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Old 12-20-2010, 10:36 PM   #1
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Default Noob Lager Brewer

I have been brewing for quite a while now and have always done ales. This weekend I brewed my first lager. I am just curious as to what to expect. My dumb a$$ is using an ale pale as a fermenter, so I really can't see too much of what is going on inside. What I can see, is a very small (maybe 1cm) layer of bright white foam on top-more like carbonation foam than krausen. No airlock activity whatsoever... Easy Revvy.... I know, I know! It's not a fermentation gauge! These are my thoughts...

1. This minimal "krausen" seems logical because it is a bottom fermenting yeast (Saflager W-34/70). I know the yeast is good because I used 2 packages, rehydrated as recommended, and had a nice little foaming going on while rehydrating.
2. The lack of airlock activity seems reasonable because it is, after all, fermenting at 50 degrees and even lager yeast are slow at that temp.
3. I pitched when the wort was approximately 55 degrees and the yeast was about 58-60 degrees. Within 4 hours, the fermenter was at 50 degrees and has held at 48-50 degrees since. I'm thinking that that slightly warmer temp for such a short period of time shouldn't hurt.

What do all of you lager pros think?

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Old 12-20-2010, 10:38 PM   #2
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I think you'll be fine.
Give it enough time to do its work.

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Old 12-20-2010, 10:45 PM   #3
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I've never used dry lager yeast, but I know that menschmachine has with good results, and I believe with that strain.

I'm going to make a lager myself soon- a BoPils. Generally, a slow and steady fermentation is the norm. As long as you pitched enough yeast and the fermentation temperature is where it should be, you're golden!

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Old 12-20-2010, 10:48 PM   #4
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Thanks! And Yoop, I used the 34/70 based on menschmachine's recommendation... I'm also using his (or hers if the case may be) suggestion on taping the temperature probe with bubble wrap (in my case small foam sponges) directly to the bucket- works like a charm! Balances out the temperature spikes from my ghetto lagering cabinet!

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Old 12-21-2010, 01:59 PM   #5
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Two packs rehydrated?

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Old 12-21-2010, 02:33 PM   #6
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If you're going to pitch dry lager yeast at fermentation temps, then 2 packs is a very good idea. If you pitch warm and then cool to fermentation temps, you'll be fine with 1. 34/70 isn't going to be as picky about reaching 60F as some strains are. You'll likely never notice a difference. At worst case, you may have to do a diacetyl rest.

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Old 12-21-2010, 04:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
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If you're going to pitch dry lager yeast at fermentation temps, then 2 packs is a very good idea. If you pitch warm and then cool to fermentation temps, you'll be fine with 1. 34/70 isn't going to be as picky about reaching 60F as some strains are. You'll likely never notice a difference. At worst case, you may have to do a diacetyl rest.
I really like the idea of pitching with 2 packs to be safe (as per Mr. Malty's recommendation) then harvesting yeast to make sure you always have enough. To me, pitching a single pack seems like an unnecessary risk given the small cost of adding a second. But I'm pretty gunshy given I underpitched several lagers in a row before getting it right (with 2 packs of 34/70).
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Old 12-21-2010, 04:56 PM   #8
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I have done quite a few lagers and yes, the airlock activity is much less vigorous than an ale. Mine are usually done fermenting in about 10-14 days with a D-rest. I pitch at 44F and ramp to 50 over the first 2 days. At about day 7 I ramp up to 55F or so and hold until complete.

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Old 12-21-2010, 05:08 PM   #9
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Yes, I pitched 2 packages of W-34/70 and had rehydrated them per the manufacturer's directions (added the packages to 230 grams of sterile wort and stirred for 30 minutes after the yeast granuals dissolved). In another thread, menschmaschine recommended using 2 packages of 34/70 and he and Yooper suggested pitching cool. I followed both of their suggestions except that I didn't get the wort all the way down to 50 degrees before pitching. The manufacturer's temperature range for the yeast is 48-59 degrees F and the "ideal" temp is 54F. Menschmaschine recommended fermenting it a little cooler than the 54 (48-50), so I pitched the yeast when it and the wort was within the recommended range and then let it cool to 50. Like I said, it cooled to 50 within a few hours so I didn't think that was a big deal.

Just as an update in case other noob lagerer's look at this thread: I checked the fermenter again today and had airlock activity, but I didn't open the bucket. Airlock was bubbling slowly but steadily. Fermenter is still maintaining a nice 48-50 degree temperature.

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Old 12-21-2010, 08:49 PM   #10
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You should be golden then. I followed that procedure with a Helles recently (fermented at more like 53 though) and had no trouble. Pitched a German Pils right onto that yeast cake and it went nuts. A bit overpitched I think but after underpitching so many I'm not gonna worry.

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