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Old 07-15-2012, 12:06 AM   #1
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Default Starter for a Pilsner (lager) Question

When making a starter for a pilsner, do I follow the same procedure as with ales? I'm most concerned about ferment temp. In 10 years of brewing, I've never brewed a lager... until next weekend. I just don't want to f*ck it up. I usually keep my starters on my counter (on a stir plate), which is 68-72F. I thought I recalled Jamil once saying lager starters should be done at standard starter temps, then chilled to pitching temp. Am I wrong?

Also, I usually start my ale starters 1-2 days before brewing. Is this the same for lagers? I was thinking 3-4 days might be more appropriate, given the fact the starter volume will be double my typical volume.

Thanks!

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Old 07-15-2012, 12:53 AM   #2
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Just like with ale starters, lager yeast will multiply more rapidly at room temps. With a starter the name of the game is propagation and health. Once you get it in your beer it's a different story. At that point the name of the game ( in a pilsner anyway) is low ester production and Dyacetal reduction which is why a lager ferm profile looks the way it does and why you need so many damn yeast cells to do the work.
Do it just like an ale yeast starter with the only exception being you need to figure a much higher starting cell count per gravity point than you would for an ale.

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Old 07-15-2012, 04:31 AM   #3
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For a lager, regardless of what type of lager, you want to pitch about twice as much yeast as you would for an ale. To that end, I always have my lager starters at room temp, but I start them at least a week (if not 2) before brew date, just to get that yeast count up. Brewskii hit it when mentioned to get a higher cell count.

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Old 07-15-2012, 04:34 AM   #4
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Yep, agree 100%, Brewskii and avid.

Putting it in the fridge after the starter is done is to cold crash the yeast. The last thing you want in a beer where a clean flavour is a major component is the funky jungle juice from a huge lager yeast starter. Crash it, decant it, pitch it.

Drinking my first pilsner right now. Care and patience paid off!

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Old 07-15-2012, 04:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avidhomebrewer
For a lager, regardless of what type of lager, you want to pitch about twice as much yeast as you would for an ale. To that end, I always have my lager starters at room temp, but I start them at least a week (if not 2) before brew date, just to get that yeast count up. Brewskii hit it when mentioned to get a higher cell count.
So if I'm brewing next Sunday, I should be good with a 5 liter starter that I make tomorrow?
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Old 07-15-2012, 07:13 AM   #6
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You haven't stated the O.G. or volume of your pilsner, nor the age of your yeast.

These three variables will determine whether a 5 liter starter is big enough for your batch of beer.

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Old 07-15-2012, 09:07 AM   #7
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I made a 1 gallon starter the last time I made a Lager. It seemed to be enough. Yes, make it well in advance to give the yeast time to multiply, and I also let it ferment at room temp. I don't cold crash mine, but I bring it down to fermentation temps before I pitch. I also decant and only leave enough of the liquid to loosen up the yeast so it pours out easily.

You must have refrigeration to do this. I can only do lager in the winter.

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Old 07-15-2012, 01:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zacster View Post
I made a 1 gallon starter the last time I made a Lager. It seemed to be enough.
Really suggest using mrmalty.com or yeastcalc.com to help you get to the right yeast count. A gallon is probably in the ball park for an "average" lager but could be way too much for a light American lager and not nearly enough for a big Doppelbock.
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Old 07-15-2012, 01:56 PM   #9
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Okay... the details:

Basic Pilsner Recipe
5.5 Gallon Batch
OG: 1.049
WLP800 (Pilsner Lager Yeast)
Date on Vial: June 24, 2012 (produced 02/2012)

I prefer the yeast calculator in BeerSmith, which suggested a 3L starter given the best-by date and OG. I went with 4.5L:

image-1766235069.jpg

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Old 07-15-2012, 02:59 PM   #10
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Cool. Let us know how that turned out.

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