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Old 01-03-2012, 04:16 PM   #1
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Default Long lag time for lager yeast?

Brewed up a strongish-bock two days ago and absolutely no activity yet in the fermentor.

This is my second lager and the same thing happened with my Bohemian Pils. The beer turned out fine but I was surprised with the long lag time (2.5 days before activity).

My main question: do you all see longer lag times at lower temps for lagers?

My recipe:

8# munich malt (15.5L)
7# munich malt (9.0L)
2.1 ozs of english chocolate malt (color adjustment)
2.0 ozs of German hallertauer for an IBU of ~25

Double decoction mash: 122F dough in, 147F, 157F rests, 168F mashout.

Cooled wort down to 65F and further cooled wort to 51F overnight in chestfreezer. Pitched temp acclimated yeast (WYeast bavarian lager). Pitched a total of 700 billion cells as well - healthy pitching rate. Yeast was grown in 5 liter stepped starters (stir plate) and centrifuged down to 200mls.

Oxygenated for 2 minutes with pure O2.

Nothing for 48 hours now and counting.

Any ideas what I might be doing wrong if these lag times to active fermentation are too long?

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Old 01-03-2012, 04:28 PM   #2
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I don't know what's going on!

I do know that when I make lagers, I always pitch the starter into slightly warmer wort and that seems to make the fermentation take off pretty quickly! I put 46-48 degree yeast into 50-52 degree wort. Of course, I don't have a centrifuge or anything like that, I just pitch a big wad of yeast cake out of the starter flask.

I wonder though how you're gauging no activity? In the carboy? Lagers are bottom fermenters (although you often will see some krausen) but unless you can really see inside the fermenter, there might be activity going on that you're unaware of. Just a thought!

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Old 01-03-2012, 04:38 PM   #3
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I don't do a lot of lagers, but the last couple I've done, I pitched really low. I pitched at around 44F and then let it warm to 50F over a couple of days. It takes off slower and seems like it doesn't really get to full speed until it hits 50F. Yooper is right though, a lager fermentation definitely looks and acts different than an ale. Typically a lot less krausen. Usually less airlock activity. I actually pulled the airlock out of my last lager after a couple of days of fermentation just to make sure there was some activity.

My guess is it's probably fermenting, just slowly. The only reason it wouldn't be is if the yeast was bad to start with.

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Old 01-03-2012, 04:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
I wonder though how you're gauging no activity? In the carboy? Lagers are bottom fermenters (although you often will see some krausen) but unless you can really see inside the fermenter, there might be activity going on that you're unaware of. Just a thought!
Hhhhmmm... Good ol' plastic bucket.

I guess I'm used to looking at the satisfying belch of a blow-off tube.

There is no gas evolution coming from my vessel I guess would be a more accurate statement.
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Old 01-03-2012, 04:39 PM   #5
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Pitch lots of yeast, and not lower than 60F until it starts is my MO for lagers

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Old 01-03-2012, 04:40 PM   #6
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Keep waiting--it will start to work; probably today. You pitched enough yeast and the temperature is okay. Hopefully you aerated well.

Yes, temperature does affect the length of the lag phase. I always pitch cool but am considering changing to pitching a bit warmer (like, 55 instead of 46-48) then cooling the wort just to cut the lag time down.

But to answer your question, YES the lag time is longer at lower temperatures in my experience. But you have nothing to worry about, obviously you did a good job propogating yeast so it will go eventually.

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Old 01-03-2012, 04:43 PM   #7
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My last two lagers I have pitched cold yeast (from fridge) into 65 degree wort. My last one had a lag time of less than 8 hours. I put the feremnter at fermentation temp right after pitching. It seems to really work good.

I have found that if I chill the wort down to fermentation temp and then pitch, I get a very long lag time, like you mentioned above.

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Old 01-03-2012, 04:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wailingguitar View Post
Pitch lots of yeast, and not lower than 60F until it starts is my MO for lagers
So I've heard pitching lower than 60F is OK.

Also, I pitched plenty of yeast for the batch
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Old 01-03-2012, 04:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osagedr View Post
Keep waiting--it will start to work; probably today. You pitched enough yeast and the temperature is okay. Hopefully you aerated well.

Yes, temperature does affect the length of the lag phase. I always pitch cool but am considering changing to pitching a bit warmer (like, 55 instead of 46-48) then cooling the wort just to cut the lag time down.

But to answer your question, YES the lag time is longer at lower temperatures in my experience. But you have nothing to worry about, obviously you did a good job propogating yeast so it will go eventually.
OK, this is good to hear. I figured this may be the case but wanted to check. Next time I might pitch at higher temps.
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Old 01-03-2012, 05:10 PM   #10
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convectional practice is to pitch yeast into wort that is cooler than intended fermentation temp and let the beer warm to target ferm temp. The reason for this is if you pitch into warm wort and then let the beer cool the yeast will produce more esters and unwanted flavers at the warm beer temps. Also by acclimating the yeast to the warmer temps and then cooling may make the yeast dormant and in active causing a stalled fermentation. yooper's advice was spot on.

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