It is often a misconception in home brewing that Lager is Ale and Ale is Lager. So today we try to explain how to properly make a Lager.
What is Lagering?
In simple terms, lagering is the method of cold processing your beer during fermentation and storing it cold afterwards. Lagering your beer requires a great deal more attention than Ales and thus should not be attempted without being properly prepared and without the proper setup.
Before you start Lagering your beer. You should know that Lager Yeast reacts different than standard ale yeast. Standard ale yeast will go dormant at cold temperatures while lager yeast will continue to ferment, albeit very slowly, but continue never-the-less even at near freezing temperatures.
So here’s a really simple 5 Step process for creating your Lager.
1. Make a yeast starter – Optimally keep temps between 60F and 75F and make a LOT, you’ll need it!
2. Pitch it. Temps should range in the 60F – 65F range while pitching. When fermentation starts, drop to the recommended temperature of the type of yeast you chose to use or what came with your kit. This temp can go very low (depending on the yeast) even as low as 45F for some yeast strains.
3. Ferment for recommended amount of time (about 2 weeks usually). After fermentation ceases you will want to raise your temperature to around 62F. This assures fermentation is complete. and it will purge any remaining CO2 that could cause strange flavors, It also allows the yeast to absorb the diacetyl produced by fermentation. Hence the reason this step is called a diacetyl rest.
4. After two or three days with the temperature remaining at or near 62F , you will need to rack your beer into a carboy. Now the lagering processing begins!
5. Slowly lower your temperature about 5F a day until you hit 35F. Hold at this temperature for a minimum of six weeks (or the recommended time frame for your Lager). Some lagers process this way for up to an entire year!!
Your results will be a clearer and more flavorful beer.