Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

What special equipment is needed for an AG Lager?

I have a pretty decent set-up (I think) and want to eventually take the plunge into largering.

The temp control aspect is not the turn off, but the step-mash is.

How would one change temp so quickly during the mash process.

I have a 15 gal Igloo Cooler for my mash tun

8 Gal kettle for my HLT/Lauter Tun

10 Gal Brew kettle.

Again, I really want to start a Maibock in Nov/Dec and would like to prep with any needed equipment. Also, would like what set-up experienced lagerers have on here.

Thank you

-Andy

With modern grains, you really don’t need to step mash. I still do it for some batches, especially if it’s a nice day outside and I’ve got nothing else going on. Temp control of the fermentation is much more important and it sounds like you’ve got that covered. Well, that and knowing your water. So get on with it!

I almost never do a step mash for lagers any more. I have done many in the past, but I haven’t really found that it makes much difference to the finished beer.

you’ll need the ability to make a very large starter - you’ll need 2-4 times as much yeast for a lager as you would an ale, so that is a consideration.

If i were you, I might make a smaller lager first and then pitch the prescribed amount of yeast from the smaller beer into the maibock, otherwise, you’re going to need to grow a LOT of yeast.

+1 that step mashes are an unnecessary pain in the butt. Mash at about 148-152 F for an hour and you are good to go.

I don’t do anything special for fermentation temperature control either. If I brew in winter, my basement is at a steady cool 55 F, and then I use a wet t-shirt and fan to get it down the rest of the way to 50 F. Make great lagers that way. Anyone who can find a cool spot someplace in your house or garage might be all set without any special temperature controls or equipment necessary. It requires a bit of luck but I love when I can keep things so cheap, simple, and effective. Or perhaps “pragmatic”, as Denny would say.

While it is true that step mashes are not so essential with modern malts and they can be a lot of work, I’ve heard that you can now buy beer that has already been fully made and packaged, so there is no need to brew at all - unless you enjoy the challenge. I tend to do step mashes with less than half the lagers I make, as it is true that it can be difficult to tell the difference unless you are using undermodified malt, but it can also be fun to recreate the old-time process.

I also mash in a cooler, and have found that it is possible to step up once or even twice just infusing with near boiling water, but decoction works better with my set-up.

Thank you all for the replies. If I simplify the mash it doesn’t appear to be too much harder than an ale… just more time needed.

I have an extra freezer chest thankfully, I just need the external thermostat…

Also, I read that it is wise to use a carboy the first few times so I can observe the fermentation process and note when the initial fermentation is complete before adjusting my temperatures. Does this seem like an accurate statement? Also, would one rack the beer off the sediment to a secondary, then do a DA rest, then drop the temp to say 40 and lager for three months?

Lastly, someone mentioned the water profile. I always use distilled water, or spring water (Poland Spring) for all my brew. This in addition to 5.2 mash stabilizer. Does this jive with a lager?

:cheers:

Diacetyl rest is needed only if the beer tastes like diacetyl. If not, you can skip it. If you do need one, it is much better to do it in primary with all the yeast still in there, than to remove the yeast. Yeast eats the diacetyl. If you rack the beer, you’re removing like 95% of the yeast! Not a good thing.

Regarding water, and which is better, distilled or spring water or tap water, it depends on the style, and the profiles of the different water sources. Generally speaking, distilled water is best for light yellow colored beers, hard water (such as spring water) is better for brown or black beers, and a blend is best for anything in between. But of course there are a lot of exceptions. Water is a huge topic and one best reserved for experienced brewers. Best advice is not to worry about it until/unless you think it might be causing a problem and all other options have been exhausted. I’ve been playing around with water and learning about it for many years, and I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of it now. But you can make great beer without worrying too much about it. If in doubt, it’s often/usually best to just use a blend of distilled water and another water source. That’s the best advice for starting out.

[quote=“andymag”]Lastly, someone mentioned the water profile. I always use distilled water, or spring water (Poland Spring) for all my brew. This in addition to 5.2 mash stabilizer. Does this jive with a lager?

:cheers: [/quote]

There’s a lot more to water than simply pH. You need to add minerals back to RO or distilled water, both for yeast health and flavor. I advise you to get familiar with Bru’nwater. https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

And do yourself and your beer a favor and stop using 5.2! I (and many others) have found that it not only doesn’t work, it gives the beer a strange flavor.

[quote=“Denny”][quote=“andymag”]Lastly, someone mentioned the water profile. I always use distilled water, or spring water (Poland Spring) for all my brew. This in addition to 5.2 mash stabilizer. Does this jive with a lager?

:cheers: [/quote]

And do yourself and your beer a favor and stop using 5.2! I (and many others) have found that it not only doesn’t work, it gives the beer a strange flavor.[/quote]
Agreed. It makes the beer salty, in my experience.

" If in doubt, it’s often/usually best to just use a blend of distilled water and another water source. That’s the best advice for starting out."

Dave, I just read about this today (blending between tap and distilled water) and from what I gather 1:1 should get me pretty close.

I went all bottled water a few years back because as new guys (the group of us that started out together) to AG brewing that’s what we did.

Over the years I didn’t want to mess with a good thing. Now that my skill/equipment set is becoming larger I really want to get to the next level.

I feared lagering and water chemistry for many reasons. I have used 5:2 for awhile but only at one TBS per 5 gallons. Keeping in mind that the water profile for the bottled water was 6.9, it probably had little effect on the overall pH. I know this now and have become self conscious of my brewing practices :oops: I guess my next batch I will do 1:1 (distilled to tap) and measure my pH to see where I am at. I guess this means I have to buy a pH tester and some buffer solution. This may give me a true understanding of where my mash pH is at and if I truly want to go down the chemistry road or not.

Thanks for the input

-Andy

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com