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A shorter process?

Gang: We’re having a discussion about Dortmunder[/url] (I know it started as a Helles thread and I derailed it) over in the recipe forum and for kicks, I was listening to the [url=http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/980]Brewing Network’s show
http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=120546
(recorded live at NHC in Philly last year) on Dortmunder and during the second half of the show, Jamil and Tasty start talking about a shortened lager process where someone had 25-30 gallons of wort and fermented them on different schedules and they said that they found that you could make a lager in 2 weeks (from grain to glass) and that they compared the 2-week version to the others that went 5 or 6 weeks and many preferred the 2-week version. Something about starting at 55° until 50% done, then 58° until 75% done and then 60+° for the rest of the time and when it was done, force carb it and drink it. They didn’t really go into a lot more detail than that because this was not a “lager process” show… it was a Dortmunder show. But they also said something like “a 4-week long fermentation is never a good thing” and I admit that I have left lagers in primary that long or close to it. Anyone have any experience with this or want to poke holes in it? I found it pretty interesting. Oh… and no mention of a “lager phase” in any of this. Ferment for 2 weeks, force carb and drink.

Also… I listened to the rest of this and towards the end, someone asks why someone would ferment a lager over such a long time and store it, etc. and Jamil basically said that this is traditionally the way the Germans made beer (fermenting in the winter and storing the lager in caves with ice cut from the river) and that it was tradition… but not really necessary. This is the first time I have ever heard anyone say that a lager doesn’t need any amount of cold storage after it’s fermented. My mind is blown. Thoughts?

[quote=“Ken Lenard”] they said that they found that you could make a lager in 2 weeks (from grain to glass) and that they compared the 2-week version to the others that went 5 or 6 weeks and many preferred the 2-week version. Something about starting at 55° until 50% done, then 58° until 75% done and then 60+° for the rest of the time and when it was done, force carb it and drink it. They didn’t really go into a lot more detail than that because this was not a “lager process” show… it was a Dortmunder show. But they also said something like “a 4-week long fermentation is never a good thing” and I admit that I have left lagers in primary that long or close to it. Anyone have any experience with this or want to poke holes in it? I found it pretty interesting. Oh… and no mention of a “lager phase” in any of this. Ferment for 2 weeks, force carb and drink.

Also… I listened to the rest of this and towards the end, someone asks why someone would ferment a lager over such a long time and store it, etc. and Jamil basically said that this is traditionally the way the Germans made beer (fermenting in the winter and storing the lager in caves with ice cut from the river) and that it was tradition… but not really necessary. This is the first time I have ever heard anyone say that a lager doesn’t need any amount of cold storage after it’s fermented. My mind is blown. Thoughts?[/quote]

Hey Anheuser-Busch turns out Budweiser in 21 days. Can you homebrew lager in two weeks? My own experience says no, at least not one I’d prefer to drink. But who am I to disagree with a radio show? :roll:

The “four week long fermentation is never a good thing” sounds like BS to me. Aren’t these some of the same people who have been saying to leave beer in the primary for a longer time and delete a secondary fermentation? After only two weeks any homebrewed lager I’ve experienced is still likely to have levels of sulphur along with suspended yeasts, etc that I’m not interested in putting in my drinking glass.

I would not be willing to chance 18 pounds of German malt along with my time and hard work without some definitive, empirical evidence. Ken, if you brew one like this I’d be interested in your feedback. :cheers:

I was hoping you’d jump in here.

I think the premise was that the yeast is pitched at a wort temp of 55° (already too warm by my standards) and left that way for 50% of the fermentation, then to 58° until you reach 75% and then 60 or over for the last 25%. What they’re suggesting is that some of the flavors you might get from a longer & colder primary won’t form here because the warmer temps would clean them up faster. I will say this… I have fermented a lager and gotten it to secondary within 2 weeks and possibly into a keg within a week after that and after 2 days of force carbing it may end up in the draft fridge on tap and you know what? It was pretty good with no long-term lagering. I hear what you’re saying about “a radio show” and all of that but these are not just two dingles off the street… it’s Jamil and Mike McDole so are they trying to steer homebrewers into making mediocre lager beer? :o

hey ken, sounds like maybe you might want to be the guinea pig and let us all know how it works out. :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s two votes, Ken. :wink:

I heard that same show, and was wondering how much they’d had to drink…

But to quote another guy who didn’t just walk in off the street, “I let the beer tell me when it’s done.”

I’ve never used that specific fermentation schedule - almost always ferment lagers around 45 - 50 at least to start - but it’s true, I’ve had ofests, schwarzezzz, and even baltic porters that were awesome straight out of the primary in just a few weeks. But I don’t, and wouldn’t want, to have to depend on that. I’ve also tried to rush some session lager starter-beers in the upper 50s, and they tasted like schmidt. Had to dump one.

Consistent success with this is possibly very yeast (and other processes-not-described) dependent.

Looking forward to your test results too though! As my fermenting, lagering, and serving fridge are all one and the same, it can cause hardships…

Ken,

I have gone from pot to glass in 6weeks with your HRR lager. TBH, it was an accident. Two years ago I had two carboys in the fridge and I’d forgotten which lager was HRR and which was mex-amber. So, thinking I was kegging the mex-amber, I actually kegged the HRR. It was awesome!! In fact, it was a good as the previous HRR batch that had a 4 week primary and a 8 week secondary.

Since then, I’ve not really worried about long lagering periods for my lagers. Of late, a 3 & 3 or 3 & 4 is about the norm as it takes me about 6-8 weeks to drain a keg and make room for the next lager that’s on-deck. So far, all have been great.

“2 weeks”, however, is just crazy-talk. :wink:

bob

I just pitched 10 gallons of amber lager last night, gonna try half the quick way and the other the old way.

I think its relevant here to discuss/understand exactly what is happening during the lagering process.

And don’t even think about typing “The beer rounds out” or “develops”, or “cleans up” or any of that BS. If someone can describe what is happening at a molecular (or at least flavor compound) level, go ahead and type.

My understanding of the process is this. The active phases of fermentation (including growth, active, and flocculation (may have another name…dormant?)) are when the yeast are actually working on the sugars and other compounds (including diacetyl).

“Lagering” as I understand it, is really just a way to drop out tannins/polyphenols. To me, this is more relevant with darker lagers (schwarz, baltic, viennas, etc.) than light lagers, because they have more tannins dissolved from the dark malts. Yes, flavors can mascerate as well, but there isn’t any oxidation or esterification that is happening (as is with long-term cellaring of beer/wine/etc.) at near-freezing temps.

I don’t make a lot of lagers, but I will say that the ones I have made have tasted pretty stinkin good after primary. Jamil and Tasty continually say that if you have a good strong primary fermentation, (as would likely be the case with the stepped ferment schedule detailed), extensive cold-conditioning is not necessary.

Finally, I hope nobody takes offense to this, but I will trust multiple Ninkasi/NHC winners, writers, and professional brewers over a forum :mrgreen:

Well, I’ll be honest… my lagers all follow the same (ish) schedule and it goes like this… cool the wort to 45-50, oxygenate with pure O2 and pitch the yeast and ferment in a fridge set to 48-50°. I leave it there almost always for 2 weeks or so. Sometimes it’s 10 days, other times it’s 20+ days. I take it out of the fridge and leave it on my basement floor where the temp will climb to between 60° and maybe 68° depending on the time of year. I will leave it there sometimes for 2-3 days or as long as a week until I brew again and use the yeast at the bottom of that primary. Then it goes to a secondary on my cool basement floor where it will sit for another couple of weeks until a keg opens up. Then it will get kegged, chilled and carbed and sit for MORE time (cold) until a tap opens up. This is probably sounding very “patient”, which it is. But the patient part of the process is usually NOT the cold storage time. Once it’s cold, kegged and carbed, it might come to the taps quickly. I generally skip over lagers when I bring kegs to the taps with the thought that they should sit longer. I might take an ale or maybe a lager that has been in the fridge longer. But I don’t futz with the fermentation temp during primary… it’s constant thoughout.

I think 2 weeks grain to glass is a bit quick. I’d be more inclined to treat lagers more like ales instead. 2 weeks primary and another week cold and carbonating.
But having said that, my lager schedule is typically 2 weeks primary, 2 days to a week d-rest, then keg and lager for 4 weeks. I like my lagers brilliantly clear so I give them time. And I don’t like using clarifiers.
I’ve been thinking that for some of my ales I may even be drinking them too young. Oatmeal stouts especially.

See I do an increasing ferment temp on every beer I do, lager or ale. Lagers go from 48-50 up to 55-58 after 10-14 days, ales go from 62-66* to 70-72* after 4-6 days, both gradually in some cases. I’m of the school of thought that once the yeast does its initial thing, raising the temp up helps to facilitate ‘clean up’. We may be brewing a schwarz or even a pils soon on the 1/2 bbl system. Maybe we keg/carb one third of it early, and lager the rest.

Mt schedule is pretty much traditional about the same as beersk. On my next batch I think I’ll try 2 week fermentation 1 week cold crash then straight to keg and carb. If I don’t like it I can always let it sit and lager for a few weeks and try tasting again.

Ken, my sched sounds like yours, and this is just off the uneducated top of my head, but since we are talking German history here, would the improvements to our highly mod malts today have anything to do with being able to speed things up? Just a question.

I brought this up on another board and someone else mentioned just that… modern malts and practices might not require the techniques of history. I can’t say this for sure but it’s very interesting that the whole thing comes down to the fact that “this is what the Germans did so just keep doing that”. Someone else mentioned that it could be that they’re using this 2 week schedule and before it goes to the keg, they filter it. If that were the case, I could see it being beneficial to speeding up the process. The bottom line is that I would rarely, if ever, want to make a lager and be drinking it two weeks later. I brew enough that I almost always have a line of beers slowly making their way to the taps. But what WOULD come into play is if I had a lager that was recently kegged and had only sat in the keg fridge for a couple days or a week and I wanted to bring that beer to the taps earlier (let’s say it’s a gold lager and my blow-dried brother-in-law is coming over and he only drinks pale lagers)… would I be able to serve that beer and if so, would it be “young” or would it be fresh & good? Dunno.

Imagine if they thought that way at Nuremberg.

Imagine if they thought that way at Nuremberg.[/quote]

too soon :wink:

It seems to me based on either tasting other’s stuff or my own, that the better stuff was aged longer.
I would have to taste it to believe it, not saying it can’t be true. Something else today I thought that
all the old processes and ingredients from that ancient time, there’s no one alive now to taste test the difference between the two. Thanks Ken.

The point about using modern malts - I’m of the opinion that decoctions aren’t necessary because the malts we use today are well modified. I typically do hochkurz step mashes but I question even if that has any benefits.
Either way, I think most beer is ready as soon as it clears. Which usually takes 3 to 4 weeks. I don’t like forcing it with gelatin. Gross.

I can’t necessarily say that I have a whole lot of scientific evidence to bring to the table on this one. But I have to say that with Germans being as world-renowned as they are for perfecting processes and obsessing over efficiency, I’m pretty darn sure they would have long ago moved away from long-term lagering if they thought it was unnecessary or unhelpful. And just let me beat any naysayers to the punch and say that yes, I know, they are also renowned for being highly traditional people who don’t take kindly to throwing age-old customs out the window, either. But really, this is the 21st century, and if there was anyone in the world who would have found a way to make a lager in 2 weeks that was indistinguishable from one that took 2 months to make, it would almost be certainly be them, I think. But who knows? Anything is possible, I guess. This is an interesting topic, but I doubt that this question will be settled conclusively any time soon.

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