Tips From The Pitch - Lagers

Category : Technical
Date : June 5, 2024
Author : White Labs

Beloved for their clean, crisp, and ultra-drinkable profiles, lagers are the most widely brewed beer in the world. Craft your best lager with these tips and tricks from Lager Pros.

 

Download Tips From the Pitch-Lagers

 

1. Pitch Rate Matters

  • Industry Standard is 1.5 - 2 million cells/mL/°Plato
    • This refers to the rate of cells needed for repitching after harvesting yeast from a previous beer and is a good rule of thumb.
  • Starting Gravity affects pitch rates
    • Up to 15°Plato = 1.5 million cells/mL/°Plato
    • > 15°Plato = 2 million cells/mL/°Plato
  • Temperature of fermentation affects pitch rates
    • ​Pitch at warm temperatures then lower to fermentation temperature after 24 hours = 1.5 million cells/mL/°Plato
    • Pitch at cold temperatures = 2 million cells/mL/°Plato
Lab grown yeast like PurePitch® Next Generation is usually pitched at a lower rate due to its glycogen levels, viability, and overall health. You will typically see a range of 7 - 15 million cells/mL with lab grown yeast.
 
To customize your pitch with PurePitch® Next Generation, visit yeastman.com/calculator!
 

2. Traditional Method

Lager purists prefer the traditional method of fermentation - knocking out and fermenting at lagering temperatures. Due to the cooler temperatures for the yeast, higher pitch rates are required for successful fermentation. The lower temperatures result in slower fermentation, with less metabolites (flavor & aroma compounds), creating complexity and a clean, crisp beer.
 
  • Start fermentation between 8-12°C (48-55°F)
 
  • Once fermentation at or near terminal, cool 2-3°C (4-5°F) per day until hitting lager temperature of 2°C (35°F), collect flocculated yeast
 
  • Free rise to 18°C (65°F) until diacetyl rest is complete (2-10 days)
Pro Tip: If you want to keep to tradition, don't go above fermentation temperatures for diacetyl rest and condition the beer longer. Ferment cooler and longer when you can for the most delicate flavor profiles.

3. Warm Pitch Method

This method relies on warm yeast pitching temperatures to promote a stronger fermentation and more quickly achieve finished beer. It is a popular method in many craft breweries, allowing for less yeast and shorter fermentation times while still producing great lagers.
 
Get More Details On Repitching & Getting The Most Value Out Of Your Yeast
 
  • Start fermentation between 15-18°C (60-65°F) and maintain until signs of fermentation are evident (CO2 production or pH decrease)
 
  • Once fermentation is active, slowly lower the temperature to 8-12°C (48-55°F)
 
  • Cool 2-3°C (4-5°F) per day until hitting lager temperature of 2°C (35°F), collect flocculated yeast
 
  • Free rise to 18°C (65°F) until diacetyl rest is complete (2-10 days)
Pro Tip: Pitching warm allows for shorter lag times and an earlier growth phase. Most ester formation is created within the first 24 hours of growth phase and slows when the fermentation temperature is lowered, maintaining a clean beer profile.

 

4. Fast Lagers

Modern brewers are finding new ways to produce lagers, including “fast” or “pseudo” lagers, which are untraditional but result in clean, lager-like profiles.

Psuedo Lagers
“Pseudo” lagers fermented with Kveik strains have gained popularity for their ability to ferment fast, at ale temperatures, and for their crisp lager profile. Brewed like
an ale, tastes like a lager.

​Read More About Our R&D Brewing Lagers With Kveik Yeast

Spund for FUN - High Pressure Lagers
Fermenting under pressure is a way to quicken fermentation timelines by fermenting hotter without the usual risk of “off-flavors”. Pressure reduces yeast growth
which reduces metabolite production and inhibits some Acetyl-CoA formation.
 
Brew With WLP925 High Pressure Lager Yeast
Read About WLP808 Mythical Hammer Lager Yeast Blend 

Yeast can be repitched but Always Check Viability
 
  • Start fermentation between 18-20°C (65-68°F)
 
  • Set spunding valve to 1 bar (15psi)
 
  • Once terminal gravity is hit cool 2-3°C (4-5°F) per day until hitting lager temperature of 2°C (35°F)
 
  • May allow for a warmer fermentation temperature with reduced metabolite production
 
  • Pressure reduces yeast growth. Less yeast growth can result in lower esters

Pro Tip: Beer under pressure clears slower, so use findings or a more flocculent strain. 
Pro Tip: Want to double batch your high pressure lager? Don't set the sound valve until the full batch of wort is added.


5. Products for Lagers


Lager Yeast Strains Alternative Yeast Strains