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Old 11-27-2012, 03:18 PM   #1
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I have been brewing for a few months now. All my ales have come out great, so I decided to try my hand at lagers. I built a "Son of fermentation chamber" style chiller. I brewed a lager and a pilsner on Sunday and slowly have lowered the temperature in the chamber. This morning it was at the top end of the recommended range of the yeast.

As of right now there is still no action in the fermentation looks. I pitched the yeast directly from the slap pack and didn't do a starter. The plan is to do a diactyl rest.

I am just wondering when I should see something happening? The water levels in the air locks is also low. I'm afraid that I may have cooled the wort too quickly and the water in the lock was suctioned inside.

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Old 11-27-2012, 03:33 PM   #2
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With a lager, you want to pitch a lot of healthy yeast cells into a well aerated wort. If you didn't make a starter or under aerated, you could see a 2-3 day or greater lag time until the yeast get built up and really get going. Do you know how old the smack pack was? Next time, I would recommend checking mrmalty.com or yeastcalc.com to make sure you are pitching enough cells. Also, I would recommend chilling the yeast until you are at or even a few degrees below fermentation temps before pitching. If you pitch warm and then cool it down 10 degrees, the yeast may slow down. I have a pilsner fermenting right now, I made 3 x 1.5L stepped starters to get to about 350 billion yeast cells, chilled my wort to about 47F, aerated with pure O2 for about 45 secs and then pitched my slurry. I active fermentation in about 8 hours and let the temp rise naturally to 50F, held it there for about 6 days and I'm now raising it to 60F over a couple of days for the diacetyl rest. I wouldn't worry about the water suck back...if it gets too low, add more water or star san.

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Old 11-28-2012, 04:17 AM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback. I has just bought the yeast from my LHBS so it shouldn't be that old unless it sat there for a while. Not sure what the temperature was at pitching. I left the packets out for a few hours so they should've been okay.

I'll definitely do a starter next time. I didn't this time out of laziness and impatience more than anything. I thought I smelled a but of sulfur so I think it's starting to ferment. If not ill aerate the wort and add some energizer.

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Old 11-28-2012, 12:02 PM   #4
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Lagers really need a tremendous amount of healthy yeast and vigorous aeration if you want them to come out tasting clean. One smack pack is definitely not going to cut it, no matter how fresh it was. In the end, you may get beer, but from the over-stressed lengthy reproduction phase, the beer will be full of off-flavors.

Chalk it up to a learning experience. Proper pitching and cold fermentation are the keys to a great lager.

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Old 11-29-2012, 04:02 AM   #5
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Today was day 3 and still nothing in the airlock. I aerated the wort with a wisk and added 1tbsp of yeast nutrient. The lager looked like this, but lightened up after aerating.

image-3145806160.jpg  
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Old 11-29-2012, 01:00 PM   #6
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Yeast do NOT like to be chilled down, so you told your yeast to go to sleep and that's what they did. Second, making a lager with no starter will never work well; even once it gets going, you'll have a very sloooow fermentation. Third, it needs to be well aerated; did you aerate when pitching, and if so, how? (please don't say hand whisk!)

Generally you'll need to make a 2-3L starter, cool the yeast in the fridge a day or two, then pitch into your wort that is already at, or a couple degrees below, desired fermentation temp, and aerate well. Missing any of these steps will likely cause problems, and you missed at least a couple of them. but this thread has turned it into a good learning experience!

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Old 11-29-2012, 01:47 PM   #7
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Brian Rabe's Lagering Method

Read this for next time, if you haven't already. Some really good advice in there.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmandaK View Post
Brian Rabe's Lagering Method

Read this for next time, if you haven't already. Some really good advice in there.
Also some very unnecessary advice, however. Amazing that he's brewed that many batches apparently without testing some of his requirements. Among the claims that are easily disproven:

1. Yeast and wort need to be at the same temp when pitching. Many many of us pull the yeast straight from the fridge and pitch into warmer wort. Works fine. (but granted, pitching warm yeast into cool wort is a bad idea).

2. Yeast should be propagated at the same SG as your wort. White & Jamil's book Yeast explain why that's unneeded.

3. Yeast should be propagated at the same temp as you'll be fermenting. Again, White & Jamil's book Yeast explain why that's unneeded.

4. All trub needs to be removed. Unlikely to ever have a consensus on this. In a Basic Brewing podcast, dozens of folks experimented and it was quite split. Some say trub helps, some say it hurts.

I doubt any of those recommendations will HURT your beer, but they're not needed.
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeedYellow View Post
Also some very unnecessary advice, however. Amazing that he's brewed that many batches apparently without testing some of his requirements. Among the claims that are easily disproven:

1. Yeast and wort need to be at the same temp when pitching. Many many of us pull the yeast straight from the fridge and pitch into warmer wort. Works fine. (but granted, pitching warm yeast into cool wort is a bad idea).

2. Yeast should be propagated at the same SG as your wort. White & Jamil's book Yeast explain why that's unneeded.

3. Yeast should be propagated at the same temp as you'll be fermenting. Again, White & Jamil's book Yeast explain why that's unneeded.

4. All trub needs to be removed. Unlikely to ever have a consensus on this. In a Basic Brewing podcast, dozens of folks experimented and it was quite split. Some say trub helps, some say it hurts.

I doubt any of those recommendations will HURT your beer, but they're not needed.
Agreed.

After Denny implored me to try pitching very cold yeast into ready-to-ferment wort (I used to believe they should be within 10 degrees of one another) I tried it and will never look back. But yeah, DON'T pitch warm yeast into cold wort.

I also used to propogate my lager yeast at ferm temps. Again, no need whatsoever so now everything gets propogated at room temperature, then cold crashed and decanted so I regularly pitch 30-something degree yeast into 40-something degree wort. No problems whatsoever.
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:55 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice everybody. I definitely have a better idea of what to do going forward for lagering in the future.

Have any of you lagered in the bottle after conditioning?

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