Tips for Lager Brewing

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Hpal

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This is by no means an exhaustive list and there are probably many other points that could be added. It is simply what works for me, and I couldn't find a lot on the internet about advanced home brew lager techniques, more so just the basic things like sanitation, use temp control etc. If there are other tips seasoned lager brewers feel would be a worthy addition, please add them. [emoji3]

Here are some points that I have found work well for me and my way of brewing. I do a full volume mash (BIAB) and these days mostly no-chill. We will assume recipes, brewing practices and sanitation are up to scratch.

Recipes and ingredients
- Fresh ingredients are a must, I buy in bulk and mill my grain the day before brew day.
- Make sure your water is the best it can be. I use 50:50 rainwater and tap water with chlorine removed. My tap water is good enough as it is though with mineral content in the right ranges and it has very little chlorine. I haven't delved into adjusting water chemistry yet as I haven't seen a great need.
- My Pilsner style recipes are mostly Weyermann Pilsner malt, carapils and melanoidin, sometimes some Munich light for colour. I think this is one of the best tasting Pilsner malts and I like it much more than domestic Pilsner malt. I use some Magnum for bittering and generally Saaz at the end, sometimes Tettnang. Bittering is generally in the low 20's.

Wort creation
- I use a Hochkurz mash schedule, I like some body and not too dry a beer. It is 63c for 30mins then 70c for 40 mins then mash out.
- I usually skim off the hot break as needed, and use delta floc or brew brite at the end of the boil.
- Rapid chill if possible, I mostly no-chill though and it hasn't affected flavours, it's just a matter of adjusting your hop additions.
- I let the wort settle in the kettle for a bit to reduce trub getting into the cube, and transfer slowly to reduce any aeration.

Fermenting
- Chill to pitching temp, I put the cube in the fridge for this.
- Aerate the wort well by whatever means you employ. I am giving o2 infusion a go next batch. Lots of shaking/splashing does the trick as well.
- Pitch a healthy starter. I reuse slurry from the previous batch.
- Control your fermentation temperatures. I set my freezer to 10c and raise to 14c when nearing FG. Next batch I will give the stainless pressure fermenter a crack and see how that goes.
- Cold crash after fermentation is finished. Let it settle for a week or more, fine with gelatin if desired.
- Transfer to a sanitized and co2 purged keg to exclude oxygen. With the pressure fermenter I'll be able to do a closed transfer under pressure and the beer should be partly carbonated as well.
 

Rocker1986

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I do pretty much the same thing. I also love the Weyermann pilsner malts, I've used the 'normal' one before with great results, and am now using the Bohemian one as most of my lagers now are Bo Pils. Magnum doesn't get used for bittering in those as I've found nicer results from using only Saaz, but I have used it in other lager styles.

Distilled water is used with small amounts of minerals added back. No Carapils, but similar mash schedule - also I use acidulated malt at about 2%.

Fermentation profile is similar, 10C to start and then allowed to raise to 18C when the brew gets down to around 1.020 SG. Two week cold crash with isinglass and Polyclar treatments then kegged. Takes around 4 weeks from pitching to kegging, but the beer does improve with more time cold in the keg I've noticed.
 

nosco

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Ill add my 2c to that.

- I think a glycoprotein rest @ 72c works especially well with a pilsner. Ive done it in the past (by getting my alpha rest temps mixed up :lol: ) and it makes for a really beautiful looking beer.

- I chill 2deg below pitching temps so by the time I transfer it it has gone up a degree or 2. I have heard other people pitch @ say 7 deg and then let it free rise to ferment temp. I did this with my last pils and it turned out really well. Pitching like this means (i think) that there is no need for a D rest and no need to raise temps above the initial ferment temp. I have used the quick ferment technique in the past with good and bad results. The bad result may have been due to other factors.

- Pitch A LOT of yeast for a lager. Can you pitch too much for a lager? I re pitched LOTS of slurry into a bo pils last Wednesday in to my kegerator. Just a blow off tube no pressure ferment. It was going off like a rocket after 12 hours. Blow of tube activity stopped after 5 days. I havnt tried it yet so I guess ill find out if I pitched too much :blink:

Question? Is it beneficial to get the beer off the yeast asap or wont it matter for the first 2 week period? Considering I will probably have a shit tonne of yeast in there. I can drain it out of the bottom with my kegmenter.

Edit: o2 for a quick and healthy ferment.
 

nosco

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Forgot to mention, Ive heard it said that yeast dont like rapid and extreme fluctuations in temp and that this can cause off flavours. My last pils instead of cold "crashing" i droped the temp by 2 deg C per day to zero deg and then let it sit for 3 days. 3 weeks all up from pitch to kegging.
 

nosco

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Here's my last effort. 3 weeks in the Brew Bucket and it has been 9 days in the keg. No finings. Can you tell im really happy with it?

1489555767314.jpg
 

malt junkie

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nosco said:
Here's my last effort. 3 weeks in the Brew Bucket and it has been 9 days in the keg. No finings. Can you tell im really happy with it?
Thats just plain outright showing off. Well done!
 

labels

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I brew litres and litres of the stuff usuall 150L per weekend of brewing and to me it's the easiest beer to make. There are certain rules to success along with a lot of myths. Firstly don't overuse the specilaty malts - stick witn pilsner, munich light and vienna. Crystal malts, melanoidin etc should be added in very small proportions. Secondly, watch with your hopping. Late hopping especialy with Saaz will impart a very grassy flavour that does not mellow out with aging. First wort hopping is the bees knees and is the only hopping schedule in my lagers.
Fermenting is where it's all at. You can pitch warm, I pitch at 25C and oxygenate with pure O2. This really kick starts fermentation but I do it get into a temp controlled chest freezer pretty quickly after pitching. Also I use 2 litre starters that have completely fermented out and the beery liquid discarded. Ferment at the yeast lab's recommended higher end of the temp range - not the lower end. When fermentation is nearly done - when the krausen starts to fall, crank the temp to 20C and hold until the krausen goes completely. Then crash back to fermentation temp. After that drop just 1C per day, hold for 3 days at 3C, crash to -2C and hold for 10 days approx then keg. You will have a super clean commercial grade lager beer. Easy Peasy.
 

labels

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German malts are best but with carefull brewing and a little extra time you can make great lager beer with local (Joe White) malt but a few extra tricks are needed.
 

Hpal

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Some good points. But, a lager brewed at 14 or 15c then a d-rest at 20c? Seems a bit high to me.
I like saaz too, never had any grassy flavours at all, just awesome pilsner flavour.
 

unwrittenlaw

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Got a European lager FWK 9days in ferment at the moment. Pitched 2 packets of 34/70 (rehydrated) at 25deg. Aerated the wort as best we could with splashing and stirring. OG 1.045.. fermentation temp is at 10deg and took off nicely. Airlock activity has slowed last few days. About to take a reading tonight. I'm assuming anything under 1.010 it will end up at... I'm going for 2 of the same reading to know that fermentation is complete.

Would it be worth doing a d-rest at 12deg for a couple of days before dropping to 2-3deg?

How long would you keep it cold on the yeast cake before kegging?
 

Rocker1986

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I'd raise up to around 18 for a D-rest. I usually leave mine cold on the cake for about 2 weeks before kegging. Those are my processes though, others will obviously have different ones.
 

labels

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technobabble66 said:
Such as?
Don't leave us hanging, labels!
I find that the end result from Joe White can be a bit rough. In other words German malts are far more forgiving. To get a better result from JW malts I do the following Mash: Use the brewers window at 66C,I find this the best and mash for a minimum of 70 mins. Ramp to 71C for a Glyco rest for 20 mins. this really helps head retention. I don't bother with a mash out and go straight onto a batch sparge using near boiling water however, make sure on the last sparge that it doesn't creep too far over 80. I usually boil for 90 minutes, I find with JW pils both the hot and cold break are fairly weak compared to German malts so make sure you add whirlfloc, I also add PVPP, this helps get a clearer wort. JW malts are all about getting a clear, trub free wort into the fermenter. Commercial breweries use wort filters but we don't. German malts as I said, have this comparitively massive hot/cold break which leaves the wort nice and clear even without flocs.
 

labels

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Hpal said:
Some good points. But, a lager brewed at 14 or 15c then a d-rest at 20c? Seems a bit high to me.
I like saaz too, never had any grassy flavours at all, just awesome pilsner flavour.
I never said 14 or 15C. I suggested fermenting near the higher end of the yeast lab's recommended range and that varies from strain to strain neither do I recommend at the very top of the range as fermentation produces heat in itself. You're lucky with Saaz, the point I was making is that Saaz is well known for adding grassy flavours as a late hop addition and I have experienced it myself
 

Haciluku

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Labels, I get acetaldehyde sometimes.
-what kind of yeasts you used for your lager styles?
- How long you oxygenated?
- What is your pitching rate in million cell / ml / degree Plato?
 

labels

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Haciluku said:
Labels, I get acetaldehyde sometimes.
-what kind of yeasts you used for your lager styles?
- How long you oxygenated?
- What is your pitching rate in million cell / ml / degree Plato?
There are three pathways to acetaldehyde, infection, oxidation and incomplete fermentation but I going to assume it's the last one. Pitch big, I use a fully fermented 2 litre starter with the starter gravity at 1.050 so there is plenty of yeast for 25L of wort. Oxygenate for 30-40seconds. I break all the rules and pitch warm but chill quickly after pitching, it does kick start the yeast. Finally and most importantly, if you ferment too cool, the yeast will produce more fermentation by-products than it can clean up. Acetaldehyde is incomplete fermentation which means your yeast are not happy. Finish your beer with a few days at 20C until there are zero bubbles on the surface then crash chill back to 12C and then 1C per day only to 3C. Hold at 3C for three days, drop to -2C for conditioning a few days. Keg, carbonate and leave the keg another week.
 

Haciluku

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Thanks Labels.
I did something similar to what you have done, except I pitched cold at 9C with 2.5L starter (two steps, 1L and then 2.5L at 1.040 each starter gravity, decant and pitch) with liquid yeast strain. Then, ferment at the same temp for a few weeks until the gravity stable. I suspect this might be the issue. It needs a larger starter.

I am not surprise with pitching warm as there are quite a few brewers use this method with good results. Next time, I will do a Helles or Pilsner with 2 packets of 24/70 and pitch warm, and ferment at the higher end of the yeast ferment temp.

Why do you hold 3C for three days?

What is your mashing schedule for a pilsner and helles with european malts? I would prefer a single infusion if possible as I am using cooler mash tun. Step mash if I do BIAB with steel pot.

What is your favourite yeast strain?
 

labels

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Haciluku said:
Thanks Labels.
I did something similar to what you have done, except I pitched cold at 9C with 2.5L starter (two steps, 1L and then 2.5L at 1.040 each starter gravity, decant and pitch) with liquid yeast strain. Then, ferment at the same temp for a few weeks until the gravity stable. I suspect this might be the issue. It needs a larger starter.

I am not surprise with pitching warm as there are quite a few brewers use this method with good results. Next time, I will do a Helles or Pilsner with 2 packets of 24/70 and pitch warm, and ferment at the higher end of the yeast ferment temp.

Why do you hold 3C for three days?

What is your mashing schedule for a pilsner and helles with european malts? I would prefer a single infusion if possible as I am using cooler mash tun. Step mash if I do BIAB with steel pot.

What is your favourite yeast strain?
The reason I hold at 3C for days is that I found out quite by accident that lager yeast strains are still active at 3C, admittedly, not very active but nevertheless they can still ferment at 3C so that is the last chance they have to clean-up. Usually acetaldehyde is the last one they finish off with as it's a half finished thing (from my research that is and also from personal observation)

Mashing schedule is usually a pretty basic single infusion at 66C. I often will raise to 71C for 20 minutes for a glyco rest. You need some form of herms, rims or direct fire system to do this. The glycol rest makes certain proteins water soluble by activating a certain protein enzyme. These proteins will give your beer a good head,

Favourite yeast strain is 2042 from Wyeast - no longer available, I am setting up a pretty comprehensive yeast bank so I have access to this strain well into the future.
 

Haciluku

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labels said:
The reason I hold at 3C for days is that I found out quite by accident that lager yeast strains are still active at 3C, admittedly, not very active but nevertheless they can still ferment at 3C so that is the last chance they have to clean-up. Usually acetaldehyde is the last one they finish off with as it's a half finished thing (from my research that is and also from personal observation)

Mashing schedule is usually a pretty basic single infusion at 66C. I often will raise to 71C for 20 minutes for a glyco rest. You need some form of herms, rims or direct fire system to do this. The glycol rest makes certain proteins water soluble by activating a certain protein enzyme. These proteins will give your beer a good head,

Favourite yeast strain is 2042 from Wyeast - no longer available, I am setting up a pretty comprehensive yeast bank so I have access to this strain well into the future.
Interesting information about the 3C. Will take note of that.

I believe the Wyeast 2042 - Danish Lager yeast is still available, I can still get them in my local home brew shop. I have a small bottle in my yeast bank.

Thanks for the tips. Will pm you If I head into trouble again or any lager related topic.
 
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