How to do a Lager Kit properly??

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G-Force

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Hi Guys,

New on the forum so be gentle :laugh8:.

I've dabbled with home brewing (Only kits), for a while and have had Ale style beer kits turn out ok, but the few times I have tried a lager kit I cant seem to get it to taste quite right.
I recently brewed a Youngs Harvest Lager (1 tin) 23L kit. it took about 10-12 days for the 1st Ferment, I racked it, then put it in my PB, where its been sitting under light CO2 pressure for around 2 weeks.

I've tried a glass yesterday (I know I'm inpatient), and it seems to be like every other Lager kit that I have done (its a bit cloudy, which I know is to be expected, and doesn't really bother me), and it has a slightly harsh metallic taste. Its drinkable, but not what I was hoping for.

I have a few questions.
1) Am I too impatient? (expect I am). Will more time improve it?
2) what could cause the slightly metallic taste? - I only use Plastic/Stainless Steel fermentation kit, so no other metal parts. I read that it could be my water supply, so may need to try distilled water for my next attempt. what do you think?
3) I try to make sure I sanitise properly. I use Sodium Percarbonate as a no rinse sanitiser, after cleaning everything. Does that sound ok?
4) I have a brew belt with a thermostat but that is all the Temp control I have, and I'm not willing to invest further at this stage, so though I realise this could help, any suggestions other than this would be welcome?

I quite like a Ale/Craft beer/IPA style beer but I have a few friends who only drink Lager, and I was hoping to be able to let them sample a Lager that I had brewed, but haven't had anything that I am willing to offer them as yet.

I'm sure that there are loads of your with far ore experience who will have suggestions so any hints or tips are welcome.

Thanks,
G
 

MyQul

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I dont know what yeast a Youngs harvest lager comes with, but if it comes with ale yeast rather than lager yeast your going to end up with a blonde/pale ale rather than a lager.

The first thing you need to do to make your kit more lager-y is if you dont know what yeast it comes with, swap the yeast out to a lager yeast. Normally lagers are fermented cold at around 10C-12C (sometimes a bit colder) but lager yeasts can ferment at ale temps and plenty of people make 'warm fermented' lager. You could do this but my advice is to use a california common yeast. This is a lager yeast designed to be fermented at ale temps. Crossmyloof do both a california common and kentucky common dried yeast. Mangrove jacks do a california common dried yeast.
Even though you're fermenting at ale temps you'll still want to ferment as cold as your ale to. So put the FV in the coldest part of the house. Unless your garage/shed stays at a stable temp 24/7 I wouldnt put it there as temp swings are the worst thing for fermentation and off flavours

The second thing to do is to use some sugar rather than DME/LME as the extra fermentable to the kit. The sort of lager your trying make is lighter in body and drier (not all lagers are like this of course but most lager kits are emulating a light or european style lager). Adding sugar in will do this. You can add up 100% of the extra fermentables if you want but you might want to go 50% LME/DME 50% sugar

Thirdly, patience. A real lager is firstly cold fermented and then cold conditioned. Unless you have a brewfridge or its winter, it's impossible to do this. So what your really making is a pseudo lager. Real lagers are cold conditioned at around 0C for weeks if not months. But even though your making pseudo lager I've found that long conditioning times really help with that smooth lager flavour
 

G-Force

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Thanks, all great advice. do you know if any of this is the reason for the slight metallic aftertaste?

Also, when you say cold fermented, what sort of temperatures are we looking at? around 10C, 15C or lower? If I fermented around 10-15C, then conditioned for a few weeks at <5C would that be best?

would you ferment then rack, and condition in the racked FV or add to the PB then condition?
 

AdeDunn

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Thanks, all great advice. do you know if any of this is the reason for the slight metallic aftertaste?
Probably kit (do I dare say it? lol) twang... Good luck trying to overcome that whilst brewing with kits, it's the reason so many (me) move to AG brewing. There's an age old thing with kits and an odd taste the seems to come with the beer produced with them, not everybody notices it, many do. Debate about the cause has been heated and frequent, and has gone on for as long as kits have existed most likely.

I can't help more than that I'm afraid, as once I realised after quite a few kits that they all had that same strange flavour that I disliked, I switched. Oh, and I don't have a fermentation fridge, so don't do lagers either. Room temperature, Kveik (the yeasts), lots of flavour. ;)
 

terrym

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1. Its a 1.5kg kit so don't expect fantastic results. They are sold down to a price point. Better spend your hard earned on kits that contain a minimum of 1.7kg LME. And if you brewed your Harvest lager to the full 23 litres and topped up the sugars with 1 kg dextrose I'm afraid you gets what you paid for.
2. Next as @MyQul has mentioned its a kit lager that comes with an ale yeast, which like many kits is designed to get you drinking it asap, brewed at ale yeast temperatures.
3. PBs are not designed to handle lagers with their high carbonation requirements. So if you don't have a corny or similar, stick with bottles and prime to about 2.6 volumes or about 7g table sugar per litre.

Finally am not normally a lager drinker and I don't make up many kits now but when I did, I did the occasional Coopers Euro lager, which comes with a lager yeast and can be fermented at low temperature, better with an additional lager yeast. I added hop teas to mine, Saaz or Hallertau and that gave it a lift. The only slight draw back is that it takes up to 12 weeks to come good although is drinkable before. The kit review is here
 

MyQul

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Thanks, all great advice. do you know if any of this is the reason for the slight metallic aftertaste?

Also, when you say cold fermented, what sort of temperatures are we looking at? around 10C, 15C or lower? If I fermented around 10-15C, then conditioned for a few weeks at <5C would that be best?

would you ferment then rack, and condition in the racked FV or add to the PB then condition?
15C would be good, it's what I do my pseudo lagers at during winter as that's what my kitchen floor is normally around. 10C would be better but you'd need some proper lager yeast as this would be too cold for california common yeast. Then your right, condition at <5C. However if your doing a proper lager schedule, I believe before the conditioning you'll need to do what's known as a diacetly rest by bringing the temp back up to ale temps. This is to get rid of a compound called diacytly which is produced by the yeast. I've never done one as I've never done a proper lager schedule as I dont have a brew fridge.

As @terrym says, you'll need to bottle or use cornie kegs to handle lager carb levels
 

G-Force

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Do you think I could do a “lager” brew in the winter In my shed if I give the FV some insulation to try to keep the temp a bit more constant? Just a thought???
 

Tanglefoot

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I have recently brewed the Youngs European Pilsener, it uses the same ale yeast.
I chose it because I'm a recent returnee to home brewing and have a very basic set up ; insulated box for the fv with a brew belt. I find it relatively easy to keep a constant temp as my shed also has 4" insulation all round.
Like other Youngs kits I found it an easy fermentation down to 1.008. After dry hopping it with a tea from some cascade pellets I racked it off and bottled it.
It's beautifully clear with just a light layer of sediment in each bottle, keeps decent level of carbonation to the end of the glass and has the crisp,dry taste you associate with european lagers so I can recommend it. ( Note that this is a different stronger kit to the Harvest lager kit )
 
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