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Old 03-15-2013, 02:08 AM   #1
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Default Lager yeast starter - blow out - advice?

Planning to make a lager tomorrow...there are about 24 hours until pitching time right now, so it's kind of urgent!!

I made my starter using yeastcalc.com, which is an awesome tool if you haven't used it. I've done a side by side comparison with Jamil's tool and they're about the same as far as their calculations, and what they recommend.

Anyway....based on the manufacture date of my Wyeast Smack pack and the OG of the beer I'm brewing, this thing said I needed to do a 2 step starter at 1.7 Liters each...I have a 2L starter flask (note to self: we're gonna need a bigger boat)

First step went fine. Did the second step last night; came home from work and there had been a blowout at some point during the day. Krausen had fallen back down by the time I saw it; it was swirling away on the stir plate with little to no foam.

I'm concerned because there was a good deal of yeast on the countertop that I cleaned up. In addition to the spilled liquid, there was probably about a tablespoon of pure yeast spread around

2 questions:

1. In your opinion, have I lost too much yeast to pitch tomorrow???? Most of the yeast is probably in the starter flask, but I don't have enough experience with lagers to determine if it will be sufficient...and obviously I don't know how much I've lost so....wtf?

2. The foam stopper was partially ejected and cocked to the side when I found it; again I have no idea how long it was like that. It was in my basement where there is little to no air current...but do you think infection is a major concern?? To be clear, the stopper was pulled out enough for the wort to be exposed to air without cover.

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Old 03-15-2013, 02:17 AM   #2
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I believe the amount you lost will not be detrimental to your total count - don't worry about it.
I wouldn't be worried about infection either. One of the nice things about lager ferments IMO is that as long as you are fermenting around 50F where the lager yeast like it, the other nasties don't, and they don't get as much of a chance to get a foothold.

My question (which you didn't ask I realize) is, are you going to pitch the whole volume of starter - the 1.7L+? I usually like to decant my starters, and overnight is not enough time to cold crash a lager starter, they just don't floc out as quickly as ales in my experience. If you're pitching the whole thing, you'll get all the yeast I suppose, but you run the risk of adding some off flavors from the starter beer.

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Old 03-15-2013, 02:19 AM   #3
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Just a judgement call on your part, but personally, if I were planning to brew, I would continue to brew as planned unless it really looks like you lost alot. You already did 1st step of starter, so you started with X, went to 2X, and were getting ready for 3.5X. Now lets say you lost 1/3, you're still at 2.5X and I doubt you went that high. Either way, goodluck.

John

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Old 03-15-2013, 02:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
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I believe the amount you lost will not be detrimental to your total count - don't worry about it.
I wouldn't be worried about infection either. One of the nice things about lager ferments IMO is that as long as you are fermenting around 50F where the lager yeast like it, the other nasties don't, and they don't get as much of a chance to get a foothold.

My question (which you didn't ask I realize) is, are you going to pitch the whole volume of starter - the 1.7L+? I usually like to decant my starters, and overnight is not enough time to cold crash a lager starter, they just don't floc out as quickly as ales in my experience. If you're pitching the whole thing, you'll get all the yeast I suppose, but you run the risk of adding some off flavors from the starter beer.
Yup, I definitely plan to cold crash and decant...that's what I always do with my ale starters--which, in case it's not obviously, is what I usually brew. I need a bigger starter vessel for the next time I do a lager, plain and simple.

Also, thanks for your input!
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Old 03-15-2013, 02:26 AM   #5
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Yup, I definitely plan to cold crash and decant...that's what I always do with my ale starters--which, in case it's not obviously, is what I usually brew. I need a bigger starter vessel for the next time I do a lager, plain and simple.

Also, thanks for your input!
Be gentle on your decant tomorrow then, I doubt you see much separation and flocculation in your starter with just an overnight cold crash (I usually give it a few days at least).

Good luck! Give it time and aerate/oxygenate well before you pitch, it'll be worth it!
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Old 03-15-2013, 02:26 AM   #6
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I'd roll with it if you planned on brewing tomorrow. You may be underpitching slightly but I wouldn't be concerned. Ferment at the recommended temp and ramp it up into the 60s towards the end of fermentation to make sure your yeast finishes strong. If you think your beer is short of it's final gravity, agitate your carboy to keep your yeast in suspension. I've had some great lagers from homebrewers who just pitched a vial of yeast with no starter at all.

There's always a risk of infection, but most homebrewers I know use a loose piece of foil on their starters which allow some air circulation.

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Old 03-15-2013, 02:50 AM   #7
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Be gentle on your decant tomorrow then, I doubt you see much separation and flocculation in your starter with just an overnight cold crash (I usually give it a few days at least).

Good luck! Give it time and aerate/oxygenate well before you pitch, it'll be worth it!
Duly noted...that being said, I have put my starter in the fridge just now to allow for as much settling time as possible.

BTW...your avitar is seriously making me thirsty; glad I'm not working tomorrow, ha! Cheers.
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Old 03-15-2013, 02:52 AM   #8
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I'd roll with it if you planned on brewing tomorrow. You may be underpitching slightly but I wouldn't be concerned. Ferment at the recommended temp and ramp it up into the 60s towards the end of fermentation to make sure your yeast finishes strong. If you think your beer is short of it's final gravity, agitate your carboy to keep your yeast in suspension. I've had some great lagers from homebrewers who just pitched a vial of yeast with no starter at all.

There's always a risk of infection, but most homebrewers I know use a loose piece of foil on their starters which allow some air circulation.
I appreciate it...and I've decided to go ahead with brewing tomorrow. Wish me luck!
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Old 03-15-2013, 02:53 AM   #9
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BTW...your avitar is seriously making me thirsty; glad I'm not working tomorrow, ha! Cheers.
Ah, Munich Oktoberfest 2011. I can still hear Furstenfeld, smell the chicken, and taste the beer...in my mind. I'll need a refresher soon.
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Old 03-15-2013, 02:56 AM   #10
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Ah, Munich Oktoberfest 2011. I can still hear Furstenfeld, smell the chicken, and taste the beer...in my mind. I'll need a refresher soon.
Ahh, I've never been...but that is inspiring (as if I needed much inspiration, ha). One of these days!
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