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Ideal temp for lagering?

I didn’t want to hijack anyone else’s thread, but I have a question for the folks that do a lot of lagering… Is there a minimum ideal temp for lagering a beer? I’ve been using my cellar steps to lager a recent brew, usually it stays between 33-35F, but with the recent cold weather we’ve had here it’s dropped down to 28. Nothing is frozen, I assume because of the alcohol content, but is this too cold?

Since I don’t really make lagers, I’m not as familiar with the process. Is there anything going on with the yeast biologically at lagering temperatures? Is there any reason, as long as it isn’t frozen, that it would effect the process to have it below 32F?

your cellar seems ideal, IMO. you are pretty close to freezing your beer though - I think you want to keep it above 30df.

there are some theories out there that there is an inverse relationship between temp and lagering time - i.e. the beer may only need 2-4 weeks lagering at 38df, but 6-8 weeks at 32df (i’m just making these numbers up for illustration).

i personally lager at 38df because I cold condition my ales and lagers in the same chest freezer and this is a happy medium for me.

Hey, thanks for the feedback!

Since we got a little more snow, the outside door is nicely covered and it has been sitting at a comfortable 32.5F +/- 0.1F. I’ll keep my eye on it, but it sounds like this will work fine.

The average beer (4.5% abv) freezes at 26°. Blatz is right about the colder the temp the longer it takes. Although true its not by much. The reason is because the beer becomes thicker and makes things harder to settle out. With that said, more tannins, proteins, sediment, yeast, etc settle out the colder you get it. Find your happy medium. I will take 8 weeks at 32° rather then 6 weeks at 38°.

Colder temperatures are suppose to make the lagering take longer, but result in a smoother beer than if it is lagered at higher temperatures. Or so I’ve read, though I don’t know if that is actually true. I lager in a semi-controlled space that varies between 30 and 50F, depending on the weather, so I should know this but have never bothered to correlate results.

Just make sure to keep the beer above freezing temperature, which will vary based on alcohol content.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]Colder temperatures are suppose to make the lagering take longer, but result in a smoother beer than if it is lagered at higher temperatures. Or so I’ve read, though I don’t know if that is actually true. I lager in a semi-controlled space that varies between 30 and 50F, depending on the weather, so I should know this but have never bothered to correlate results.

Just make sure to keep the beer above freezing temperature, which will vary based on alcohol content.[/quote]

rebuilt… how long do you typically lager in that varying range? I could do this in my garage in the winter…freeing up my lager chest for controlling fermentation more accurately so this really interests me. Previously, I had ruled out lagering in the garage due to the variance in temps.

[quote=“dannyboy58”]
rebuilt… how long do you typically lager in that varying range? I could do this in my garage in the winter…freeing up my lager chest for controlling fermentation more accurately so this really interests me. Previously, I had ruled out lagering in the garage due to the variance in temps.[/quote]
Anywhere from a month to six months - it depends on what else I have on deck or when I plan on drinking it. I have to say I’m pretty sure I’d get more consistent results with better control, but you work with what you have.

I think I’ll give this a try RC. I’ve got a Vienna that’s just finishing up fermentation. I’ll raise the temp for a couple days for a D rest. I don’t have an available keg nor enough room in the lager fridge for a carboy.

I’m thinking I’ll rack it to a glass carboy to get it off the yeast, pump a little CO2 in there to protect it from oxidation and set it in the garage until I’m ready to keg it. I should get it off the yeast right?, asks the lazy man…

Our temperatures tend to swing from low 30s to high 40s in the winter with brief colder periods and the occasional day in the 50s. The concrete floor in the garage should help keep a more constant temp I would think.

Danny, the thermal mass of the beer is going to help substantially when it comes to the minor temp swings from mid 30° to low 40°. So if you can get a stretch of those temps you should be good.

The previous 2 years I have lagered out in my cold garage in swamp coolers for the thermal mass effect. I did get some skim ice on the surface of the water, but the beers never froze. Vienna, a couple Oktoberfests, a Cascadian Dark Lager, and a Dopplebock- lagered from between 1 month to 3 months. All turned out great.

Agree. I put my lagering beer inside a Styrofoam box, which really cuts down on the swings. Like I said, my system seems to usually work. I do give it a long primary (which includes a temperature raise as fermentation slows - call it a d-rest or just an encouragement for the yeast to finish up completely) before racking it to a keg and leaving it to lager.

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