From the HBD Archive
From: polstra!jdp@uunet.UU.NET (John D. Polstra)
Subject: Re: Lager question
Date: 1989-07-19 16:25:47 GMT

In HOMEBREW Digest #204, florianb@tekred.cna.tek.com asks about a lager
that fermented down very quickly:

> It was my understanding that lagers should sit in the carboy for
> at least a month. This brew, however, looks as if it's ready to
> bottle and age. I have noticed a quick fermentation in the past
> using Red Star lager yeast for steam beer. The product was quite
> good however.
>
> What would you recommend--bottling or further aging in the carboy?

Age it, definitely. Even though the fermentation is practically
finished, the cold aging in the carboy will really make a difference.
Rough flavors will go away, and what remains will have that delicate
balance of flavors that makes a lager so good. Also, the long cold
aging contributes to the lacy, egg-white head that is found on top of a
quality lager. I'd say that a month is the bare minimum if you're aiming
for real quality. I usually aim for at least 8 weeks in the
refrigerator. By the way, aging in the bottles doesn't seem to do the
trick. It's much better to age it in the carboy, before bottling.

I wonder why your brew fermented so fast . . . Did you start it out
warm, or did it go straight into the fridge? Normally, I keep it at
room temperature only until the fermentation is good and active. Then I
chill it gradually down to 45 degrees or so. I try to rack it when the
gravity is around 1.018. (That's for all-grain beer with an O.G. of
around 1.050.)

One final thing, sorry I can't resist:

> Using Red Star lager yeast (I know, I know), ...

Hey, Florian . . . throw out that s**t. Buy a liquid yeast, *any*
liquid yeast. You'll never regret it. The complete absence of "crud"
flavors, which take months to age out when a dry yeast is used, will
blow your socks off. Using liquid yeast is the single most effective
aid I have found for brewing high-quality beers.

-- John Polstra jdp@polstra.UUCP
Polstra & Co., Inc. ...{uunet,sun}!practic!polstra!jdp
Seattle, WA (206) 932-6482

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