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Old 04-16-2010, 05:20 PM   #1
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Default HELP! First Lager/Third AG - Underpitched!

HELP! Saturday I brewed my first Lager ever, I thought I had researched it well enough, but now I think... maybe not. I made a 4.75 gal batch of 1.055 German Lager to ferment in my corny keg and all I pitched was my 1 activator pack of Wyeast 2308 Munich Lager yeast. It has been a week with very little activity. It is in my fridge set @ 50 deg with my controller. I can shake the keg a little and the airlock will bubble some, but if I just stand and watch it... it does nothing. I now realize I should have made about a 2 gal starter! CAN IT BE SAVED AFTER A WEEK BY PITCHING NEW YEAST!?!

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Old 04-16-2010, 05:31 PM   #2
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Most of the wyeast and white labs liquid yeasts are supposed to be fine up to 1.050 direct pitching. You don't have to worry about that extra .005, it just means theres a slightly more difficult time for the yeast to do its job.... It should get there. I'm not a lager guy but from what I understand it always ferments much more slowly. You can always repitch if nothing happens at all, i.e. no ferementation happens... The wort still has tons of sugars for healthy yeast to eat up. I'd take gravity readings and see if the gravity is going down. It's been said here over and over airlock activity or lack thereof does NOT equal fermentation or no fermentation. They're totally unrelated. if the gravity is going down, then your yeast is working.

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Old 04-16-2010, 05:35 PM   #3
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Lagers do require MUCH more yeast than an Ale so the above does not necessarily apply. I made my first lager for my last batch as well. I added a 1G starter (only about 1/5G of actual slurry) that was stepped up twice from 2 vials of liquid yeast. I racked to keg after about 2 weeks to begin the lagering phase. I also took my gravity reading at this point. 1050 So hopefully it will get down a bit over the next 5 months that I plan to lager it. It is however sitting in my keezer at 40 degrees. I do know it fermented SOME because the sample was quite carbonated, which I'm also hoping was throwing my reading off. I didn't think to let it degas first. It tasted amazing though and not overly sweet. Weird.

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Old 04-16-2010, 06:00 PM   #4
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ahh then I may be wrong, sorry... I've only done ales... I guess that you may want to do a starter and repitch... Again, repitching shouldn't hurt at all, but you don't want to do things like that until you're sure its not fermenting, as it increases chances of contamination etc. But if you're not fermenting, I'd go for it.

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Old 04-16-2010, 06:26 PM   #5
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Well, check the SG and see if it's fermenting. If the SG is dropping, then I'd leave it alone. The yeast will reproduce before it starts fermenting, so once it starts you should be all set.

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Old 04-16-2010, 06:59 PM   #6
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So if I understand correctly Yooper, even if I underpitched the yeast they will reproduce enough to finish the fermentation process (as long as they are doing something)? I will check my SG when I get home this evening and see where I am. I was planning to do a diacetyl rest @ 3/4 FG. Looks like it may take a little longer to get there.

I am thinking of investing in a mag. stir plate now, they seem less expensive after the thought of losing a $40 batch of beer + my hourly rate! Mr. Malty said I would need 4 of the activator packs or an 8L starter! That seems excessive, but I have never used that tool before or done a lager before....sheesh, maybe I should just stick to ales....

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Old 04-16-2010, 07:44 PM   #7
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it'll probably still ferment fine, you'll just have some off-flavors.

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Old 04-16-2010, 07:47 PM   #8
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4 activators would have been about right. Figure about one per 25-30 gravity points for ales and double that for lagers.

With a stir plate, that starter should be much smaller than 8 liters, like 2. Make sure you have the yeast production date right, it sounds like it is assuming fairly old yeast and if your yeast is that old try to buy fresher yeast next time.

At the end of the day, underpitching cost you 2 reproduction cycles and probably you aren't going to have as clean a beer as you might have otherwise but I think it will be okay. It will start fermenting, although I would think it would have buy now (and maybe it has). Once you hit 60% apparent attenuation or so I would raise the temp slowly to like 60 or even 65, that will help it finish out and maybe clean up any excess diacetyl that the stressed start might have caused.

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Old 04-17-2010, 09:52 AM   #9
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I pitched the yeast from a 2.5g "starter" into 10g of 1.060 BoPils and it took a bit over two weeks to get down to 1.028, at which point I raised the temp up from 50 to 65. Don't expect it to take 5 days like an ale would. Lagers just take a lot of patience.

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Old 04-26-2010, 12:43 AM   #10
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I just checked my gravity and it was at 1.014 in two weeks! I guess it was working. Now my concern is the diacetyl rest, have I missed that window? I thought my final gravity was going to be around 1.016, so I am already lower than I had anticipated (I had a little trouble hitting my temps in my step mash). I also tasted the hydrometer sample (of course) and I am definitely getting buttered popcorn finish so I am concerned. I just raised the temp from 50 to 62 deg F. Any advice?

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