Lager vs.ale fermentation

Do both types of beer ferment in a similar time frame, all ingredients, etc. being identical? I’m not talking about conditioning time just active fermentation.

No, lager fermentation is generally slower and less visible due to colder temps and bottom fermenting yeast.
However, I ferment most ales on the cool end so the active fermentation on them is also slower.

Using a fast lager ferment schedule, it can be done in about the same time as an ale. Maybe a bit longer, but pretty c;lose. I have a rye pils on tap now that was kegged 12 days after brewing and tastes fantastic.

Care to share the recipe Denny?

I think he’s referring to this method. Not really a recipe you are after, more a fermentation schedule that can be applied to a wide variety of styles/recipes. It was always thought and widely accepted that lagers simply took longer. As it turns out, you may be able to achieve similar results with some tweaks:

I do something similar (noted in his ‘alternate methods’ below each step, primarily relating to eliminating slow step-ups/step-downs in ferment temp), and have had solid results on different types of lagers.

I started a thread over on Stackexchange asking ‘what actually happens during lagering’. And no, “it rounds the beer out”, and “the beer comes together” were not acceptable answers. I never really got an answer.

Yep, use the method pietro mentioned. But I’d be happy to post my Rye Pils recipe if you’d like it.

That would be great, I am interested in the method and the recipe. Thanks Denny.

Thanks for the link, pietro.

A rye pils ? That’s really coloring outside the lines.

Here’s the recipe…

#489 Rye Pils

A ProMash Recipe Report

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.50 Wort Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.50
Anticipated OG: 1.052 Plato: 12.89
Anticipated SRM: 4.0
Anticipated IBU: 42.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Pre-Boil Amounts

Evaporation Rate: 1.50 Gallons Per Hour
Pre-Boil Wort Size: 7.75 Gal
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.037 SG 9.26 Plato


% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM

78.3 9.00 lbs. Pilsener Germany 1.038 2
21.7 2.50 lbs. Rye Malt America 1.030 4

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time

1.00 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfruh Pellet 5.40 7.6 First WH
0.70 oz. Magnum Pellet 12.40 35.1 90 min.
1.00 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfruh Pellet 5.40 0.0 0 min.


WYeast 2278 Czech Pils

Mash Schedule

Mash Name:

Total Grain Lbs: 11.50
Total Water Qts: 18.00 - Before Additional Infusions
Total Water Gal: 4.50 - Before Additional Infusions

Tun Thermal Mass: 0.13
Grain Temp: 65.00 F

                 Step   Rest   Start   Stop  Heat     Infuse   Infuse  Infuse

Step Name Time Time Temp Temp Type Temp Amount Ratio

sacc 0 90 148 148 Infuse 162 18.00 1.57

Total Water Qts: 18.00 - After Additional Infusions
Total Water Gal: 4.50 - After Additional Infusions
Total Mash Volume Gal: 5.42 - After Additional Infusions

All temperature measurements are degrees Fahrenheit.
All infusion amounts are in Quarts.
All infusion ratios are Quarts/Lbs.

Only if you’re trying to brew to style. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

I hear you. I add Munich to my pils

Any tasting notes on this one Denny? Looks really intriguing.

I think the widespread belief is that rye adds a ‘spiciness’ to beers but I’ve never really known what that means. Most rye beers I have had usually have another ingredient really defining the flavor profile (ie yeast in a roggenbier and hops in a RIPA), so the rye gets ‘lost’. Peeling away the yeast phenols in my roggenbier, i do get a heartier, richer malt flavor, but I still can’t really describe it (and it may have more to do with the other malts added).

So do I.

It does add some spiciness, but mainly mouthfeel and some earthy richness. TBH, the increased mouthfeel is kinda out of place for a pils, but I like it. AAMOF, at first I mistook it for diacetyl, but there was no flavor of diacetyl. Other than that, it’s pretty much my standard hoppy German pils recipe, kinda like Jever.

I get lagers in the keg in about the same timeframe as ales. Occasionally I’ll drink them as young as ales.

Both ales and lagers improve with cold conditioning right? Isn’t the biggest difference between ales and lagers in the cleaner fermentation of lager yeasts?

Then the long cold storage just “rounds the beer out”, and “the beer comes together” right @pietro? :laughing:

Yes! And you shouldn’t squeeze the grain bag because it extracts tannins!

Though a lot of folks on our favorite German Underground Brewing Society (including Kai) are espousing an actual fermentation that is happening during lagering…

Well, Bryan Rabe does claim he can taste tannins extracted just from the pressure of pulling a BIAB bag from the kettle… I dunno…guess my palate isn’t that developed?

I have seen a consistent drop of 1-2 points after lagering. I’m not convinced it’s fermentation as much as off gassing but those guys have much more experience than I.

Well Bryan is supposed to be a supertaster though, so he may very well be able to perceive the difference. I have made a respectable number of medaling/placing beers via BIAB though, and a great number more that friends and I have enjoyed thoroughly.

Wait, so if there an actual drop in gravity, how are you not convinced there is fermentation occurring?

I lager in kegs. My last reading before lagering is usually done by placing the hydrometer into the keg after the beer has been racked into it. So I figure it’s still got some CO2 in solution. Is that enough to account for 1-2 points?

That got me curious, so I looked up some data. The saturation point for CO2 in water (let’s assume beer is mostly water) is 1.7 grams per 1,000 grams of water at 20C, so it should have a specific gravity of 1.0017. If it all came out of solution, that would give you your 1.7 points of gravity drop. I’ve bottled some wines, though, that sat in secondary for about a year, and even after that amount of time there were some bubbles forming in the glass from residual CO2. So my assumption here (speak up if I’m wrong…) is that while it is possible to see a gravity drop from CO2 off-gassing, it isn’t going to happen to a noticeable degree within a standard lagering time-frame, especially since the beer will want to hold on to the CO2 longer when the beer is cold.