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Old 01-28-2013, 08:45 PM   #1
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Default first lager...feeling like a noob

I brewed my first lager last night. Everything went well, I aerated it well and got it cooled down to 50°F overnight. I pitched an appropriately sized starter (per mrmalty.com) of wlp833 this morning.

Now...at the risk of sounding noobish (sorry, noobs!)...I just realized that I have NO idea what to expect from this fermentation. Should I expect a long lag? Should I get a big krausen like I do with my ales? How long should a healthy fermentation take? Can I assume since it is fermenting colder than all the other beers I have ever done it will be a less active fermentation? Or will the lager yeast rip through it like an ale yeast would at normal ale temps?

I haven't felt this anxious about a beer in quite some time! I know I should RDWHAHB, etc...and I'm not really that worried about anything...I'm just, well, "concerned". I'm not quite at the "Why isn't my airlock bubbling" stage yet...but I'm close

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Old 01-28-2013, 08:46 PM   #2
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Never done one.....but am curious to see the answers to your questions as well.

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Old 01-28-2013, 10:09 PM   #3
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If you pitched the proper sized starter, you should have a primary that lasts about 5-7 days, or very similar to ales, plus a day or two.

Lager yeast are a different strain than ale yeast, and are "bottom fermenting", but even so I normally get a krausen and airlock activity. I'm normally doing a diacetyl rest by day 7 or so.

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Old 01-28-2013, 10:35 PM   #4
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If you pitched the proper sized starter, you should have a primary that lasts about 5-7 days, or very similar to ales, plus a day or two.

Lager yeast are a different strain than ale yeast, and are "bottom fermenting", but even so I normally get a krausen and airlock activity. I'm normally doing a diacetyl rest by day 7 or so.
Awesome. You're the best, Yoop! Thanks.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
If you pitched the proper sized starter, you should have a primary that lasts about 5-7 days, or very similar to ales, plus a day or two.

Lager yeast are a different strain than ale yeast, and are "bottom fermenting", but even so I normally get a krausen and airlock activity. I'm normally doing a diacetyl rest by day 7 or so.
Hey yooper you are from texas?..Nice!! Stevie ray vaughan baby!!
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:15 PM   #6
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Just did my first lager this weekend too! Has a nice foamy Krausen on it now, but definitely looks a little tamer than any ale I've done recently.

Not looking forward to the lagering period and having a full keg of beer I can't drink for a few months though.

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Old 01-28-2013, 11:51 PM   #7
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Hey yooper you are from texas?..Nice!! Stevie ray vaughan baby!!
Not from Texas- I just live here in the winter. It's nearly 80 degrees right now, and the windows are wide open and it feels great! We're fishing at the moment but it's slow so I"m online also, while sitting on the deck and watching the ducks swimming under the lights. It's pretty cool!

Stevie Ray Vaughan? Well, he's ok. I'm not really a fan but some of it is alright I guess.

Oh, Jlem, it's recommended to do the diacetyl rest at 75% of the way to FG.

You can guestimate that by seeing when the really active part of fermentation slows, and do it then. Generally you're right in there, at 1.020-1.024 when that happens in my experience (depending on OG and what you're making of course).
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:48 PM   #8
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Default lager stuck again

Well, my second lager experienced the same stuck fermentation as the first. Right around 1020. The first I underpitched with a 2 l starter but this one I stepped up to an appropriate size and had airlock activity in a few hours. The first kicked back up after I racked to secondary. I almost did the same with his one bit decided to give the yeast a good stir instead... airlock was popping almost immediately and was still going this morning.

My question.... is this characteristic of lager yeast? Both times I had fairly stable temps, within A degree or 2 of 50 for most of the primary. I slowly raised it to 55 after fermentation slowed and 60 when I expected it was within 20% of its fg. When I took a gravity reading there had been no activity for several days and both times i came up short of my fg. Both times the yeast immediately became active when they were agitated. Because lager yeast are bottom fermenters, is the flat bottom of a bucket inhibiting all the yeast from accessing residual sugars in the wort?

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Old 01-29-2013, 01:54 PM   #9
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My question.... is this characteristic of lager yeast?
No, that's not typical at all. It seems quite unusual, actually. Could it be the ingredients in the recipe? Like a less fermentable extract, or a high mash temp?
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:59 PM   #10
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JLem, I thought I'd chime in too since I like brewing lagers so much. Yooper pretty much summed it up. I think with an appropriate sized starter, pitched at or below ferm temps, you'll not see much activity for about 24 hours, then it'll slowly ramp up to a very tame krausen. I use WLP833 for most of my lagers now, I like the results I get with it. Made a helles with it on January 1, and I have a dunkel going with it now. After about 5 days, the activity will drop off, and it'll probably be finished after 7-8. I usually try to leave mine in the fermenter for about 2 weeks, and then transfer and lager in the keg. I've quit doing d-rests (with my luck this'll probably bite me soon), I've found with 833, with a proper pitch at 45 degrees or so, I don't get any diacetyl.

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