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I'm quite new to homebrewing (in fact, I only finished batch #2 last week) but looking to test out a few new types of drink. I'm planning on starting a batch of Pilsner in a few weeks, for this I will be using a Muntons Connoisseur Pilsner kit (not export pilsner).

I've read through the instructions, which state that primary fermentation will be 4-6 days (or below 1008), at which point bottling should take place (I've opted for bottles instead of a barrel this time round)

I'm a little confused now. I've done a little research online (although a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing) and it seems that other people who've made pilsners have taken much longer (in on case I think 3 or 4 weeks).

The impression I got was that not only does the yeast for a lager/pilsner work slowly (because of the lower temperatures involved and the nature of the yeast used) but it also needs "lagering" for some time at a low temperature (the instructions on the kit suggest 2 weeks after bottling or transferring to the barrel). Also, the fact that I'm told to leave the fermenter in a warm place does go against my understanding of how a lager/pilsner is supposed to be produced.

So far I have only made ales (one batch in a barrel, the other in bottles) so I'm in uncharted territory. Can anyone let me know if I'm worrying about nothing or whether I should deviate from the kit instructions?

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2 Answers 2

Most extract-based lager kits are sold with an ale yeast. This is because most home-brewers don't have the equipment to ferment at a consistent low temperature. You could check the kit to make sure, but it's almost certainly the case that your kit makes a light ale, not a lager.

I've had good luck in the past with WYeast 2112 (California Lager, equivalent to White Labs WLP810, San Francisco Lager) for making a pseudo-lager at ale temperatures. I find that it produces some of the crisp maltiness that I associate with lagers and none of the esters I associate with ales.

As for the timing suggested by your kit, even for an ale fermented at room temperature, it is too quick. Primary fermentation will likely be over within 6 days, but the beer will be considerably improved by leaving it for another two weeks before bottling. The yeast will continue to "clean up" the beer by removing acetaldehyde and higher alcohols that contribute to a "green" flavor in beer. Some people would rack the beer into a clean carboy for a secondary fermentation, but I don't believe it necessary.

Check the gravity after 6 days to confirm that fermentation is completed (SG should be near the target for the kit: 1.008) then leave it alone for another 2 weeks before bottling.

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Well I for one would never bottle before a week is through. I leave my brews in primary for 3 weeks. Not because it needs to ferment longer but because the beer needs to condition on the yeast.

While your beer may be (and most likely will be) done fermenting after 4-6 days, to round out the flavor I would let it sit at least two weeks.

Kit instructions are generally geared to getting the beer drinkable in the shortest amount of time, not necessarily making it the best that it could be.

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