Lager yeast considerations

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Lager yeast considerations

Postby jayhawk » Fri Nov 07, 2003 6:32 am

I will soon be moving to a place with a cold storage room. It will make for the perfect lagering room. I have never been able to brew lagers before, so I am pretty stoked. So, I am wondering if there are any special measures that should be taken with lager yeast. Should I ferment at a constant low temp, or have a higher primary temp followed by a lower secondary? Do I have to leave the beer longer than with ale yeast? I like the "crisp" Canadian lagers like Moosehead, as well as the richer Bavarian styles. I am not too fond of Czech pilsners (still like them, but its all relative), so any yeast recommendations are appreciated. Also, what about brewing my regular ale recipes with lager yeast? How will this change their character? (This room sits at a pretty constant temp and will also be perfect for storing my kegs which will I will be acquiring soon and therefore sidesteps the need for fridge, which was a problem I was facing before.)

Thanks
Chris
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I think you said

Postby fitz » Fri Nov 07, 2003 10:01 am

Chris if I remember right, you said you like dry yeasts. I have found two good ones, that I use when brewing lagers. Superior from Australlia, a very clean dry lager yeast, and safelager S23.
If you add them to an ale recipe, there will be noticable less flavors that are normally associated with ales, aka, they will taste "cleaner" Some do not like the flavor of lagers, because they taste"lacking" These "purist" do not want anything close to a commercial beer. I myself like most beers, as long as they have flavor, and not the watered down Bud-ish styles.
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Lagers

Postby BillyBock » Fri Nov 07, 2003 1:04 pm

Chris: I've been doing lagers this last year except for my last batch. You will find them noticably cleaner in flavor than ales. I would pitch the yeast at the expected cold fermentation temperature--but make sure you pitch big otherwise you'll experience a noticeable lag. Also expect your primary phase to be anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks.

Take Fitz up on his suggestion for dry lager yeasts. I've used them both with very good results. Besides, it'll give you a chance to figure out your lager process without going through the expense of liquid yeast. Two packets in 5 gallons for cold pitching should do the trick. Personally, I love S-23. It rocks!

As far as making ales with lager yeasts--the Leinenkuegel brewery does this with their Porter. So I decided to try it with my stout recipe. Very clean...I can taste only the ingredients that went into it (this was made with S-23 by the way).

Hope this helps.

v/r
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Diacetyl?

Postby jayhawk » Fri Nov 07, 2003 4:53 pm

Cool. Now I am really stoked! I have a few recipes that I really like but I have always wanted to try and clean them up a little. Will the lager yeast lead to more distinguished flavours? It also sounds like lager yeast will mean a batch will take a bit longer. Could you guys give me a breakdown on your brewing timeline with lager yeasts ie Primary, secondary and conditioning length. Do you leave the beer in the primary for the whole duration of the primary stage, or are you racking it off the trub at some point? Also, what about diacetyl rests? What the heck are they and are they related to using lager yeast?
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Diacetyl Rest

Postby Dr Strangebrew » Fri Nov 07, 2003 5:12 pm

I brew the occaisional lager. I perform the rest when the beer is just about at final gravity. I take the beer out of the fridge and let it sit at room temp for two days, seems to work for me, although I think technically it should sit at 60 degrees F. Mesa has a really good explanation, search the forum for diacetyl rest.
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My Procedure

Postby BillyBock » Fri Nov 07, 2003 5:53 pm

Noonan's book, Brewing Lager Beer, is a great read on the whole subject. As far as what I do...
1) chill the wort as close as I can to fermenting temperature (50-55F). This has been a real challenge here in Texas even this late in the year. I have to use a pre-chiller with my counterflow chiller, even when making ales.
2) pitch the yeast in the cold wort. Make sure to keep your yeast at near the same temperature so you don't shock them. Also pitch plenty. You could also pitch into warm wort (60F+) while it cools--but you'll get the cleanest of flavors pitching cold.
3) let it primary for 2 or 3 weeks. I have a conical fermenter, so I dump trub once or twice and take gravity samples to determine when it's done.
4) If it's done, then I download to kegs with gelatin, force carbonate, and keep in my freezerator at 28F-32F for another month. Which reminds me, my Maibock should be ready now.....

As you can see I like to let the yeast go to completion in the primary and then do my secondary in the kegs just above the freezing point of beer--smooth and crystal clear.

A number of lager strains put out diacetyl (butterscotch flavor) as a byproduct. A diacetyl rest is a technique to allow the yeast to mop up these off flavors. Some strains don't pump this out. If you do a diacetyl rest, that should be done towards the end of the primary when there's still some fermenting left to do. You basically raise the temperature to the ale range and let it sit a few days, then start bringing it down a couple of degrees a day until you hit the temp you want for your secondary phase. If you miss your chance and the beer is done fermenting, you can raise the temp then add fresh wort to the beer to do your diacetyl rest. When I've done a D-rest (with WY2308) I would start raising the temp after the second week, and let it finish up that third week before doing a secondary. WY2308 seemed to take 3 weeks to finish IIRC. Noonan discusses the chemistry behind why a D-rest works.

Also bear in mind that many lager yeasts emit rotten egg odors. This is normal and no cause to be alarmed. If an ale yeast did this there'd be cause for concern because it'd mean an infection. However, it's normal for lager yeasts.

S-23 rocks because I haven't found it to be a sulfur producer or in need of a D-rest. It shortens my cycle time :-)

I recently put together a simple web page. You'll find 2 of my lager recipes on there. Mmmm mmmm good, check it out....

http://webpages.charter.net/patriot-brewing/

v/r
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