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Thread: Lagers Question and Capability

  1. #1
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    Feb 2006
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    Lagers Question and Capability

    I'm working on a new brewery project and I've gone into this with the impression that Lagering is not entirely feasible for a startup due to extra cost. Can somebody comment on this?

    I understand where there can be an issue, but the only drawback I can see if timing. How long does a typical commercial brewery lager a beer?

    I just finished a batch of Munich Dunkel and a helles on a small system and they taste incredible virtually green....

  2. #2
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    Two things favor ales over lagers for cash-tight operations. First, brewing lagers takes more equipment in the form of more or larger tanks to age the beer in. In the same size system, you can turn ales over in two weeks, and lagers in 5-6 weeks, traditionally. Second is cash flow. Say you buy grain on 30 days net. If you brew with it right away, ferment the beer for two weeks, and then sell all of that beer within two weeks of packaging, then essentially you have been paid for the grain by the time that you have to pay the grain vendor. If you do lagers, and don't get paid for another 3-4 weeks, then you have to have enough working capital to pay the vendor before you get paid, or 3-4 weeks of working capital in the bank that you can't do anything with as far as investing in new equipment or paying down your debt. If you are borrowing that money for your working capital, then you are also paying interest on that money.
    Linus Hall
    Yazoo Brewing
    Nashville, TN
    [url]www.yazoobrew.com[/url]

  3. #3
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    Feb 2006
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    Finanace...

    Never thought about the terms issue.....

    And I just did a case analysis on factoring where that was the issue....

    Thanks for the info.. I'm going to have to pick up some of your beer now!

  4. #4
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    lagers

    Well I think it depends on the lagering time obviously. Lager is the german word for "storing" as many of us know. Its feasible to produce lagers via a 1 Tank method and a 3 week cycle especially if youre not filtering your beer. It depends on what kind of stability you are striving for.

  5. #5
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    errr?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sulfur
    .Its feasible to produce lagers via a 1 Tank method and a 3 week cycle especially if youre not filtering your beer.
    You have a ironically appropriate posting name if you are producing unfiltered lagers in 3 weeks!!!

    Although, I have read that some successful studies have been done with a specific lager strain and fermenting under pressure at a higher temp. Forgot where though...probably because Im sticking with the old fashioned 12-14 day fermentation and 4-6 weeks lagering. I do call myself a "Craftbrewer" after all.
    Operations Director, Tin Roof BC
    ted@tinroofbeer.com
    "Your results may vary"

  6. #6
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    Jun 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Briggs
    You have a ironically appropriate posting name if you are producing unfiltered lagers in 3 weeks!!!

    Although, I have read that some successful studies have been done with a specific lager strain and fermenting under pressure at a higher temp. Forgot where though...probably because Im sticking with the old fashioned 12-14 day fermentation and 4-6 weeks lagering. I do call myself a "Craftbrewer" after all.
    Yes it is possible to do a 3 week lager. The yeast is carried by White Labs it is called WLP925 and it will produce a lager in 3-4 weeks. The primary fermentation takes 1 week. The term lager last time I checked means to store so I'm a little confused as to what part of "Craftbrewer" one needs to specialize in to age beer? (Just kidding....kind of) I have produced wonderful lager beers using this yeast in 4 weeks and still consider myself to be a craftbrewer. Not trying to start a flame war but I always get a kick out of these threads.

  7. #7
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    At my brewery we often package filtered pilsners, double bocks and even and half filtered lagers (I push some yeast though the rough filter sheets) in only 18 -21 days. We use Wyeast Bravarian lager yeast. I havent had much in the dyacetal or sulfur notes in the beer and I have gone over 40 generations on the yeast.

    So you can do it. BUT If you are setting up a brewery which is focused on lagering then perhaps a large cold room and singlewalled 4-6 batch tanks would be wise, you could save $ by using this format than just fermenters or seperatly cooled maturation tanks.

    My brewery is focused on a little bit of everything and getting the beer out fast! Until we get our expansion done.

  8. #8
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    perfect world

    3 weeks is doable given the right yeast as mentioned. Its not what I promote but in terms of keeping costs down like the original poster was concerned with - its one solution. In a perfect world wed have tanks galore and cellar space to house them!

  9. #9
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    Sep 2004
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    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Murphy
    We use Wyeast Bravarian lager yeast. I havent had much in the dyacetal or sulfur notes in the beer and I have gone over 40 generations on the yeast.
    Ditto on the Barvarian lager yeast. We haven't been brave enough for 40 generations though!

    Neil Herbst
    Alley Kat Brewing Company

  10. #10
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    I have alot of fermenters to choose from, Im about to get a new shippment to start the new generations with next week, the last order was about this time last year... I must have made about 7,000 hl with the original 10 lt slurry from wyeast. thats about .0000007 cents per liter!!!

  11. #11
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    Feb 2007
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    Brussels, Belgium , Europe
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    Fermentation and maturation temperatures

    I am surpised that nobody spoke about fermentation and maturation temperatures. These temperatures determine the time needed to produce your lager. The finest lagers are produced at low temperatures (pitching at 6C and ending main fermentation at 11-12C and a long maturation (4-6 weeks) at 0-5C. Pitching at 12C and ending main fermentation at 16C will allow to produce your lager in 3 weeks (2 weeks for maturation) but the resulting lager will have a much lower drinkability and will be less thirst quenching.

    Cheers!

    Pablo Alvarez
    www.cbsbrew.com

  12. #12
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    Nov 2002
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    Cambridge, Ontario Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Briggs
    probably because Im sticking with the old fashioned 12-14 day fermentation
    Old fashioned or maybe its time for some system correction. Yikes!

  13. #13
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    Germany
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    time/lagering space = money

    If you're able to brew a lager like that, i.e. with ample time (therefore at low temperatures) in an "old-fashioned", why would you want to "correct" that?

    The only reason lagers aren't brewed with ample time anymore is for economic reasons, obviously not for reasons of flavor and stability. Traditionally brewed lagers are few and far between in America but unfortunately not that common in Europe anymore either, because time/lagering space is money.

  14. #14
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    Well, at least one American brewery still sticks to an "old fashioned" lagering schedule - I think that Budweiser's time in the tanks is about 5 weeks. Does that make them a craft brewer?
    Linus Hall
    Yazoo Brewing
    Nashville, TN
    [url]www.yazoobrew.com[/url]

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Helena, Montana
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    292

    Traditional Lager Methods

    As far as the economic analysis, Linus has it right. Brewing ales vs lagers is all about time/capacity/revenue. You will find it difficult to brew lagers traditionally unless you have the physical capacity and financial resources to do so. Furthermore, your production planning is more difficult purely because of the longer production period.

    Regarding traditional methods, I have to agree with Ted here. At our brewery we only produce lagers (unfiltered) for seasonal specialties and do so when we can afford two weeks of fermenation tank space and 4 weeks of conditioning tank space. We often use Bavarian Lager yeast and find that sulphur dissipates greatly after about the 3-4th week of conditioning.

    Also notice what White Labs says about WLP925:

    "Use to ferment lager beer in one week! Ferment at room temperature 62-68F) under 1.0 bar (14.7 PSI) until final gravity is obtained, generally in one week. Lager the beer at 35F, 15 PSI, for 3-5 days, to condition. Sulfur production is strong first 2 days, then disappears by day 5. Do not need to carbonate, since at 1 bar entire time."

    It is definitely a modified (under pressure) fermentation. I have never tried that particular strain of yeast, but would be reluctant to use try that yeast/method (no VDK rest) on a lager because of diacetyl issues alone.

    People brew for different reasons. I personally adhere to traditional brewing methods because I believe that craft beer is a blend of art, science, AND tradition. I'll stop here before my flamethrower gets warmed up......

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