Fast Lager Method

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Fast Lager Method

Postby DrPaulsen » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:07 pm

I found this on FB today after someone asked Tasty McDole how he does "fast lagers". I tend to follow something similar, but with a lazier approach to temp ramping (I mostly monitor airlock activity rather than bothering to take gravity measurements and I do most of the ramping in one step up to ~70F). I'm posting this here for all the folks that are thinking of making a Munich Helles but are concerned they don't have time to get it ready. Lagers are way easier than conventional homebrewing wisdom would have us believe (although that is slowly changing). They also have a lot less to do with the back-end cold-conditioning process and a lot more to do with fermentation management.


Here's an excerpt from our upcoming book "Homebrew All Stars" (coming in May) that describes Mike's method....One piece of valuable knowledge that’s not widely disseminated is Tasty’s fast lager schedule. Tradition dictates that when we talk of lagers, we talk of long, slow, cold ferments and aging that brings about smooth, crisp refreshing characters. Drew used to brew an Oktoberfest beer each year in March and lager it all through the summer before tapping for an annual O’Fest party. After all, that’s what they used to do back in the day!

A quicker fermentation schedule for lagers has been kicking around for a long time, most notably in the book Abriss der Bierbrauerei by Ludwig Narziss. It’s the holy grail of the global pilsner industry. Mike has played with and refined what he considers the perfect fast lager schedule for us homebrewers. It may seem radical or even impossible when you first read about it, but the technique has produced delicious and award-winning lagers for many homebrewers.
Here’s how Mike describes it: “I pitch and oxygenate at 55°F and hold until the gravity drops 50 percent of the way to terminal gravity. For example, if my OG is 1.052, and I expect to finish at about 1.010, then a drop of 21 gravity points would be 50 percent.) “ The math works like this:
Original Gravity (OG) = 1.052 or 52 points
Final Gravity (FG) = 1.010 or 10 points
Total Gravity Drop (TGD) = OG – FG = 52 minus 10 = 42
Mike is watching for a 50 percent gravity drop or 21 points (42 divided by 2) for this hypothetical lager. In other words, when the beer reaches 1.031 (52 minus 21), it’s time to move onto the next step. Mike continues: “I then raise the fermentation temperature by three degrees to 58°F and hold until the gravity drops 75 percent of the way to terminal gravity.” For our example beer, the ferment at 58°F would continue until it reaches 1.020 to 1.021. We arrive atthat figure by calculating our total gravity drop × 0.75 and subtracting that from the original gravity or:
Target gravity = OG – (TGD × 0.75)
Target gravity = 52 – (42 × 0.75)
Target gravity = 52 – 31.5
Target gravity = 20.5
Onto the next step with Mike: “I then raise the fermentation temperature by 4 degrees to 62°F and hold until the gravity drops 90 percent of the way to terminal gravity.”
Target gravity = 52 – (42 × 0.9)
Target gravity = 52 – 37.8
Target gravity = 14.2
So, hold at 62°F until about 1.014. Finally to the finish line: “I then raise the fermentation temperature by four degrees to 66°F and hold until I reach terminal gravity. “With this method, 75 percent of the fermentation takes place at 58°F or below, 90 percent at 62°F or below. “In my experience, the first part (50 percent gravity drop) can be as short as four to five days. The important thing is to check the gravity—no guessing! A high gravity lager will take longer to reach this point than an “average” 1.045 to 1.055 OG lager. “But the most amazing part of this technique is that a lager can be in your glass in as little as two weeks after brewing it. No guarantees, of course, since it depends on your beer, but it’s proof that you don’t need months to make a great lager.”
Calculate your total gravity drop based on original gravity and yeast strain choice (75 to 80 percent is usual).
1. Chill the wort to 55°F and pitch the yeast
2. When the ferment is 50 percent complete, raise temperature to 58°F.
3. When the ferment is 75 percent complete, raise to 62°F.
4. When the ferment is 90 percent, complete, raise to 66°F and hold until at terminal gravity.
If you look around, you’ll see some alternative fast lager ideas floating around there. Another of our All-Stars (and star of many of our photos), Marshall Schott has a hybrid method that incorporates a raditional lager cold crash. Instead of Mike’s gravity-based checkpoints, Marshall waits for the beer to hit 50 percent attenuation and then ramps the temperature a steady five degrees every 12 hours until he reaches 65 to 68°F. Once the beer is stable and without diacetyl (butter) or acetaldehyde (green apple), Marshall chills the beer five to eight degrees every 12 hours until it reaches 32°F. Once there, he lets it hang for two to three days to clarify.
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Re: Fast Lager Method

Postby czubak » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:15 pm

Use WLP029 and ferment it on the cool side (58) and you have a "lager" ready in no time. Overpitching seems to help as well.
Chris Zubak
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Re: Fast Lager Method

Postby fargo41 » Fri Jan 22, 2016 5:05 pm

I was about to say sounds like:

Then he mentioned Marshall method at the end. I've used it to great results for the helles I had at the last fest.
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