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Lagering in bottles?

A few folks on this forum have mentioned lagering in bottles. Two questions came to mind as I approach my next batch, a German pilsner:

  • Why is lagering in bottles better (or easier, potentially) than lagering in your fermenter?
  • Is there anything procedurally different, except for swapping a carboy for bottles during lagering?

Thanks for any help or clarification!

I think the preferred method is that lagering take place in “bulk”. So lagering in a secondary or a keg is popular. But it’s not always practical depending on your amount of cold storage space so there is nothing wrong with lagering in bottles. The principle is the same… ferment the beer near 50° and make sure that fermentation is done or close to done. Then allow the beer to warm up slightly (60-65° is common) for 2-3 days for a diacetyl rest. This process will clean up any unwanted flavors that may be produced during primary (sulfur-like, buttery, etc.) and at that point the beer can either be sent to keg or secondary and stored cold or it could be bottled, allowed to naturally carb at room temp and then stored cold. I have asked many brewers if they lager “flat” or lager “carbed” (which could apply to kegs or bottles) and I have gotten an even split… some rack to kegs & chill the beer flat while others carb the keg and lager it carbed and it appears to be good either way. Also… if you happen to store the beer cold and then bottle, there will probably still be enough yeast in suspension for natural carb to form. I have lagered beers at 35° for 6 weeks and did not add more yeast at bottling and the beer came out fine. Good luck & cheers.

As it is lagering, will pressure continue to build? I just tried my 2nd lager: primary for several weeks, then diacetyl rest for a few days, then into keg. I hit the keg with 10-15 psi to seal the lid and now will have it in my fridge (not hooked up to CO2) for several weeks at 35F. Will I need to relieve pressure every so often? I figured I would hook the CO2 back up in a few weeks, but if pressure continues to build and I’m not diligent about pulling the relief valve every so often, maybe that won’t be necessary?

^^ sorry I drifted a bit off-topic. I do think there is relevence, however, in the question of how much pressure builds up in the lagering phase (and how this affects carbonation in the bottles.)

There is no fermentation going on during lagering. If you’re kegging, no additional pressure will build. Pressure builds in the bottle from the priming sugar. Once the sugar is consumed by the yeast, the pressure will cease to increase.

Did you add priming solution to this keg? If not, no… no pressure building up and no need to release pressure. If it’s “cold”, the yeast is asleep anyway. If you had added priming solution, you could still hit it with Co2 to seal the hatch, but you’d also want to leave it at room temp to naturally carb. Lots of variables here. Otherwise, just flat, cold lager in a keg at fridge temps would mean that it’s “lagering”. If you carbed it up and stored it in the fridge, I’d call that “lagering” as well.

Thanks, Ken - good info!

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