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Old 08-16-2012, 03:15 AM   #1
mclamb6
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Default Marzen help...

My Marzen has been fermenting for 10 days at 48 deg. Yeast is the Wyeat equivalent of WLP838. OG was 1.057. I took a gravity reading today to see if it was ready for a d-rest and it was at 1.049, with some krausening still present. I did NOT use a starter (I also didn't use a starter for my first lager--a rauchbier that had a similar projected ABV).

I pitched warm (it's Phoenix--getting the wort down below 70 is extremely difficult) and waiting for airlock activity before putting it into the kegerator. The activity was still going with bubbles every 15 seconds or so when I checked on Sunday evening.

The taste was sweeter than would be expected, which I attribute to fermentation not being complete.

So my question is--am I going to get down to the predicted FG (1.014) without some "help". Am I panicking a bit too early?

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Old 08-16-2012, 03:31 AM   #2
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At this point, I'd certainly be looking at adding a fresh starter with some new yeast (probably a bit of aeration too).

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Old 08-16-2012, 04:34 AM   #3
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How would I estimate the starter size? Should I at least wait until I've been in primary for two full weeks?

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Old 08-16-2012, 05:13 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by DarkBrood View Post
At this point, I'd certainly be looking at adding a fresh starter with some new yeast (probably a bit of aeration too).
-1

I absolutely wouldn't aerate after fermentation has started. Best way to ruin a batch is to oxidize it.
Lagers need a big starter though, so I would definitely make a new one. If you like, aerate the heck out of the starter, and wait 24 hours before you pitch it into the lager. That way the yeasties will get their oxygen and multiply, but it'll be gone by the time you put it into your beer.
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Old 08-16-2012, 05:20 AM   #5
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How would I estimate the starter size? Should I at least wait until I've been in primary for two full weeks?
I would make a starter now, and as soon as it's ready pitch it. But I'm no expert - I've only made about a dozen lagers, and never underpitched one. At least one problem with underpitching is that you get off flavors. Esters I think? And the longer you wait, the more you'll get.
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Old 08-16-2012, 12:14 PM   #6
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Well, I gave a bit of a shake, not much, last night, so let's hope I didn't do any damage. Other than the beer being sweet from lack of attenuation, I didn't notice any off flavors.

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Old 08-16-2012, 01:50 PM   #7
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What temperature is it at? You could warm it up to 55F and see if it picks up.

A gallon starter is a good size. It's about like three packs. Normally I'll just make a 2L starter and make a 1.048 pilsner (about like two smack packs.) That five gallon batch is a starter for a 10 gallon batch of a stronger lager.

Now I just cool my lagers down below 90F and put them in a 34F fridge. St. George is pretty hot this time of year too. The next morning they are at pitching temps. Putting them in a the deep freeze might speed that up.

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Old 08-16-2012, 02:02 PM   #8
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Aerating when it's only dropped 8 points and has at least another 30 to go wouldn't hurt anything, but I probably wouldn't. First thing I'd do is warm it up (like others have said) to 50-55 and see if it picks up - give it a few days at least. If it doesn't, either make a starter or pitch 3-4 packs of yeast. I would base your starter size on the OG and the batch size, and ignore that it's dropped a few points.

I use either WLP 838 or 833 (I'm starting to prefer 833), but 838 usually will ferment out in 10 days or less if you have a proper starter.

How are you checking your gravities btw? If using a refractometer, make sure you are correcting the reading (even if you aren't correcting it, off the top of my head you're still high).

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Old 08-16-2012, 02:24 PM   #9
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The OG was checked with a hydrometer with a graduated cylinder. Initially, it looked like it was around 1.039, but when I came back a bit later, it was around 1.050 (corrected to 1.049). So it's possible that the hydrometer was "stuck" on the side and I read a little high. Even if it was 1.039, it is still a bit slow--about 50% of the way after 10 days. This might be totally unscientific, but it tasted like it was about half one--i.e. there was the flavor of sweet, unfermented wort at first, then a much drier/alcohol flavor at the back end. I'll bump the thermo up to 53ish and check the gravity on Saturday to see where it's at.

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Old 08-16-2012, 04:15 PM   #10
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The CO2 in fermenting beer can make it read high. You may need to give the hydrometer a little spin.

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