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Lagering

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1 Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:22 am

What's your opinion on lagering beers....
I have a pilsner and a golden strong that I want to lager. Pilsner at 36 degrees or so, and the golden strong even colder... like 30 degrees or lower.
Do I have to have an airlock on the lagering tanks(in both cases my lagering tanks are corny kegs)??
Does a closed lagering tank help or hurt the lagering process? Does the CO2 need to "blow-off" during the lagering process to get the desired effect?
Which situation gets faster/better results in a beer... lagering with an airlock, or with a closed (ever-so-slightly pressurized) tank?
I haven't read much about it either way, but I thought I read somewhere that the CO2 gassing-off was an important part of the process that carries away sulfur and other "harsh" flavors or aromas.
What are your thoughts or experiences?

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2 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:45 am

What you heard about CO2 blowing off is true, but for fermentation (including cold one), not actual lagering. When you lager a beer, you're just conditioning it, settling out yeasts and other particles, as well as letting it age. I don't think airlock is necessary because when you keep beer at near freezing, there is nothing going on with your beer, and it does not release CO2. As it becomes cold, the air in the headspace contracts, sucking in whatever liquid it can get from the airlock into your beer.
I've kept beers near freezing for a few weeks, and I've done it both ways. Can't say I notices much difference... Just make sure you don't suck something into your beer.
Another point. If you're planning on keeping it in a bucket, don't let your beer sit in it for a long time. My personal rule is to not let it sit in plastic for over 5-6 weeks total. So SS keg or a glass carboy make for nice lagering vessels.
As the ancient wisdom says: "Use glass, and your beer will not taste like ass."
Fermenting in a bucket is totally fine thought Smile

Cheers!

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3 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:40 am

Glad this thread got started... I have a bock in primary. I have a homemade chillier that can keep it in the mid 50s, which is arguably a touch high even for primary fermentation, but I just don't have the capacity (i.e. fridge space) to bulk lager it in the 30-40 range. What are people's thoughts on bottling early and letting it lager/carbonate at the same time?

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4 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:42 pm

Good question? Never tried that.....

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5 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:30 pm

Personally I would keep it as close to freezing as possible, or in the latter case in the 50s for about two weeks and then bottle. This way a lot of stuff would settle out, but there would still be enough yeast to carbonate. Then bottle and let it carb like you usually do. After that, if you keep it cold, it will clear and smoothe out. I think some breweries actually do it that way with Biere de Garde - bottle, let it carb, and lager to give it that characteristic. Though most just lager it in secondary for 1-2 months and then bottle.
Again this is all speculation as I've never tried that approach. I did have a wheat sitting in a fridge for about six months after which it became the clearest beer I ever had. So it would probably work, especially with lagers. But with Belgians, where yeast plays such a large role in the taste profile, I would not overdo it though.
This is an interesting post. Anyone else has any imput on this?

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6 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:45 pm

Lagering at 30f seems a little low. Most lager yeasts can do their thing much higher than that. For example:

Temperature Range: 48-58F, 9-14C

That's the Pilsener Urquell Wyeast 2001. Copied it form their site.

You mentioned lagering at 30f. That's below freezing, and the water in the beer will freeze. If you want to make ice beer, which technically is a style, that would be appropriate, but for lagering it's too low.

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7 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:18 pm

No it isn't.
You're confusing lagering and lager fermentation. Fermentation takes place in 40s-50s, but lagering is cold conditioning, and takes place close to freezing. The beer will not freeze as 30 (-1*C) because the alcohol in the solution lowers the freezing point. You'd have to go below that to cool it enough to freeze the water. There are several breweries that condition beers at 30.

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8 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:21 pm

Near freezing yes, but I've never seen anything written about going below freezing.

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9 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:57 pm

In that case read BLAM or Farmhouse Ales.

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10 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:55 pm

Well as they always say, brewing is an art.

We can each subscribe to the sources we agree with, and all make awesome beer. Cool

If Stan Hieronymous and John Palmer disagree on the subject, so can we.

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11 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:04 pm

Totally.
I know it works for me. I keep my beer below freezing when conditioning like that. Once I had the whole carboy freeze on me because I didn't control the temperature and let it go way too low Smile

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12 Re: Lagering on Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:14 pm

In Brew Like a Monk, they mention that Moorgat Brewery lagers Duvel (which uses an ale yeast actually) around 27 degrees F for 3 weeks.
I have made several lagers, and I like to start primary around 40 to 45 F, and slowly raise the temp to around 55 after the first day or two.
When primary fermentation is completely finished, I rack the beer, and then lager it anywhere from 30 to 40 degrees for a couple of months.
As far as Eisbock goes, I hear that some brewers have to get the beer below 0 F (sometimes to -20) to get the desired ice crystals. Then they filter, and repeat.
Lagers are tricky though, and if anyone can help me improve my results..... I'm all ears!
Thanks.

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