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Lagering German Beers

Hello Everyone,

I currently have a Kolsch and Vienna Lager going in my basement and am trying to decide how long to lager them after primary fermentation. A quick internet search yielded a variety of answers (although not necessarily for these two particular styles):

4 weeks
2 months
1 week per degree Plato
1 week per 0.008 of gravity
1 day for every 1000th OG

Apparently, I’m on German kick since I’m also looking at brewing a German Pils and a Munich Helles in the near future (getting ready for summer!), and so I’m wondering what people here do for lagering times for a German lager in the 1.045-1.055 range – what do YOU do?

I’m no lager pro (yet) but in the past I’ve lagered for 4 weeks and then tapped the keg. It’s always been pretty good right away, but definitely improves with extended lagering. So, I’d say lager for a minimum of 4 weeks up to as long as you can hold off.

I concur, My pils see a minimum of 30 days and usually improve even more over the next 30 days.
Amber lagers I go a minimum of 90 days and typically they round out even more if closer to 4 months or so. Bocks I would say no less than 6 months.

Many hurry in the name of keeping beer fresh/ impatience. When it comes to lagers patience is really a virtue.

This: 1 week per degree Plato/ 0.008 of SG is typically sound advice.

I agree with both of the above posters, though I should add that it can also depend on the beer. I brewed a Helles and a Shwatzbier at the end of November, and racked them to kegs for lagering on Christmas. A small taste surprised me; the Shwarzbier was already decent. The Helles clearly needed more time, as expected. But I’ll try to hold off until at least the end of this month before taping either.

I used to tap at 30 days but I found the last pint was the best. Now, my average strength lagers go for a minimum 2 months. A aged a Vienna lager for 4 months last spring at it was freakin’ awesome.

Most of my lagers are low to medium gravity. I’ll give them anywhere from 4-8 weeks. I’ve a helles I just tapped on Friday that lagered for 4 weeks at about 38F. It’s crystal clear and amazing tasting. I have a Bo Pils fermenting now, been in the primary for 3 weeks, one and half of those at about 60F. I’ll let that one lager for probably 6 weeks. OG was slightly high at 1.056, gravity right now is sitting at 1.015, which is about right for Bo Pils. Maybe needs to come down another point or 2. But it’ll be good.

Planning to brew a maibock with the yeast from the pilsner. Will likely lager that one for 12 weeks at least to be tapped in May.

IME after 4-6 weeks, you’ll have a very good lager and one to be proud of. After 3-6 months, you’ll have a better lager. After 1 year, you’ll have a better better-lager.

Time really makes lagers better but you can be chasing the calendar forever in search of the perfect lager. Pick a time that works for you, through trial and error, and enjoy.

:cheers:

The answer is easy…until they taste like they’re ready to drink! There’s no single amount of time. Use your tastebuds, not your calendar!

Denny’s point is right on, but it seems pretty unanimous… 4 weeks minimum, but the longer the better. I agree completely. My 2012 Oktoberfest was the best lager I ever made and it sat at 35F for 3 months. I could not have been happier.

I’m devoting my chest freezer for lagering kegs until spring/summer. My beer cellar is perfect right now for fermenting lagers.

Thanks to everyone for their insight! Since I like to plan ahead for when my beers will be ready to drink, I’m thinking I’ll generally count on 2-3 months for lagering. I’ve recently moved to kegging and it looks like lagering will be a much simpler and more efficient process now that I can store and serve from the same vessel.

Greg - my basement is sitting at an even 50* right now, so the weather is great for fermenting lagers here, too. On the other hand, it was -19 when I warmed up the car this morning, so I’m glad I don’t have another brew day planned until next month!

I agree with the folks above, but as a practical matter, I frequently ferment for a month, then rack to keg and serve at 60 days from brewing. Typically, more time is better, but many are pretty good at 30 days of lagering at 34F (with carb applied for the first 2 weeks).

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