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First Attempt at a Lager

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cpsmusic

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Hi,

I finally got around to setting up temperature control (STC-1000 and a brew fridge). I'd like to have a go at brewing a lager.

Any suggestions as to a basic "foolproof" lager recipe for a first attempt?

Also, I'm a bit unclear as to whether I should pitch the yeast and then cool to brewing temp. or cool to brewing temp. and then pitch the yeast?

Any other tips regarding brewing a lager?

Cheers,

Chris
 

Nick JD

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The quality of a lager pretty much comes down to yeast management. The things you don't want in a lager are yeast-derived: esters (from warm ferments and under-pitching), sulphur (stressed yeast usually if it is fart-central), diacetyl (rushing the batch) and DMS (infection ... but usually a boil issue).

And you can't hide your bad techniques behind 300g of hops and eighteen spec malts.

Above all - choose a good, reliable liquid yeast and make a starter that's 1/5th the size of your batch, pitch it as soon as it's finished fizzing into your wort at your fermentation temp.

Other methods work - but they all have drawbacks.

Recipe is almost unimportant. Pils malt, noble hops.

Actual lagering (cold storage) will fix some unintentional yeast-derived flavours, but needn't be months to get a great lager. If you need to lager for more than 4 weeks, you messed it up in the fermenter IMO. 2 weeks in secondary after FG and a week or two in the keg/bottle and it's gonna be as good as it'll ever be.
 

carniebrew

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The answer on the yeast can depend on which yeast you use...for example the Fermentis dry W-34/70 says that if you elect not to make a starter and just pitch it dry, you need to ensure the wort is above 20C.
 

Nick JD

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I've had great results pitching warm (20-25C) and cranking the STC ... but back to back with the same recipe pitched double the yeast and 12C, you're likely to get hints of faint esters unless you underpitch.

There's the rub. Pitch warm - don't pitch enough that it takes off before hitting target ferm temp. This is sometimes hard to control and can be hit and miss. I have missed before when repitching trub: a lager that is foaming its arse 8 hours after pitching at 23C is not going to be the world's best lager.

While I love esters, there's nothing worse than tasting them over that Saaz/Tett/Hallertau.
 

donburke

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Nick JD said:
The quality of a lager pretty much comes down to yeast management. The things you don't want in a lager are yeast-derived: esters (from warm ferments and under-pitching), sulphur (stressed yeast usually if it is fart-central), diacetyl (rushing the batch) and DMS (infection ... but usually a boil issue).

And you can't hide your bad techniques behind 300g of hops and eighteen spec malts.

Above all - choose a good, reliable liquid yeast and make a starter that's 1/5th the size of your batch, pitch it as soon as it's finished fizzing into your wort at your fermentation temp.

Other methods work - but they all have drawbacks.

Recipe is almost unimportant. Pils malt, noble hops.

Actual lagering (cold storage) will fix some unintentional yeast-derived flavours, but needn't be months to get a great lager. If you need to lager for more than 4 weeks, you messed it up in the fermenter IMO. 2 weeks in secondary after FG and a week or two in the keg/bottle and it's gonna be as good as it'll ever be.
2 things nick said which i agree are the most important

build up a large starter
pitch your yeast at ferment temp, so that wort and yeast are at ferment temp

and oxygenate your wort the best you can, i.e. shake the shit out of it
 

jonw

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I've made a few lagers and never had much success. My batch size is 40L, and my biggest Erlenmeyer is 5L. I make up a starter at room temp, put it on the stir plate till its done, then let it settle in the fridge and decant before pitching.

How would you improve on my process?
 

micblair

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Couple of things you could do:

Pitch the whole starter (3.5-4 L; 42L batch), preferably fresh wort (OG ~1.040-1.045) at high krausen trying to minimize any shock by keeping at the very most a 5C temperature difference between starter and wort.

I oxygenate (with O2),which gives shorter lag times with no detectable VDK or H2S at the end of fermentation (I also do a VDK rest at 18C for the last few gravity points, irrespective of flavour).

Lastly, I only grow my starters from one smack pack, which is still under pitching by 40-50% by most estimates -- that said, the pitching rates widely published are for commercial settings (i.e pod-pod re-pitching) not from fresh liquid cultures straight from a lab (i.e. a wyeast activator pack), hence the reason you can get away with under-pitching by up to 50% (Yeast, White & Zanisheff).
 

Nick JD

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micblair said:
... fresh liquid cultures straight from a lab (i.e. a wyeast activator pack)
I wish.
 

micblair

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The production dates on all my packs from Grain and Grape are usually no more than a month old, which is fresh enough for me. The only yeast I've ever really had to baby is bloody 2112. Flocc's out early on me every time when I use Wyeast's lower end of the recommended fermentation range.
 
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