eBrew.com Header Section

Making Lagers with Liquid Yeast

Making Lagers with Liquid Yeast

Pilsners are Lagers but Lagers are not necessarily Pilsners.  Making lagers can be difficult due to the temperature requirements of the liquid yeast to produce the characteristics of a true lager.  I would not recommend attempting to make a lager style beers without having either a refrigerator with a thermostat over-ride or a fermentation box that allows me to control my temperatures. Saflager #S-23 is the only dry yeast produced that is a true lager yeast. If you don't have the temperature controls, consider using a clean fermenting dry yeast.

I recommend making a starter when using a liquid lager yeast so that the yeast can get active very quickly. You will want to "pitch" (brewing term for adding the yeast) the yeast into a wort that has been cooled to 70° F.  

Leave the batch at room until the first signs of activity.

Once activity is evident, move it into a controlled refrigeration condition at the temperature specified for the particular strain of yeast.

Leave for 10-12 days at the recommended temperature.

After 10-12 days, raise the temperature at the rate of 5° - 6° daily until you get to the 68° range.

Wait 24 hours - at least 90% of the fermentation would have been completed at this point - if activity increases, leave it at that temperature until the activity subsides.  

Transfer the beer into a clean, sanitized carboy and move it back into the refrigerated condition.  Start reducing the temperature at the rate of 5° - 6° every 12 hours until the temperature is between 5° - 10° cooler than the primary fermentation temperature.

Store the beer at this temperature for 2 - 3 weeks.  This is the "LAGERING phase" (lagering is German term which means to store).  

At the end of the lagering phase, raise the temperature of beer at the rate of 5° - 6° every 12 hours until room temperature is achieved.

Prime as normal and leave at room temperature for 2 weeks or until carbonation is achieved.

Store in a 60° - 68° environment if possible - if not possible, don't worry about it.

Why raise and lower the temperatures when lagering?

By doing things this way, it gives the yeast the opportunity to work off all the available fermentable so that the only source of fermentables for carbonating the beer will be the priming sugar added at bottling.  Priming sugar increases the gravity of the gravity of the beer by only 2-4 points of specific gravity over-all.  

If the yeast cannot work off all of the fermentables in the refrigerated temperatures utilized during the primary stage AND you transfer and drop the temperature for the lagering phase, a few extra points of fermentables may remain available to contribute to carbonation - thus developing an over-carbonated, potentially explosive finished product. 

Share on FacebookBookmark and Share