What is the recommended lagering process for a true pilsner?

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LRAT

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G'Day,

I made a 42 liter batch of Urquell Pilsner (All grain). It is my first attempt to make a true pilsner.
The fermentation is coming to an end and now I need to put it in bottles and "lager" it.
But this is where I get confused as there's so much contradicting information on the internet.
So, I'm asking forum members, who have successfully brewed pilsner before, how they completed the lagering process?

OK, here's how the fermentation went:
I used a yeast starter and added it to the batch of beer (Both were at 20C).
I then put the batch into my temperature controlled fridge and brought the temperature down to 12C for the first 4 days.
Then I increased the temperature to 13C for 2 days and finally I increased the temperature to 14C and that's where it has been sitting at for the last 4 days.

I was told that I should add sugar (How much sugar should I add?) to the beer and then bottle it. Some people say I should increase the temperature to 18C and gradually bring it down to 4C and leave it there for a month; Is that correct?

OG of my batch was 1.048 and FG at the moment is 1.012.
I used a liquid White Labs pilsner yeast.
The fermentation has been very regular but has now come to the end.
Thanks for all the advice and opinions in advance!
Cheers,

Luke
 

philrob

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I currently have a lager underway.
I fermented at 10ºC for 2 weeks, then raised it gradually to 18ºC for a couple of days (even though I don't think I needed to as I pitched a shedload of yeast)
I racked the beer off the yeast into another fermenter under a blanket of CO², and dropped the temp to 1.5ºC (it's as low as my fridge will go) over about 3 days. I'll lager for about 7 weeks before bottling.
Longer lagering and lower temperatures (even down to -1 or 2 ºC) will only do your beer good. A month is OK, but if you can leave it longer it will be even better.
I personally don't bottle until lagering is over. Also, I add some fresh dry yeast to my bottles to ensure they'll carb up.
 

LRAT

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Hi philrob!
Thank you very much for that information! Much appreciated. I will follow your suggestion to the letter.
Could you just tell me how much yeast you add to each bottle of 750ml?
I have used a liquid yeast and made a two liter starter from it. The yeast I used was a White Labs WLP800. What would you recommend as a dry yeast?
So, I take it that you don't add sugar then during the bottling? Will there be enough carbonation as is?
The lagering process is all new to me and I'm keen to learn.
Thanks again! Much appreciated!
Luke
 

Paleman

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So, I take it that you don't add sugar then during the bottling?
You most definitely would have to add your priming sugar to your bottles.
 

philrob

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I always use dextrose to prime, and add it to each bottle before filling. I don't bulk prime.
As for yeast, I distribute sort of equal proportions from a single packet of dry yeast into each bottle (a bit hit and miss, but it works for me). Might not be necessary, but it won't hurt. I've used the packets from under a kit lid (I use a bit from a lager kit to make my stirplate worts), and this time I'll use a packet of Fermentis lager yeast. Doesn't really matter if you use a regular ale or lager yeast. Nottingham would be fine for example.
 

LRAT

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I always use dextrose to prime, and add it to each bottle before filling. I don't bulk prime.
As for yeast, I distribute sort of equal proportions from a single packet of dry yeast into each bottle (a bit hit and miss, but it works for me). Might not be necessary, but it won't hurt. I've used the packets from under a kit lid (I use a bit from a lager kit to make my stirplate worts), and this time I'll use a packet of Fermentis lager yeast. Doesn't really matter if you use a regular ale or lager yeast. Nottingham would be fine for example.
Luckily I asked about the priming sugar :) !
I thought that you just used the yeast as a substitute for the sugar but then I was thinking: What is the yeast going to survive on?
Anyway, I now got it.
I don't do bulk prime either as it mixes all the thrub that has settled on the bottom with the beer.
I use dextrose for priming and use a spoon that holds the exact amount of sugar needed for each bottle. I've got kegs as well but I'm old fashioned and prefer bottles.
Thanks for the update!
 

kadmium

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Luckily I asked about the priming sugar :) !
I thought that you just used the yeast as a substitute for the sugar but then I was thinking: What is the yeast going to survive on?
Anyway, I now got it.
I don't do bulk prime either as it mixes all the thrub that has settled on the bottom with the beer.
I use dextrose for priming and use a spoon that holds the exact amount of sugar needed for each bottle. I've got kegs as well but I'm old fashioned and prefer bottles.
Thanks for the update!
If you have kegs then what I would do personally is ->

Rack from the Gross Lees (trub) into a keg from the fermenter. Make sure the fermenter keg is sanitized and purged of air etc etc. Pop it in the fridge at close to 0 for 4 weeks. Then, sanitize a keg and work out your bulk priming amount (very easy) and add your packet of yeast. Then closed transfer from the lagering keg into the "bottling" keg.

This will mix the yeast and the sugar up together as you fill the keg. You can then bottle from the keg using a picnic tap and some beerline very easily. I bottle straight from my snub nose using this method and its awesome.
 
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LRAT

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Hi Kadmium,

That is a great suggestion! I've got 6 kegs of 19 liters each and that will allow transferring the beer without being exposed to air. I hadn't even thought about that.
It also make sense for adding the sugar mix at the end before bottling. That is a really great suggestion!
Previously I always filled my empty vessels with CO2 and tried to keep the lid on whilst transferring the beer with a jigger, but your method is so much better!
Thank you very much for passing that on.
 

kadmium

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Hi Kadmium,

That is a great suggestion! I've got 6 kegs of 19 liters each and that will allow transferring the beer without being exposed to air. I hadn't even thought about that.
It also make sense for adding the sugar mix at the end before bottling. That is a really great suggestion!
Previously I always filled my empty vessels with CO2 and tried to keep the lid on whilst transferring the beer with a jigger, but your method is so much better!
Thank you very much for passing that on.
No issues mate, we all learn from each other so it's nice to share ideas!
 

goatchop41

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I racked the beer off the yeast into another fermenter

Also, I add some fresh dry yeast to my bottles to ensure they'll carb up.
You shouldn't need to do either of these, should you? Autolysis is not an issue on a homebrew scale, especially not at those temps. If anything, bulk conditioning should help the lagering process occur faster.

And there should be plenty of yeast still in suspension to carb the beer up, even if it has dropped clear during lagering.
 

dibbz

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My learnings regarding true lagering ferms

Pitch 2c lower than ferm temp (maybe 7-9c), after you pitch ramp 1c a day for 2 days.
12-16 hours lag and slow airlock activity is normal
Primary should take over a week but less than 2 weeks, it will still be say ~6 points over fg and ticking away, not fg. If it was faster you were too hot.
No crashing!
Ramp down 1c-1.5c a day to 4-4.5c for secondary ferm/lagering, wait for FG, up to 2 weeks.
No d rest when you pitch cold and lager.
When you are FG you can condition at 0c if that's your jam.

As long as you don't crash, your yeast will continue to ferment down to 4c and lager your beer.

You really want the ability to set a ramp time like a brewpi profile.

23l batch I use 5 packets of fermentis lager (as per brewers friened pitching calc) no rehydration and then use the cake in a triple batch the next time (or 3 more 23l)
 

deevee

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For what it’s worth, I’ve been brewing for 20 years, mainly lagers and done the traditional lagering but to be honest I’ve discovered through my experience that I could ferment at recommended temps (or even above fermentation), and keg and store these beers warmer for up to 6 weeks and get really clean enjoyable lagers.

i also know of excellent lager brewers fermenting these beers at 20c with excellent results. Even a mate of mine who is a excellent award winning bohemian Pilsner brewer, brewed a lager at maybe 22-24c using S189 pressure fermented, only pitching 1 packet of yeast in 40 litres and it was damn clean. My suspicions came true when I discovered this article of fermentis w34/70 that beers ferment clean even at 20c.


cheers Daisy
 
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