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Old 02-18-2012, 09:04 PM   #1
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Default Lager temp problem

Hey everyone, first post on here. I've been homebrewing for awhile now and I occasionally will find myself looking around this forum for answers but this time I think I actually need to ask a question.

I brewed a classic american pilsner back in the middle of January. I pitched WLP 840 and 800 in equal amounts, should've been about 350-400 billion cells of each in 10 gallons of wort. Well the problem is my refrigerator is in the garage which isn't insulated well and it was/is cold out. I have a temperature controller set to 42 degrees for primary but obviously refrigerators aren't magic and the ambient temp was right about 35 so the refrigerator was also 35. I pitched the yeast while the beer was probably in the 50 range, it was warmer than the ambient temperature but still rather cold. Then it went into the 35 degree refrigerator. It appears the yeast has multiplied since I have a 3 inch cake on the bottom of the carboy but the gravity has only moved to 1.040 from about 1.050 since I pitched about 4-5 weeks ago. The temp now is about 41. So my question is, if I warm it up to say 45-50 and bring the fridge inside, will the yeast be able to restart fermentation on their own or will I need to repitch a starter?

Also, in the course of brewing this pilsner, I ran out of propane and I didn't quite get the 60 minute boil I was going for(around 50-55 if I remember correctly). I'm not worried about my hop schedule, I'm mainly worried about whether I got complete sugar conversion. Is there an easy way to check this now that it's this late in the game?

Thanks for reading my long winded ramblings and thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions you might have.

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Old 02-18-2012, 09:34 PM   #2
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Sugar conversion happens in the mash, not the boil, so shorting the boil time 5 minutes won't hurt anything.

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Old 02-18-2012, 09:35 PM   #3
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One thing that might make your life easier,
I too have a very cold garage and my johnson temp controlled freezer cant quite get warm enough on it's own for my primary temp ferment, I'm striving to get up to 50 degrees and my garage runs about 45. I've placed a small fan and a heat pad in the freezer. I keep the heat pad on low. It applies just a smidge of heat in the freezer and allows the johnson temp control to run the freezer as needed keeping it the perfect temp inside.

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Old 02-19-2012, 06:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mopar472 View Post
I brewed a classic american pilsner back in the middle of January. I pitched WLP 840 and 800 in equal amounts, should've been about 350-400 billion cells of each in 10 gallons of wort. Well the problem is my refrigerator is in the garage which isn't insulated well and it was/is cold out. I have a temperature controller set to 42 degrees for primary but obviously refrigerators aren't magic and the ambient temp was right about 35 so the refrigerator was also 35. I pitched the yeast while the beer was probably in the 50 range, it was warmer than the ambient temperature but still rather cold. Then it went into the 35 degree refrigerator. It appears the yeast has multiplied since I have a 3 inch cake on the bottom of the carboy but the gravity has only moved to 1.040 from about 1.050 since I pitched about 4-5 weeks ago. The temp now is about 41. So my question is, if I warm it up to say 45-50 and bring the fridge inside, will the yeast be able to restart fermentation on their own or will I need to repitch a starter?

Also, in the course of brewing this pilsner, I ran out of propane and I didn't quite get the 60 minute boil I was going for(around 50-55 if I remember correctly). I'm not worried about my hop schedule, I'm mainly worried about whether I got complete sugar conversion. Is there an easy way to check this now that it's this late in the game?

Thanks for reading my long winded ramblings and thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions you might have.
I'm surprised it moved that much given how cold your temperature is. If there's anything you can do to warm your beer up into the high 40's/low 50's, do it.

A 1.050 pilsner is about right, so your conversion must have been okay. You want to boil pilsner-based wort for 90 minutes to drive off as much DMS as possible--60 minutes doesn't cut it.

Your 3 inch cake on the bottom of your fermenter is likely just stuff settling out. 10 gravity points won't yield three inches of yeast.
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Old 02-19-2012, 01:14 PM   #5
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I second what OSAGEDR said. Low 40/50's for the first 10-12 days, then d-rest at 60 for 48 hours, then bring down to 35 for 6-8 weeks plus. Again , taking reading is always best but that is the basic idea.

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Old 02-19-2012, 05:25 PM   #6
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A 1.050 pilsner is about right, so your conversion must have been okay. You want to boil pilsner-based wort for 90 minutes to drive off as much DMS as possible--60 minutes doesn't cut it.
Dad-gum-it! Why is this the first time I've heard that you should boil pilsner based wort for 90 minutes?! I just made my first Lager, pilsner based of course, yesterday!!!
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Old 02-19-2012, 05:35 PM   #7
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Worksnorth, it will probably be alright, but you may detect some "creamed corn" flavor in the beer. You can't do much about it now, so I'd let it ride and see how it goes. It will still be drinkable, but now that you will be looking for it, it will seem like a glaring off- flavor.

That's also partly because the other flavors in the style are so delicate, too. Between you expecting the corn flavor to be there and the balance of the beer being so delicate, you may be tempted to drive yourself nuts about it, but don't worry.

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Old 02-19-2012, 08:24 PM   #8
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One other note to the OP - if you pitched 350-400 billion cells into 10 gallons of wort, that's probably about half of what you should pitch for a lager of that gravity. Check out mrmalty.com if you haven't already. Despite the underpitch, I would still think that temp is the primary problem.

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Old 02-19-2012, 09:30 PM   #9
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Might not have been clear the way I worded it, I pitched 350-400 billion cells of each WLP800 and 840 totaling 700-800 billion.

Good points and advice. I meant to boil for 90 minutes, I knew I was forgetting something, not that it made a difference since I ran out of gas but will certainly make a note of it for next time. Thanks for the help and advice so far. So the consensus is it will be fine as long as I warm it up, it wont need a repitch?

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Old 02-19-2012, 10:58 PM   #10
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So the consensus is it will be fine as long as I warm it up, it wont need a repitch?
Maybe. Warm it up, rouse the yeast, and hope for the best.
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