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Old 02-01-2013, 01:51 AM   #1
Lupulist
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Default Lager Yeast starter suggestions

OK guys I am a long time reader but new member to the forums and first post.

My brew partner and I have been brewing all grain ales for close to a year and its about damn time we try out a lager. We are going to get our feet wet with a 10gal batch of a Vienna lager at 1.052og.

I have never used a yeast starter before and it seems that for this style it is highly recommended. The problem is that I have been getting information ranging from one end of the spectrum to the other.

For instance, Mr. Malty suggests 1.5gal of starter using 3 vials of liquid yeast. But an employee at the brewing supply store suggested a 2 quart starter using just 1 vial.

Also it was suggested to me that I pitch the whole starter at about 24hrs, while another suggestion was to wait 3 days, decanter the liquid out and pitch the yeast cake. Which is correct?

I know this subject has been beaten to death but it seems every page I open is giving me a different answer and I dont know who to listen to, there has got to be a "correct" way.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 02-01-2013, 02:11 AM   #2
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You can do a step starter. You have to cold crash your starter and decant between steps. Check out this website http://yeastcalc.com/ it can tell you how much yeast your going to need and how many times you are going to step it up. I figure a little more than 300 billon cells for your O.G.

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Old 02-01-2013, 02:16 AM   #3
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You want to pitch your starter at high krausen I believe, and since lagers need a large amount of healthy yeast, I would trust Mr. Malty. I'm still new to Lagers as well, but I'm someone with more knowledge chime in here eventually..

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Old 02-01-2013, 02:35 AM   #4
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I made my first czech pilsner last fall. For a 5gal batch, i made a 2 liter starter from 1 vial of WLP800. I pitched pretty much the whole starter after it was just past peak activity on the 2nd liter step-up. The beer came out great

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Old 02-01-2013, 12:46 PM   #5
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FWIW, I made a 5g batch of 1.061 maibock with a two step (1.5L >7L) starter using WPL830. The fermentation phase went very well with the SG getting to diacetyl rest level (~20% from FG) within a week.

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Old 02-01-2013, 03:10 PM   #6
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(a) 1.052 is pretty big for a Vienna
(b) consider dry yeast--it's the best option for new lager brewers since you are more likely to pitch the correct number of cells and not encounter headaches. You want to pitch at least 1.5 million cells per ml per degree Plato. 1 gram of (properly rehydrated as per the manufacturer's product sheet instructions) dry yeast contains about 20 billion viable cells. You do the math for your batch size. You will be looking at something like four or five packs of dry yeast rehydrated. Mr. Malty says 727 billion cells and I wouldn't pitch less than that.
(c) one vial of yeast in a 2 quart starter is ridiculously low. Follow Mr. Malty, or if you can do a step-up starter, yeastcalc.com. You don't want to be pitching a giant starter into your wort. You might need a giant starter, but what you want to do is let it ferment out (at room temperature is fine), chill it in the fridge until all/most of the yeast drops out of suspension, then decant (pour off) the liquid, leaving a quarter cup or whatever to swirl your yeast, and pitch the yeast into your wort, which should be at or just below fermentation temperature. The yeast itself can still be at fridge temperature, or as warm as the wort. Aerate well after pitching, preferably with oxygen.

PITCHING RATE AND TEMPERATURE CONTROL ARE EVERYTHING WHEN YOU BREW LAGERS. Hit the pitching rate suggested above and ferment your beer at 50 or just below, and you'll be fine. Let it ferment down to about 1.020 then raise the temp to over 60 or just take your fermenters out of your chamber to room temperature and leave them for a week or so. I would recommend W-34/70 for dry yeast or Wyeast 2633 for liquid. If you are just saying you want to brew a lager but can't actually ferment in a lager temperature range, just brew an amber ale and use ale yeast.

Good luck!

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Old 02-01-2013, 03:46 PM   #7
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From a 50,000 feet high view:
You need, roughly, 2-4 times as much yeast to do a lager vs an ale for the same OG. {haven't done the math, I am just talking about the general concept}

If you are underpitching on your ales (which is done if you don't make a starter with 1 vial of liquid yeast)-- it will be horrific on your lagers.

The poster above me is right on with the yeast/ temp specifics.

Noonan's Brewing Lagers book is a good resource I have heard.
good luck!

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Old 02-01-2013, 04:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osagedr View Post
(b) consider dry yeast--it's the best option for new lager brewers since you are more likely to pitch the correct number of cells and not encounter headaches.
(c) one vial of yeast in a 2 quart starter is ridiculously low.

Good luck!
(b) I didn't know there were even dry lager yeasts. Example?

(c) I assume you mean for a 10-gallon batch. 2 liters in a 5 gallon batch is slightly under what Mrmalty recommends (3 liters).
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
(b) I didn't know there were even dry lager yeasts. Example?

Fermentis W34/70 and S-23. I love w34/70, its similar to WLP830
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:59 PM   #10
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Great, Im glad I asked. I was about to go the 2quart, 1 vial route.
As per a concern above, we have never had any problems brewing our ales with a single packet of yeast without a starter, they have always hit their fg numbers and the activity usually kicks in full throttle during the first night.

Yes I know the gravity is a little high but according to the guidelines 52 is the upper gravity limit. I was actually thinking of lowering it to 50 or perhaps 48.

Assuming I lower it to 50, Yeastcalc and Mr.Malty both calculate 700billion cells which would be a 3 vial, 6 liter starter.

I am using Wyeast 2308 "smack packs." So I will make a 6 liter starter using Breiss Pilsen Light DME to a gravity of 1.040, and 3 vials of 2308. I do not have a stir plate so I will shake it intermittently. Let it ferment out and drop the yeast out in the refrigerator before decanting the excess liquid.
I realize that the pitch rates and temps on lagers are fairly critical for a good brew. I want to do this right, thats why I am here.
What do you think? Acceptable?

How long do you think it will take to ferment out, and once its in the fridge how long before the yeast falls out so i can decanter? Basically if I start this now, when can I plan a brew day.

Thanks for the help guys!

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