To Lager, or not to Lager

Ale’s, Lager’s, so many wonderful choices of brew, it’s hard to know where to start. Ever won-der why in the heck some are referred to as Ales…others‟ as Lagers? It’s the same question most home brewers have to ask themselves, back in the early beginnings of their craze. We all wonder about it, simply be-cause we want to brew every-thing imaginable, day one. Obviously, a bit over-ambitious, but definitely worth under-standing why there are 2 primary groups. To be technical about it, here’s a rundown:

* Ales are brewed with a yeast strain where the fermentation temperatures are maintained anywhere from 65°-78°F (depending on the strain your pitching)

* Lagers are beers brewed with a yeast strain that will need to be fermented at lower than normal temperatures (in many cases, around 35°-45°F)

Now, most home brewers will stick primarily to Ales, simply because of it’s ease. You can ferment just about any-where in your home/shed, as long as your temperature control system can keep things in the low 70‟s (very manageable, with current A/C systems). Lagers…well, that’s a bit of a challenge. You’ll still pitch your yeast around 60°-65°F, and as soon as fermentation begins…drop that beauty down to around 45°F (that temp will depend largely on the strain & brand your using). Now, in many cases, fermentation is going to run its course for up to 2 weeks, where you will proceed to bring the temp back up, then back down again……Lagering has begun!

Lagered beers will need to be kept at their „lager‟ temp for anywhere from 6 weeks to a year; whew! Long time eh? Yea, it does take a while, but it’s one of the most consistent methods of clearing up a beer. Sure, you can use filtration systems, but it’s gonna cost you. Carboys‟, or some other container to do secondary fermentation is another inexpensive style of clearing up your brews, but just remember, if you’ve got a spare beer fridge, keep your mind open to the idea of setting one of your beers aside for a nice long chill!

Jeff B



Categories: Events, News

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