Beerworks Southern Gold Digger

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Dave 666

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Well time for another new brew for me, this time after a trip to the local brew shop and already deciding I wanted to try a lager kit I settled on the "Beerworks Southern Gold Digger Premium Lager". And will be doing this in the next hour.

As with these premium kits the 3kg of malt means no other addition of malt extract or sugar is required. Though the instructions are somewhat generic and reminds me of my first kit beer from last year (Bohemian Blonde). But where I remain somewhat confused at the generic (ish) instructions from these kits is the seemingly bog standard stated fermentation temperature instructions, where its suggested to ferment at temps between 20-25°c. This of cause is not standard lager brewing temps and I know I raised this issue several weeks back when noting my utility room low temps. The yeast pouch is definitely marked as "premium lager yeast" yet the process goes against fermenting temps for lager. So can this lager kit really give decent results fermenting at 20-25°c?.

Unless anyone has done this kit to suggest otherwise or better guidance I'm thinking that the first few days to leave in the kitchen at what will be about 18°c to ensure a good start to fermentation and then maybe move to the utility room to ferment at a more lager friendly about 12°c.
 

spigley

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I made this kit in May as one of the first to try upon my return to brewing after35 years. Unfortunately didn't keep notes like I do now but I remember that I definitely fermented around 20C. I didn't cold crash as I had no means to be able to do and the beer never got really cleared in the pressure barrel. Also bottled a few and both the one I still have are still a bit hazy. I was quite pleased with it though and probably an easy way to try making a lager
 

Dave 666

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I made this kit in May as one of the first to try upon my return to brewing after35 years. Unfortunately didn't keep notes like I do now but I remember that I definitely fermented around 20C. I didn't cold crash as I had no means to be able to do and the beer never got really cleared in the pressure barrel. Also bottled a few and both the one I still have are still a bit hazy. I was quite pleased with it though and probably an easy way to try making a lager
Well, I did a slight short fill, 22.5 litres as don't really want to go above the stated 5% abv but don't really want below 4.5% either. So hoping a very slight short fill 22.5 litres will allow at least acceptable 4.5% abv with hopefully more towards the stated 5% mark. SG was about 1.041 (at 22°c) so if I get the FG to 1.004 that would give an abv of 4.86% which would be spot on.

Spigley, did you by any chance take a FG reading?, as I stated a target FG of 1.004 as I gather that's the sort of target these lager kits should get to?. Cold crashing should be less an issue for me as the utility room could mentain about 10°c or a little less with minor efforts. OK, not great cold crashing temps but better than left at 18-20 which is what the kitchen temps are.
 

spigley

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Sorry don't remember the FG (thats why I need notes) and just checked the bottles and not even the ABV written on them. It was only my second brew, now I only do AG as I find it far tastier and cheaper.
 

Dave 666

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Sorry don't remember the FG (thats why I need notes) and just checked the bottles and not even the ABV written on them. It was only my second brew, now I only do AG as I find it far tastier and cheaper.
I also do AG, but given that I'm busy with work and have very little free time right now & other commitments then a hour doing a kit (including sterilising and prep time) brew over pretty much a full day for a AG brew does have its attraction.

Anyway, interesting is the 50g hop pellets to add on day 8. In the past its suggested to crush with hot water & spoon the mix into the FV, yet I have a hop sock included this time. So unsure on if to dry hop and in just put the hop pellets in the hop sock and add or to do as with a previous kit, mix with hot water & spoon the mix in?. Both methods would work I guess be it some difference in time to clear if mixing\crushing in hot water before adding.
 

Northern_Brewer

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fermentation temperature instructions, where its suggested to ferment at temps between 20-25°c. This of cause is not standard lager brewing temps and I know I raised this issue several weeks back when noting my utility room low temps. The yeast pouch is definitely marked as "premium lager yeast" yet the process goes against fermenting temps for lager. So can this lager kit really give decent results fermenting at 20-25°c?.

Unless anyone has done this kit to suggest otherwise or better guidance I'm thinking that the first few days to leave in the kitchen at what will be about 18°c to ensure a good start to fermentation and then maybe move to the utility room to ferment at a more lager friendly about 12°c.
It's probably a derivative of 34/70, which can make clean lagers at surprisingly high temperatures - see this thread on HBT (although they prefer the Californian lager strains as they flocc better). Most commercial Eurolager is made at ~15°C after all, albeit with the advantage of higher pressures which suppress off-flavours. It's possible that they've given you a clean ale strain like US-05, but probably it's a lager strain.

I'd ferment wherever has the most constant temperature - you've more to worry about from temp fluctuations than the actual temperature.
 

Dave 666

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It's probably a derivative of 34/70, which can make clean lagers at surprisingly high temperatures - see this thread on HBT (although they prefer the Californian lager strains as they flocc better). Most commercial Eurolager is made at ~15°C after all, albeit with the advantage of higher pressures which suppress off-flavours. It's possible that they've given you a clean ale strain like US-05, but probably it's a lager strain.

I'd ferment wherever has the most constant temperature - you've more to worry about from temp fluctuations than the actual temperature.
Thanks, sadly no indication what so ever on the yeast on exactly what type, just "premium lager yeast" printed on it. Though interesting is that some reviews feel it tastes more like an ale than a lager!. Though would not have thought the recipe developers and sellers would get it so wrong as to package a light ale as a lager, so makes me think just how much attention is paid to the generic fermentation temperature instructions and just what temps such reviewers actually fermented at?.

As it stands now, I have a steady 18°c in the kitchen (generic instructions suggest 20-25). And whilst that remains constant +\- 1 °c or so at the moment and most of the time, it would however be slightly at risk of external temperature fluctuations during long cooking or heating sessions in the kitchen even if the last brew in the kitchen had no major temperature fluctuations as such.

The utility room is a much more cooler 10-12°c and the Yorkshire Bitter still seems to be fermenting in there which has been about 5 weeks now. The Yorkshire Bitter fermenting as such low temps surprised the person in the home brew shop when telling them the fermenting temps, and can't wait to see what affect a much slower and lower temp fermenting process will have on that. So as said, not knowing the precise yeast strain it would be a gamble weather to stick with 18° in the kitchen or place in the utility room for more a more lager friendly 10-12°.
 

Northern_Brewer

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Thanks, sadly no indication what so ever on the yeast on exactly what type, just "premium lager yeast" printed on it. Though interesting is that some reviews feel it tastes more like an ale than a lager!. Though would not have thought the recipe developers and sellers would get it so wrong as to package a light ale as a lager
One thing we've learnt from all the recent DNA sequencing is that the line between ale and lager is much blurrier than we used to think. WLP800 Pilsner is actually an ale yeast, whereas WLP029 Kolsch and WLP051 California V Ale are both lager yeasts - there's even commercial lagers being made with members of the saison yeast family!

But even before that it was not unknown for kit manufacturers to sell lager kits with clean ale yeasts because mug punters their erudite customers couldn't tell the difference, but they could sell more units of a kit that could be fermented at room temperature without worrying about cooling.

And there's not many yeast being produced in dried form as it requires specialist facilities, a lot of the apparent diversity is just the same yeasts being packed under different labels.

The utility room is a much more cooler 10-12°c and the Yorkshire Bitter still seems to be fermenting in there which has been about 5 weeks now. The Yorkshire Bitter fermenting as such low temps surprised the person in the home brew shop when telling them the fermenting temps, and can't wait to see what affect a much slower and lower temp fermenting process will have on that. So as said, not knowing the precise yeast strain it would be a gamble weather to stick with 18° in the kitchen or place in the utility room for more a more lager friendly 10-12°.
Do you know what yeast? Nottingham is quite cold-tolerant, and according to some analyses has some of the characteristics of a lager yeast.
 

Dave 666

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Do you know what yeast? Nottingham is quite cold-tolerant, and according to some analyses has some of the characteristics of a lager yeast.
Not fully sure, it was a "Make Your Own" brand Yorkshire Bitter in the older style branding. That's still fermenting tonight) and was tested to 1.010 a week ago, so god knows what it is now! (don't want to keep opening. But really looking forwards to how a highly extended fermentation period at much lower temps affect the finished brew (the sample tasted great last week). Maybe will turn out more like a lager?, but surely a much crisper taste at least?.

The point being if these kits in general are using yeast strains that are not quite as they seem as per stated fermentation temps and can often work and ferment at lower and very much lower than the stated temp window (as my Yorkshire Bitter shows). Then surely its good to go lower than keep to the stated temps as maybe whats often being suggested as the temp window is actually the upper level range and what you can go down to is in fact the lower end of what is a wide working temperature range?. And are we not always told to go more to the lower end of working fermentation temps?.

Of cause, and to repeat yet again none of this helps in kits without knowing the precise yeast strain and this is often not stated. But what I'm thinking is give the Southern Gold Digger a good few days (after fermentation has started) at 18° to ensure a good start then move to the utility room to slow fermentation due to lower temps. I know its said don't fluctuate the temps, but it would take maybe 24 hours to go from 18 to 10-12 I'm thinking.
 

Dave 666

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OK, so I'm on day 13 of this brew. In the end I decided to leave in the FV where I'd started it on day 1 as a steady 18° c for that period seemed a good level to work with. Well that and that I already had my stout & bitter in the cooler utility room (10-12°c). But I've finally got about to bottling the bitter so a little free space in the utility room now.

So as I'm brewing at lower than instruction temps (18° instead of the stated generic 20-25°) obviously the brewing process will be slower. So whilst the instructions stated to add the hops on day day 10 I'm doing them today, day 13 instead. The plan is to then leave in the same 18° location for the next 7 days (the instructions state 5 days before the next step) and then move to the utility room to effectively cold crash\finish off at what should be a steady 10°c or less for 3-5 days.

Hopefully bottling about 13\14th to try some early samples over Xmas & new year.

By the way, never thought to check the box, but the yeast is stated on that as "US West Coast". Had no issues fermenting between 16-18°c so might try a little lower with my next kit with the same yeast.
 

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the yeast is stated on that as "US West Coast". Had no issues fermenting between 16-18°c so might try a little lower with my next kit with the same yeast.
Hmm - probably US-05, might be BRY-97. Either way, not the obvious choice for an English beer unless it's a US supplier who just throw the same yeast in every kit regardless of style.
 

Dave 666

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Hmm - probably US-05, might be BRY-97. Either way, not the obvious choice for an English beer unless it's a US supplier who just throw the same yeast in every kit regardless of style.
Thought it a non obvious choice myself seeing as its supposed to be a lager kit, yet using an ale yeast more for american ales, APA, IPA type, but not lager. Not that I will hold that against the kit at all, maybe the yeast choice is more to do with yeast temp requirements that many would struggle with if using a true lager yeast?. Makes me wander how this kit would turn out with a true lager yeast?.
 

Dave 666

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So here we are, after more patience that I thought I had fermenting at slightly lower than normal recommended temps (16-18°) and with the FV still slightly bubbling away I've decided to draw a sample to test.

Gravity currently reads 1.003 (target was 1.004) so I'm made up with that as it brings it in at 4.99% abv. Assuming its not going lower that that's I've just moved it into the utility room where the about 10° aught to kind of cold crash it of sorts to help settle the remaining hop particles ready for bottling.
 

Dave 666

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So checking this out just now prior to sticking it in a corny Keg, I notice what looks to be an infection, ahhhhhhhhh!. Not sure what caused it as such as was fine when checked as per my last post 5 days before Xmas with only what looked to be hop particles floating.

I'm hoping the extended fermentation is not the cause, no reason why it should. No off smells as such and the infection doesn't look to be to extreme or heavy. So will likely draw most but the top inch off anyway unless there is a reason no to. I'll post a pic in a few mins, but in the meantime as as the last infected batch I had over a year ago got binned, is there any reason not to keg if the infection doesn't look to bad?.
 

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I'm not sure that is an infection. It could just be hop oils floating on the surface from the dry hops. The small groups of bubbles look normal.
 

Dave 666

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I'm not sure that is an infection. It could just be hop oils floating on the surface from the dry hops. The small groups of bubbles look normal.
It would be nice to think it's not an infection and is just the hop oils floating, but none of that was present before moving the fv to the cool room to settle at 12° 2 weeks ago which is why I feel it could be.
 
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Dave 666

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So, the bulk is now in the corny Keg drawn from the bottom and priming sugar added to generate co2 to try & keep it good and prevent infection\further infection. But I still think it was an infection as a dry chalky like film forming as much as any oil residue. So fingers crossed I've saved the bulk of it.

Had a taste as the smell wasn't off, nothing to obvious if at all from tasting I could detect to be sure of infected beer. But I also drawn off 3 bottles (if cloudy due to disturbed sentiment by then) to see how that develops and turns out. 50\50 feeling on if I'll still end up with a recent & drinkable beer from the keg but should know or have an idea in the next week or 2.

Still, got another 2 kits here to do so will have to make double sure on cleaning the fv's before next use tomorrow.
 

Dave 666

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Tried this both last night & today from the keg. Looks & tastes good, though it is cloudy and doesn't show much sign of clearing at all for some reason. Not overly concerned by this cloudy lager because as said it otherwise looks & tastes fine to me, maybe a natural affect of using a keg I don't know. But I've a few bottles taken from the unsettled bottom of the fv which look clear & settled. So might crack 1 open later to compare the clarity.
 
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