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So I recently bottled a pilsner recipe after a drop from 1.061 to 1.011 specific gravity (over 6% ABV potential), and my recipe instructions called for 7-10 days at room temperature (since they've been bottled with a shot of priming sugar). Is this to induce carbonation or conditioning? Room temperature is about 68 F where the bottles are now kept and its been 3 days in this state. Then, the instructions call for moving the bottles back into cooler temperatures for lagering for an additional 2 weeks. As a footnote, I tasted a sample at bottling time and it seems like it has a long way to go (in terms of taste, conditioning, alcohol content) and of course the instructions call for another 2-3 weeks. Since it's my first lagering experience I'd like to make sure it turns out alright after lagering in the fridge for an additional 2 weeks at about 38 F. Does the process I've described sound reasonable with a likelihood of suceeding?

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I'm always suspicious of "Lager" recipe kits. To achieve true lager flavor, you MUST ferment at proper temps (45-55F, yeast strain dependent) with enough yeast (2 packs of dry yeast or a very big starter). What yeast did you use and what temp did you ferment at? A lager will not change much over two weeks, so if it doesn't taste great now, it will take a least a month of lagering, and maybe up to 3-4 months to really taste good. –  Graham Nov 5 '13 at 14:34

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@nhunsaker this sounds pretty standard to me.

Most instructions on a beer kit will get you to prime the bottles with sugar for carbonation, then to store them in a warmer place so the carbonation process can start to take place. Then you are told to leave the bottles for two weeks in a cooler place. After that you can put them in the fridge then drink them.

Tasting the brew before you have carbonated the bottles isn't a true representation on how it will end up tasting. It may give you a rough idea but leaving the bottles as per the instructions will end up with a much nicer flavor, clarity and carbonation.

What I normally do is to prime the bottles then leave them in a cupboard for at least 1 week. You can feel the bottle if it is plastic and if it feels like there is a bit of pressure then you can try moving it to the fridge. I normally get impatient after 1 week and move one bottle to the fridge and leave it in there for 2 days, then drink it and see how it tastes. If it tastes good then I start to move more bottles to the fridge, if it is not very carbonated or tastes a bit funny then I will wait a bit longer. The beer will probably taste better the longer you leave it so if you have the will power then leave it longer before putting it in the fridge.

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Yes, the process sounds reasonable, at least to an extent. The purpose of storing them at room temp is to allow refermentation to create carbonation. Then, ideally, you would keep them at 32-35 for two months to allow the beer to lager and the flavor to smooth out. An even better course of action would be to transfer to a secondary, keep that at 32-35 for 2 months, then bottle the beer.

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So it's been more than 4 weeks since initial fermenting of my 5 gallon pilsner recipe began. After about 10 days bottled at room temperature I tested one and could begin to recognize the carbonation and improved taste. Today, I've moved the 6 six-packs of bottles to a 38 degree farenheit (roughly) storage area to remain for 2 weeks. My understanding is that the entire lagering process lasts a total of 6 weeks so it looks like everything is on schedule. These last 2 weeks of lagering at "fridge-like" temperatures is supposedly going to refine the taste in ways I don't understand completely. Also, 2 more weeks is a minimum but I'm curious how longer lagering periods affect the quality. This first lagering attempt has been a learning experience so thanks to all who responded with feedback.

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