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07/27/07 01:57 PM  
Lagering question
OK guys. I've always wondered about this. Say you've finished primary fermentation on a lager and you've transferred it to a keg for lagering. Would the same beer result if you lagered it for a couple months carbonated as opposed to uncarbonated? My guess would be yes, but some of you scientific types might have another educated opinion.
07/27/07 02:02 PM  
Re: Lagering question
Hi Joelle, I hope you don't mind that I reposted your question. The subject line had your email address - I assumed that was a mistake.

My guess here would actually be no. But I'd like to substitute the word "carbonated" with "pressurized". Effectively they mean the same thing, but I think if you think in terms of a lagering vessel being pressurized you are taking an extra - and pretty effective - step against the possibility of air seeping in. When I make lagers I don't necessarily try to fully carbonate them for the long haul, but I always keep them under at least a little pressure. Naturally they will pick up some CO2 along the way.

07/27/07 02:10 PM  
Re: Lagering question
Thanks for fixing my subject line Steve! I don't know if my question was totally clear.

Say you took a beer that had gone through primary fermentation, transferred it to a keg and brought it down to lagering temps (40F - 32F). Would the reduction of sulfur and the smoothing out of the finished carbonated beer be the same if you let it "lager" fully carbonated (say at 2 to 2.5 vols) as opposed to letting it "lager" flat and then carbonated it to 2 to 2.5 vols after the lagering phase?

07/27/07 03:24 PM  
Re: Lagering question
Hummm. IMO as long as your carbonation technique did not involve vigorously shaking the beer I can't think of a reason why the results would vary. What makes you ask?
07/27/07 03:31 PM  
Re: Lagering question
Lagering is typically done flat. The reason is that if the beer is carbonated it will take a little longer to clarify because the CO2 has a tendency to hold suspended protein a little longer. So time is critical for commercial processes and lagering is done with the beer flat. For home use, if you don't mind an extra couple of weeks then go for it. When kegging just apply about 30 psi to hear the keg lid rubber gasket seat itself - it's a very obvious sound.
07/27/07 03:53 PM  
Re: Lagering question
I asked because if I was going to lager a beer for 6 weeks, I could drink it about a week earlier if it was already carbonated at the end of that 6th week. I was wondering if there was anything flavorwise that would be different. Looks like there might be a difference in the speed of clarification.
07/27/07 04:10 PM  
Re: Lagering question
I highly doubt that you would notice any flavor difference.
07/27/07 04:13 PM  
Re: Lagering question
I guess that all makes sense, that is CO2 holding some stuff in suspension. I've never made a lager that I expected to be seriously tapping into in 6 weeks so I guess this is an area were I'm a bit weak. I will say though that for me, force carbonation only works when its slow. The absolute worst carbonation I've ever encountered has been from rapidly carbonated brews, be this by a stone or high pressure and shaking. Slow, medium PSI force carbonating can make for some wonderfully creamy beer, I'd want it to spend at least 4 weeks carbonating with this method. So for me, if I wanted a pils or something to be ready after only 6 weeks I would have no choice but to seal the keg (the 30PSI blast Cisco described), bleed it then put it at around 12PSI at that point. That would probably give me a week or 2 of play, I would be more comfortable if the beer was ready prior to its presentation. Seldom does good come from waiting till the last minute. Like, what if you end up needing a diactyl rest? A separate settling period would then not be an option.
07/27/07 04:27 PM  
Re: Lagering question
Cool, thanks guys!
07/27/07 05:15 PM  
Re: Lagering question
Force carbonating tips:

Hook up keg to 30psi for at least 3 days then back off to 15psi for two days. It's ready to serve.

I serve my Belgian ales on tap at 15psi with proper length dispensing hose to compensate for the pressure drop difference and get great creamy head. No pint glasses allowed, just properly shaped goblet glasses.

07/27/07 05:35 PM  
Re: Lagering question
I forgot to add that I keep the beer at 36F for lagering and for carbonating.
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