Lager Fermentation Schedule

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Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby Reid on Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:12 pm

I am currently fermenting a Bohemian Pils and I would like some feedback on my fermentation temperature schedule. I based my schedule of the "fast lager" schedule found on Brulosophy (comments/thoughts on the website & their methods can be handled separately) Details are listed below. Please let me know if I need to add information.

Beer: Bohemian Pils
Yeast: White Labs WLP800 Pilsner Lager
SG: 1.054
Est. FG: 1.014
Equipment: SSBT 7 gal. Brewmaster Bucket; STC1000+ Temp Controller in Chest Freezer with reptile blanket heater; Tilt Hydrometer.

Current Temp. Schedule
7 days at 51*
5 days ramping to 65*
5 days at 65*
4 days ramping to 33*
~1 day at 33* then kegging

I am at ~ day 5 of my schedule. My current gravity, based on Tilt Hydrometer is 1.025. I am beyond 50% attenuated with two more days at 51* before I begin my ramp to 65*. The ramp to 65* is to allow the yeast to become more active, finish fermentation, and to "clean up" before cold crashing.

My concern, and where I would appreciate discussion, is that I will over attenuate. Based on the slope of my fermentation curve I should hit my target FG of 1.015 sometime tomorrow. If I ramp to 65* over five days, and then hold at 65* for 5 days I fear that my beer will be overly dry. This is my first time using my chest freezer and STC1000+ set up so it may be worth riding this out to see what my base line is.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby bwarbiany on Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:18 pm

Generally you don't need to worry about over-attenuation in that sense. Your yeast will do what they do and stop when they're done. They won't keep eating sugars beyond their "limit" just due to temperature. And frankly, if temp was an issue, it would be warming it up that would make it worse, not holding at 51. Yeast are more active at higher temp.

The temp rise is to keep them going, help them clean up in general, and specifically to help them clean up diacetyl.

Where you're at right now, I'd actually start allowing it to rise now. You're past "off flavor" territory. And I might take it all the way up to 70 for 1-2 days, rather than 65 for 5 days, because I don't think it requires 5 days to clean up diacetyl.

I'd also let it sit 1-2 weeks minimum at 33 degrees before kegging. You want it as clear as possible before it goes into the keg.
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby Reid on Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:24 pm

Brad,

Thank you. When I return home I can adjust my schedule. Would you still keep a 5-day ramp or can I be more aggressive and ramp up over a 2-days to 70* and hold for 2? This would cut out six days that I could use to lager at 33*. I plan on fining with gelatin to help clear the beer. I'm aiming to bottle for the next club meeting so that's the rush.
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby bwarbiany on Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:43 pm

I normally do the ramp as quickly as my equipment allows (~2 days), and typically I'm doing it based on visible activity (bubbles slowing down or nearly stopping) rather than SG measurements as I don't like touching it once it's in the fermenter.

If you do a 5-day ramp, I'd start today. If you do a 2-day ramp, I'd hold off and start tomorrow. Generally if you're basing it on SG, you want to start your ramp for the diacetyl rest when you get to about 80% apparent attenuation. You're only at about 66% AA.
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:27 pm

I don't see anything wrong with that fermentation schedule. I am thinking about trying something like that myself. My normal fermentation schedule for lagers is 21 days at 55F, then slowly ramp down to 40F (over a week or so), then hold at 40F until I am ready to rack out of the fermentor at which point it is stored at 35F. I don't like to hurry lagers, but if you need to speed things up, that fermentation schedule you listed should work fine.

It has been my experience that even after a long fermentation and lagering period, most of my lagers are peaking around 3 months after the brew day - regardless of the fermentation schedule.

Oh, and welcome to the club Reid!
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby Reid on Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:33 pm

I am using gravity as I get an estimate each 15 minutes remotely. I will wait until tomorrow afternoon to begin my ramp to 70 with a two day hold. Attached is a graph of my current fermentation with scheduled temps. It will update automatically as data changes and you refresh your browser.

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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby Justin H on Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:32 pm

Reid,
That's a pretty slick graph. Given what your trying to accomplish I wouldn't raise (or lower) your temp too rapidly. Your original 5 day ascent (~4*/day) sounded like a good plan to me. Once your at 70* I would stop counting days and let activity/gravity be your guide. Remember because your not going to lager you will want to give your yeast time to re-metabolize all of those compounds they created before you cool. I would give them a good 3-4 days after your gravity stabilizes to clean up, then gradually drop the temperature again over the course of a week or two.

I look forward to trying it at the next meeting if it's ready.
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby Reid on Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:49 am

I've connected my http://www.tilthydrometer.com/ to an old iPhone and the iPhone uses the Tilt app to post to a Google Sheet I can access online. It's pretty slick. For $120 and the convenience of not having to take regular gravity readings I would say it was worth the money.

The beer is hovering in the upper teens so I'll begin the ramp up to 70* this afternoon (around hour 144). I was curious how the yeast would handle the two day ramp so I'll keep it to a five day ramp but I'll shorten the hold to two days.

I do plan to lager, but modified. I brewed extra wort so that I could rack above any trub in the fermenter. I'm hoping that the beer into the keg is fairly clear to begin with. Once the beer has crashed to 33* I plan to keg the beer under very low C02 and fine with gelatin for two days. After two days I'll apply more C02 and push the trub out and then force carb for two days at 33*.

The beer should be held at 33* for a total of about five days. I should have the beer carbonated and bottled for the next meeting. Here's hoping that it isn't a total dud.
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby jward on Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:38 am

Reid, now that you have used your tilt for a while what do you think about it? How well has the battery lasted, and how well did changing it go?
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby Justin H on Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:08 am

I picked one of these up too. I would recommend it. I don’t have the tilt send gravity readings to a google doc, because I am mostly computer illiterate, but I still find it incredibly useful. I can go up to the fridge once a day and screen shot the readings on my phone. The numbers are a little fuzzy, but the trend is what is important. I still take a final reading with a hydrometer if I am concerned. The battery life is okay. I leave beer in a fermenter far longer than it deserves, and I think I got four turns in before I replaced the battery. That point is almost moot thought because changing the battery is easy enough.
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby bwarbiany on Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:33 am

I know their FAQ says the Tilt works in SS conical fermenters, but does anyone know if it works in a thicker 15.5 gal Sanke keg?

I'd consider getting one if I knew it would work in the Sanke. I essentially never check gravity after the beer goes into the fermenter, so it would be helpful to know where I'm at rather than just assuming the yeast is doing its job.
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby Reid on Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:00 am

Curtis has one of my extra Tilts. Give him a call and try it out on your system to see if it works.
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby Reid on Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:21 pm

jward wrote:Reid, now that you have used your tilt for a while what do you think about it? How well has the battery lasted, and how well did changing it go?


I do like it but it does have limitations. The battery lasts at least a couple fermentations. I take the battery out when not in use. It's easy to replace, just unscrew the caps, push out the cage and install a battery. I purchased a pack of batteries that I keep with my brew gear just in case.

Positives:
-Real-time gravity and temperature readings are nice. I have a stainless fermenter so I can't see what's happening. By checking my phone I can see if my gravity has finished and that my keezer is holding the set temp.
-Set up is easy. Install battery, sanitize, drop into fermenter. Reverse when done.
-Remote checking your beer. If you're within bluetooth range you can see what your beer is doing.
-Customer service is great.

Negatives:
-The data logging is a pain. There are some options like Brewstat.us or their Google Sheets link. I haven't logged data in a while. It is interesting to see your how different yeasts work and how fast, but ultimately I only care about when my gravity stops dropping to let me know I'm done.
-If you do want to data log, you'll need a phone nearby at all times. I've set up an old phone on a charger that stays in my garage solely to connect with the Tilt.

Greg H has one as well and enjoys it. His 1st gen had an issue so they sent him a free 2nd gen. As mentioned, great service
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Re: Lager Fermentation Schedule

Postby maltbarley on Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:57 pm

Brad, I'm pretty sure Brahn uses his tilt in a Sanke.
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