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Author Topic: How long to lager a Schwarzbier  (Read 1330 times)

Offline trapae

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How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« on: January 18, 2023, 11:00:30 pm »
I typically lager my Pilsners for six weeks before taping. Just wondering if anyone does anything different with a Schwarzbier?
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Offline HopDen

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2023, 04:20:50 am »
I typically lager my Pilsners for six weeks before taping. Just wondering if anyone does anything different with a Schwarzbier?

In my case, I brew 15 gallon batches and keg. Mt first keg might get tapped within a month. The 2nd and 3rd will be somewhere in the 2-4 month range but that is dependent on how many other varieties of beer are in rotation. If you can, try and wait 6 months. Lagers get better with extended aging in my opinion and experience.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2023, 04:40:44 am »
My lagers rarely last 6 months, but I think they are at peak within a month or so after kegging.  Indeed, some styles are best fairly fresh.  YMMV.
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Offline denny

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2023, 09:32:51 am »
Until it's ready.  Only you can decide that.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2023, 02:15:47 pm »
The reality is you probably only need to lager any low gravity lager until it is clear enough to drink. Six weeks may be fine but there's probably not that big of a difference between 2 weeks and 6 weeks except time.

Offline denny

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2023, 02:29:44 pm »
The reality is you probably only need to lager any low gravity lager until it is clear enough to drink. Six weeks may be fine but there's probably not that big of a difference between 2 weeks and 6 weeks except time.

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Offline HopDen

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2023, 03:51:52 pm »
The reality is you probably only need to lager any low gravity lager until it is clear enough to drink. Six weeks may be fine but there's probably not that big of a difference between 2 weeks and 6 weeks except time.

Is reality subjective? In my experience, a beer that lagers for an extended period of time tastes better. It may be from the fine lees that is in suspension for the period of time it takes to naturally settle out much as a wine does. Beer obviously evolves as it ages albeit sometimes for the worse but often for the better.  Everyones milage may very as do their taste buds.

To the OP, if you bottle your beers, put six bottles aside and drink one every four weeks. Take notes and decide for yourself.

Offline majorvices

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2023, 05:25:34 pm »
The reality is you probably only need to lager any low gravity lager until it is clear enough to drink. Six weeks may be fine but there's probably not that big of a difference between 2 weeks and 6 weeks except time.

Is reality subjective? In my experience, a beer that lagers for an extended period of time tastes better. It may be from the fine lees that is in suspension for the period of time it takes to naturally settle out much as a wine does. Beer obviously evolves as it ages albeit sometimes for the worse but often for the better.  Everyones milage may very as do their taste buds.

To the OP, if you bottle your beers, put six bottles aside and drink one every four weeks. Take notes and decide for yourself.

If you fine or filter the beer, aren't those "fine lees" in suspension removed? If you can tell a difference and think it makes a difference, then sure. Lager for as long as you feel is needed. But 1-2 weeks is really all that is needed -- assuming you fine or filter. And, why wouldn't;t you? ;)

Offline HopDen

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2023, 04:02:37 am »
The reality is you probably only need to lager any low gravity lager until it is clear enough to drink. Six weeks may be fine but there's probably not that big of a difference between 2 weeks and 6 weeks except time.

Is reality subjective? In my experience, a beer that lagers for an extended period of time tastes better. It may be from the fine lees that is in suspension for the period of time it takes to naturally settle out much as a wine does. Beer obviously evolves as it ages albeit sometimes for the worse but often for the better.  Everyones milage may very as do their taste buds.

To the OP, if you bottle your beers, put six bottles aside and drink one every four weeks. Take notes and decide for yourself.

If you fine or filter the beer, aren't those "fine lees" in suspension removed? If you can tell a difference and think it makes a difference, then sure. Lager for as long as you feel is needed. But 1-2 weeks is really all that is needed -- assuming you fine or filter. And, why wouldn't;t you? ;)

As it stands, I stopped using fining agents some time ago including kettle finings. I don't think they offer any substantial benefits that time can't achieve. But each to their own liking I suppose
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Offline majorvices

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2023, 04:57:24 am »
But each to their own liking I suppose


Absolutely. I guess I assume everyone uses finings since it speeds the clarification process. If you aren't getting the beer clear with fining then it will absolutely take 6 weeks or longer to pour clear beer.

Having worked in a production brewing environment for 13 years I apply the same philosophy to my homebrew: the fresher the better. Get it out of the tank and into glasses, free up storage and try to limit the use of energy. I don't see that much difference between a clear beer at 2 weeks or 6 weeks. Once it is crystal clear and carbonated it is ready to drink. At 6 months the beer should still be good but starting to get long in the tooth (though, of course, no reason why it shouldn't last for a year or more if taken care of).

High-gravity lagers do taste better with a little more time, just probably not as much time as a lot of brewers think. Usually after about 2-4, maybe 6 weeks just about any beer should be ready to drink. The only beers I see getting better with age are very high-gravity beers (and of course, some sours).

Offline Megary

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2023, 06:59:34 am »
But each to their own liking I suppose


Absolutely. I guess I assume everyone uses finings since it speeds the clarification process. If you aren't getting the beer clear with fining then it will absolutely take 6 weeks or longer to pour clear beer.

Having worked in a production brewing environment for 13 years I apply the same philosophy to my homebrew: the fresher the better. Get it out of the tank and into glasses, free up storage and try to limit the use of energy. I don't see that much difference between a clear beer at 2 weeks or 6 weeks. Once it is crystal clear and carbonated it is ready to drink. At 6 months the beer should still be good but starting to get long in the tooth (though, of course, no reason why it shouldn't last for a year or more if taken care of).

High-gravity lagers do taste better with a little more time, just probably not as much time as a lot of brewers think. Usually after about 2-4, maybe 6 weeks just about any beer should be ready to drink. The only beers I see getting better with age are very high-gravity beers (and of course, some sours).

I'm not picking sides here, I'm just curious...

If a beer clears in 2 weeks, there is no chance that beer can't taste better in 4 or 8 or 12 weeks?  Is this a lager thing or does this apply to all styles?  I've never found clarity to be the timer going off, but then I don't make many lagers.

Love the discussion.

Offline majorvices

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2023, 07:18:57 am »
But each to their own liking I suppose


Absolutely. I guess I assume everyone uses finings since it speeds the clarification process. If you aren't getting the beer clear with fining then it will absolutely take 6 weeks or longer to pour clear beer.

Having worked in a production brewing environment for 13 years I apply the same philosophy to my homebrew: the fresher the better. Get it out of the tank and into glasses, free up storage and try to limit the use of energy. I don't see that much difference between a clear beer at 2 weeks or 6 weeks. Once it is crystal clear and carbonated it is ready to drink. At 6 months the beer should still be good but starting to get long in the tooth (though, of course, no reason why it shouldn't last for a year or more if taken care of).

High-gravity lagers do taste better with a little more time, just probably not as much time as a lot of brewers think. Usually after about 2-4, maybe 6 weeks just about any beer should be ready to drink. The only beers I see getting better with age are very high-gravity beers (and of course, some sours).

I'm not picking sides here, I'm just curious...

If a beer clears in 2 weeks, there is no chance that beer can't taste better in 4 or 8 or 12 weeks?  Is this a lager thing or does this apply to all styles?  I've never found clarity to be the timer going off, but then I don't make many lagers.

Love the discussion.

In my experience and my brewing practices, no (the exception here "may" be some higher gravity lagers, but even then 4-6 weeks should be plenty). My experience and brewing practices won't reflect everyone else's (obviously).

For me, I'm constantly surprised when a beer tastes good after 6 months of "lagering" (meaning, stored in kegs in a cold room or refrigerator). But it almost always tastes better fresh and definitely within 8-12 weeks.

I think some homebrewers romanticize the idea of aging or lagering beers for a certain period when in reality the beer may actually have tasted best when it was only a few weeks out of the FV. That's my experience and YMMV.

I should add: if you aren't fining in the FV then your experience will be completely different from what I am trying to accomplish. Still, many malt flavor and especially hop flavors will start to fade--especially by 6 months.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2023, 07:24:58 am by majorvices »

Offline Steve Ruch

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2023, 07:48:00 am »
What about the lager temperature? I have minimal equipment and my cellar's in the 50-52f range this time of year.
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Offline denny

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2023, 08:57:45 am »
FWIW, my experience matches Keith's
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: How long to lager a Schwarzbier
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2023, 09:39:39 am »
I guess process can have an impact here.  My lagers routinely finish in 4-6 days of fermentation.  I use Brewtan B (strike water and boil kettle) and Whirlfloc (boil kettle about 2 minutes after BTB addition), then do nothing further.  I generally rack to keg a few days following completion of fermentation and crashing.  The beer is fairly clear and moves into brilliance over the next week or two.  As long as I don't move the keg, it stays crystal clear through the kick.

Other than an occasional, intended Keller Bier, the lagers are clear fairly early and ready for drinking.  Once in a while a particular malt might cause a beer to resist full clarity, but it rarely causes a flavor problem in my experience.  I brew mostly lagers (but I have a Bitter up for tomorrow's brew day!)
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