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Old 01-08-2011, 07:02 AM   #1
Salanis
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Default Nervous About First Lager Ferment

I've got a lager fermenting away in the cool closet that I'm worried about. It's a Baltic Porter, has been in there for just under 3 weeks, and has not fermented as much as I would have expected. In three weeks, it's only gone from about 1.09 to about 1.05. I wouldn't have expected it to be done-done in three weeks, but I would have thought it would be close to done, and about ready to be conditioning.

Okay, I'll admit, I probably got in over my head with my first lager style. Trying, not only a lager for the first time, but the highest alcohol beer I've done to date.

It is cloyingly sweet and has an overwhelming bubblegum aroma and flavor.

I'm really hoping this is typical speed for a high-grav lager and I just took my first reading prematurely and am panicking unnecessary. (Otherwise, I just have a "root beer" of about 4% abv.) Is this typical or not?

I really am not too worried. I'm just wondering if I need to do something like add some yeast nutrient and agitate the vessel to get things going again.

Oh... one more thing. I also did not have much extra headspace in the top of my carboy. I used a blow-off tube, and the result was a lot of major krausen that made its way into the overflow pan. Maybe I need to make another starter and throw in extra yeast if there's no more movement in another yeast.

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Old 01-08-2011, 09:38 AM   #2
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Try another starter, if no luck go get some amylase enzyme from the brewstore, do not cheap out and use beano. Post your recipe and temps and starter size/yeast.

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Old 01-08-2011, 04:31 PM   #3
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How cool is cool? My "cool" pantry went down to 44, too cold to ferment, although it did most of the job. I see you're in Sacramento so it isn't too cold there.

Try re-pitching.

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Old 01-08-2011, 05:28 PM   #4
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A lager can ferment in a primary at 45F. Just remember the higher the gravity and the lower the temp the longer it takes. Normally I leave them at 55F for 2 weeks, lager at 45F in a keg for 2 weeks, then lager at 35F in that same keg for 2 more. Really it is more an art then anything else.

So 44F is not too low to ferment. It just goes very slow. And before you re-pitch I would take the beer and let it warm up a bit. See if it starts up brewing again. If it does not then decide to re-pitch. I have had lagers that sort of decided to take a break. They did not move for a week until I put it in the dining room (yes I ferment in the dining room), after about a day it started and I put it back. It turned out to be one of the cleanest clearest lagers I have made.

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Old 01-08-2011, 07:11 PM   #5
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I think it's awesome you're first lager has an OG of 1.09. That's ballsy.

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Old 01-08-2011, 09:31 PM   #6
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Yeast was WLP885 - Zurich Lager. I did a small-ish starter.

I don't monitor the temps religiously. "Low" is ~50-60*; probably more like 50-55, which is optimal for this yeast. It's a closet in the far corner of a 1 story apartment.

I was pretty good at keeping my mash temp right around 150* for 90minutes. There were fluctuations. I think at worst, I got down to about 145 briefly, before kicking it back up. Malt bill was about 10# of pils LME, and ~3-4# of specialty grain (I want to say ~2# of Munich), I'm not looking at the recipe right now.

S.G. was more like 1.092 or 1.094. At that level, I'm just rounding.


I think I probably will re-pitch with some yeast nutrient thrown in. Even if it's just taking its time and doesn't *need* the extra yeast, it will only hurt me the cost of a yeast vial.

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Old 01-08-2011, 09:40 PM   #7
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I'm thinking you might have underpitched. For a ~1.090 lager you needed a lot more yeast. Possibly 5 times what you pitched. Underpitching will produce esters, which is what you're probably smelling/tasting. You could try making a gallon starter and pitch it at high krausen to see if it will finish the beer. To make a gallon starter start with 2 quarts, chill, decant and then step it up to a gallon and then pitch at high krausen. Good Luck!! Cheers!!!

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Old 01-08-2011, 11:27 PM   #8
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Krausen has already fallen. When pitching a starter, I only need the yeast layer at the bottom, correct? I can decant most of the liquid off the top.

1 gallon starter? That's a lot. Seems like more than necessary. I've done .08-ish beers with the same size starter I just used, and had good results.

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Old 01-09-2011, 02:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salanis View Post
Krausen has already fallen. When pitching a starter, I only need the yeast layer at the bottom, correct? I can decant most of the liquid off the top.

1 gallon starter? That's a lot. Seems like more than necessary. I've done .08-ish beers with the same size starter I just used, and had good results.
For lagers you need at least 2x the yeast for a lager. Google Mr. Malty pitching calculator.
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:26 AM   #10
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If your beer has already fermented that far down, I don't see how pitching more yeast is going to do you any good. To ferment that far down your yeast has to have reproduced enough to have a significant population. I would try warming it up a few degrees to see if it has any activity, maybe with a gentle swirl, and after that if there is still no activity I might pitch more yeast. Just blindly adding more yeast when it isn't strictly needed isn't the best solution for your beer either.

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