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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Possibly inept yeast
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:11 PM   #1
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Default Possibly inept yeast

First, the yeast I used was a washed Wyeast Munich Lager yeast. It has been in the fridge for one year. I used two jars to make my starter, and had about 3qt's of active bubbling starter that I added to my Beck's Dark clone recipe. It was very active for several days. I racked it after a week in the primary, which was around 55 - 65 degrees. There was almost no yeast cake.

I checked the SG when I racked it, and it was only around 1.030. It started at 1.040. I'm thinking WTF !!!! This thing was as active as a second beer I brewed the same day. That one had come down from 1.042 to 1.012. And that yeast was from two year old, washed American Ale yeast that I doubled up, and stepped up the starter over a few days.
I don't understand how it oculd be so active for the first three days, and now only have dropped 10 points. It is now in the secondary and in a swamp cooler to try and keep it in the low 50 degree range.
I will let it sit for a few days, then check it again. I might have to return the whole batch back into the primary, dose it again with active yeast, and this time keep it in the swamp cooler the whole time.
I'm wondering if that might be the problem.
This has never happened before, but then again, I haven't used such old washed yeast. Also it makes no sense because the other batch has fermented very well.
Oh well, let's see what you guys think.
Thanks

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Old 03-26-2010, 07:15 PM   #2
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Lager ferment much slower and require much more yeast.
1) year old yeast has very low viability and you'd need to step it up slowly in several starters.
2) you probably should have pitched a much larger starter. A 4-5 liter starter is not out of the question for a 5 gallon lager batch
3) Your fermentation temp range is huge! If it was going at 65 and cooled to 55 it would shock the yeast and send them to sleep. even 55 is too warm for a lager. Ideally you would pitch cold at 45 and ferment at a steady temp between 47 - 50.
4) You moved it off the yeast way too soon. 1 week is way to soon to rack it to a secondary. 2-3 weeks is the minimum time to ferment a lager. During fermentation you should keep the beer with the yeast in the primary.

In general I do not recommend using a secondary fermenter.

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Old 03-29-2010, 01:32 PM   #3
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Thanks for your suggestions. In 25 years of brewing, this is the first time this has ever happened. Granted, this was the first year that I brewed my lagers this late in the year. I usually brew up to ten brews over the Christmas / New Years week, and lager them in a crawl space beneath my breezeway. It stays between 35 - 40 degrees all winter.

As for the current lager, I guess I will return it back into the primary, and keep it in my swamp cooler for a while, so it can properly ferment. Fortunately I added a quart of wort to the yeast cake and transferred it into a half gallon jug. Within a couple hours it was bubbling nicely. Therefore I won't have to get a new starter going.

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