Tuesday, September 29, 2015

REAL LAGER AT ALE TEMPERATURE - FERMENTIS 34/70 The Method, and 2 additional methods.

Crazy Weekend.  But Sunday, I found time to brew a batch of beer.  Just good ol simple beer.  Shooting for 1.032 post mash... Got 1.030, I'll take it.  Shooting for 1.042 post boil and nailed it. Small batch has slightly higher boil off rate percentage.

This Batch is a light american lager.   And that is a key you have to understand with lagers.  There are hundreds of lager yeasts.   Some attenuate out great, posting impressive 83% to even 88% attenuation.   But many, if not most lager yeasts feature fairly low apparent attenuation, in the home brew realm. So unlike an ale yeast that can handle huge OG. Many lager yeasts can not, they would leave the beer too sweet.  And that is not what you want from most lagers.  Certainly not what you want from a Light American Lager. (of course you can adjust your pitch rate to accommodate higher OG, I find attenuation has way more to do with the brewer and the pitch rate than the yeast) (NOTE: I am aware that commercial lagers under, commercial brewing conditions can and will attenuate out at avery high rate.  But most lager yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus (( S.Carlsbergenus)) can not break apart one of the carbon links in a Maltotriose trisaccharide. )

This batch is pretty straight forward
2.25 gallon batch.
Water adjustments to get to 5.2 pH
4# lager malt
.3# carapils
.7# flaked rice (or minute rice)
Mash at 152 for 75 Minutes, no mash out (got about 72.3%) not bad
Hallertauer at 60,15,0 ... .33 oz.  each addition
Hard boil to break up proteins.
No Whirlfloc
Will use Gelatin to fine this before packaging.

And now for the shocker... I'm fermenting with Fermentis Saflager 34/70.  And I'm doing the primary fermentation at 65F.   After about 10 days I will move the fermentation vessel into the garage fridge at about 36 F for 3 to 5 weeks.
Now before you get all up in arms, and start firing me comments about how this will never work.  Take a breath and ask yourself the following questions.
  1. Why not? Why in the world won't Saccharomyces pastorianus ferment at 65F?  What could possibly prevent this yeast from converting sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide at this temperature?   What part of the metabolic transformation will be inhibited?  I think you know the answer is nothing.   It works fine I have been doing it for over 20 years.
  2. Have you ever tried it? are you open to new techniques?  No this is not the classic, or even best way to make a lager.  But it works.  It works just fine.   
  3. Have you confirmed your point of view with the yeast manufacturer?  I have.  I have had extensive conversations with Fermentis about this technique.  They say it should work fine. Fermentis is amazing to deal with, I encourage you to check out all of their yeasts.  
This is how lagering was invented.
Ferment as normal then store cold.
Now I know this isn't conventional,  But give it a shot.  All you need is a fermenter that can fit in your fridge, or even your keezer.   This is not at all what the Brulosopher did with his recent xbeeriment.  Where he displayed that you can ferment lagers at 66F and not even trained judges can tell the difference.   (And by the way if you're not reading and supporting Marshal's work, start now.  He is advancing home brewing.  So buy a dang Tshirt, we need his work to continue.)  Of course, you have to choose the right lager strain to pull this off.

This is a tried and true old school method for making a lager at home.  It is how we did it in the dark ages of home brewing.

Alternate method #1.  Choose a clean lager strain and just ferment the beer at ale temperatures.  It will be fine.   If you don't believe me read the Brulosophy post above.

Alternate method #2.   Ferment it at ale temperatures, and then lager it in the bottles or keg, cold for a month or two.  We used to call this bottle lagering.

It is Tuesday morning.  I brewed on Sunday.  There is a beautiful Krausen on the beer.   Cant wait to drink this one in 6 to 8 weeks. Wednesday morning nice 1/2" creamy lager krausen on the beer.



  1. Thanks for this write up, I really love lager's but was pretty sure I would never be able to brew on as I don't have a fermentation fridge. I do have a Mr.Beer LBK so I will be able to secondary a lager in it and put that in the fridge. one thing I have always heard is that fermenting with lager yeast at ale temp will cause off flavor's? if this is not the case then I will give it a go.

  2. It really depends upon the lager yeast. 34/70 is very neutral. It does just fine. And really cleans up nicely in a long lagering. Wyeast Czech Pils also does really well. I tried my other lager on Saturday. It was clean, but still a little sweet.

  3. Awesome reassurance. I had planned to try a lager this winter simply by keeping my fermenters in the coldest corner of the basement. Now I know which yeast will do well!

  4. Awesome reassurance. I had planned to try a lager this winter simply by keeping my fermenters in the coldest corner of the basement. Now I know which yeast will do well!

  5. Just tried another one last night, came out almost too clean. Kinda boring compared to my ales. No worries, I have a solution for that. stay tuned.