Author Topic: First lager  (Read 1760 times)

Offline tmaurer

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First lager
« on: December 14, 2010, 11:28:52 AM »
I want to brew my first lager, but I have some questions.

When do you guys normally pitch yeast?  Do you pitch while it is warm and let it slowly cool?  Or do you cool to fermentation temps before pitching?

I understand that lagers require big starters.  How many of you cold crash the starter and only add the yeast?  That seems like a huge amount of additional liquid to add to the fermenter to me.

I plan on brewing smaller lagers around 1.040 to 1.070 (pilseners and bocks as an example).  Is there a standard time and temp I should lager these?

I bottle since I'm not set up to keg yet.  Do I lager before I bottle or bottle then lager?  If I lager before I bottle, will there be enough yeast left in suspension to carbonate in the botles?

These are a few concerns for me.  I have one chest freezer to use as a fermenter AND for lagering.  So, I need to plan things a little more so I'm not tying up my freezer.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2010, 11:47:24 AM by tmaurer »

Offline blatz

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Re: First lager
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2010, 11:44:51 AM »
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Do you pitch while it is warm and let it slowly cool?
 
NO!!

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Or do you cool to fermentation temps before pitching?
Yes.  I prefer to cool a little lower than planned temp and let it rise - 45, pitch and let rise to 48-50 for ferm. but pitching at ferm temp is okay.

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How many of you cold crash the starter and only add the yeast?  That seems like a huge amount of additional liquid to add to the fermenter to me.
you're right on track here - it takes ~1gal of starter to grow up enough lager yeast - starter beer is gross - don't want that in with the good stuff. i crash all my starters, but I wouldn't dare think of not crashing a lager starter, for precisely the reasons you mention.

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I plan on brewing smaller lagers around 1.040 to 1.070 (pilseners and bocks as an example).  Is there a standard time and temp I should lager these?
 
this is a personal preference thing.  My SOP is anything lighter pils/helles/dort (1.050ish) should be ready after 2-4 weeks lager, dunkel, schwarz, fests and vienna 4-6 weeks, bocks/doppelbocks 10+ weeks.  You'll probably see a dozen or so suggestions posted about this though, you'll have to find what works for you.  

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These are a few concerns for me.  I have one chest freezer to use as a fermenter AND for lagering.  So, I need to plan things a little more so I'm not tying up my freezer.
 get another freezer  ;)
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Offline tmaurer

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Re: First lager
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2010, 01:31:07 PM »
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this is a personal preference thing.  My SOP is anything lighter pils/helles/dort (1.050ish) should be ready after 2-4 weeks lager, dunkel, schwarz, fests and vienna 4-6 weeks, bocks/doppelbocks 10+ weeks.  You'll probably see a dozen or so suggestions posted about this though, you'll have to find what works for you.

What are the consequences of not letting it lager long enough?

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get another freezer  ;)

I've been telling my wife I need more beer equipment for some time now.  She seems to think otherwise...

Offline blatz

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Re: First lager
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2010, 01:37:56 PM »
What are the consequences of not letting it lager long enough?

it just won't be as rounded, smooth, crisp - lagerlike

that said, I've got a little bit of bock that didn't fit into kegs that I carbonated in a 2L bottle and let sit for a week.  damn is that good stuff, but I know it will be better in 3months time.

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I've been telling my wife I need more beer equipment for some time now.  She seems to think otherwise...

you can tell her I have 4 - you're not nearly as bad as "that guy" (me)
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

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Offline tmaurer

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Re: First lager
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2010, 06:09:25 AM »
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I bottle since I'm not set up to keg yet.  Do I lager before I bottle or bottle then lager?  If I lager before I bottle, will there be enough yeast left in suspension to carbonate in the bottles?

Any thoughts on this?

Offline Kaiser

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Re: First lager
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2010, 06:39:31 AM »
I'd lager before bottling and then add a bit more yeast at bottling time. But you can also lager the beer in bottles after carbonation. I don't think it will make too much of a difference.

Kai

Offline tmaurer

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Re: First lager
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2010, 10:57:59 AM »
Thanks for the info guys!

Offline oscarvan

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Re: First lager
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2010, 07:38:16 AM »
Question: Since it is not carbonated at this point, if you put just a pressure head on it as you put in in the keg, won't that be readily absorbed into solution and  the pressure will go back to zero, thus compromising the seals again? It seems to the noob that you would have to at least keep some pressure on it until balance is reached..... Am I missing something here?
« Last Edit: December 17, 2010, 08:00:31 AM by oscarvan »
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: First lager
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2010, 09:53:54 AM »
It won't go all of the way back to zero, but it will drop to an equilibrium point based on the volumes of gas added and the temperature.  In my experience this will not necessarily compromise the seals, my kegs often stay sealed with just a small amount of pressure and my good ones seal with no pressure at all.  But yes, keeping pressure on it is a good idea if you have a spare gas line where you need it.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline Kaiser

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Re: First lager
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2010, 11:46:55 AM »
Question: Since it is not carbonated at this point, if you put just a pressure head on it as you put in in the keg, won't that be readily absorbed into solution and  the pressure will go back to zero, thus compromising the seals again? It seems to the noob that you would have to at least keep some pressure on it until balance is reached..... Am I missing something here?

I remember discussing this before.  Here is the thread: http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=900.0

I believe that it is possible for enough CO2 to be absorbed into the beer that air is pulled into an airlock. This happens until the partial CO2 pressure of the head space is in equilibrium with the CO2 dissolved in the beer. The beer won’t be able to absorb all the CO2 since this would mean that the partial pressure of CO2 becomes 0. This partial pressure can only be 0 if there is no CO2 in the beer.

For those who are confused by pressure and partial pressure, partial pressure of a gas in a mix of gases is the pressure of the mix multiplied by the concentration of the gas.  At atmospheric pressure (1 bar) the partial pressure of O2 in the air is 0.2 bar since ~20% of the air is oxygen.

I do think that it is good practice to carbonate the beer at least a little before moving it to cold conditioning when it will not be kept connected to a gas line. But one can also calculate the initial head pressure that is needed to make sure that there won’t be negative pressure once the beer is chilled.

Kai

Offline oscarvan

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Re: First lager
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2010, 12:22:13 PM »
OK, so you could keep, say, 1/2 or 1 psi on it. Then again, someone in a parallel universe on this forum discussing this very subject.... lol.....said there was no noticeable effect from carbonation on the lagering process. So, may as well go for the service pressure.

Having said all that..... I've seen all kinds of mods on Cornie lids...... one could just take an old one, cut a hole, put in a rubber grommet and an airlock in it.....best of both worlds.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: First lager
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2010, 09:52:59 PM »
Not really, because there's no guarantee that the lid gasket is sealed if it's not under pressure.

The other problem that I neglected to mention is that all of the beer and gas in the head space will contract as it cools - I assume it will cool if you are going to lager it.  How much it will contract depends on how warm it was to begin with, but it could easily contract enough to suck air into the keg.  Yet another reason to keep pressure on it or put high pressure on it when you keg it.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline Mikey

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Re: First lager
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2010, 10:22:34 PM »
This is what I've been trying to explain in another thread. If you only put 20 pounds on the head, that will be absorbed by the beer and, coupled with the temperature drop, will leave you with a low pressure and maybe a vacuum in your keg. I know this from "experience".

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: First lager
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2010, 10:35:14 PM »
Yeah, it all happens at once but it is easier to explain to people in stages.  The CO2 will equilibrate with the beer leaving some >0 psi in the headspace.  Chilling the beer will cause the beer to contract (plus cold beer absorbs more CO2) and the headspace to expand, so you can end up with <0 psi in the headspace.   Whether 20 psi is enough or not depends on how much headspace you've got at the start and at the end, if the keg is very full you could easily end up with several times more headspace after chilling.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline Kaiser

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Re: First lager
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2010, 01:27:13 PM »
The shrinkage of the air/CO2 is only about 4% when you go from 20C to 0C. The shrinkage of the beer is much smaller. This means it is the increased solubility of the CO2 that is the problem here.

Kai