Author Topic: Stop That Lager!  (Read 1232 times)

Offline el_capitan

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Stop That Lager!
« on: January 20, 2014, 07:40:38 PM »
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
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2014, 08:11:23 PM »


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

Offline el_capitan

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2014, 09:32:41 PM »
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?
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2014, 10:11:37 PM »
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.

Offline Mark G

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2014, 11:12:41 PM »
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.
Mark Gres

Offline majorvices

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 05:53:31 AM »
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.
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2014, 06:01:46 AM »
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.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2014, 06:26:58 AM »
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.

Offline yso191

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2014, 07:44:18 AM »
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?
Steve

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2014, 07:59:30 AM »
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.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2014, 08:14:27 AM »
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.
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Offline denny

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2014, 09:37:50 AM »
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.
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Offline yso191

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2014, 10:28:54 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.
Steve

Offline majorvices

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2014, 10:45:55 AM »
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.
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Offline denny

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Re: Stop That Lager!
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2014, 11:02:29 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.
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