Author Topic: what lagering does  (Read 1648 times)

Offline MattyAHA

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what lagering does
« on: March 12, 2019, 07:31:31 PM »
when brewing a lager is the "lagering" stage really necessary? if the lager tastes good out of the fermenter is there any reason to lager the beer besides clearing the beer and getting it bright? Will the flavors improve from cold storage or is it simply to improve the appearance of the beer?
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Offline Robert

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2019, 07:53:13 PM »
The cold storage really is just to clear up the beer.  If the yeast has done all its cleanup at a higher temperature (that's what a diacetyl rest is for,) and is no longer active, flavor is really fully developed at this point.   Mind you, flavor will be improved anyway by clarifying the beer, since you're separating out dead yeast, hop resins, tannins, you know, all sorts of less than tasty stuff.  But this can be accomplished by crashing, fining, filtering, centrifuging or any other means imaginable.   Long cold storage is not necessary.

(The old "Märzen" lager method of lowering temperature before fermentation is complete, to finish fermentation slowly at low temperature,  is just combining the yeast's flavor cleanup with clarifying the beer.  This was done to keep a supply of beer coming over the summer before refrigeration.  But yeast works better warmer, so it is more effective to separate the two processes: fully ferment the beer, then somehow clarify it.)
« Last Edit: March 12, 2019, 08:08:29 PM by Robert »
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Offline denny

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2019, 08:17:24 PM »
FWIW, a guy in my club has repeatedly won BOS for lagers that weren't lagered.  Will flavors improve if lagered?  Who knows?  They'll change, but no way of knowing if it will be an improvement.
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Offline MattyAHA

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2019, 08:27:40 PM »
so lagering is a step just to clear and one can use gelatin for example and skip cold storage?
Matty


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Offline Robert

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2019, 08:29:31 PM »
Yep.
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Offline tommymorris

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2019, 09:35:50 PM »
My light lagers need 2-3 (sometimes less) weeks in the keg in the fridge to have peak clean crisp flavor. I don’t use gelatin. When I have, I still felt there were subtle (sometimes not subtle) taste changes over the first few weeks.

My hypothesis is that I may taste something gelatin doesn’t remove but gravity does or maybe the carbonation process subtly changes the taste of beer as far out as a few weeks.

Some pro brewers us centrifuges and other more powerful clarifiers. I know Yellowhammer (majorvices’s brewery) uses a centrifuge and their lagers are fully functional much faster than mine.

Offline Robert

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2019, 09:58:28 PM »
What Denny and Tommy mention about possible subtle changes over time is true.  But note that this has nothing to do with lagers as such.  Same goes for ales.  Some brewers cold condition both their lagers and ales,  some do it for neither.  I do a few weeks cold storage, with or without fining, for both, because that's what fits my schedule.  Big brewers often just centrifuge or filter as soon as it hits FG and get it out the door to make money.  Whatever works for you.
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Offline MattyAHA

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2019, 12:52:17 AM »
makes sense, i think im gonna stick with cold conditioning strictly to exercise my patience, i have been very impatient with brews in the past and i would rather not add anything i don't have to, cold and time seem to be what will work for me but it is really cool to know that i can fine a beer and get drinkn quicker if need be
Matty


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Offline swampale

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2019, 11:49:46 AM »
3 weeks minimum for me. My latest amber lager seemed to be too malty. I had a bitter on tap, so I waited. Just at the 3 week mark, it all came together. It is almost like clockwork, 3 weeks and I am good to go. Lagered in my keezer at 2 C.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2019, 11:50:39 AM »
Of course there is Kellerbier as an example where quick turn is intended for the style.  At a recent competition, a Kellerbier was being judge at my table by others and I suggested to the judges that maybe they should gently roll it to resuspend the settled dregs.  It took Gold in the Amber lager category.
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Offline goose

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2019, 01:36:39 PM »
My take on this, it is up to your taste on whether to lager or not to lager.  I have made my Helles and lagered it for several weeks before serving it and I have also put it on tap right after carbonation.  Although the beer is good right away, I have found that the flavors tend to marry a bit more with a couple weeks of cold conditioning.  It is a subtle change but to my palate a few extra weeks don't hurt, as long as I can have the patience to leave it alone which is not always the case if I have a open tap in my keeezer. Obviously, YMMV.
My Wee Heavy ale also seems to get better with some cold aging.  I have found this beer hits it's sweet spot after a month or so.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2019, 01:55:28 PM »
It depends.

Lower gravity lagers can be ready quicker. I have had Doppelbocks that needed 8 to 10 weeks to be good

I have made some lagers that were nice Kellerbier when young.
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Offline Robert

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2019, 02:21:10 PM »
What I find interesting about all this is that there is no yeast activity involved,  purely a matter of physical processes.  It is a matter of physically removing certain things (can we say impurities?) from the green beer.  Gravity takes time to do this, and it would seem from the comments that the bigger and darker the beer, the more stuff there is to precipitate, and so the longer it takes.   But we seem to be talking here just about relying entirely on time and temperature when comparing "lagering" requirements of different beers.  Mechanical means of separating these substances, including fining, would obviate the need for more time in some beers versus others.  I used to filter all my beer on the theory that when it's done it's done, and when fermentation is complete it's not maturing, only getting old.  I still think this is true; even as beer is clarifying in cold storage, other inevitable staling effects can be setting in.  (I've largely abandoned filtration just because, on the homebrew level, to do it without introducing a slew of new problems is a PITA.)  So there's a balance to be achieved.  Most of us will find it impractical to filter or centrifuge,  and some choose not to fine.  But I think  it's still not quite accurate to say that some beers need aging and others don't.   All have the same requirements, to have yeast finish its job, and then to be physically clarified and stabilized, however that is achieved.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2019, 02:30:27 PM »
On the Ayinger tour the guide said that when a beer meets specs in the lagering process, it gets filtered and packaged.
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Offline RC

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Re: what lagering does
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2019, 02:34:46 PM »
As others have noted here, there generally is some flavor improvement from lagering, but it's due solely to clarification. There isn't anything magical about lagering other than that it lets all the not-so-great tasting stuff settle to the bottom of the fermenter/keg. This will produce a cleaner-tasting lager or ale, but it's generally more noticeable in lagers, especially pale lagers, because of their lack of strong flavors to begin with, which may otherwise mask the subtle improvement. With bigger or darker lagers, I speculate that it takes longer not because there's more to precipitate (relative to the style), but because there's a backdrop of strong alcohol and/or malt flavors. So it simply takes longer for the improvement to be "unmasked."