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Old 03-09-2011, 09:08 PM   #1
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Default Lager Starter

I've got a 2042 Danish Lager yeast that I'm fixing to make a starter for. I'm a little confused about something though.

On the wyeast website, this yeast is described as having a 46°-56° temperature tolerance, which makes sense since it's a lager. The thing I'm confused about is the instructions on the package say to let it swell at 70° to 75°, hold the starter wort at 70° and incubate at 70° to 75°. Then it says to pitch into a 70° wort. Nowhere on the package does it mention fermenting it at the logical temperature.

So, do I follow the instructions or my common sense (which isn't always the best)? I know I have to ferment at around 47°, according to my recipe, so the question is, does the pitch temp need to be higher for some reason?

This is my first lager but I'm still leaning towards the possibility that the packaging is generic for all strains of yeast. If so, could someone help me with correct instructions? Thanks.

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Old 03-09-2011, 09:26 PM   #2
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I've heard going both ways, but prefer to avoid esters of warm fermentation.

I brewed a Bohemian pilsner 10 days ago and used Wyeast 2000.

I put my yeast starter in the fermenting fridge at 54 degrees 7 days before brewing. Mid week I poured off beer and added more wort. Finally on brew day, I poured off the beer again...nice bit of yeast there.

I let the yeast warm up a bit and pitched at 63 or so (as cold as I could chill the wort), then right back into the fridge at 54 degrees.

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Old 03-10-2011, 12:30 AM   #3
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You can ferment a starter at room temperature, but you cannot (or I should say should not) ferment a batch of beer at room temperature.

The purpose of fermenting a starter at room temperature is two fold.

1) You will not be pitching in the starter beer into your batch thus not giving any off flavor that were produced at the room temperature fermentation

2) The yeast reproduce and increase their cell count much faster at room temperature versus a lager fermentation temperature of around 50°

You can pitch your yeast into a room temperature batch of wort and then slowly decrease your temperature. This is following the same prinicple as above in that it will allow you to get a larger yeast cell count before they work slower in the colder temperatures. But this (warmer temps and small pitch rate) also has a higher probability of leading to off flavors such as diacetyl.

Take a look at the Mr. Malty pitch rate calcualtor for lagers and this will tell you how big a starter that you will need.

The process that I used for my first lager (and I think that it turned out pretty good), was to make a 2 L starter in a growler with intermittent shaking and O2 additions. I let it ferment for 2 days then cold crashed for 2 days. I poured off the beer that was created then repitched in some new starter wort with the yeast that was left. I repeated the 2 day ferment and 2 day cold crash and this gave me a nice thick yeast cake to pitch into a 55° batch of wort.

Hope this helps

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Old 03-10-2011, 01:19 AM   #4
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I am in the middle of my first lager; I followed the directions... common sense would have prevailed. From the last 9 days of reading about lager temps most people seem to be saying pitch at 70 and bring down to temp only if you are short on yeast. If you have a sufficient starter cool everything down below your fermentation temp (46F) and pitch, once the fermentation will kick in let the temp rise to (50F) and hold. At least that is what I keep reading.

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Old 03-10-2011, 01:29 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by excaptn View Post
I am in the middle of my first lager; I followed the directions... common sense would have prevailed. From the last 9 days of reading about lager temps most people seem to be saying pitch at 70 and bring down to temp only if you are short on yeast. If you have a sufficient starter cool everything down below your fermentation temp (46F) and pitch, once the fermentation will kick in let the temp rise to (50F) and hold. At least that is what I keep reading.
Yes, that's what I'd do. Make a huge starter, chill it, decant the spent wort, and pitch it into the 48 degree wort. I like to have the yeast just a couple of degrees cooler.

Supposedly, starting a lager at 70 degrees and then lowering it would compensate for grossly underpitching. I see problems with that, though- one is simply how on earth to lower the temperature of a fermenting beer 15 degrees without stalling it! But if you do it slowly, by the time you get to 48 degrees, the fermentation would be over and done at the mid to high 60s for the most part. I can't see that working well at all.
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Old 03-10-2011, 02:12 AM   #6
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Yes, that's what I'd do. Make a huge starter, chill it, decant the spent wort, and pitch it into the 48 degree wort. I like to have the yeast just a couple of degrees cooler.

Supposedly, starting a lager at 70 degrees and then lowering it would compensate for grossly underpitching. I see problems with that, though- one is simply how on earth to lower the temperature of a fermenting beer 15 degrees without stalling it! But if you do it slowly, by the time you get to 48 degrees, the fermentation would be over and done at the mid to high 60s for the most part. I can't see that working well at all.
I've been going back and forth on this. Do you ferment your starter at the temp your fermenting your batch? I ferment my starter at 50 and then pitch to my wort. at close or at that same temp. I don't why I keep asking about this. My lagers come out great IMO.. I guess I'm just curious what others are doing. Maybe I can do better.
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Old 03-10-2011, 02:27 AM   #7
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I've been going back and forth on this. Do you ferment your starter at the temp your fermenting your batch? I ferment my starter at 50 and then pitch to my wort. at close or at that same temp. I don't why I keep asking about this. My lagers come out great IMO.. I guess I'm just curious what others are doing. Maybe I can do better.
I have one lager under my belt and I fermented the starter at room temperature, and I pitched them at the same temperature as the wort into which I was pitching. It seems to have turned out good for me.
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Old 03-10-2011, 02:32 AM   #8
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I have one lager under my belt and I fermented the starter at room temperature, and I pitched them at the same temperature as the wort into which I was pitching. It seems to have turned out good for me.
That's great. I know, I should stop dwelling on this. The way I'm doing it is working well. I'm brewing a 10 gallon batch on Saturday, so I'm making a starter tomorrow. I'll stick with cold fermenting my starters.
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Old 03-10-2011, 11:54 AM   #9
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I've been going back and forth on this. Do you ferment your starter at the temp your fermenting your batch? I ferment my starter at 50 and then pitch to my wort. at close or at that same temp. I don't why I keep asking about this. My lagers come out great IMO.. I guess I'm just curious what others are doing. Maybe I can do better.
I make my starters at room temperature, about 63 degrees (my house is cold during lager season!).

After all, I'm growing yeast, not making beer. I chill the starter a couple of days before brewday, so I can pitch the yeast when it's about 46-48 degrees into 50 degree wort and decant the starter first.
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Old 03-10-2011, 02:27 PM   #10
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Just for my own clarification, decanting the starter gets that off-flavored liquid off the top of the cake, so as not to affect the beer flavor?
Since I have no stir plate, I will be shaking my first starter. Which means I will need to give it a little time to settle so I could decant, correct?

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