Lager Brewing

Brewing lager beer requires a little more skill and time as well as knowledge to achieve the proper desired results. I would recommend becoming skilled at making good ale before tackling making a pilsner. With a lager, when done properly, the aroma and flavor should be clean and without any noticeable fruitiness. The lighter lagers such as Helles or Pilsener will reveal the slightest flaws, mistakes, and shortcomings of a brewer's process. Chilling the wort quickly down to a pitch temperature of 60F or less is important. A fast yeast start is important as well. A place to ferment cold is also needed. The full 90 minute boil (plus pre-boil) is needed to assure as much of the DMS and other compounds are boiled off as possible.

Notes
1) I do lagers when the seasonal temperatures get cold enough and my cooling water is cold enough to chill the wort down to around 60. This depends on the year. Any brewer can set up his or her own system to achieve this any time of year with their own creativity and research. Getting the wort down to temperature in 20 minutes or less is best.
2) I like to use quality German malts and do decoctions to extend malt character. It is more expensive and takes a little more time, but worth it. 
3) Ferment cold. At 55F results will be fine, but will require a little more time to get that crisp lager snap in the flavor through lagering. Have found that fermenting beers longer at a colder temperatures require less lager conditioning time.
4) Remember to raise temperature to 58 degrees or so for a Diacetyl rest at toward the end of fermentation (when activity is slowing) This is more important when fermenting very cold, but is always a good idea.
5) Condition lagers as close to 32F as possible. This reduces lagering time. A pils may clarify in 2 weeks at that temperature. General rule of thumb is 4 weeks conditioning time for lower gravity beers, 6 weeks for Octoberfest and Bock strength, and 8 or more for Doppelbock.
6) Rack to secondary after 2 weeks no matter what. It is always a good idea to get the beer off of old dead yeast to minimize off flavors.
7) Kegging or bottling is up to the brewer. I have done both. Conditioning the full batch at 32 is fine, but remember, after a month at that temperature, the yeast will go dormant, and bottle conditioning will be more difficult. My solution to this is to bottle first, and when carbonated, begin the 32 degree conditioning process. It works well, and the bottles are usually carbonated within a week at 60F.
8) It is important to have an active starter. Do a starter well in advance at the temperatures that will be used for the primary fermentation. Warm the starter to match the temperature of the chilled wort prior to pitching. Remember, if the starter finishes prior to brew day, just add more wort for fermenting.