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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: LittleBoy on August 28, 2011, 07:09:20 PM

Title: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: LittleBoy on August 28, 2011, 07:09:20 PM
Started my Ocktoberfest Lager a week ago yesterday  (1.063 OG).  Slowly brought temp down to 50F over three days (thanks to Johnson Controls).  Fermented at 50F for 4 more days.  Then brought to room temp for 24 hours for diacetyl rest.  Very active krausen.  Racked into secondary today and gravity was 1.052.  Still pretty active (which makes sense with the gravity).

Plan was to start the lagering at 40-45F...

Should I keep at the higher temp (~50) to complete the fermentation?  Or, should I be okay?
Should I consider another diacetyl rest later in the fermentation.

Would appreciate any advice.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: majorvices on August 28, 2011, 07:25:10 PM
That is not the proper way to make a lager (and throw the instruction WL or WY give you away, they are a joke). You must start with the proper amount of yeast. For 5 gallons of a 1.052 beer 2 vials/smack packs in a 1 gallon starter would not be too big (ferment to completion, decant spent starter wort, pitch only yeast). See the pitching calc. at www.mrmalty.com to get an idea what size starter you need for any beer, (be sure to use the lager "pull down" menu). Before you pitch your yeast you lower the temp of the wort down to about 4 degrees below your intended fermentation temp. So if you fermentation temp is 50 you should cool down to 44. Aerate 2Xs longer than ale and pitch your yeast. If you want to speed up the process and insure proper attenuation warm the temp up to 56-58 near the end of fermentation.

You never want to pitch a lager warm, ever, because not only will lowering the temp down to the proper fermentation temps kick up diacetyl, it also produces unwanted, unlager-like esters in  your beer. The most important period in any fermenation is the first 72 hours or so, that is when most of the esters are produced, so starting fermentation warm doesn't make any sense at all.

Not saying that your beer is going to be ruined but if you don't follow the protocol stated above there is no use fooling around with lager yeasts. You may as well stick to clean fermenting ales.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: denny on August 28, 2011, 07:30:06 PM
Started my Ocktoberfest Lager a week ago yesterday  (1.063 OG).  Slowly brought temp down to 50F over three days (thanks to Johnson Controls).  Fermented at 50F for 4 more days.  Then brought to room temp for 24 hours for diacetyl rest.  Very active krausen.  Racked into secondary today and gravity was 1.052.  Still pretty active (which makes sense with the gravity).

Plan was to start the lagering at 40-45F...

Should I keep at the higher temp (~50) to complete the fermentation?  Or, should I be okay?
Should I consider another diacetyl rest later in the fermentation.

Would appreciate any advice.

I see a couple problems here...you say you brought the temp down to 50 over 3 days, but you shouldn't have started any higher than that.  Also, a 7 day fermentation for a lager is way too short on my experience.  You shouldn't have racked it until it was at (or nearly at) your anticipated FG.  Also, you didn't mention if you used a starter.  Lagers need a lot of yeast and a large starter (assuming liquid yeast) is pretty much mandatory.  See mrmalty.com for details about that.  At this point, I'd leave it as is to finish and just accept whatever you have.  Then try it again, pitching at or just below your intended fermentation temp with a large (like maybe a gal.) starter and give it plenty of time.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: LittleBoy on August 28, 2011, 07:37:27 PM
Thanks... wouldn't be a hobby if there was nothing to learn.
Will keep at ~50 until fermentation is complete.  Willing to accept whatever results.

Yeast starters... hmmm.  Sounds like more to read about.  Maybe more gadgets to buy!
Thanks again.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: Hokerer on August 28, 2011, 10:34:42 PM
Before you pitch your yeast you lower the temp of the wort down to about 4 degrees below your intended fermentation temp. So if you fermentation temp is 50 you should cool down to 44.

Hmmm, is that 'bama math?  :)
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: majorvices on August 28, 2011, 10:42:42 PM
LOL. To be fair I was educated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  ;) I meant to say 4-6 degrees below (yeah, that's the tix!)
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: ynotbrusum on August 30, 2011, 01:14:15 AM
Started my Ocktoberfest Lager a week ago yesterday  (1.063 OG).  Slowly brought temp down to 50F over three days (thanks to Johnson Controls).  Fermented at 50F for 4 more days.  Then brought to room temp for 24 hours for diacetyl rest.  Very active krausen.  Racked into secondary today and gravity was 1.052.  Still pretty active (which makes sense with the gravity).

Plan was to start the lagering at 40-45F...

Should I keep at the higher temp (~50) to complete the fermentation?  Or, should I be okay?
Should I consider another diacetyl rest later in the fermentation.

Would appreciate any advice.

At this point, I'd leave it as is to finish and just accept whatever you have.  Then try it again, pitching at or just below your intended fermentation temp with a large (like maybe a gal.) starter and give it plenty of time.


If you had harvested the yeast cake, you could have maybe used that to pitch the next batch...but I agree with Denny at this point.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: bluesman on August 30, 2011, 01:26:18 AM
Great advice by majorvices. Making an appropriate starter, properly aerating the wort, pitching low and keeping good control over your fermentation are the keys to producing a great lager.

The yeast should be clean, healthy and ready to go. This is all done in an effort to produce a clean flavor profile. In some cases you may need to perform a diacetyl rest, as all yeast produce diacetyl during fermentation, and a d-rest will aid in cleaning up this fermentation by-products.

Confused yet...not to worry, you are amongst some really fine brewers here. Stay tuned and we'll teach you how to produce good quality beer.  :)
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: skyler on August 30, 2011, 06:32:06 PM
This is why I recommend against lagers for people new to the hobby. Especially when people are mistrusting of the starter-making process or about ambient temperature and fermentation temperature being two different things. Add that to a new homebrewer who wants to drink their beer as soon as possible and you have a situation where the beer is unlikely to come out as well as it could. I think a lot of people think a beer needs to be a lager to be yellow and clean-tasting, and that they would be happier just brewing a 100% 2-row, noble hopped 1.046ish ale fermented with US-05 in the low 60's.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: Kit B on August 30, 2011, 08:11:37 PM
I've only done 2 lagers so far, but I recommend cooling to fermentation temp ASAP, then pitch & ferment until krausen drops.
Then, if you plan to do a diacetyl rest, do it at or right after the drop.
BUT...If you're using proper pitch rates, proper temps & a great yeast selection, you might not need the diacetyl rest.

What yeast?
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: hopfenundmalz on August 30, 2011, 08:55:11 PM
I chill 4 to 6F below the fermentation temp.  Pitch the large amount of yeast recommended by mrmalty and do the O2 thing .  Let it rise to the fermentation temp, usualy 48 or 50F depending on the yeast.  Check the gravity at 4 to 5 days in, ramp up for the D-rest if required (that increased activity also drives off the H2S).   Slowly start to bring the temp. back down when at the target FG.  This takes less than 7 days, unless I have a higher gravity lager.   

Once I get it down to lagering temps, usualy 35F or a little less, it is allowed to lager for a week for every 2 degress plato. 

   
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: James Lorden on August 30, 2011, 09:29:17 PM
If I'm using carboys then I pitch at 45 and ferment at 50 for 4 weeks - thats it, done.  I find that the beer is ready to drink at this point and will either fine or filter out the yeast.  I have done very well with this technique and generally don't mess with the "raise temp" and then slowly "lower temp to lager" stuff... I'm to lazy ;)



Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: denny on August 30, 2011, 09:32:01 PM
If I'm using carboys then I pitch at 45 and ferment at 50 for 4 weeks - thats it, done.  I find that the beer is ready to drink at this point and will either fine or filter out the yeast.  I have done very well with this technique and generally don't mess with the "raise temp" and then slowly "lower temp to lager" stuff... I'm to lazy ;)





Uh, James....we don't use the "L" word....we call that "pragmatic"!
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: weithman5 on August 30, 2011, 09:44:13 PM
This is why I recommend against lagers for people new to the hobby.

i started with lagers and only have brewed lagers (and all grain after first batch) so far (and a few ciders) however i agree with your advice.  i spent a lot of time reading studying planning.  i probably wasted more time researching when i could have simultaneously started a few good ales and had good enjoyable results.  now i wish i had brewed a few ales, not just for the experience prior to lagering,  but because there are some ale types i am planning and it would be nice to be able to compare to previous as the process improved.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: ckpash88 on October 28, 2011, 05:41:28 AM
Since talking about lagering for some reason my fridge with j control won't go below 48 degrees even though it was working just fine last week. Will I be alright if I lager at 48 degrees?
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: majorvices on October 28, 2011, 06:28:28 AM
Since talking about lagering for some reason my fridge with j control won't go below 48 degrees even though it was working just fine last week. Will I be alright if I lager at 48 degrees?

You need to be at 38 degrees at least or the yeast will not drop out (or it will take forever). You won't get the cold conditioning benefits at 48 degrees. Sounds like your compressor in said fridge is dying, probably not the controller. Once it starts to go it will probably go all the way bad in a short time.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: snowtiger87 on October 28, 2011, 06:51:57 AM
+1. "Lagering" by definition happens at near freezing temperatures. 48F is not near freezing.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: hopfenundmalz on October 28, 2011, 11:56:35 AM
+1. "Lagering" by definition happens at near freezing temperatures. 48F is not near freezing.

That is what I do.  Get it down to < or =35F.  Take it down 2 to 3 degrees per day.  Duration is at least one week for every .008 (2 Plato) of gravity.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: majorvices on October 28, 2011, 12:10:20 PM
The only real reason to take the temp down so slow is to keep the yeast working cleaning up the beer. If you do a "forced maturation" or d-rest then the slow cooling toward lagering temps really isn't beneficial. At that point you can just crash cool.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: bo on October 28, 2011, 12:18:43 PM
The only real reason to take the temp down so slow is to keep the yeast working cleaning up the beer. If you do a "forced maturation" or d-rest then the slow cooling toward lagering temps really isn't beneficial. At that point you can just crash cool.

I agree. A couple of days at room temperature and then crash. Works for me and I don't have to remember to mess with a thermostat every day.
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: ynotbrusum on October 29, 2011, 02:00:41 PM
A month at 48F and then transfer to keg or bottle (if bottle, then 2 weeks at room temperature) then drop it down to cold temperatures (you don't have to go to 32F for a good lagering).  I like to keep it in the keg for 2-3 weeks cold before serving.  The last week is under CO2 pressure.

Works for me. :-*
Title: Re: First Lager - Temp Advice
Post by: jimrod on November 07, 2011, 01:36:36 AM
Take out or bypass the analog thermostat in your fridge. Use only the Johnson controller.   A lot of small refrigerators only get 40-42 degrees. Also move it away from the wall, sometimes the lack of air circulation makes the compressor overheat and shut off.