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First lager (Oktoberfest, Wyeast 2206), just took a sample after 3 weeks in the primary, and it tasted great (my friend said he picked up some candylike sweetness (diacetyl), but it could be because I asked him if it tasted like butterscotch, and it was front of mind, as I didn't detect any)

I'm going to actually take a gravity reading tonight (I was so excited to taste it last night that I forgot to pull enough to measure) and do the forced diacetyl test.

My question is, what is the purpose of lowering the temp to lagering temp SO. DARNED. SLOWLY? I've read that is should be 1 degree per day, which means this won't get to lagering temperature for 22 days, then another 4-5 weeks lagering!

I know patience is key, you can't rush lagers, etc. etc. etc., but if its going to use up my only fermentation fridge for 12 weeks grain to glass, lagers seem pretty impractical.

What would be the harm if I lowered 5 degrees per day until it got to 35 degrees F?

Also, if I do say so, this tastes really really good right now. Very clean maltiness (Jamil's Oktoberfest/Marz) Maybe this should be a separate question, but what flavor compounds does lagering cause to precipitate? I feel like I could almost carbonate and drink this right now (don't worry, I won't)

Thanks in advance!

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I find that the lagering adds a very subtle (but important) "crispness" to the beer. Its great that the beer you sampled was good tasting, but if you carbed it now, it would probably taste like a very clean ale, not a lager. Give it time and you will be rewarded. –  Graham Sep 11 '12 at 12:23
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you like the taste now, then there's almost no need for any kind of temperature gradient. Crash to as low as you can , e.g. 30F,-1C and let the yeast and chill haze fall out.

Commercial breweries don't leave their lagers sitting around for months, it's just not necessary if your fermentation temperature profile is good.

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+1. Dropping 1-3 degrees per day is the procedure if you still need the yeast to be cleaning up the beer after primary. However, most homebrewers do a diacytl rest at elevated temps at the end of primary, so if you do that successfully, you can cold crash to 32F immediately and start lagering. I personally doubt that the yeast have any activity going on at all at 32F, but I might be wrong. –  Graham Sep 11 '12 at 12:22
    
As a follow-up, I did do the forced diacetyl test (winning-homebrew.com/diacetyl-test.html), and picked up something weird in the heated sample. Couldn't tell if it was buttery or just some weird fusel I activated, but I finished raising it to 62 degrees for a 2-day diacetyl rest.....just to be clear, after my d-rest is over (Thursday?), I will literally just set the controller to 34 degrees and not worry about 'stepping it down' slowly? –  Pietro Sep 11 '12 at 13:43
    
Yes, you can just crash. With other lager styles, such as Pils, you would want the gradual decrease, as others have mentioned to bring out the up front crispness, but the Oktoberfest style isn't particularly crisp up front so you can go with crashing down to 34 or lower. –  mdma Sep 11 '12 at 13:55
    
one more question, should I get it off the yeast, or just lager in the primary? –  Pietro Sep 11 '12 at 20:31
    
I would take it off the yeast. There is still yeast in suspension which will suffice to clean up the beer. –  mdma Sep 11 '12 at 20:39
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The purpose of lowering the temperature slowly is to avoid shocking the yeast, which might hibernate and fall out of solution. You want the yeast still (a little) active for the lagering phase. "Cold crashing", on the other hand, involves dropping the temperature dramatically to encourage the yeast to flocculate.

I'm not a lager expert, but 1 degree / day sounds unreasonably slow. I've heard 5 or 10 degrees per day. The last lager I made, I adjusted the fermentation fridge 3 degrees every 12 hours or so.

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I would agree that 1 degree/ day is unreasonable. Your wort in primary surely sees high temperature gradients just in it's self! 5 degree/ day sounds more reasonable like it's "keeping it safe". But in this case I agree with everyone. Crash that Okt!)

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