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Old 12-18-2006, 11:59 PM   #1
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Default Lager lag time

I brewed up the Peppercorn Rye Bock recipe from Extreme Brewing, cooled the wort to 55F and pitched the yeast (also at 55F). It has been 7 days and has not started fermenting. I bought the yeast at the local brew shop - White Labs #838. It had a best used by date of Jan-08-07, so it wasn't expired, though about 3 months old. To ferment, I placed it in the utility room in my garage which hangs between 45-55F.

Any thoughts on what may be the problem and what I can do about it?

I am leaning towards warming it up a bit to get it started but not sure.

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Old 12-19-2006, 12:37 AM   #2
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I know some people are recommending cooling, then pitching. I'm sticking with pitching warm & then cooling after the ferment starts. (which reminds me, I should check the Schwarzbier's gravity).

Sounds like the temperature range is ok, but a ten degree swing isn't good. Try wrapping the fermenter with a blanket.

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Old 12-19-2006, 12:50 AM   #3
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Pitching old yeast 'cold' (at fermentation temp) without a giant starter might be why nothing's happened so far. Unless you have another yeast package ready to go, I would bring it up to room temps to see what happens.

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Old 12-19-2006, 01:04 AM   #4
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So when making a lager starter should it be done at fermentation temp? I thought off flavors were caused by fermenting lager yeast at room temp.

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Old 12-19-2006, 01:24 AM   #5
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When making a starter for lagers I generally recommend that it is fermented out so that the yeast can settle and you can decant the beer off it. Then you can resuspend the yeast with the actual wort and pitch this slurry. This way you don't have to worry about off flavors and/or you can even use left over wort from previous batches for your starters. When using ale yeast the yeast can be settled by chilling the starter, but that doesn't work so well for lager starters.

Though lag times for lagers tend to be longer (I see 16-18hrs as ideal). I currently have a lager in the primary that hasn't started after 32hrs. I think the pitching rate was less than ideal and the pitching/fidge temp may have been to low. I just gave it another 1 min of O2 to get things started. The good thing is, that wort spoiling bacteria doesn't do so well at 50F.

7 days is rather long though. You should have seen at least a low Krauesen yet. Give the wort a smell and taste to see if you already picked up some nastiess. Then pitch fresh yeast. Dry yeast would be best at this point so thing get started more quickly.

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Old 12-19-2006, 02:14 PM   #6
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Yes, off-flavors are created by fermenting lager yeasts at room temperature, BUT lager yeast grows better at room temperature. The trick is to cool the fermenter as the yeast are switching from growth to fermentation.

No doubt there are good reasons for pitching cool, not the least of which is the chance of missing the cross-over point. If you do this in the future, make a big starter.

The gripping hand: my room temperature in the winter is 65F, so I don't worry about it.

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Old 12-19-2006, 03:18 PM   #7
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I was told that you pitch warmer, around 65 and let it ferment out. The term lager refers to the cold storage time in which the beer is being "lagered" is after it ferment you then drop the temp way down and let it be for a couple months.
Maybe this is closer to a steam style but, i tried to lager my first time around 50 after fermentation started and it immediately stopped and nothing happend, brew got ruined.

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Old 12-19-2006, 03:20 PM   #8
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Obviously you should check the gravity to be sure that the CO2 isn't escaping somewhere besides the airlock. Lager yeast works on the bottom so krausen isn't reliable either. You really should make a starter for lagers as the pitching rate is more critical. Also, if you start your starter warm bring it down relatively slowly to pitching temp to minimize osmotic shock.

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Old 12-19-2006, 03:56 PM   #9
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I just pitched a 4-pint starter (While Labs 830 German Ale) last night into a Black Lager using the basic idea of a number of posts David has had on this subject. I probably could have had the wort chiller bring the temperature down into the 50's before pitching but I didn't want to go through all that water. I cooled it to the 63 range and pitched the starter, which had been going for 2 days at room temperature. ( i decanted the liquid and shook in some fresh wort to pitch) As of this morning, the fridge and contents had balanced off to a perfect 52, so looks like we are in business.

I'll be checking for fermentation when I get home from work, and I'm hopeful that it will be underway - a 4-pinter was as "big" a starter as I've done and it was a noticeably large amount of yeast slurry that was pitched.

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Old 12-19-2006, 07:37 PM   #10
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I'm doing the Imperial Pilsner from Extreme Brewing next weekend. Here's my plan:
2 Qt starter 2 days early. Get it fermenting then move it to a cool place ~65F. Then brew, cool to 65F and pitch. I'll move the wort to my garage at that point where it will cool at its leisure and sit at 50F to ferment. Any suggestions?

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