Griz's Corner

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Tips and Myths: Lagers


A true lager must be fermented at lower temperatures than ales. Many lager yeasts produce hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs). This usually happens toward the beginning of fermentation and is normal so donít worry, the yeast itself will scrub this out in the later stages of fermentation. Many lager yeasts also produce copious amounts of diacetyl (buttery aroma). You can resolve this by raising the temperature of the beer in the secondary fermenter to 60 to 65° for 2 to 3 days, then dropping it back down to 45 to 50° for its lagering period. This is called a diacetyl rest. Many light lagers(Pilsner type) do not lend themselves well to an all extract version as no extract can deliver the Munich Malt character which is essential to them. Also, while you can use dry lager yeasts, they are not ideal. They are not strictly true lager yeasts and you must raise the temperature to +5° from that of other lager yeasts. While on the subject of yeasts here are some hints. First of all, it is desirable to use higher pitching rates with lagers which usually means stepping up your yeast a notch (see yeast starters). We have found that if you pitch your lager yeast at 60-65° and watch carefully for the first signs of CO2 production (movement in airlock) and then lower the temp. to 45-50° range, you will get a much cleaner beer. Lagers are extremely satisfying, but you must be patient and you will be justly rewarded. "If you want to sing the blues, then youíve got to pay the dues."

Happy Lagering!

TIP: Since lagers usually take longer than ales, make 2 batches one lager and one ale and drink the ale while you are waiting for the lager.