com/BREWERS-EDGE-BOTTLING-HYDROMETER-P529C74.aspx
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: ynotbrusum on January 25, 2014, 08:00:28 PM
Had one of these - I broke it after less than a year:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/lad-grade-hydrometer-980-1-020.html

It was nice, but I can't trust myself with the thin stem, so I use an el cheapo and a refractometer.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: blatz on March 02, 2014, 07:53:34 PM
Am I reading between the lines correctly that the refractometer calculator in BeerSmith may be inaccurate when calculating fermented/ing wort?

once i got my correction factor adjusted through some trial/error, mine has never been off my hydrometer.  I do both on occasion and they always match within .01 gravity points.  and this has been the same through 3 hydrometers over the years.

not sure why some folks have problems.  starting to think its guys who wear glasses or something...

What correction factor do you use?

1.00386
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: Pinski on March 02, 2014, 07:57:19 PM
Am I reading between the lines correctly that the refractometer calculator in BeerSmith may be inaccurate when calculating fermented/ing wort?

once i got my correction factor adjusted through some trial/error, mine has never been off my hydrometer.  I do both on occasion and they always match within .01 gravity points.  and this has been the same through 3 hydrometers over the years.

not sure why some folks have problems.  starting to think its guys who wear glasses or something...

What correction factor do you use?

1.00386

Cool, thanks Paul!
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: quattlebaum on March 02, 2014, 10:37:59 PM

Any other good resources for lager brewing?
[/quote]

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Fermenting_Lagers

Great All around resource!
It seems everyone does it a little different. I somewhat follow Schedule (F) under Maturation of beer in this link except i pitch around 45 F let rise to 48F till near done. I dont secondary and lager on yeast in primary for around 3 to 4 weeks then rack to keg and hold at 30F for a month and carb and drink:). 
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on March 03, 2014, 12:51:24 AM
Sean, do you have a link to a good set of pro brewer level hydrometers?

Any decent supplier will carry them as a set of three. They're large (~16" long) for high precision, generally cover something like 0-8, 8-16, and 16-24°P, and have a thermometer and correction scale. Just an example: http://www.gwkent.com/plato-hydrometers-with-build-inthermometer.html If you have a Foxx account, theirs are about half the price.

I have one of these and it's nice, but annoying since it's only marked in SG. They're more delicate than the "pro" ones and not as large: http://www.williamsbrewing.com/BREWERS-EDGE-BOTTLING-HYDROMETER-P529C74.aspx
I got those from Foxx and I like them.
I really like that they have thermometer and adjustment scale build in.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: klickitat jim on March 03, 2014, 11:07:36 AM
Dang, now there's something else I can't live without
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: udubdawg on March 03, 2014, 03:43:55 PM
I have one of these and it's nice, but annoying since it's only marked in SG. They're more delicate than the "pro" ones and not as large: http://www.williamsbrewing.com/BREWERS-EDGE-BOTTLING-HYDROMETER-P529C74.aspx

my wife just broke mine yesterday.  I think that was my 4th.
so, yeah...like it, but fragile.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: Pinski on March 03, 2014, 03:56:38 PM
Anyone know what temperature it's calibrated for?
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: ynotbrusum on March 04, 2014, 12:47:31 PM
It says 20 degrees C.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: Pinski on March 04, 2014, 03:24:57 PM
May have to pick one up, I've really liked my 68* thermometer/hydrometer but it would be nice to have a finishing hydrometer with a smaller scale to more accurately/clearly read FGs.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: a10t2 on March 04, 2014, 05:27:56 PM
Anyone know what temperature it's calibrated for?
It says 20 degrees C.

Weird, mine's 60°F.
Title: Re: Stop That Lager!
Post by: ynotbrusum on March 05, 2014, 02:53:36 AM
Anyone know what temperature it's calibrated for?
It says 20 degrees C.

Weird, mine's 60°F.

My bad - I looked at the one mentioned further above from the GWKent site. Not the Williams brewing one.