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Total newbie here so sorry for the very basic question.

I started doing a the Coopers Lager kit last night (using the standard Coopers Homebrew start kit set up). It said in the instructions to add the yeast and ferment at 21-27 degrees C however I added the yeast and have been leaving it ferment around 14-18 (my back shed) as I read a comment that lager tastes nicer when brewed 11-18. Feeling kinda silly about that now though, should have just followed the instructions I think.

Question is, have I ruined the beer, will it not ferment properly?

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No you haven't. But, you should probably let it warm up to the recommended temperature, let it finish fermenting and then switch to fermenting ales for a while. It ought to still ferment fully and be drinkable, but it won't taste anything like what you might expect a lager to taste like.

Lagers are really much more difficult to produce well than ales due to the different physiological needs of the lager yeast. The lower fermentation temp. requires pitching much more yeast than is normal for ales, and you really need good temperature control, among other things. If you ferment at a lower temp without making sure you're pitching and managing the fermentation correctly, you're not going to end up with a better tasting lager, in fact you'll probably end up with something rather disappointing.

I think lagers are generally a bad place to start homebrewing because the work/worry/complexity-to-reward ratio is just too high. It's kind of like trying to learn calculus before you learn algebra. Ales will give you much better results in a much wider range of fermentation temperatures with much less fuss and a huge deal less to go wrong. I'd suggest getting a bunch of ales under your belt before you dive back into the lager scene.

EDIT:

Looks like you're actually already fermenting with ale yeast. They really ought to put the word 'lager' in quotes...

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  • Thanks for your reply Franklin, it's my first time doing a homebrew and only doing a lager as it came as part of the kit. Prefer ales anyway, I'll see it through and not be too disappointed if it's crap. Chalk it down to a learning experience :) - Regards – Israfel Feb 2 '15 at 13:24
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    No problem, you can just call it a Steam beer! – Franklin P Combs Feb 2 '15 at 13:46
  • if it's really really bad I'll just tell people it's Carling ;) – Israfel Feb 2 '15 at 14:03
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    Kits sold as "lager" almost always use ale yeast. Ale yeasts will fail to ferment or ferment very slowly at 14 C. At 27 C. they'll produce undesirable flavours. Keep it near 20 C or slightly below, for best results. – FishesCycle Feb 2 '15 at 19:34
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    Ha, yeah it says it right on Amazon: 'Includes...1 Packet of Coopers Dry Ale Yeast'. I had no idea about that. – Franklin P Combs Feb 2 '15 at 19:42
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Yes, if that is the target temperature for fermentation is 21-27 C it is most certainly ale yeast. I would just let it ferment an extra week or so at somewhere around 20 C.

If you are interesting in true lagers in the future, your shed sounds like a nice place for lagering if you can trust the weather.

I think you will find you love the beer no matter what. Home Brew has that extra bit of love infused in :-)

http://allaboutbeer.com/article/lager-beer-vs-ale-beer%E2%80%94does-it-matter/

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