I brewed up my first lager this past weekend and I used 34/70 to ferment it. According to the data sheet on the Fermentis website, one can pitch the yeast in wort temp of 53-59F. I pitched it at the higher end around 59F and then dropped the temp to about 45F 8 hours later. I realize now I should have fermented at a slightly higher temp, like around 55F. What can I expect fermenting at 45F? When should I lower the temp to lager it and what temp is ideal and for how long? The process for lagers can be a little confusing for a newb and I’ve read a lot of different info.
45F is a little low so I’d raise it up just a little, but I’m sure the yeast are still doing their thing. May take a little extra time though. You can do a d-rest or not. You’ll get varying opinions on here, but I think the majority would say to keep the yeast at those lower temps 45-50F for around 14-21 days.
You’re going to get a lot of different answers if you want advice on fermenting schedules. What I do is…
Pitch around 45F and set my ferm fridge to 48F. Hold at 48F for 10 days or so.
Around the 10 day mark (depending on initial lag time) I start raising the temp 1-2 degrees per day.
Once it get up to around 64F (after raising the temp slowly over a 7-10 days) I let it sit for 2-3 days.
Then I drop it down to 35F to lager for as long as possible. I’d like to think 4 weeks is bare minimum for lagering, with several months giving the best results.
Hope this helps.
All right! Thanks for the info. Seems like I’m on a fairly good path so far. I’ll leave it at 45-50F another 2 weeks for sure. The d-rest, some say it is not necessary with 34/70 due to the low diacetyl produced? I could do one easily but if it isn’t necessary…I could skip it this time and do one next time for comparison.
I appreciate the detail on ferm schedule. The proprietor of my LHBS has a rather cavalier and “it’s only Beer you can’t screw it up!” attitude. I like to be a little more detailed.
Although it’s very tough to screw up a beer it is possible. I’m quickly approaching batch number 100 and I’ve had to dump 2. One I had a total brain fart and dumped WAY too much lemon and lime zest in a Wit I was experimenting with. Tasted like drinking Pledge. That was my first dump. My second… sadly was lager. Diacetyl bomb! I used my normal lager fermentation schedule so I’m not sure what went wrong. Which brings me to my point… it’s hard to mess up a beer, but if/when you do, you do NOT want it to be a lager. Lagers take too much time and care.
One tip, before you drop it down to lagering temps, take a taste. Make sure you don’t taste any diacetyl. If you do (popcorn butter, you’ll know if you taste it), raise the temp up into the 60’s and leave it sit for a day or two and taste again.
I haven’t had to dump one yet but this is only my 8th batch. My 2nd batch was a 1-gallon IPA which actually did have a bit of diacetyl when very young but cleared up eventually. I’m kind of glad it did as I was able to avoid it on subsequent 5-gallon batches. So far, I’m amazed at how good my beers have turned out. Thanks for the help and happy brewing!