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El Modelo de Mayo and Lagering

I was considering purchasing the limited edition El Modelo de Mayo beer kit when I noticed the instructions include this being a lager based fermentation. Having not ever done a lager, I wanted to ask some thoughts on how to control temperature while lagering. I see that you can purchase an actual thermostat controller that you simply plug your small beer fridge into. The cost was roughly $60. Any thoughts or suggestions?

I’ve got an analog controller for a chest freezer that I use for lagering that works well. It’s a johnsons controls from Norther Brewer. A controller is going to be your most accurate way of lagering.

Remember that lagers also require twice as much yeast. If you get the liquid yeast you are going to want to make a starter (or two) to get enough yeast to ferment. If you go dry, get two packs.

It says they have adjusted the recipe to be brewed as an Ale, a la California Common. There was an episode of BrewTV that Dawson discussed using the Wyeast Bohemian Lager yeast at Ale temps and said the beer came out phenomenal. I think this is a kit that is meant to be fermented in the low 60’s so you do not necessarily have t have total temp control to brew it. Just a cool spot in your house. It looked like they only gave the option to purchase it with the Wyeast as well. No dry yeast option (obviously you could buy the dry separately).

Of course you could Lager the beer if you have the correct setup. I was thinking about getting this as well but going the steam beer route…

@geerboggles, Yeah, I was just going off of the NB instructions listed for the kit. They actually have you lagering with the colder temps later in the fermenting process. Essentially everything I’ve read is that the Johnson Controls Temp Controller is the best buy to be accurate. I don’t want to dump the near $100 for the kit and controller at this point but it’s something I’ll do sooner than later. I’ll be interested to see how this brew turns out for the people that do purchase it. It looks pretty enticing.

[quote=“SlickRick”]They actually have you lagering with the colder temps later in the fermenting process. Essentially everything I’ve read is that the Johnson Controls Temp Controller is the best buy to be accurate.[/quote]What temp do they want you to use for lagering? I’ll just put the fermenter or keg in the fridge at ~32F for lagering, which doesn’t require a controller.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a cool place like my basement, you can get down to lager fermentation temperatures with a simple swamp chiller. Actual lagering (cold storage) is at just above freezing, and a standard refrigerator thermostat is good enough for that.

As they are advertising “We’ve tweaked this classic recipe so that it can be brewed as an ale - no lagering equipment required!” I am willing to bet that NB has two recipe instruction templates. One that goes with Ale yeasts & one that goes with Lager yeasts. Then they only have to fill in small areas with specialty grains, hops, etc…when a new recipe/kit is created.

If you plan on starting to lager often then it obviously will not hurt to get the temp control equipment but as I read it you do not need it for this beer and you will still get something great in the end.

A temp controller is a good thing to have if you are a pretty frequent brewer be it ales or lagers. I have one on my beater of a chest freezer I use for my fermentors. Mine is the 419 I bought from Amazon (same one sold here). There’s a cheaper DIY route that uses an aquarium temp controller sold through eBay if you don’t want to spend the $60 on the Johnson. I thought about the eBay controller for myself since it is a dual stage controller (heat and cold). Then the Johnson would be moved to my future kegerator. For now I have to use my current freezer for fermentation and serving.

If you can afford getting a temp controller along with that recipe kit, whether eBay or the Johnson, I would do it.

I’m a little confused on this too, the second fermentation is pretty straight-forward but the first one reads as “The optimum fermentation temperature for this beer is 45-68° F”

That’s a pretty big range, anyone smarter then myself recommend which end of that I should be on?

[quote=“USMCMatt”]I’m a little confused on this too, the second fermentation is pretty straight-forward but the first one reads as “The optimum fermentation temperature for this beer is 45-68° F”

That’s a pretty big range, anyone smarter then myself recommend which end of that I should be on?[/quote]

Always the cooler end of the range if you want a clean beer. If it is a style that requires the esters to achieve the flavor, go the higher end

[quote=“560sdl”][quote=“USMCMatt”]I’m a little confused on this too, the second fermentation is pretty straight-forward but the first one reads as “The optimum fermentation temperature for this beer is 45-68° F”

That’s a pretty big range, anyone smarter then myself recommend which end of that I should be on?[/quote]

Always the cooler end of the range if you want a clean beer. If it is a style that requires the esters to achieve the flavor, go the higher end[/quote]

I have a temp controlled fridge I’m using for the first time so you can see why I’m interested in doing this right :slight_smile: should I just stick it on say 50? Or maybe one week at 60 then the next to 50 seeing how I’m then dropping it down to 45 anyways? Or would that not make too much of a difference?

Do 10 days at 50, but if you see the fermentation rate subsiding you can ramp to 60F for a few days as a diacetyl rest. This is your typical lager fermentation.

[quote=“USMCMatt”][/quote]

I have a temp controlled fridge I’m using for the first time so you can see why I’m interested in doing this right :slight_smile: should I just stick it on say 50? Or maybe one week at 60 then the next to 50 seeing how I’m then dropping it down to 45 anyways? Or would that not make too much of a difference?[/quote]

I am certainly no expert, but I am very careful about my temps. For lagers, I set my ref to 48-50* and leave it for 3 weeks. I watch the beer temp to make sure it does not go over 52*. If it does at the peak of fermentation, I will drop a few degrees.

Do make this any harder than it has to be by constantly messing with temps. Start low and stay low and you will make great beer if you allow enough time. Lagers are much slower to ferment out that ales. Did you make a HUGE starter? I generally make at least a 1 gallon starter for lagers.

If you don’t do a diacetyl rest until after most of the fermentables are done, you might as well not do one. You don’t have to do one but as I understand it the major commercial lager producers do one.

Good stuff Tom, thank you for your reply.

My batch of El Modelo de Mayo has been in the primary fermenter (two weeks this Sat).

Planning on doing the diacetyl rest at around 68 for a few days – transfer to secondary – then start the lagering process.

This is my first shot at a lager – hoping it turns out well.
If so…should be a great Summer beer.

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