Lager Method

NOTE: I don’t take credit for developing this method, rather I was inspired by smaller craft breweries making tasty lager beers who I assumed are forced to go grain to glass quickly just to maintain their business. I simply wondered, “if they can do it, why can’t we?” The method I discuss here includes ideas similar to those proposed by Ludwig Narziss and Greg Noonan long before I came along, a couple dudes often credited for inspiring the public to brew and drink more delicious lager beer!


I’m a lover of all things lager- Márzen, Schwarzbier, Helles, and Pilsner are some of favorite styles. As a homebrewer, I initially avoided making lager beer due to my inability to precisely control fermentation temperature. Once I finally got my chamber setup and made a couple lagers using more traditional fermentation schedules, I found myself avoiding them due to how long they took to finish. I also began wondering how I might be able to hasten the process. I had learned that with precise control of my temperature, I could turn most ales around in 2 weeks and wondered why I couldn’t use this control to do the same with lager beers. I made a couple batches that came out surprisingly well, played with the method for a few months, and was gradually convincing myself the days of 2 month lagers were behind me. After numerous successful batches, I happen to catch an episode of The Session on The Brewing Network where Mike “Tasty” McDole mentioned how he takes lager grain-to-glass in 2 weeks using precise control of fermentation temperature. This was validating, particularly since I was aiming for a much less anxiety provoking 3-4 week turnaround.

German brewers began making lager beers long before the advent of controllable refrigeration, fermenting and conditioning their beer in caves that maintained a fairly consistent 45°-55°F. They also brewed with the seasons, hence beers like Märzen, which was only brewed between September 29 and April 23 with consumption usually commencing in late Summer through October. The point I’m trying to make here is that the long-term fermentation and aging appears to be mostly a function of the inability to control environmental temperature.

A few things we’ve learned over the last couple centuries of brewing is that yeast generally works slower at cooler temperatures and faster at warmer temperatures, most esters and phenolics are produced during the growth phase of fermentation, which in my experience lasts about 4-5 days for cool fermented lagers, and beer lagers faster at colder temperatures. I know, there’s supposedly something else that magically happens to a beer over time besides just clarity, but let’s be real here, clarity is what most of us are waiting for as the indication that a beer is ready to drink. And if I’m being totally honest, I sort of enjoy the very minimal perceptible changes that occur in a beer over the 2-3 weeks I have it on tap.

| THE METHOD |

Step 1: Primary Fermentation
Chill wort to pitching temp of 48°-53°F (9°-12°C), pitch adequately sized starter (decanted), set regulator to initial fermentation temp between 50°-55°F (10°-13°C), and leave the beer to ferment until it is at least 50% attenuated. I’ve found the time this takes is dependent on 2 primary factors:

1. Original Gravity: a 1.080 Doppelbock is going to take longer to reach 50% attenuation than a 1.048 Helles.

2. Yeast Type: in my experience, rehydrated dry lager yeasts take 12-36 hours longer to show signs of active fermentation compared to liquid yeasts built up in starters or even slurry harvested from a prior batch.

I originally advised leaving the fermenting beer at primary temp for 5 days assuming folks were checking SG prior to making temp changes. This was a mistake on my part. While it is possible even high OG beers will reach 50% attenuation in this amount of time, I’ve heard from a couple folks who experience differently. As such, here are my new better-safe-than-sorry recommendations:

OG of Wort Yeast Type Approximate Primary Time
≤ 1.060 OG Liquid 4-7 days
≤ 1.060 OG Dry 5-8 days
≥ 1.061 Liquid 6-10 days
≥ 1.061 Dry 7-14 days

Another factor worth considering is your preferred primary fermentation temperature, as yeast is going to work a bit faster at 54°F (12°C) compared to 48°F/ (9°C). The original 5 day recommendation will likely hold true for most folks, as it has for me, I just want to emphasize the importance of taking SG measurements prior to making temp changes.

Step 2: The Ramp Up
Once 50% attenuation is reached, remove the probe from the side of the fermentor so it measures ambient temp in the chamber and start bumping the regulator up 5°F every 12 hours until it reaches 65°-68°F (18°-20°C). Allow the beer to remain at this temp until fermentation is complete and the yeast have cleaned-up after themselves, which can take anywhere from 4 to 10 days.

Alternate Option
Keep the temp probe attached to the fermentor and forgo the incremental temperature increases but immediately setting your regulator to 65°-68°F (18°-20°C). While I still prefer the more gentle approach to temp increases, I’ve heard from many people have had great success using this slightly less time-consuming approach.

Step 3: The Ramp Down
When FG is stable and no diacetyl or acetaldehyde is detected in the beer, begin ramping the temp down in 5°-8°F increments every 12 hours or so until it reaches 30°-32°F (-1°-0°C). Allow the beer to remain at this temp for 3-5 days, during which it will begin to drop clear.

Alternate Option 1
Setting the regulator to 30°-32°F (-1°-0°C) without gradually stepping the temp down will shave 2-3 days off of the entire process. Many brewers have done this with positive results, myself included, though I still tend to prefer the original method if only to reduce the amount of airlock fluid that gets sucked into the beer as it crashes.

Alternate Option 2
If super bright beer is something you pine for, as I do, and you’re okay with putting animal products in your beer, as I am, consider adding gelatin once the temp of the beer has reached 50°F (10°C). In my experience, this has significantly decreased the amount of time required for the beer to clear to commercial levels, I usually end up kegging 24-48 hours after adding the gelatin.

Step 4: Packaging & Storage
Once the beer is clear, it’s ready to be packaged, the process of which is obviously different depending on whether one uses kegs or bottles. Yes, bottle conditioning is absolutely possible with this method.

For Those Who Keg…
Simply transfer the cold and clear beer to your keg, place it in your keezer on gas, and leave it for 3+ days before enjoying! Using my typical kegging/carbonation method in conjunction with gelatin, I’ve found the beer is usually ready for consumption after about 5 days of “lagering” in my keezer, while others swear their beers peak after 2 weeks or so of cold storage. This is likely an issue of subjective preference mixed with a sprinkle of confirmation bias, but regardless, do what you works best for you!

For Those Who Bottle…
Use a trusted priming sugar calculator to determine the amount of your preferred fermentable to use; adding extra yeast is unnecessary, even if you fined with gelatin. Place the primed bottles in an environment that maintains a fairly consistent 68°-72°F (20°-23°C) and allow them to carbonate for 2-3 weeks. Once carbonated, I recommend placing multiple bottles in the fridge to “bottle lager” for 5+ days before enjoying, as this will encourage the precipitation of most particulate matter, providing you a clear and delicious lager beer.

| EVIDENCE |

Dortmunder at 20 Days

Dortmunder Export (1.058 OG) at 20 days old

German Pils (1.049 OG) at 24 days old

German Pils (1.049 OG) at 24 days old

To the skeptics out there or those who feel anxious questioning convention, I understand completely, believe me. I know it’s not easy trusting some dude you’ve never met, but I mean it when I say the many lager beers I’ve made using this method have tasted exactly how they were brewed to taste, no different than those I made in the past using the traditional drawn-out method. If you’ve been holding off from making lager beer because of the time commitment, consider giving this method a shot, I have a feeling you’ll be brewing many more lagers in the future if you do.

Cheers!


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319 comments

  1. I have a few questions regarding your fermentation chamber. Do you normally attach your temperature regulator probe to your primary, or do you normally allow it to sense the ambient air temp? Also, what do you use to heat the chamber?

    1. I always attach it to the fermentor with some insulative backing.

      I use a cheap paint can heater (google it) for heating.

  2. During step2 , the ramp up, what if you missed the 50% attenuation mark, and it went more so to 30% (or almost to FG), is it still worth following the rest of the steps, or would this invalidate the main reason for doing this method ? What’s the limit beyond 50%… ?

    Thanks,
    Joe

    1. I’m not even convinced at this point of t needs to be at 50%, that’s was something picked after people kept asking about it…

  3. So I’m a little skeptical of your claim that lagering itself is “mostly a function of the inability to control environmental temperature” and that it is really only clarity that occurs during the lagering phase. Have you done any research into the chemistry of lagering? What does the science say? Do you know for certain that there no other significant chemical changes that occur from long-term cold storage that might have an effect on flavour? I’m honestly asking because I don’t know. But there might be a third option between “just clarity” and “something else that magically happens” that someone has studied.

    If lagering for long periods really is just for clarity, then why not brew a lager using your short fermentation schedule followed by fining with gelatin? Lager in under two weeks!

    1. I love this kind of questioning and completely welcome it! While I have researched it, regurgitating what others have said does little, hence my recommendation to try it out for yourself! $30 and a few hours of your time is nothing when the lesson learned is deemed so valuable. Cheers!

      1. I have to agree. There’s way too much dogma in classic brewing. Try it for yourself and see that what tastes best.

      2. Absolutely I’ll try it. Agree about the dogma. But in home brewing there’s also a lot of, “I do it, and I have never had any problems.” – which isn’t great evidence. Was just curious whether or not there are scientific papers on the chemistry of lagering. Greg Noonan, as far as I know, still recommends longer lagering times even with this method of fermentation.

        But I absolutely love the idea of no-lager lagers! Waited 6-months for a 1.090 Baltic Porter, and I hated every minute.

      3. Well, Greg died in 2009, but I do believe his standing recommendation was 1 week per each 2° Plate OG, which amounts to… a long time. I’ve looked for the science, I’ve read Noonan and translations of Narziss, and I simply can’t find a truly good reason for lagering other than the precipitation and dropping out of particulates.

        I agree that “I do it and I have never had any problems” isn’t the best evidence, though I’m not sure it’s any worse than “I read it somewhere and never tested it for myself, and I have never had any problems.” 🙂

      4. The original reason for long lagering, apart from clarification, was to achieve saturation of the beer with CO2 by the fermentation of the remaining extract at very low temperatures – around 0°C. At this T°C, lager yeast can still ferment, but very slowly. That’s why it took months to get the beer finished – clear and sparkling. The czech/german brewers actually did the opposite of Marshall’s method (and actually still do in some czech breweries, PU as a reference), which is quite ironic – they progressively lower the T°C when 50% attenuation is achieved, to be sure there is some extract left for the yeast to ferment and due to increased solubility of CO2 at 0°C, to make the beer sparkling. That’s how I understand lagering. Does it make sense to you ?

    2. Honestly, with this method, the lager will taste pretty awesome as soon as you keg it. It will be cloudy and not fully smooth and rounded, but it just gets better for a few weeks to months. It should be perfectly clear within a month and tasting very rounded and great.

      1. With this method, I’m kegging crystal clear beer by 3 weeks and drinking it 3-4 days later… keg is often kicked within 6 weeks of being brewed.

  4. This might be a dumb question, but for the step 2 warm up do you keep your temp within the idea range for the yeast versus the temp you are recommending?

  5. Have you had any experience brewing a German Pils with Saflager S-23? Wondering how it compares to Saflager 34/70. Thanks

  6. Thanks for this…this will be a helpful resource as I try this method on a Bo Pils that I need to be pouring at an event with my club in 6 weeks. A few fellow members say it can’t be done….Tasty tells me I could do it twice with that much time. Cheers and thanks for your research. BTW, great job on The Session!

    1. Thanks! To be honest, I started doing this method before (1) I’d heard about Tasty’s approach and (2) I’d fermented with WLP800 and 34/70 warm. I’ve since successfully turned lagers around quicker than 3 weeks AND I’m becoming more convinced they don’t require such stringently cool fermentation temps. I’ll need more results before I completely jump ship… 🙂

      1. How many lagers have you fermented warm with 34/70, wlp800? they all turned out as expected? i’d like to try it too. did you use a lager pitch rate every time

      2. 1 with 800 (that was the Ferm Temp Pt. 3), it came out indistinguishable from the cool fermented BoPils.

        2 with 34/70, 1 of which was Ferm Temp Pt. 4 and the other is an xBmt I’m currently collecting data on (ferm temp isn’t variable), both were crisp and clean with no noted off-flavors.

  7. I brewed a Bohemian Pilsner 12 days ago. In the process of raising temps for the Diacetyl rest. I was going to follow your process however I would prefer to bottle before the lager phrase.
    Have you tried that process? if not, do you have an opinion on the affects on carbonation when bottling prior to lagering?

    1. I haven’t, but I’ve heard from quite a few people who bottle condition using this method, though most cold crash (“lager”), fine with gelatin, then bottle and place them in a warm environment to carbonate before chilling and drinking.

  8. Lets say I cold crash, fine with gelatin, bottle then place in a warm environment for 2-3 weeks would I then Lager after that for a month before drinking?

    1. The purpose of lagering, as far as I can tell, is to give particulates time to drop out of the beer. If it’s carbonated and clear, I think it’s done.

      If you like aged lager beer, let it lager longer, it’s up to you!

  9. Lager brewing time can be a consideration for homebrewers but the it is even a bigger consideration for commercial brewers since time = money. Are there any commercial brewers who produce lager that are ready to drink in 20 days?

      1. Given the financial pressures on commercial breweries like the larger lager breweries (e.g., BMC breweries, larger regional breweries like Yuengling, etc.) I would think that they would be extremely and strongly motivated to get product (lager beers) out the door as quickly as possible. I am perplexed on why they would not implement a quick lager production method.

      2. Jack Horzempa on March 16, 2016 at 3:13 pm
        “Given the financial pressures on commercial breweries like the larger lager breweries (e.g., BMC breweries, larger regional breweries like Yuengling, etc.) I would think that they would be extremely and strongly motivated to get product (lager beers) out the door as quickly as possible. I am perplexed on why they would not implement a quick lager production method.”

        They have, and do.

        They get beer out twice as fast as a hundred (or so) years ago. Beechwood was for faster lagering, boil technology for better isomerization, hoping technology, high gravity brewing and post cold side dilution, development of proprietary grain and yeast, pressurized ferments… all for speed and efficiency. They get beer out in 21 or so days – depending on what you read (some say 28 day).

  10. I had a question about bottling after using this method. After I cold crash the beer, what temperature do i use to plug into a priming calculator? If the beer itself will be 31-32F should I then use that as the temperature I plug into the calculator or do I use the temperature that the bottles will be carbonated at which will be around 70F? My plan was to bottle at 32F then set my temp control to 70F to allow for carbonation. I just don’t want to mess up my priming sugar amount since the calculator I’ll be using suggests way different amounts of corn sugar additions on a 32 degrees beer vs a 70 degrees beer.

      1. Ok so bottle at 32 using that for my calculator and then just set the ambient to 70? Thanks for the reply.

  11. This message is directed to Malcolm Frazier (for some reason a reply function does not exist under his post).

    My understanding of Marshall’s ramp down phase is: “Allow the beer to remain at this temp for 3-5 days,..”

    Can you please provide specific examples of larger lager breweries (e.g., BMC breweries, regional lager breweries, etc.) that lager their beers for that duration (i.e., 3-5 days) and then package?

    Cheers!

  12. What an interesting article. I just stumbled in to it after watching your video where you tried a guys first pilsner.

    Without hearing about this method I’ve been doing it for sometime after I observed a rush job bock of mine coming out quite fine and doing well in a competition. After that I thought what the hell and tried it again with good results on German pils and lagers. So I’ve done it since. Definitely beats the hell out of tying up chest freezer space down here in Louisiana.

    1. Hey Jack H,

      Per your post – “Can you please provide specific examples of larger lager breweries (e.g., BMC breweries, regional lager breweries, etc.) that lager their beers for that duration (i.e., 3-5 days) and then package?”

      I certainly cannot say I know that no one does that, and don’t claim any BMC brewer does.

      From my outsider knowledge, and from what they tell you on tours, Bud (and others are similar) ferment for 7-10 ish days, lager for 14 ish days. And are in the package in about 28 ish days. We’ll say everything is +/ – 3 days on that.

      1. I took a tour of Spoetzl (Shiner) brewery a few years ago. I asked about the lagering time but I was informed that the total time for producing Shiner Bock was 1 month (30 days). I can only speculate about primary fermentation time vs. lagering but I am 100% sure that the lagering time is greater than 3-5 day +/- 3 days. Why would a commercial brewery like Spoetzl spend so much money in terms of energy cost and tank time to produce this beer over 30 days if they could obtain the same results producing this beer over 14 – 21 days? As I am sure you can understand this whole concept that you can properly produce a lager beer in a timeframe much less than 28-30 days but commercial breweries are willing to spend a lot of money (energy and time) to produce beer at a longer duration is quite vexing.

        Cheers!

      2. Not a big fan of Shiner here, but my assumption is its either a matter of scale OR there abiding by convention without having tested anything else out. I really don’t know.

      3. Whether you are fan of a particular brewery’s beer is immaterial to the discussion. If a business can save money (energy costs and time which equals money) why wouldn’t they make the business decision to adopt a quicker brewing process to both save money and achieve commensurate results. This is not that hard of a discussion topic to understand, is it?

      4. why wouldn’t a brewery with mediocre beer make better beer whether they lager 6 years or 6 days? obviously they only want to be mediocre and enough people buy it.

  13. John H,

    “This is not that hard of a discussion topic to understand, is it?”

    Come on, man. Play nice. Not groovy.

    I certainly cannot say why they do it, what their reasoning or limitations are. Maybe THEY cannot make the product they prefer, with their ingredients and equipment, without the full 30 day cycle. If they like the flavor profile of their yeast and they are not willing to risk the change to a more temp tolerant strain such as 34/70 – then perhaps (more conjecture) they are rehashing what has worked for them. I made a beer at a commercial brewery that most people accepted as a lager but it was made with a huge pitch of 001 and fermented about 60F. Was it the best example of a lager? Perhaps not. A German lager? Even less likely so. I don’t know, but it was tasty.

    Funny thing to me is….why take 30 days to make Shiner Bock (for example)? Could make a caramel toffee low ester ale in half that time and use the same labels. .

  14. My name is Jack not John.

    There is really no need to insult Spoetzl Brewery here with your posts. Quality of beer is totally a subjective matter.

    I attempted to have an intelligent discussion about brewing process here but apparently this website is not suited for this type of discussion?

    I really wish that Marshall Schott would be willing to discuss his posts here but apparently not is something he is willing to do?

    A very disappointing website.

    1. Jack, let me explain my snarky replies to your post. Here is the point. You want to know why Shiner bock doesn’t take more time to turn into finished product. Why don’t you ask the brewer if he/she has done tests to try to decrease production time? If not, then it is just because they don’t care enough to test it. If they have tested it, then they don’t get what “they want” with less time. Maybe they can tell you more about it.

      Now, my point is the following. It’s really not that hard to understand. Why do you care how long it takes Spoetzl to make their fine lagers if the end product is judged by most to be of mediocre quality or shall we say that it is not a prime example of the style? I would argue that it is not subjective, and it has been judged by ratebeer or any other quality tasting site to be inferior. Is it not valid to ask the following: If I want to decide if a process is important, maybe I should be asking breweries that are making a product that is judged to at least be a great example of the style? Second, I don’t care what the brewery does. If the process works well and makes delicious beer, then it is irrelevant. Why don’t you try the process and test it for yourself instead of being so concerned about what a mediocre brewery does?

      Let’s be really honest here. How many people want to emulate the great Shiner products? it IS relevant.

    2. More than happy to discuss here… I thought my prior response was sufficient, and I certainly meant no insult by expressing my opinion that their beer isn’t that great, sorry if it came across that way.

  15. Oops, Sorry about that Jack.

    I think I was moderately intelligent in my response.

    I didn’t insult Spoetzl, they are a successful brewery. I said their beer, in particular the Bock, has notes of caramel and toffee. Do you feel it does not? Nor does it have strong lager like character other than a clean fermentation. So, with those characteristics, I’m saying it may not need to be lagered for 30 (or so) days and still be similar enough for the drinking public. And as per above, I cannot say that with certainty… it MAY not.

    Sorry about the Jack John swap. I was going back and forth with my friend Jack, who funny enough goes named John but goes by Jack… and it’s hard to scroll on my phone.

  16. As a point of clarification Spoetzl (Shiner) Brewery produces lagers other than Shiner Bock. For example they produce a Schwarzbier they label as Bohemian Black Lager which is of high quality from a craft beer perspective.

    The topic of commercial lager brewing process is not just confined to Spoetzl; I did mention other brewery names in prior posts. Hopefully I will not be reading replies like: Budweiser sucks or…

    From my perspective this discussion appears to be played out.

    Maybe I will have better luck next time.

  17. I am not a Budweiser (or BMC, InBev) sucks guy. I often defend their products, QA, and some of their efforts and research that benefit the industry as a whole. Then, from the other side of my face, I lambaste them for their unscrupulous predatory biz practices, and their underhandedness when pressing for laws sympathetic to their causes but restrictive to smaller brewers and competition.

    I know ALL about their beer line up, and that is why I wrote “ShinerBock, for example”… or “in particular their bock”.

    I used to work in Texas, Both northern, DFW and surrounding, and southern, Houston, and Bay City, for months and months at a time. Their products were everywhere – including gas stations which was great to see after moving to PA with their archaic alcohol laws which prohibit such a practice – the are essentially the Texas version of our Yuengling.

      1. I just made a one yesterday using this method. I used 2 packs of 34/70 with a OG of 1.045 was that a overkill or would one done the trick?

      2. On the ramp down do you attach the probe to the carboy again or just let it read ambient temperature?

  18. So I brewed a 1.060 helles bock with this method, and it definitely fermented in the specified time. It’s just clearing now with gelatin. I force carbonated a litre to sample. While there are no noticeable off flavours, it definitely isn’t as clean as my other lagers. I used WYeast’s Bavarian lager yeast, and I get some fruity lager esters. I’m not sure if WY2206 is supposed to be super clean or if this is normal for that yeast (it’s the one recommended for Helles Bock). I will have to try the fast method again, but so far I think it didn’t work well for me.

    I use a conical fermenter. I pitched at 45F, then free rise up to 49-50F, where it sat until it was at 1.026 (more than 50% attenuation). I then set the conical to 65F for 2 days, then 68F for another 4 days (so 6 day diacetyl rest). A force-diacetyl test at 4 days showed that there were pretty high diacetyl precursors in the beer, so I let it rest for more. I think that cleaned it up.

    I haven’t been able to test the ‘no lagering’ part of the method yet. I kegged the beer and hit it with gelatin, so we’ll see. I am also going to enter this in a local competition to see what BJCP judges have to say. (I have won a bunch of medals, including a bronze for my Baltic porter, so I am not a terrible brewer.)

    So, for me, I’m not sure this method works as far as getting a super clean beer. I’ll have to try again.

  19. I think one of the keys to this method is to make sure you pitch enough yeast. The 34/70 yeast also works well because it is generally very clean and there is no as much for the yeast to clean up. I use it for all lagers now. I did a 1.080 doppelbock in 8 weeks (I let it lager a bit before bottling) and it has placed in the 3 competitions I’ve entered it in. A first a 2 thirds.

    1. I agree, though I would contend that “enough” is up for debate. I regularly pitch a single pack of 34/70 into cool fermented lagers up to 1.055 OG and have no issues with attenuation or off-flavors.

  20. Augh! I’m too impatient! Can’t stand having my fermentation chamber blocking pipeline for 3+ weeks. I’m currently in day 2 of 3 of the diacetyl rest for a Helles. I’ve just adjusted my Black Box to cold crash ramp over 72 hours, instead of 168. I really, really wanna brew next weekend and figure I can let it lager in keg after fining. IYHO, will I regret this change?

  21. I want to produce a kellerbier style (ABV 5%) which seems to me to be a bit like English Cask Ale in principle.

    Can I ferment as described then cask and prime the beer as I would English ale? I don’t need/want a lot of fizz and some cloudiness is probably acceptable, so I wouldn’t use isinglass or gelatine.

    I would serve at English temperatures of about 11-12 C (about 53F) under gravity, straight from the tap of the cask with no CO2 pressure (NOT a beer engine!) and hope to be drinking within 3-4 weeks.

    Is this a stupid idea? If not then I’m going to give it a try this weekend.

    1. I’m not a huge fan of cask ale, personally, but I certainly don’t think this is a stupid idea. The only way to know is to try it for yourself, I say go for it!

      1. I usually will do a 2 liter starter with a fresh pack of 34/70. Have had great success with Wyeast. Just carbed a Vienna lager and German pils both brewed on 3/24/16. I is 4/23/16 and both are fantastic. Very clean fermentations. Will be bottling for competition tomorrow.

    2. I have a little experience of what you plan on doing. I like English bitters and ideally served at typical UK pub cellar temperature (12-13c), with very low carbonation and hand pumped. I tried using a camp shower bag connected to a campervan water hand pump to pump the beer out. The idea being it would not be replacing the space with air as in a typical cask setup but would instead deflate the bag as the volume of beer reduced. It worked ok and was a nice low cost approach but the beer still spoiled much quicker than when I keg and refridgerate. Cask ales work best in an environment where they are tapped and consumed in a fairly short period of time, ie. a pub. I just dont drink enough bitter and I cant convince my NZ mates to drink ‘warm beer’.

      I considered trying the home made keg cask approach with an inverted keg and using the gas in connector to attach the tap and only topping up with a little co2 on occasion to prevent the vacuum from stopping beer flow. That may have overcome the oxygenation spoilage I experienced with my simple camp shower and hand pump setup but I havent given it a go yet.

      Good luck in your quest.

  22. Pro brewer here. Lagering times in large commercial breweries vary greatly. The “quick lagering” technique described here would be a moderately fast process by commercial standards – cool primary (9-12 C), warm diacetyl rest (I wouldn’t bother stepping personally), and crash cool once diacetyl has been mopped up. Once the beer hits -1 it’s ready to filter and package. Depending on OG and yeast strain, this could be from 10 days to 3 weeks. Usually the diacetyl rest starts when the fermentation has reached 50-70% of the total expected attenuation.

    A faster version would be to primary at 18 – 20 C, and simply monitor diacetyl and crash cool once at spec. This technique is used for at least one very well known UK lager brand.

    How fast you can go is largely governed by your yeast strain. If your yeast ferments cleanly at higher temps, and mops up diacetyl quickly, it is possible to produce commercially acceptable lager in a week, grain to glass. The only thing that would slow things down for the home brewer would be using finings instead of filtering. Also, without a GC to measure diacetyl it’s best to err on the side of caution.

    Some yeast strains simply cannot be rushed without negatively affecting the flavour profile, hence the discrepancies between production times between brewers… If your yeast is estery at higher temps and slow to reduce diacetyl, you just have to be patient.

    Flavour definitely changes during lagering. This is much more noticeable for higher OG beers, so long lagering makes more sense for these. For standard strength beers, flavour will actually deteriorate if lagering goes on for too long.

    1. Awesome info.! Thanks! It would appear that W-34/70 could be a candidate for some pretty extreme rushing, based on these exbeeriments and my personal experience with it.

  23. Could you please expound on the topic of flavor degradation if you lager ‘too long’ for a moderate gravity lager. What exactly is happening here? Is this yeast strain dependent?

  24. I’d love to know who the other ‘couple of dudes’ were because this exactly mirrors my method of making lagers since around 2008 – still doing it too, dude.

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