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Old 07-28-2010, 11:00 PM   #1
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Default Lager Fermentation?

Hello Everyone,
I've got what I hope is a pretty basic question. I am lagering an Oktoberfest beer in my fridge. Internal fridge temp is around 47 Degrees F. My batch size is five gallons. I am brewing one of the Oktoberfest clones from Midwest and the recipe called for 9.3 lbs of extract. The yeast I used is the White Labs #820 and I did NOT use a starter. I pitched the yeast into the cooled wort and I waited about four days with the wort at room temp (70 Degrees) until I saw the air lock start to bubble. I then moved the fermenting beer to the fridge.

My issue is that since I moved the beer to the fridge, the airlock is not bubbling. Is this normal for lager fermentation or should I be seeing activity in the lock? This is basically my first lager and I don't have a lot of experience with them. I'm hoping to have the beer ready for drinking by mid-October. Any thoughts or suggestions regarding my situation would be much appreciated.

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Old 07-28-2010, 11:18 PM   #2
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First lagering is the conditioning process that occurs after fermentation is complete, you're not at that stage yet. You would expect air lock activity to slow or stop once you put it into the fridge as colder liquid can absorb more CO2. Until enough CO2 is produced by the yeast to saturate the cooler beer none will evolve and pass out through the airlock. While not as vigorous as ale fermentations lagers even at 50F will have obvious signs of active fermentation and form a thick krausen. I pitch my lagers at 44 and bring them up to 50 over 48-72 hours and then leave them there. Others pitch at warmer temperatures (around 60F) and lower the temperature over 2-3 days and then bring the temperature back up towards the end of fermentation to do a diacetyl rest. Given that you pitched at 70F that is what I would recommend. Once your fermentation looks to be nearly complete warm it back up to around 60F for a few days to clean up.

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Old 07-29-2010, 05:02 AM   #3
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i suspect you have severely underpitched.

idk what your OG was, but MrMalty says idealy you would need a 3L starter for even just a 1.048 OG lager.

pitching one vial seems grossly insufficient for any lager.

ive squeaked by before doing it to an ale, but i wouldnt do it again.

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Old 07-29-2010, 11:27 AM   #4
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Thanks for the response. Based on the feedback provided, I suspect that I have severely underpitched. If so, can I expect the yeast to divide and conquer, that is, will they reproduce and eventually have the manpower needed to ferment the brew? Or should I immediately add a package of dry yeast to try and get the yeast cells up to where they should be? The beauty of this hobby is that every batch is a learning experience.

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Old 07-29-2010, 01:12 PM   #5
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Lagers are irritating as hell to make. 1 vial isn't going to get you there. You may just want to add some nottingham yeast and try to stay in the low 60s.

When I do my 2011 lagers my plan is to wait until the keezer is empty and make like 3 or 4 consecutively onto yeast cakes.

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Old 07-29-2010, 01:15 PM   #6
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I have some Saflager dry lager yeast. Do you think adding it will get me back on track? If so, would I need to take the wort out of the refrigerator and get the yeast active again at room temp? Thanks again for all the responses. I have successfully brewed a lot of ales but this lager thing has got me lost like a ball in high weeds. The hell if it's done by October, I just want to ensure that regardless of timeframe, I wind up with a good beer.

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Old 07-29-2010, 01:22 PM   #7
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Add the dry yeast and maintain ferment temps. No real reason to raise temps.

Oktoberfest begins in September, so you won't be done.

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Old 07-15-2011, 06:33 PM   #8
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I brewed a black lager about 3 weeks ago. I brewed, cooled it to about 70 degrees, pitched my dry yeast packet with some yeast nutrient and threw it in the keezer. my OG was 1.052 and after 3 weeks in the keezer brought it out and transferred it to a secondary. I was told that by letting it sit at room temperature for a few days may reactivate the yeast before putting in back in the keezer at a lower temperature to finish out. When transferring to the secondary I got a gravity reading of 1.019, which puts me around 4.6% ABV. Is this pretty typical or should I try to pitch a little more yeast to finish off some of the remaining sugars? I'm ok with a 4.6% beer, but I don't want it to end up being too sweet, especially with the amount of time and effort that is going into this beer. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Old 07-15-2011, 06:42 PM   #9
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Your schwarzbier might go lower now that you're warming it up. What yeast did you use?

Leave it at room temp for a week then take a gravity reading. At that point you will have done a proper diacetyl rest and you should hit FG, whatever that may be. I certainly wouldn't worry about a 1.019 beer--higher than you would aim for but not high enough to try "fixing" IMO.

Next time pitch more yeast (two packs rehydrated), wait for it to hit 1.020, then move it to room temp to finish fermenting and get rid of any diacetyl threat.

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Old 07-15-2011, 06:53 PM   #10
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OP-

I bet you caused a lot of your yeast to flocculate early by going rapidly from 70F to 47F. Just because a lager yeast can operate at 47F doesn't mean it will be happy about such a big temperature swing.

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