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I currently have a lager fermenting in the fridge.....I would be interested to know who else is brewing lager and what their success rates have been or what pointers they can give to help make a good lager.

My brew has been sitting at about 12c, which is optimum for Saflager yeast, and has been in there for a week. The bubbling has stopped byt the HBS guy said to keep it in there for two weeks.

I would be interested to see how people with yeast for lagers (weather they pitch cold or bring the temps down after pitch, and weather they dry pitch, hydrate or use a starter).

Also how long do people leave their lager to ferment?
Do you move it to a seconday fermenter to get it off the yeast after a week?
How long do you leave your bottles in storage to lager?

So many questions....hope some of you guys can offer some advice! :D
At present I have a pilsner in the fridge at work, fermenting at 10C using White Labs 803 Czech Budejovice yeast. It has taken about three weeks to ferment (at this stage) and I am about to remove it for a diacetyl rest soon.
As a general rule, I always make a starter when fermenting a lager/pilsner due to its need for a higher starting cell count than those fermented at higher temperatures. I leave my lagers in the primary for about five to ten days after they have finished fermenting to clear naturally (never had any "off" flavours by doing this) then I transfer them to a keg under VERY minimal pressure to lager at 0 - 1C for seven to twelve weeks before removing them from the fridge. I will then transfer them into another keg for further aging (if required) or simply tap them there and then.
If I didn't use kegs, I would transfer them after primary fermentation/clearing into a glass carbouy for the 7 - 12 week lagering process. I remember reading some literature that stated lagering for longer than 12 weeks does nothing further for the beer that normal cellaring would not do.
I hope this helps
Great forum by the way.
First of all welcome to the forum and thanks for the info.....I really want to perfect my larger brews.

Taking into consideration that I'm not using kegs, my brew has been in the primary fermenter for 10 days today - fermenting at 12c (which is reconmended for Saflager yeast). I was thinking that today I would move into a secondary to let it larger.

At this stage I am only using plastic, no carboys, when I move it into the seconder fermenter, do I have a sealed container or do i keep an airlock in it?

Once it is in the secondary I will turn the fridge up and cool it down further - as you say to around 1c for lagering.

I took a hydro reading yesterday and it looks like it it ready to go into the secondary, but I just had to have a small taste of it just to see how it was going (I know it's only 10days old but yeah :blink: ) There seemed to be a slight aftertaste - it was like a burned/harsh type of taste....quite strange and nothing like how my other beers (ales) have tasted while they were fermenting.

Any ideas what this taste could be? Will this come out after 7 weeks or lagering? Or is this a problem?

Love the SIG as well :D

I am Tom who runs the Ozkitbeers group and owns the Jovial Monk HBS in Duthy St. Contrary to someone's statememnt here, I am happy to help brewers at any level improve their beers.

OK the lager questions. First of all, any beer you make, lager or ale, pitch the yeast when the wort is about 24-30C. By the time it is fermenting (rather than getting used to your wort and then multiplying) your wort will be at proper ale or lager temp. There is no need to rush getting the beer off the yeast unless 1, there is a LOT of yeast and 2, it is very hot.

For ales, leave your beer in the fermenter for two weeks then rack to secondary.

Lagers you usually figure on 2-4 week primary ferment. After that, when hydrometer readings show the ferment is pretty well over, take your fermenter out the fridge for 3 days. This is the diacetyl rest. Then rack to a secondary and put in the fridge at 1C for 4 weeks, after that at least another 4 weeks at 3-5C

With saflager, I recommend that you pitch 2 packets (lagers need HUGE starters.)

Contrary to the statement that I and all HBS owners push what we sell, a chappie came in to my shop wanting a packet of safale. He left with just instructions to rouse his beer. I also sell bread mixes and organic flour, BTW. I will also crush grain (specialty or full mash) and make starters free of charge.

And I hope to brew a huge lager over christmass, full mash, yes, OG 1144 or so. A four hour boil to reduce the wort to that gravity and make it a wonderful rich golden consistency. I will spice this bad boy fairly highly: coriander, some clove, cardamom, pepper or grains of paradise and a sparing amount of star aniseed. this will be lagered very cold for 8-9 months, bottled just in time to begin drinking next Christmass.

Hope this helped, and sorry to do two replies in one.

Thanks for the info Tom and I'm glad we can have a HBS own on board :)

When you rack into a secondary - does the racking fermenter have an airlock or it is a sealed container.

It looks as thought I may have jumped the gun a little, my current batch has been going for 10 days now, but today I moved it into a seconday.....should I leave it out of the fridge for 2-3 days? does it matter that temps will be high (especially in the heat we are having in Sydney atm) - will that effect it?

I actually pitched 2 packets of Salfagers on this one and there was a lot of yeast on the bottom, and after a taste this morning I was getting a slightly burn taste....I tought that the yeast could be cause problems thats why I moved it?

Any ideas on this burnt taste......?

Thanks again for the info as I'd love to get some good lagers going.
I have had a Scotch 90/- in a 20L plastic primary for 4 months with no oxidation probs. After I rack to secondary I unscrew the lid once a day or so untill no 'pssst' is heard. There is no real advantage to secondarying/lagering in glass.

I have an Oud Bruin in a keg to which I added 5K cherries after the OB had aged 3 months. The extra sugar from the fruit really generated some pressure :) but normally "secondary ferment" is a misnomer

hmmmm can you move your secondary into the house for 2-3 days? Or put up with a bit of butterscotch in your lager :) Diacetyl rest works best if there is still a heap of yeast around. . .

the harsh/burnt taste. . .lager ferments produce copious sulphur. . .that has to be lagered out

length of lager ferment, 4 weeks seems to be normal, do not worry about getting a lager off the yeast.

The bulk aging in a secondary, that is vented occasionally, is what does the real improving. After you bottle and warm condition you can leave it lagering in the bottles for a few weeks if you like

I can move the secondary into the garage for 2 days - for the Diacetyl rest - does it matter what temps the brew get to while it is there?

It looks like I have jumped the gun with putting it into the seconday too early (as you say it can be in there for much longer) - will I have harmed it by moving it early and getting it off the yeast?
I can't see too much of a problem with transfering to the secondary a little early apart from the reason already stated by Tom regarding the diacetyl rest (ie. it does work much better when there is ample yeast around). I have found on the odd occasion that a diacetyl rest has not been 100% necessary as there was no detectable diacetyl at the end of the primary. That being said, I have still carried out the rest regardless, just to be on the safe side.
I pulled the secondary out of the fridge and has been sitting in the garage all night - I will put it back in the fridge and cool to 1c to start the long lagering process.....what is the minimum amount of time I should wait? 6-7 weeks?
i also have recently racked my lager and am now letting it "rest" , my hbs guy told me to get it off the yeast as you may get autolisis (sorry about the spelling) when the yeast eats itself , i had how ever had the brew in for about 2 weeks is this so??? or is it a furphey ?
i have also been told that with the quality of the food grade plstics used nowdays that there is no advantage in the glass carboy ? true or false?
Whilst autolosys can be a problem at times (just try drinking a brew that contains autolysed yeast) I have never had autolosys occur in the short times (3 - 5 weeks) needed for primary fermentation in lagers. Once the brew is placed in lager at 0 - 1C, the vast majority of yeast present goes dormant, and the very small percentage of active yeast still working, in my experience, is not enough to cause any detectable autolosys.

As for plastic vs. glass, the only time I would be worried is if the beer was to be kept in the plastic for a very long time (read 6 months or longer), where it may pick up a slight taste from the plastic. While this has never happened to me personally, I have heard reports of it occuring. I use glass only for aesthetic reasons at the store and only when I brew in the fridge.


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