Author Topic: Want to start lagering  (Read 888 times)

Offline crummydo

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Want to start lagering
« on: February 09, 2017, 08:18:50 PM »
Lets face the facts.... lager is delicious. I've brewed about 8 batches of ale, stout, and mead since I've started my home brewing adventure but I'm clueless about lager. I attempted a big batch of Oktoberfest following a kit as close to the letter as possible last year, but it came out like garbage. I just brewed following the instructions in the kits, and when it came time to secondary, I simply put it in a spare garage fridge at the highest temp I could, which was about 40 or so degrees. I waited patiently for about 3 weeks, bottled them, and put them right back in the fridge. When I opened up the first bottle it smelled skunky and had floaters in it. Dumped it. Second bottle the same. Popped open a few more, all the same. Completely undrinkable.

What did I do wrong and how should I go about in the future trying to make a lager with the bare bones set up?

Offline stpug

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2017, 08:31:21 PM »
Same process as ales, just cold-enough temperatures usually require a fermentation chamber that's capable of keeping the temps.  If you've got a fermentation chamber then you can brew lagers.

As to why your O-fest batch came out with floaters... who knows?? Must have been something in the process that lead to this (airlock suckback, contamination, something else).

-Brew a simple recipe
-Chill to lager fermentation temps
-Pitch sufficient yeast
-Provide enough oxygen
-Ferment
-Carb/Lager/Serve

Offline deadpoetic0077

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2017, 09:16:18 PM »
Lets face the facts.... lager is delicious. I've brewed about 8 batches of ale, stout, and mead since I've started my home brewing adventure but I'm clueless about lager. I attempted a big batch of Oktoberfest following a kit as close to the letter as possible last year, but it came out like garbage. I just brewed following the instructions in the kits, and when it came time to secondary, I simply put it in a spare garage fridge at the highest temp I could, which was about 40 or so degrees. I waited patiently for about 3 weeks, bottled them, and put them right back in the fridge. When I opened up the first bottle it smelled skunky and had floaters in it. Dumped it. Second bottle the same. Popped open a few more, all the same. Completely undrinkable.

What did I do wrong and how should I go about in the future trying to make a lager with the bare bones set up?

Something to consider (though I don't think it has to do with the floaters or the skunkiness) is to pitch a LOT of yeast for lagers. Its very hard to overpitch. Look at how much you need for the beer, then add a little extra on top.

In direct response to your question, it could just be some very basic stuff. For the floaters, make sure you are whirlpooling your kettle before siphoning off the wort. This will help keep trub in the kettle, and not in your fermenter. Some (including me) think its a good thing to get at least some of the trub into the fermenter, but if there's too much, its more difficult to siphon the beer off the trub at the bottom of the fermenter. be very careful when transferring beer to your bottling bucket and leave a little beer at the bottom of the fermenter to make sure you don't get a ton of trub in your bucket.

Skunkiness is typically due to the beer being lightstuck. Make sure that your hops are in a dark, cool place for storage, and same with the fermenter. if you are using clear or green bottles, keep them in the dark too until you are ready to  chill them for drinking.

Sometimes those kits don't have the greatest ingredients. The yeast in particular tend to be not the greatest in my experience. I always say the best way to improve those kits is to throw out the yeast pack it comes with and get some fresher stuff.

Some of the stuff in the kit could have been sitting around for a while. I always recommend buying the ingredients from your LHBS or if you don't have one, order from a reputable online source.

Infection is always a possibility, but I feel like this is more obvious overall as opposed to the things you talked about.

Hope that helps!

Offline cameramanaaron

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2017, 10:00:54 PM »
What temperature did you ferment at?  Maybe you could outfit your fridge with a temperature controller.

It sounds like your problem in this batch though is that you got an infection.  Revisit your cleaning/sanitizing practices for all of your post-boil equipment and vessels (including bottles).

Good luck!

Offline narcout

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2017, 10:13:32 PM »
What did I do wrong and how should I go about in the future trying to make a lager with the bare bones set up?

I think Kai does a good job of explaining some of the basics as well as some of the more advanced topics without it being too overwhelming for someone who is just starting out.

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

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2017, 03:38:13 PM »
-Brew a simple recipe
-Chill to lager fermentation temps
-Pitch sufficient yeast
-Provide enough oxygen
-Ferment
-Carb/Lager/Serve

Okay so just to get this straight. I brew as usual and chill it down to, lets say 70-80F, then pitch the yeast. At that point I would directly put the carboy into the fridge?

I think I don't understand the "lager" process. I thought it meant that after I fermented for a week or so at room temp in my cabinet, then move it to the cold storage. Reading a few blogs it seems as though it is supposed to be brought down incrementally for the secondary. Would it be just the same to put it straight into the fridge and don't open the door for a couple weeks?

Offline crummydo

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2017, 03:41:14 PM »
Thanks for the link and advice. I think I can rule out infection from my equipment since I did TWO 5 gallon batches in two pots and two carboys, but at the same time. And since then I have used the equipment to make other brew that turned out fantastic.

Im wondering if I "shocked" it by putting it in the fridge. I also bottled it cold and put it right back in the fridge.

Offline crummydo

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2017, 03:47:31 PM »

I think Kai does a good job of explaining some of the basics as well as some of the more advanced topics without it being too overwhelming for someone who is just starting out.

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

OMG this link is great. THANK YOU!!!

Offline stpug

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2017, 03:47:47 PM »
-Brew a simple recipe
-Chill to lager fermentation temps
-Pitch sufficient yeast
-Provide enough oxygen
-Ferment
-Carb/Lager/Serve

Okay so just to get this straight. I brew as usual and chill it down to, lets say 70-80F, then pitch the yeast. At that point I would directly put the carboy into the fridge?

I think I don't understand the "lager" process. I thought it meant that after I fermented for a week or so at room temp in my cabinet, then move it to the cold storage. Reading a few blogs it seems as though it is supposed to be brought down incrementally for the secondary. Would it be just the same to put it straight into the fridge and don't open the door for a couple weeks?

Brew as usual and chill it down (ideally, you chill down to ~50F), pitch yeast, aerate, and put the carboy into a fridge that's also set to maintain 50F.  Now your fermenting a lager beer.

7-21 days later (when fermentation and any associated cleanup is complete by the yeast), drop the temperature to somewhere between 30-40F for a few weeks.  You can do this slowly/incrementally if you'd like, or you can just set the controller to the temp you want and walk away.  Now you're lagering (cold-aging) a lager beer.

After this, bottle or keg as usual.  If you use priming sugar then you'll want to let the bottle/keg come back up to a temperature where yeast can actively work (50-75F) for a few weeks until carbonated.  Any extra cold aging that you do after this point is also considered "lagering" and (possibly) beneficial to the beer.

I'm trying to take the super-specifics and minute-subtleties out of my descriptions so as not to muddy up the simplicity of the process, because it really is simple (just like brewing ales, but at different temperatures... and maybe a couple extra things to ponder along the way)

Offline crummydo

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2017, 09:36:33 PM »
stpug.... that was probably the BEST walkthrough I could have ever read. Simple and too the point. I will absolutely give this a go again. Well, once I get a fridge that can accurately sit at 50F. Thank you thank you thank you.

Offline Rhoobarb

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2017, 10:15:01 PM »
7-21 days later (when fermentation and any associated cleanup is complete by the yeast), drop the temperature to somewhere between 30-40F for a few weeks.  [/quote]
I like to do a diacetyl rest before I drop the temp. Just raise the fermentation temperature from lager temperatures to ~68-70oF for a couple of days near the end of the fermentation.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2017, 10:41:20 PM »
stpug.... that was probably the BEST walkthrough I could have ever read. Simple and too the point. I will absolutely give this a go again. Well, once I get a fridge that can accurately sit at 50F. Thank you thank you thank you.

If you are at all handy with tools, and comfortable with basic wiring, you can build a temp controller pretty cheaply using an STC-1000 controller.  This will be able to keep your fridge at the temps you want it.  There's no way to use the fridge controls with any accuracy without an external controller.
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Offline amichuda

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2017, 02:18:23 AM »

If you are at all handy with tools, and comfortable with basic wiring, you can build a temp controller pretty cheaply using an STC-1000 controller.  This will be able to keep your fridge at the temps you want it.  There's no way to use the fridge controls with any accuracy without an external controller.

Even easier - buy one of these. $30. http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/322059258645?lpid=82&chn=ps&ul_noapp=true


Offline Philbrew

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2017, 04:31:49 AM »

If you are at all handy with tools, and comfortable with basic wiring, you can build a temp controller pretty cheaply using an STC-1000 controller.  This will be able to keep your fridge at the temps you want it.  There's no way to use the fridge controls with any accuracy without an external controller.

Even easier - buy one of these. $30. http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/322059258645?lpid=82&chn=ps&ul_noapp=true
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Want to start lagering
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2017, 01:57:26 PM »
Here's another reference for brewing a lager: http://beersmith.com/blog/2014/01/24/brewing-the-perfect-lager-at-home/

This is the controller I have on both my ferment fridge and lagering fridge:

http://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8&products_id=499


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