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Lagering with 1 ferm chamber

So one of the reasons I was excited to get my chest freezer was because I could start doing some lagering. I’m a big fan of German lagers so this appeals to me. The problem is, I won’t be able to temperature control other beers I brew while I’m lagering for extended periods. I could always go back to the “move the beer to the room that is proper ambient tempurature” that I’m doing now but that’s a bit of a crap shoot.

Just wondering who else only has a single ferm chamber / lagering chamber and what you do while you are lagering. Don’t brew anything for a couple months? Brew an ale and go back to the ol’ swamp cooler or ferm wrap?

I ran into the same issue and same disappointment!

Fortunately there are some work arounds:

-when brewing ales, controlling ferment temp is really critical in the first few days. After that, as long as you are INCREASING the ferment temp, you should still get a really well attenuated ale with controlled yeast character and no fusels. So, for example, if you have brewed a Vienna lager, and fermented it low and slow around 50* for 3 weeks, then want to lager it, you could pull it out of the fermentation fridge, let it finish up at room temp (it will also degas/push out any sulfur), ferment an american pale ale in the fridge for 3 days or so, then pull the APA out and let it finish up at room temp (hopefully around 70*) while getting the vienna down to lagering temps. I’ve had good results doing it this way.

-The other thing people have done (though I have not) is to interrupt the lagering period to control temp on an ale (again only the first few days are really critical), the crank the freezer back ‘up’ and get the lager cold again, and remove the fermenter with your ale in it. The added benefit of this is you could throw the ale in the lagering freezer and serve from there with a picnic line or faucet (ie using your serving fridge as your lagering fridge).

Ideally, two fridges are ideal, but space/cash/wives/girlfriends or a combination thereof do not always permit.

Any idea if this has any negative effects on flavor? Would the yeast still be susceptible to wild temp swings and producing off-flavor byproducts at this stage? I suppose you could probably plan it to slowly bring the temp up over a certain amount of days so it’s not shocking the yeast if that’s a problem.

I find it easiest to:

  1. control Ale fermentation temperatures with ice jugs and wet t-shirts (swamp cooling).

  2. control Lager fermentation temperatures with the ice box/freezer. My secondary icebox is only used for fermenting/lagering Lagers.

cheers.

This time of the year, you could lager in a garage or cold area of a basement. I use my chest freezer for lagering kegs at close to freezing since that is most difficult to maintain any other way. My beer cellar is great for fermenting as it stays about 50-55F. I also have a air conditioned fermentation room but I hate to run the AC unit in the winter; it just seems wrong.

I have a different situation. The closets in my condo have air/heat vents in them. So with the AC running in the summer they stay at a nice cool 60F. This is when I use my fridge for lagering since I can ferment ales where I like too right in the closet.

Another option which I’m going to use soon is to build up a large enough supply of beers in the pipeline, then brew a lager, followed by one or two Saisons. I like to ferment my saisons warm (75+F) so I don’t need my ferm fridge. And with a good supply of beer built up, I can tie up my ferm fridge for 2 months and not worry since I’ll be brewing Saisons right behind it.

Any idea if this has any negative effects on flavor? Would the yeast still be susceptible to wild temp swings and producing off-flavor byproducts at this stage? I suppose you could probably plan it to slowly bring the temp up over a certain amount of days so it’s not shocking the yeast if that’s a problem.[/quote]

I doubt it. Typically, you would lager after dropping/racking off of the yeast. The real purpose of lagering is to drop polyphenols out of the beer and allowing subtle flavors to meld, not coaxing flavor/behavior out of yeast. Again, this is usually done within the first few days (active phase of fermentation) for an ale, and the first week or so of a lager.

[quote=“StormyBrew”]I find it easiest to:

  1. control Ale fermentation temperatures with ice jugs and wet t-shirts (swamp cooling).
    [/quote]

There is nothing about this that I find easy. :mrgreen:

[quote=“Pietro”][quote=“StormyBrew”]I find it easiest to:

  1. control Ale fermentation temperatures with ice jugs and wet t-shirts (swamp cooling).
    [/quote]

There is nothing about this that I find easy. :mrgreen: [/quote]

LOL, sure it is.

I put my carboy, wrapped in a wet tshirt, in a large cooler. I use half gallon juice jugs and / or gallon water bottles for ice. I can keep my carboy at least 10 below ambient with these jugs.

By keeping it in a cooler (large like many use for a mash tun) the cold air from the jugs does not escape. Similar to the “ice box” of yore. I change out the jugs in the morning when I get up and at night before bed. They last anywhere from 10-12 hours.

:cheers:

This. You can easily build a Styrofoam box to put in your garage to lager in. The beer won’t freeze, even in very cold weather. This is essentially what I do in my unheated outside shed, the only difference is that one wall of my box is shared with another Styrofoam box which has temp control for fermentation.

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