Author Topic: Extended lagering - thoughts and questions  (Read 844 times)

Offline beerwaukee

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Extended lagering - thoughts and questions
« on: February 25, 2014, 06:12:23 PM »
For the 3 lagers I've brewed, I've taken the advice from other brewers to perform the lager phase in a keg (around 32-34F) while under pressure. This works great as it is convenient, the carbonation gets dialed and I can forget about it until it peaks.

Two weeks ago I brewed a Marzen/Oktoberfest that I would like to keep in the tank for about six months before tapping. With that amount of time should I be concerned about the beer staling before I get to it? I've read about the flavor improvements and clarity extended lagering can provide, but with a Maibock I brewed previously (slightly lower gravity) it hit its peak at 4 months then started showed signs of staling which came in the way of fruity esters.

Other variables aside, my theory is it depends on the amount of Co2 (since it contains oxygen), lower pressure/slower staling.. but I'm no expert.

I typically go by taste vs a time table, but I'm wondering if anyone has thoughts on this or have come across any studies.

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Extended lagering - thoughts and questions
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2014, 06:30:10 PM »
I don't have any advice on lagering, but CO2 does not contain oxygen. (It's a molecule that contains oxygen atoms, but that is not even close to the same). Oxygen introduced at other points in your process is more likely the cause (namely, transfers). Try to eliminate oxygen exposure as much as possible. Transfer under blankets of CO2, purge keg head space well. You might even let the keg sit at room temp for a week after transferring to let yeast absorb any bits of oxygen in your beer. That last one is just an idea that popped into my head - I haven't tried it.
 
The Germans lager their oktoberfests for six months, so you should be able too.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Extended lagering - thoughts and questions
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2014, 06:51:58 PM »
I'm not sure how many German breweries lager their Oktoberfest/Marzens for 6 months at this day and age, but I'm assuming it isn't many, if any. I think you will lager it 6 months and most likely miss the "peak" of the beer. Not saying you can't, but I don't think it is necessary. IME 4-6. maybe 8 weeks of lagering is plenty for most low to mid gravity lagers. Some pale lagers are great in 2 weeks and the extended lagering doesn't really benefit them at all.

If the beer is perfect at, say, 6 weeks what good is it lagering for 4.5 more months?

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Extended lagering - thoughts and questions
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2014, 07:03:24 PM »
I'm not sure how many German breweries lager their Oktoberfest/Marzens for 6 months at this day and age,
Also a good point
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Extended lagering - thoughts and questions
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2014, 11:12:20 PM »
If you have a cobra tap you can taste test every couple weeks and move it to the kegerator at peak, maybe that would be Oktober maybe not.

I'm kegging one tomorrow night. Originally thought it would be an Oktoberfest beer but it will probably be a Marzen instead. I'll take adjustment notes and brew my Oktoberfest in early September.

Offline Pinski

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Re: Extended lagering - thoughts and questions
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2014, 11:38:03 PM »
I brewed my Oktoberfest/Maerzens last March 30 and served them on September  21st.  They were fantastic. One took a bronze medal in the Fall Classic competition, one of the biggest homebrew comps in Portland.  This year I'll stick to one yeast and sample off of one of the kegs to record tasting notes to try and see if I'm missing the peak with this approach. I do like the traditional aspect and anticipation of brewing in spring and "harvesting" in the fall.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Extended lagering - thoughts and questions
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2014, 01:40:15 AM »

I brewed my Oktoberfest/Maerzens last March 30 and served them on September  21st.  They were fantastic. One took a bronze medal in the Fall Classic competition, one of the biggest homebrew comps in Portland.  This year I'll stick to one yeast and sample off of one of the kegs to record tasting notes to try and see if I'm missing the peak with this approach. I do like the traditional aspect and anticipation of brewing in spring and "harvesting" in the fall.

But, are you sure they weren't fantastic in May or June? My only point is that on a lower gravity beer you are probably aging needlessly in you go 6 months. My taste tests tell me so.

Offline Pinski

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Re: Extended lagering - thoughts and questions
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2014, 05:17:03 AM »

I brewed my Oktoberfest/Maerzens last March 30 and served them on September  21st.  They were fantastic. One took a bronze medal in the Fall Classic competition, one of the biggest homebrew comps in Portland.  This year I'll stick to one yeast and sample off of one of the kegs to record tasting notes to try and see if I'm missing the peak with this approach. I do like the traditional aspect and anticipation of brewing in spring and "harvesting" in the fall.

But, are you sure they weren't fantastic in May or June? My only point is that on a lower gravity beer you are probably aging needlessly in you go 6 months. My taste tests tell me so.

Nope, that's why I'm going to "sacrifice" one of the kegs this year and take some tasting notes month to month.  I agree that the March-September O-fest lager tradition was born out of necessity historically. Brew when it's cool and serve at the harvest party.
Very few of my lagers get much more than 8 weeks of conditioning before they're put into service.  Unless of course it's the second keg of the batch. If were to wager a guess, I would guess that I'm going to prefer the fresher (younger) beer. 
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 07:16:25 AM by Pinski »
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Extended lagering - thoughts and questions
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2014, 12:29:47 PM »
8 weeks minimum on most of my lagers and almost universally that second keg of a 10 gallon batch hits the sweet spot at 12-16 weeks.  I used to do a Marzen in March that I held until September for an O fest party in the neighborhood and only when I was delayed one year to May did I realize that I preferred the shorter timeframe - not to say that it is the only way, but after 6 months, the beer seems to fade just a little. YMMV, of course and heartier beers certainly hold up longer in my experience.  A dopplebock is one that comes to mind - I gave it 7 months lagering and it was tremendous and holds up well to further aging in refrigerated conditions.
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