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How to brew lagers?

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MagnusTS

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Does anyone have an idiot's guide to brewing lagers with bottom fermenting yeast? Or can anyone point me to a thread on this?

I've got my brew fridge working and am thinking of trying a lager.

But just trying to get my head around how to do it. What fermentation temperature and time; do you lager before or after carbonation; how long and what temp do you lager; do you transfer to secondary for the lagering; what the heck is a diacetyl rest?

As you can see I am a bit lost, and a step by step guide would be a great help if you can point me to one.
Thanks.
 

Brewnaldo

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You can follow brulosohpys quick lager method which hits all the point about fermentation temperature, diacetly rest etc. Google that for an easy to follow guide.

Alternatively, you can do what I have done recently with really pleasing results.... Order yourself some CML Hell* and ferment it at 18 or 19. Carb/condition as normal.


* I have read various yeasts can produce clean lager at higher, non traditional temps, this is just the one I have had best results with personally.
 

An Ankoù

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I've never brewed "quick" lagers or "pseudo" lagers so I can't comment on that. But a proper lager is supposed to be stored and, indeed, the storage does make a massive difference- giving the crisp "pilsner" flavour that charcterises a pale lager rather than a dunkel.
I always make my lager in the winter for the following summer and I usually have a few dozen left that are approaching a year old. they certainly don't deteriorate for that.
Use a European Pilsner malt, Bestmalz, for example, is a good one, you can add a bit of carapils for body or a bit of Vienna or even Munich if you want to try for the Czech pils flavour without decoction mashing. Use a decent lager yeast, but there's no need to spend a fortune, the dried yeasts like Saflager 34/70 or Mangrove Jacks M84 work just fine. It's important to use soft water- as soft as you can get- I've used rainwater in the past and added the barest minimum of salts. A good plan would be to go 2/3 rainwater and 1/3 tap water if it's not too hard, or 1/3 mineral water. You'll need to adjust the pH of the mash. I prefer 200-250 g of acidulated malt in a 20-25 litre batch.
Then, and most importantly, as soon as the yeast has taken hold, get the temperature down to about 5C and let it ferment out at around that temperature. Transfer to a clean fermenter and do a diacetyl rest by bringing the temperature up to about 15C for a few days. Cold crash and bottle. Stick it in the garden shed until the summer and enjoy. If the beer gets a bit warmer with the coming of Spring, it doesn't really matter. It's the first weeks that make all the difference.
Hope that helps.
 
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MickDundee

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I’ve done 5 lagers now. My usual routine is a week and a half at 11C, then raise 2C a day to 18C, hold it there for a week then reduce by 4C a day to 1C then hold it there for 2-6 weeks depending on ABV, colour and whether I’m kegging or bottling.
 

Madhouse

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Having tried making one, I'll just say to think about what air-lock you're using and the impact of cold-crashing.

I used a blow-off tube and forgot that cooling = suck-back. Cue half a pint of sanitiser in the brew and it going down the drain.
 

Ben034

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I've never brewed "quick" lagers or "pseudo" lagers so I can't comment on that. But a proper lager is supposed to be stored and, indeed, the storage does make a massive difference- giving the crisp "pilsner" flavour that charcterises a pale lager rather than a dunkel.
I always make my lager in the winter for the following summer and I usually have a few dozen left that are approaching a year old. they certainly don't deteriorate for that.
Use a European Pilsner malt, Bestmalz, for example, is a good one, you can add a bit of carapils for body or a bit of Vienna or even Munich if you want to try for the Czech pils flavour without decoction mashing. Use a decent lager yeast, but there's no need to spend a fortune, the dried yeasts like Saflager 34/70 or Mangrove Jacks M84 work just fine. It's important to use soft water- as soft as you can get- I've used rainwater in the past and added the barest minimum of salts. A good plan would be to go 2/3 rainwater and 1/3 tap water if it's not too hard, or 1/3 mineral water. You'll need to adjust the pH of the mash. I prefer 200-250 g of acidulated malt in a 20-25 litre batch.
Then, and most importantly, as soon as the yeast has taken hold, get the temperature down to about 5C and let it ferment out at around that temperature. Transfer to a clean fermenter and do a diacetyl rest by bringing the temperature up to about 15C for a few days. Cold crash and bottle. Stick it in the garden shed until the summer and enjoy. If the beer gets a bit warmer with the coming of Spring, it doesn't really matter. It's the first weeks that make all the difference.
Hope that helps.
How come you suggest 5c? Isn't the recommended range for most lager yeasts like w34/70 around 10-12c? Is this your starting temp or actual fermentation temp?
 

An Ankoù

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Start at a higher temperature and then bring the temperature down. The cooler the temperature, the crisper the beer, but there's a trade-off with time. It'll take longer to ferment. It's important to pitch at a higher temperature and let the yeast become thoroughly established.
W 34/70 is a very versatile yeast, it'll ferment beers in the high 20Cs without giving the off flavours that an overheated "ale" yeast would give.
Suit yourself, though. I like my lager as crisp and clean as I can get it.
 

Binkei Huckaback

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I’ve done 5 lagers now. My usual routine is a week and a half at 11C, then raise 2C a day to 18C, hold it there for a week then reduce by 4C a day to 1C then hold it there for 2-6 weeks depending on ABV, colour and whether I’m kegging or bottling.
Do you force carbonate when bottling, or add more priming solution? I've got a sparkling ale on the go and will have to bottle it, but am worried that after about four weeks in the fermenter, there won't be enough yeast left to carbonate.
 
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MickDundee

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Do you force carbonate when bottling, or add more priming solution? I've got a sparkling ale on the go and will have to bottle it, but am worried that after about four weeks in the fermenter, there won't be enough yeast left to carbonate.
I’ve never had any issue with yeast creating the carbonation. For the 3 lagers I did before I started kegging, I just bottled and primed as normal after I lagered. The Vienna Lager had 8 weeks lagering IIRC and I didn’t have any issues.

When I started kegging and pressure fermenting it was already part carbonated when I packaged so for the leftovers that went in bottles I just added about a third of a teaspoon of sugar and hoped for the best.
 

Binkei Huckaback

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I've used rainwater in the past and added the barest minimum of salts. A good plan would be to go 2/3 rainwater and 1/3 tap water if it's not too hard, or 1/3 mineral water.
How do you collect store and use rainwater? We have very hard water here and might give this a go.
 

An Ankoù

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How do you collect store and use rainwater? We have very hard water here and might give this a go.
I cleaned my gutters then drilled a small hole in the gutter big enough to take a length of syphon. tube and put a kitchen sponge between the hole and the downpipe. I would only collect rainwater during heavy rain and only after half an hour's downpour had washed the roof. Then I'd collect two 5 gallon buckets or old fermenters (one for the mash and one for the sparge) and use the water the following day.
I wouldn't recommend storing the water as it still contains microorganisms, which will be killed during the boil, but will otherwise multiply and colonise the water, giving it a greenish tinge. I don't recommend using water from a water butt. I should add that this was before I was aware that R O water was available- I've never used it, anyway.
I appreciate that this means you have to brew according to the weather, but at this time of year you shouldn't have to wait too long. My water here in Brittany runs off the granite and is very soft so I don't have to do this now. If your gutter is some 50 feet above you, it's probably not a good idea and you'll have to find your own way.
 

An Ankoù

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What about using RO water?
And isn't Tesco Ashbeck water supposed to have a very low mineral content
Indeed. In the day, I wasn't aware of Reverse Osmosis water and wouldn't have had a clue of where to get it. I don't know about Ashbeck, but we have a low mineral mineral water here (recommended for babies!) which I use for liquoring back to save boiling and cooling tap water. In any case, I couldn't have afforded to buy gallons and gallons of Mineral water at that time.
For what it's worth, Gordon Strong, of BJCP fame, in his excellent book "Modern Homebrew Recipes" uses R O water all the time and builds up the mineral content from scratch. He says he does this only because his tap water is quite unusable.
(His other book "Brewing Better Beer" is not so good, in my opinion).
 

Clint

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I would have thought giving "low" mineral water to babies a daft idea...
 

Milesey

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You got issues with rain water. Milesey? Do you know how to collect it? You should try living in Poole.
You tasted my lager, by the way?
Christ was all into conditioning his new wine in goat skins. Didn't know chough all about lager as far as I can see.


No

water butt

rain a lot in Poole does it ?

no not tried your brew but I assume it’s good
 

An Ankoù

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No

water butt

rain a lot in Poole does it ?

no not tried your brew but I assume it’s good
See above re water butt. You've got to use it fresh- within 48 if you don't add anything to keep it sweet.
I used to think it rained a lot in Poole.
Until I came here.adresse
 

Milesey

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See above re water butt. You've got to use it fresh- within 48 if you don't add anything to keep it sweet.
I used to think it rained a lot in Poole.
Until I came here.adresse
I’ll try with the fresh water here that falls in Iasi
 
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