From the HBD Archive
Subject: lager questions answered
Date: 1992-05-26 19:32:48 GMT

Yesterday, Peter Karlson asked some lager questions, which I will try to
answer as best I can.

>This is my first attempt at a lager, the primary fermenter is a 5 gal.
>glass carboy with a tube/bucket blow-by for 4-6 days @ 45-50 degrees. The
>secondary fermentation will be in another glass carboy with a
>fermentation lock at 38 degrees.

>Question 1: Does it even have to be moved from the primary to the
>secondary or should I just leave it in the same carboy and lager it at 38
>degrees (a closed system).

You should rack it off the trub as soon as the primary fermentation is
over, which is roughly when the head falls. 50 F is a good temperature for
the primary fermentation. After racking, you should maintain the 50 F for
about a week to allow the beer to come out of shock. Then you should notice
bubbles once more beginning to rise in the brew. At this point, you can
start lowering the temperature down to the 38 degrees at the rate of about
one or two degrees per day. This is important in order to not shock the
yeast. After the temp is down to your lager point, you can leave it there
until your patience runs out.

Actually, you can do the secondary fermentation at 50 F for several weeks
before beginning the lager phase, if you want.

>Question 2: After lagering at 38 degrees, what do I do at bottling time, do I
>need to keep the bottled beer refrigerated?

After bottling, you will want the brew to carbonate. So you can raise the
temperature of the bottled beer to 45 or so. The carbonation step can be
as long as 1-2 weeks. Then you should again lower the temperature to
38 or lower in steps of 5 degrees. I find the sequence to be fairly arbitrary
at this time. However, the actual bottle aging can be carried out at 32 F for
a very clean lager. Taste a bottle occasionally to determine when it's right.

>Question 3: About dry-hopping, the recipe was originally for a pilsner but
>it seemed too hoppy, so I didn't dry-hop. What is the advantage/result of
>dry hopping (bitterness, flavor, aroma). How do you dry hop? When do you
>add the hops to the fermenter (primary/secondary), I'm using pellet hops,
>should I throw them in loose or in a cheese cloth bag. If you do move the
>beer to a secondary fermenter, how do you/do you filter out the hops.
>Any help on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

I personally don't see how a pilsener can be too hoppy. The advantage of
dry hopping is to put hop aroma into the beer. But with pilsener, the
delicate aroma can be obtained by putting the aroma hops in during the
last 5 minutes of boil with the lid on. If you put hop pellets in the
secondary fermenter, you will risk clouding the beer and putting funky
tastes into it (I think). I've never done it. If you are kegging, dry
hopping becomes trivial with good fresh cone hops and a cheesecloth bag.
In any case, I can't recommend dry hopping a pilsener. Dry hopping is a good
way to get tremendous aroma for an ale. For example, if you use CFJ-90
(Centennial) in a keg of pale ale, you will get an incredible aroma that
is nearly impossible by hopping in the kettle (NPI).

Hope this helps.

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