Because of this, brewing a commercial lager beer can take four to eight weeks. Lagers must be conditioned, which is the most time consuming part of the production process. The conditioning (or brewing) process allows the harsh and bitter flavors that arise from the fermentation process to soften. In the case of brewing beers with high alcohol content, the primary fermentation lasts about three months.
The second will take more than a year for the beer to be ready to be served. Brewing beer can take as little as two and a half hours for a simple batch of extracts and up to six hours for a complex whole-grain recipe. It's not a good idea to rush things in brewing. Reducing the boiling time is not feasible, because that time is needed to convert the alpha acids in hops into the bitter flavors they provide.
Similarly, reducing maceration time leads to lower efficiency. These are things that we simply can't avoid in the process. Below is a breakdown of our estimate of how long it would take to prepare a batch of home-brewed beer using different methods:. Most first-time brewers focus on beers; only after you get a good deal of experience does the extra effort involved in brewing lager seem reasonable.
Lagers are more complex and require more time to prepare. The aging process takes place for weeks and only after the completion of the primary fermentation. Lagers also require higher amounts of yeast than ales, and the choice of yeast strain is at least as important as it is for beers. Brewery procedures that minimize oxygen uptake are even more important for pale lagers than for beers.
In addition, it is essential to carefully control the temperature during fermentation and storage periods. For all these reasons, lagers are difficult to do well and are best reserved for more experienced brewers. In the next installment, I'll discuss more of the chemical changes that occur during lagering and explore some alternative lagering techniques. A typical storage period for a traditional beer with PILS gravity (12-13° P) is six weeks or longer; a Doppelbock of 20° P usually lasts 12 weeks or more.
This situation is changing as craft brewers become more capable of producing world-class beers and the homebrewing community becomes more technically-oriented. Due to the low temperature, lager yeast can take up to 3 weeks or more to ferment, and this does not include the conditioning process, which can take another 3 weeks, as explained below. Lager beers, made using the traditional fermentation and conditioning processes of lager beer, take much longer to prepare. While water supplies in classic lager beer brewing cities fluctuate widely in terms of mineral levels, a general rule of thumb is to minimize sulfates.
Lager yeast ferments at much lower temperatures and is typically stored at 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.75 degrees Celsius). Under most homebrewing conditions, beer is separated from the primary yeast and allowed to rest in a separate container, such as a Cornelius keg or a closed carafe. On the other hand, you should wait up to two months to try the beer, as it ferments slowly and at a lower temperature. Most lagers, with the important exception of Pils, are slightly hoppy beers, both in the aromatic and bitter categories.
Traditional lagers are fermented at about 48°F (9°C) during primary fermentation. The decoction system can make most lagers more complex; with some malts, it can cause a slight increase in extract.