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Vienna Lager - advice/help required

Discussion in 'All Grain Brewing' started by Fleabag, 9/10/18.

 

  1. keine_ahnung

    joeblogsbier.com

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    Posted 20/10/18
    Hey ABG,

    my pleasure. The passion for beer and knowledge about beer is something is as worth sharing as good beer itself! ;)

    Yeah, without breaching on intellectual property from the brewery where I was for years, I can gladly give tips. But in general, most breweries here have very similar mash, fermentation and lager schedules....for a reason. The deeper I get into German/Bavarian brewing culture, and german culture, the more I'm amazed at how deeply they've cultivated, researched, pursued and perfected the art of brewing, to level of "scientific-ness" that only the Germans could imagine. Haha :)

    But enough rambling, I'll leave to my website which is currently in building ;)

    Regarding your pitching/fermentation temp question, the traditional bavarian lager fermentation schedules (as is taught in accredited brewing academies and unis in Germany):
    "Cold schedule" (aka Classic schedule)
    Pitch temp: 4-5*C
    Max temp: 8-9*C (by day 4-6)
    then reducing down to 4-5*C around day 7-8 for end of fermentation.
    Then drop to 3*C. Harvest the yeast the next day in the morning
    Then rack, lager at 0-1*C for as long as you can :) (I think the "oldest" beer I had the joy of filtering was a Dunkles that had been lagering for 12 weeks....oh man....it was like heaven)

    "Warm schedule"(aka Modern schedule)
    Pitch temp: 7-8*C
    Max temp: 10-11*C
    the last few days of ferm. cool down to around 7*C
    The rest same

    In terms of ferm times, 7-9 days is normal.
    Commercial reason, sometimes breweries will fermented a tad warmer to keep up with demand....but it's always a slight compromise on beer quality.
     
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  2. keine_ahnung

    joeblogsbier.com

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    Posted 20/10/18
    Regarding mash tips:
    My first thoughts on looking at the "Fridge program" above....
    Being a Vienna lager, it's pretty important to get a bit of body and slight residual sweetness from the malt in there. Thus, it'd be worth putting in a rest to target the alpha-amylase (72*C).
    Mashing-in at 67*C COULD also be problematic. I'm not exactly sure to be honest, as I don't have the personal experience with such a schedule (at least not since my homebrew days 7 or so years ago, and there were so many factors there that it's hard to pinpoint), but the following thoughts come to mind based on the things I've learned thus far:
    1. this is right between the optimum temps of the alpha and beta amylasen. Admittedly, the logical reason that lots of infusion schedule use this "combirest". *However*, to paraphrase our professor in the subject, enzymes are a bit like us: they like to get warmed up before getting being thrown into vigorous work. The bath analogie is also helpful: would you rather get straight into a 50*C bath, or get in at 37*C and slowly have it warm up?
    So, it kinda makes me question how healthy the beta-amylasen are getting thown into this.
    2. Skipping from here to 76 pretty much skips the happy temp of the alpha-amylase.
    3. Depending on your malt, your previous experiences with head retention and fermentation, it may be worth doing a protien-rest down between 50-60*C

    Depending on where your FG is,you could also think about letting the mash cool during the mash from 67 down to 62, then heating up to 72.

    Also, mash-out: 78*C. Try and get that as exact as possible, without going over.
     
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  3. ABG

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    Posted 22/10/18
    Thanks @keine_ahnung,

    I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and passion for brewing. I'll give the classic schedule a try next winter - it's too hard and energy consuming for me to lager beers at 1*C during the warmer months here.

    P.S. Keen to hear more about your website as that progresses too. :)
     
  4. -OG-

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    Posted 22/10/18
    @ABG
    So many people in Australia have a freezer in their shed or garage, so I don't see much trouble running one at 1 c.
     
  5. Fleabag

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    Posted 28/10/18
    UPDATE:

    After leaving it at 7° @ 1.020ish sg and going on an epic campervan trip around the South Island of New Zealand for 2 weeks, I’ve just come back and checked the gravity reading, and it looks to be 1.020ish still. (an admittedly slightly carbed sample)

    In my limited knowledge that seems like nothing has happened/yeast has gone to sleep.

    Do I bump it back up to 10° and rouse it, or was 1.055->1.02 about all I could expect from this yeast?
     
  6. EalingDrop

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    Posted 28/10/18
    Presume you knock the Co2 out of solution completely before taking the Hydro reading?
     
  7. Fleabag

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    Posted 28/10/18
    Yeah, I try. Gave it a good shake a few times. Will let it rest then try again this evening too - but carb shouldn’t account for too much should it in a small hydro sample? I also tried with my refracto and it’s all roughly the same.
     
  8. Fleabag

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    Posted 1/11/18
    After a few days at 11° it still is stuck on 1.022. Going to 13.5° now and if there’s no movement in a day or so I’m giving up.

    Edit: Ok, so it maybe has shifted from 9 to 8.5brix according to the refracto. Patience.
     
    Last edited: 1/11/18
  9. ABG

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    Posted 1/11/18
    @Fleabag are you taking your readings with a hydrometer, or a refractometer?
     
  10. Fleabag

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    Posted 1/11/18
    Both
     
  11. ABG

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    Posted 2/11/18
    Okay. I was wondering whether you were using a refractometer and not adjusting for alcohol.

    I'd still keg it and drink it. It's probably going to be a tiny bit sweet, but I'll bet it will still be quite drinkable.
     
  12. Fleabag

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    Posted 2/11/18
    Tbf, it doesn’t taste bad. Cold and carbed it’d be fairly drinkable - lots of flavour. Bit more like an ale than a lager tho at this point.
     
    Last edited: 2/11/18
  13. keine_ahnung

    joeblogsbier.com

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    Posted 12/11/18
    Suggestion: next time add a tiny bit of zinc at the end of the boil. Could help with your fermentation difficulties. You don't need much, like a pinch of salt really. But it's very important for the yeast.
    Your aeration could also be a bit on the low side...? (sure, at this stage of the fermentation the yeast is working anaerobically, however the oxygen levels at the start of the fermentation have a strong effect on the yeast-reproduction rate at the start of ferm.)
     
  14. Fleabag

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    Posted 12/11/18
    Didn’t put it on oxygen or anything but had a vigorous shake etc to get some air into it.

    Zinc might be worth a go - Sydney water is pretty low on minerals etc.

    I think it didn’t like the low temp. Or I dropped it too fast. It reportedly tastes ok as is (in carbed still) so next time might try same recipe and maybe get a liquid yeast and do a proper starter.
     
  15. Meddo

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    Posted 12/11/18
    Hey k_a, some more great info here, thanks. One thing I've been wondering about is how sulfur is managed if capping the ferment at 80% completion for self-carbonation? I've read that some Bavarian strains such as WLP838 produce a lot of sulfur which can take months to be reduced - if the fermentation is racked and capped after say a week then it seems to me that there would be nowhere for the sulfur to go?

    Thanks again for being so forthcoming with this info.
     
  16. keine_ahnung

    joeblogsbier.com

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    Posted 13/11/18
    Hey Meddo,
    by "sulfur" I'm assuming you're referring to sulfur-related fermentation biproducts...? Most prominently Sulfurdioxide (SO2)..
    This is a very good question.
    The lower fermentation temps play a big role here. And aeration levels, and malt properties (Sulfat level in the malt)
    However as you've already said, some yeast strains pump out more than others.
    A bit of a sulfuric-flavour is quite characteristic of numerous bavarian Helles-Beers (e.g. Augustiner, Tegernseer). On the other hand, there are also lots bavarian lagers where the "sulfur" levels are at such a low level that they're not noticeable.

    I've found the beers a bit north of Munich tend to be more like this. Very well balanced, crisp, bit more of a hop-presence. Alot of this is also affected by the water. Munich water is absolutely horrendous! But the water 100-150km north (getting towards the same catchment area as Pilsn) is significantly softer. This is bound to play a big role, however I honestly have to say, I still have to learn a bit more on this topic. Ask me again in 6 months while I'm studying for the exam on brewing-water. apparently it's the hardest subject in the entire masters degree. :/

    One interesting fact (which I was just reading - thanks for prompting me ;) ), is that these sulfurs are quite volatile and thus come out solution fairly easy. For example ...... CO2 bubbles rising up through the beer!

    So, in short:
    1. Aeration (>affects yeast cell reproduction > affects utilisation of existing sulfat in the wort)
    2. Ferm temp
    3. Lagering (the german "aufkräusen" technique is also bound to help drive out SO2 by bringing in fresh yeast cells and creating a secondary CO2-Wash)
     
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  17. MashMasterMike

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    Posted 22/11/18
    Hello all,

    @keine_ahnung wondering if you could help me out here.. ?

    I conveniently found this post and your advice above just as I was preparing for my first lager. :)
    However, I wonder if you could clarify some points for me?

    Process so far for my Czech Pils:
    Mashed 60m @ 66c
    Mashout 78
    OG spot on at 1052
    45l into fermeter

    3 stages of 5 litre starter ending with 2.36M cells / mL / °P (according to calculator)
    however the final stage then sat in my fridge for 2 days to settle and I poured off 80% of the liquid and pitched the slurry.

    Pitched at 5c.

    I have my ferm profile below which I gleaned from the information you provided above.. however i'm now at day 8, it is fermenting well, it has a small but dense krousen of about 5cm thick, bubbles from air lock but nothing like an ale (wasnt expecting it to be), but gravity reading is currently 1040.
    SO.. should I leave it at 9c for longer, or still chill it down to 4 over the next 2 days?

    At what gravity (or % of completion) should I start bringing the temp down for end of ferm? It's a bit unclear in your post above and I would love some advice.

    It's not part of the schedule below, but after day 25 it will continue to be lagered at 0 until mid Jan.
    2018-11-23_10-02-54.png
     
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  18. keine_ahnung

    joeblogsbier.com

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    Posted 24/11/18
    Hey MashMasterMike,
    ^Impressive planning process and graphs you've got going there!
    How's the fermentation going now? I saw your post a bit late and haven't had time to reply until now.

    I would say in general your fermentation schedule seems very good.
    Being a Czech Pils, it should have a higher level of Diacetyl, giving quite a buttery full flavour.
    Your above schedule will give you a much crisper clean bavarian style lager. Which is not at all a bad thing...but just so you know for next time. Could be really interesting to do the exact same beer next time, but ferment it 4 degrees warmer. See what difference you notice.

    In terms of when to cool it: basically you want to try and time it so that you don't put the yeast to sleep before it's finished fermenting all the fermentable sugars in there, but also not have it sitting around warm for too long...encouraging autolysis.
    What racking/lagering options do you have?
    do you let self-carbonate?
    I would recommend racking it when the fermentation is around 80-85% through. This well get it off the older tired yeast ceels that have already started to fall out of suspension, and by racking, you'll help keep the remaning fermentation going along by moving all the yeast cells around a bit.
    You could happily start gradually lowering the temp after you rack it...or let it sit there at ferm.temp until you're convinced it's done, and then cool it to lager temp.

    Like all things in brewing, it's a matter of choosing the comprimise that makes the most sense.

    Another option would be to cool it a little bit before racking (down to say 5deg), then let it sit till it's done. Then lager.
    Pros here: you'll carry over less of the unhealthy yeast cells into your lagertank -> reduce autolysis.
    Cons: you'll decelerate the the fermentation a bit at the end.

    * just read your post again. If you're still at 1040 after 8 days, that's pretty slow. I wouldn't start cooling it until it's must further.
    Sounds like the yeast is lacking a few vitals. Oxygen? FAN? Zinc?
    Would you happen to have a malt analysis that I could look at?
     
  19. MashMasterMike

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    Posted 24/11/18
    Hey no problems, I extended the 9c period anyway yesterday so it's still at 9c.

    Ah ok, so pilsner should be a tad warmer than your traditional bavarian lager. I will keep a note of that for next time. I was aiming for a Pilsner Urquell clone.
    New words.. autolysis, just looked that up. So does that cause off flavours when the cells break down?

    From racking perspective, it's currently in a 60l plastic fermenter off which I have two. They have taps in them just above the bottom, so I just transfer from one to the other for secondary.
    I do however only have a temperature probe for my BrewPi in one of them, so I actually have to transfer out, then clean out the main one, then transfer back.

    My system uses an upright freezer which is controlled using a BrewPi, so my actual beer temps in ferm chamber are highly accurate. Typical variance from set point is about +/- .06c.
    I will just lager in that, in the secondary fermenter off the yeast, at 0c for about 8 weeks.
    After that, I transfer to 19l kegs and force carb.

    Ok, so i've just taken another reading at it's just under 1036 tonight. FG i'm aiming for is 1015 so a bit to go.. 1022-1020 ish would be about 80-85%.
    I'll extend out the 9c phase until it's below 1020.

    It did get heaps of oxygen during cooling and transfer to the fermenter initially - maybe not enough. I didn't use a stone or anything, just lots of agitation while it was running into the fermenter . I added weyermann yeast nutrient which includes zinc to the boil at the end based on your previous comments about zinc. Never used it before... I think that sides covered.
    I don't have an analysis sheet but it's 92% wayermann bohemian pils malt and then a small bit of munich and carafoam.

    I reckon the slowness maybe yeast related. Maybe not enough. It was an older pack, but the starter calculator is supposed to take that into account. For reference it's Wyeast 2278

    Cheers
     
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  20. keine_ahnung

    joeblogsbier.com

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    Posted 24/11/18
    Ok cool. Sounds like you're definitely on the right track.
    If I were you, I wouldn't worry about doing the double swap thing when you rack to make sure you've a temp probe in the beer. Once the fermentation is complete, the temp isn't soooo critical. Cold is cold. If you set your fridge to 0-1deg, you should be good ;)

    Yep Autolysis is basically when the digestive enzymes in the yeast run out of food, but keep on digesting.....Then move on to other stored reserves inside the yeast cell, then eventually the cell wall. The big problem with that is, once the wall bursts, everything that was inside the cell, is no longer contained. That includes a bunch of unwanted things like undegestible bi-products from the "sugar digestion" in the yeast (imagine your internal organs being emptied out.... probably not tasty. Nothing personal though :p ) and a bunch of amino-acids (reduced head retention) and fat-acids which are unwanted in beer.

    Having said all that, on a homebrew scale it's probably not near as important as making sure you get the mash and fermentation temps spot on ;) But always good to have in mind with these kinds of beers ;)

    1015 is a pretty high FG for a pils. We used to get around 1008-1010. But who knows, with all that lager time you're doing, it could well come down a bit.
    Would be interesting to start tasting it at various stages during the lagering. See what you think. :)
     

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