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Old 03-15-2011, 02:30 PM   #1
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Default Temp to start Lager Ferment

Hi ALL,

After a 15 year absence from brewing I have returned and am going into it full blast. I use to brew Ale's while stationed in Japan and have finally come to the place in my life where I can return to it.

I have a question. I'm going to brew a lager. On the WL Lager Yeast it says to pitch the yeast into the wort and let it sit 5-15 hours at 70deg before moving it to 50 degrees. What do you say? Let it sit at room temp until fermentation starts or pitch and go directly to 50 degrees?

The answer is going to dictate where I brew the beer this weekend. Either in the house or the man cave (my new shop). The office in the shop is not complete so I don't have any heat to hold the temp and it will fluctuate here in Oklahoma. I have my Keezer started and will be able to drop it right in if the answer is to put it directly in the Keezer at 50.

My head is still swimming with all the info to be obtained on this site and I appriciate the help.

Greg in Oklahoma

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Old 03-15-2011, 02:55 PM   #2
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I vote for pitching cold. Been doing so without any problems as long as you pitch healthy amount of yeast. I usually cool the wort and starter to 46F and pitch the next day

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Old 03-15-2011, 03:21 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice. I am going to assume that a healthy amount of yeast would be the vile from WL or the Wyeast pouch? Or are you talking more than that?

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Old 03-15-2011, 03:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregkabob View Post
Thanks for the advice. I am going to assume that a healthy amount of yeast would be the vile from WL or the Wyeast pouch? Or are you talking more than that?
way way more but it depends if you have a stir plate or not. I just did a lager and basically it was 11 liter starter as a simple or about 4 liters on a stir plate

Yeah, you need a lot of yeast for a lager.
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Old 03-15-2011, 03:29 PM   #5
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I always pitch my lagers at around 55 or so and then slowly get it down to around 48 for about 3 week and then move it down to 42ish to lager. Make a massive starter though!!

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Old 03-15-2011, 03:30 PM   #6
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See, I have a lot to learn as I move forward

I'll read up on stir plates and making a large amount of starter.

Thanks

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Old 03-15-2011, 05:42 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice. I am going to assume that a healthy amount of yeast would be the vile from WL or the Wyeast pouch? Or are you talking more than that?
I'm talking about a GALLON starter for lager. You need more like 5-6 fresh vials if you going that way
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:07 PM   #8
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Wow that's is a lot of starter. So I make a gallon of starter. When I add it to the lager I just brewed I'll end up with 6 gallons of liquid correct? You don't reduce the amount of liquid to take into account the addition of that large amount of starter?

Again thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm learning. I've been thinking about this all night and I'm deffinetly going to do a starter.

Greg

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Old 03-16-2011, 12:17 PM   #9
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With my Lagers I'm following the insturctions you mentioned. I pitch my dry yeast at room temperature, wait 24 hours or so then move to my cellar (50F) for about two weeks. Then back to room temp for a couple days for the Diacetyl rest....then in the fridge at 35 ish for a month or so for real lagering.

I've gotten lots of compliments on my lagers so I'm happy with my process.

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Old 03-16-2011, 01:37 PM   #10
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There are two schools of thought on lager fermentation. You can pitch warm to get the yeast started and then drop to 50-55º but you will probably need a diacetyl rest. Starting the yeast at the higher temperature means that you can get away with using less yeast but it will produce esters and other flavor compounds as it reproduces. Those will need to be cleaned up with a diacetyl rest and slightly longer lagering. You could probably get away with one vial or smack pack but two vials or a 2L starter would be better.

Or you can pitch slightly below fermentation temperature (43-48º) and let the wort rise to your target 50-55º. This will give you a cleaner fermentation with less chance of off flavors and will probably eliminate the need for a diacetyl rest. This approach, however, requires a larger pitch of yeast.

The general rule of thumb is 1 million cells per milliliter of wort per degree Plato. That is 1 million times 19000 (19 liters in a 5 gallon batch) times 12, 13, or 14 for a 1.048, 1.052, or 1.056 lager respectively (one degree Plato is about 4 specific gravity points). That puts you in the ballpark of 2.5 to 3 billion cells, which works out to 3 vials or smack packs to be on the safe side.

If, as some have suggested here, you make a starter as large as 1 gallon, you'll want to make it about a week ahead of time. That way you can allow the starter to ferment all the way out, put it in the fridge to settle, then decant the spent beer, leaving only enough to swirl up the yeast for pitching. Otherwise you are diluting your carefully crafted wort with a gallon of unhopped beer that was meant to grow yeast rather than taste good.

Jamil Zainasheff's Starter FAQ has a lot of good information about pitching rates and starters.

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