Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Cliffred Lager Update, February Brewing Plans

Cliffred Lager chillin' in the closet by the garage at about 41 degrees F on a cold January day in Minnesota.

Last weekend was the 4 week mark from when I transferred the red lager batch from primary into the secondary fermenter. I’m starting to strategize about when I’ll be able to bottle this beer. The recipe said to let it lager in secondary for 3 to 12 weeks. I feel like I’ve exercised commendable patience thus far, in part because I forgot to use Irish moss (a natural clarifying agent) in the boil of this batch. Since longer, colder lagering of a batch contributes to the final beer’s clarity and since I have plenty of other homebrew to drink, I’m going to try and hold off on bottling this beer for as long as possible (also considering that I’m using ambient Minnesota temps to lager this batch in my garage and/or in a closet next to the garage when it consistently gets too close to zero degrees (F) outside (so it’s not like I can rely on having proper lagering temps available past mid-March… hopefully!!).

In doing a little research about what to do once you’re ready to bottle a lager, I stumbled upon this homebrew forum conversation that essentially tells me I’m going to need to add about 1/4 of a package of rehydrated dry yeast to the batch, as most of the yeast from fermentation will have dropped out of suspension and died during the lagering process. Glad I accidentally found this.

In examining my calendar, I think I’m going to go for the full 12 weeks of lagering. My wife is going to be gone at a friend’s cabin for a “girls-weekend” from 2/11-2/13 so this will naturally become a very homebrew-centric weekend for me with the house to myself. Here’s my plan:

  • Friday 2/11: Reeeeeeelax
  • Saturday 2/12: Brew a new batch, probably a sweet nut brown ale… or maybe a Cascadian dark ale. Or something else. Not sure yet. Whatever it will be, it won’t be a lager. As long as I’m bottling one batch during this weekend I might as well bottle a second (the Cliffred Lager). Though it’ll have only been 8 weeks in secondary at this point, I’m not sure if I want to push the batch much further than that. If you take a look at the bottom of the carboy in the picture, you’ll see a thick layer of trub (or dormant yeast cells and other proteins). This stuff can impart some off-flavors if the batch is left on it for too too long. If I would have had a cleaner transfer to secondary, maybe I’d let the batch sit longer. Not this time.
  • Sunday 2/13: Bottle the batch of Scootin’ Scottie Ale I brewed this past Sunday.

Yes, OK I’ve convinced myself.  That’ll be the plan. Helps to type it all out. Pumped for that weekend now!!

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