Author Topic: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes  (Read 1150 times)

Offline wardens355

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Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« on: October 02, 2014, 02:34:30 AM »
I brewed a 10 gallon batch of Oktoberfest about 6 weeks ago and used Wyeast 2206 with half, WLP 838 with the other half.  I transferred to kegs 2 weeks ago and began lagering.  I just started a new project to reduce my serving line lengths by using 1/8" tubing, and decided to try it out on my Oktoberfest.  Well, might as well take a taste (although it is about 4-6 weeks earlier than I think they'll be ready).  The Wy2206 batch has a crayon-like smell and a curious taste that I can't put my finger on.  The WLP838 is much more tame, but obviously needs more time.  When fermenting, the ferm-fridge smelt pleasantly of sulfides/farty pants, and I am not sure how that translates to taste, but I will be giving this beer another month plus before taking another sip.  First adventure into brewing lager and looking forward to what this baby tastes like after proper time.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2014, 02:43:53 AM »
did you filter the beer? or blow out the yeast and trub?

unless you left a lot of beer behind and were really careful transferring to the keg or did one of the above you probably got a lot of yeast in those first pours which can lead to deceiving impressions.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2014, 02:46:36 AM »
If you want, you can blow off quite a bit of the sulfur by shaking/venting the keg every so often.
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Offline wardens355

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2014, 03:37:47 AM »
did you filter the beer? or blow out the yeast and trub?

unless you left a lot of beer behind and were really careful transferring to the keg or did one of the above you probably got a lot of yeast in those first pours which can lead to deceiving impressions.

I don't filter my beers.  I crashed the carboys from 48-50F down to 35F for a week and then transferred to kegs.  I made an effort to not pull much trub in during the transfer.  I pulled a pint and dumped, then poured a taster, which was relatively clear.  If there are sulfide compounds in there, I will try purging the headspace every few days so more can diffuse out, but at this point I figure I will just give another month to lager before making a second judgment.  The 5 gallons that I used for the Wy2206 may have had more trub, so maybe there were some off flavors.. Who knows, it always seems to be an adventure...

Offline Three

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2014, 05:09:47 AM »
If you want, you can blow off quite a bit of the sulfur by shaking/venting the keg every so often.

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Offline majorvices

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2014, 07:50:35 AM »
I brewed a 10 gallon batch of Oktoberfest about 6 weeks ago and used Wyeast 2206 with half, WLP 838 with the other half.  I transferred to kegs 2 weeks ago and began lagering.  I just started a new project to reduce my serving line lengths by using 1/8" tubing, and decided to try it out on my Oktoberfest.  Well, might as well take a taste (although it is about 4-6 weeks earlier than I think they'll be ready).  The Wy2206 batch has a crayon-like smell and a curious taste that I can't put my finger on.  The WLP838 is much more tame, but obviously needs more time.  When fermenting, the ferm-fridge smelt pleasantly of sulfides/farty pants, and I am not sure how that translates to taste, but I will be giving this beer another month plus before taking another sip.  First adventure into brewing lager and looking forward to what this baby tastes like after proper time.

And how long is that? I can tell you that if I brewed an Octoberfest 6 weeks ago I should have had it ready to drink by now, or if not - pretty darn close. Proper brewing techniques shouldn't require months and months of lagering, especially for a comparably low gravity beer style . For an O'fest, 2 weeks of fermentation and 4, maybe even 6 weeks of lagering should get you to a great beer. Any other aging after that really shouldn't be that much more beneficial, if any.

Offline wardens355

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2014, 12:39:37 PM »
And how long is that? I can tell you that if I brewed an Octoberfest 6 weeks ago I should have had it ready to drink by now, or if not - pretty darn close. Proper brewing techniques shouldn't require months and months of lagering, especially for a comparably low gravity beer style . For an O'fest, 2 weeks of fermentation and 4, maybe even 6 weeks of lagering should get you to a great beer. Any other aging after that really shouldn't be that much more beneficial, if any.

The beer was in primary for 4 weeks, so it has only been 2 weeks at lager temperature.  Took about 3 weeks to ferment out.  I was under the impression that 4-6 weeks was the minimum time you should lager (based on Palmer), so I figure I should give it another several weeks at least.  Maybe half the batch is a dud, but I'll give it some time before giving up on it.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2014, 12:43:32 PM »
I brewed a 10 gallon batch of Oktoberfest about 6 weeks ago and used Wyeast 2206 with half, WLP 838 with the other half.  I transferred to kegs 2 weeks ago and began lagering.  I just started a new project to reduce my serving line lengths by using 1/8" tubing, and decided to try it out on my Oktoberfest.  Well, might as well take a taste (although it is about 4-6 weeks earlier than I think they'll be ready).  The Wy2206 batch has a crayon-like smell and a curious taste that I can't put my finger on.  The WLP838 is much more tame, but obviously needs more time.  When fermenting, the ferm-fridge smelt pleasantly of sulfides/farty pants, and I am not sure how that translates to taste, but I will be giving this beer another month plus before taking another sip.  First adventure into brewing lager and looking forward to what this baby tastes like after proper time.

And how long is that? I can tell you that if I brewed an Octoberfest 6 weeks ago I should have had it ready to drink by now, or if not - pretty darn close. Proper brewing techniques shouldn't require months and months of lagering, especially for a comparably low gravity beer style . For an O'fest, 2 weeks of fermentation and 4, maybe even 6 weeks of lagering should get you to a great beer. Any other aging after that really shouldn't be that much more beneficial, if any.
Keith makes a good point.

You can lager colder to speed up the process if you are using a keezer. I have gone to -1C,  (30.2F) for my lagers. That causes larger particles to form, and they drop quicker.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2014, 01:43:59 PM »
And how long is that? I can tell you that if I brewed an Octoberfest 6 weeks ago I should have had it ready to drink by now, or if not - pretty darn close. Proper brewing techniques shouldn't require months and months of lagering, especially for a comparably low gravity beer style . For an O'fest, 2 weeks of fermentation and 4, maybe even 6 weeks of lagering should get you to a great beer. Any other aging after that really shouldn't be that much more beneficial, if any.

The beer was in primary for 4 weeks, so it has only been 2 weeks at lager temperature.  Took about 3 weeks to ferment out.  I was under the impression that 4-6 weeks was the minimum time you should lager (based on Palmer), so I figure I should give it another several weeks at least.  Maybe half the batch is a dud, but I'll give it some time before giving up on it.

Not saying you are doing anything wrong, just saying that a lot of homebrewers lager longer than is necessary and think something "magical" is happening when in reality they may be out lagering the beer's freshness. If your fermentation practices are sound you should get most lower gravity lagers to finish up in 2 weeks. Lager 2-4 more weeks and you should be good to go in most instances.

Offline David Lester

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2014, 02:09:10 PM »
The WLP838 is notorious for sulfides, but dissipates over time. If not, run CO2 through the output of you keg to get the CO2 into the bottom of the keg and through the Beer. The CO2 molecules will attach to the sulfer and will drive off the sulfur compounds.

If you put your beer into a deep freeze, it will be ready sooner. I've read several articles that say the large breweries use this technique for Lagers and Ales.

Patience is required for a good Lagering. Young Lager's taste terrible.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2014, 02:57:14 PM »


Patience is required for a good Lagering. Young Lager's taste terrible.

And what is a young lager? I can have a bock lagered for 3-4 weeks that tastes perfect. If your fermentation practices are sound and you get the beer to clear up and you don't have a lot of sulphur your lager beer should taste pretty good coming out of fermentor and on it's way to lagering tanks. I make a lager that sits in fermentor for about 10-14 days and lagers one week in FV and then 5-7 days or so in BBT, carb in one day and is ready to go. Letting the yeast clean up for a few days in the high 50's before cold crashing helps a lot. Fining or filtering to remove yeast helps even more.

If you are relying solely on cold temps to remove the yeast then, yeah, it will take some long lagering to get your beer to taste right. But I'm not sure there is a reason to do this other than trying to emulate some sort of historical accuracy. But I think it is important to remember that not much is happening while you cold condition your beer - other than yeast and other particulate dropping out of solution (which you can and maybe even should help speed along).

(Note I do realize that these are not historical cold lagering techniques where the beer is slowly cold crashed over a number of days while the yeast are still active. But I'm not sure many of us are actually doing that. Nor do I think it is necessary.

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2014, 04:02:14 PM »

Letting the yeast clean up for a few days in the high 50's before cold crashing helps a lot. Fining or filtering to remove yeast helps even more.


^^^^^^^.  I totally agree. Historically, getting the yeast to clean up after itself and then drop in a timely manner was most of the fight. Like you say, on an average strength lager, I feel like when the beer is clear, sulfur and diacetyl free that I've done my job and it's ready.
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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2014, 02:23:02 AM »
6 weeks grain to glass on most lighter styled lagers and O'Fests, but some take a bit longer to find the sweet spot.  A bigger lager like a Baltic Porter are best at 90 days or so...YMMV, of course.
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Offline wardens355

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Re: Sampling Lagers Early for Educational Purposes
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2014, 04:07:44 AM »
I recently pulled a couple more tasters from each keg and they taste much cleaner than two weeks ago.  I have been bleeding off the CO2 blanket and repressurizing every once in a while to see if maybe there were some volatile sulfur compounds diffusing out into the headspace.  It appears time is helping them clean up a bit.  Gonna try the fast lager method on my next batch, Munich Dunkel brew planned this weekend.