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Old 08-26-2014, 06:07 AM   #1
TeeJayEss
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Default Think I underpitched my first lager...

So I brewed my first lager last weekend, an Oktoberfest lager (extract, 1.055 wort gravity), using Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian Lager). Pack was dated 6/30/14, which at the time indicated 64% viability. Using the starter calculator at http://www.brewersfriend.com/yeast-pitch-rate-and-starter-calculator/, with my 2L flask and a stir plate, I determined I'd need to make a starter, and then step it up once to have enough yeast to ferment.

The calculator called for 7.2oz DME for each step of my (2L) starter, so I did that. But here's where I goofed: I didn't make a 2L starter. I made a 1L starter in a 2L flask, with 7.2oz of DME each go-round. So I'm pretty sure that even though I did a two-step starter, I didn't get the yeast production that I was after.

I pitched yesterday morning, so things have been fermenting for about 39 hours now. Question is, how drastically am I likely to have underpitched here? Is it early enough that it would make sense to go get a second pack of yeast, make a proper starter, and pitch that in as well? Am I just freaking out over what's likely to be only a small impact on overall taste?

Thanks!

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Old 08-26-2014, 06:18 AM   #2
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My first lager, an Oktoberfest, I pitched 1 wyeast pack, no starter. It took quite some time to actual start fermenting. However, it started and finished just fine. The beer came good, it just took longer.

My advice is to just give it time to do it's thing and you'll have good beer.

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Old 08-26-2014, 04:49 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by W0rthog View Post
My first lager, an Oktoberfest, I pitched 1 wyeast pack, no starter. It took quite some time to actual start fermenting. However, it started and finished just fine. The beer came good, it just took longer.

My advice is to just give it time to do it's thing and you'll have good beer.

HTH


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W0rthog, How long was your lag?

I'm in the same boat as OP. I know the lag time is longer than ales but just want to make sure I shouldn't add a pack of dry yeast to ensure I have enough cells for a healthy ferment.

OP, a super easy way to get a 1.037 starter wort is to use 100g DME for every 1L water used. If you want a 1.8L starter, use 180g DME.
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:56 PM   #4
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Well, you made a 1.075 starter but yeastcalculator.com says you are OK.

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Old 08-26-2014, 06:58 PM   #5
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Plugging your information back into Brewer's Friend indicates that if you did indeed do 2 one liter starters with a gravity of 1.072-ish on a stir plate, then you can approximate your cell count, assuming 64% initial viability, as ~600 B cells in your pitch.

However, I will say, WY2206 (which is the same as WLP820) is a strain from Weihenstephan named W-206 and it is a HUGE pain in the ass in my experience. It has a very long lag time in the first generation, and works best with an even larger pitch rate than usual for lagers. Also, be aware there is conflicting information on the Internet about which strains are equal; some places list WLP830 as being the same as W-206/WY2206. I am not a microbiologist, but from experience with these strains, I don't believe that to be true. I believe WLP830 and WY2124 are the same strain, and that it is Weihenstephan's W-34/70 strain.

I am in the middle of an experiment with this yeast strain that I am documenting here:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/wlp820-vs-wlp860-fermentation-lag-times-472973/

Long story short, and kind of giving away the punchline, I made 11 gallons of beer and split it between WLP820 and WLP860. The WLP860 made a decent Oktoberfest me and my friends drank all day this past Sunday while BBQing. It's not amazing, but a very solid, malty beer. The WLP820 is a diacetyl bomb with serious fermentation issues, even though it had a much higher pitch rate in the same fermentation conditions. My friends and I, who are all BJCP judges, didn't want to taste it after we smelled it. I will be submitting both beers to a BJCP competition in October and will post the results to that thread when they are in.

I am thinking maybe that WLP820/WY2206 works optimally at temperatures higher than other lager strains. I like to ferment 48 F - 50 F, and maybe W-206 is better in the mid-50s.

In any case, I'd say you probably under-pitched for this strain, and you may want to ferment in the mid-50s. I also would recommend using WLP830/WY2124 next time, because it's a very well-behaved strain and results in a lot less headache. Cheers.

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Old 08-26-2014, 07:18 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mkeckjr View Post
Plugging your information back into Brewer's Friend indicates that if you did indeed do 2 one liter starters with a gravity of 1.072-ish on a stir plate, then you can approximate your cell count, assuming 64% initial viability, as ~600 B cells in your pitch.

However, I will say, WY2206 (which is the same as WLP820) is a strain from Weihenstephan named W-206 and it is a HUGE pain in the ass in my experience. It has a very long lag time in the first generation, and works best with an even larger pitch rate than usual for lagers. Also, be aware there is conflicting information on the Internet about which strains are equal; some places list WLP830 as being the same as W-206/WY2206. I am not a microbiologist, but from experience with these strains, I don't believe that to be true. I believe WLP830 and WY2124 are the same strain, and that it is Weihenstephan's W-34/70 strain.

I am in the middle of an experiment with this yeast strain that I am documenting here:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/wlp820-vs-wlp860-fermentation-lag-times-472973/

Long story short, and kind of giving away the punchline, I made 11 gallons of beer and split it between WLP820 and WLP860. The WLP860 made a decent Oktoberfest me and my friends drank all day this past Sunday while BBQing. It's not amazing, but a very solid, malty beer. The WLP820 is a diacetyl bomb with serious fermentation issues, even though it had a much higher pitch rate in the same fermentation conditions. My friends and I, who are all BJCP judges, didn't want to taste it after we smelled it. I will be submitting both beers to a BJCP competition in October and will post the results to that thread when they are in.

I am thinking maybe that WLP820/WY2206 works optimally at temperatures higher than other lager strains. I like to ferment 48 F - 50 F, and maybe W-206 is better in the mid-50s.

In any case, I'd say you probably under-pitched for this strain, and you may want to ferment in the mid-50s. I also would recommend using WLP830/WY2124 next time, because it's a very well-behaved strain and results in a lot less headache. Cheers.
What was your D-rest profile for each?
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Old 08-26-2014, 07:25 PM   #7
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Yeah, you didn't underpitch much, if at all, but you need to be careful about your starter gravity going forward. 1.075 is twice the gravity it should be.

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Old 08-26-2014, 07:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helibrewer View Post
What was your D-rest profile for each?
Notes from BeerSmith on this experiment:

4/28/2014: pitched a multi-step starter (2 L w/ stir plate followed by 3 L w/out stir plate) of WLP820 into the 6.5 gallon carboy, and a single step (2.5 L w/ stir plate) into the 6 gallon carboy around 7 pm.

5/9/2014: removing WLP860 carboy from freezer as kreusen has fallen and gravity is ~1.019. Placed in mini-fridge with ambient temp set at 56 F. WLP820 carboy at 1.050 (****); moving temp up to 52 F in freezer to try to get it fermenting faster.

5/13/2014: crashing WLP860 to 35 F in fridge.

5/16/2014: racked WLP860 to keg, put in lager keezer at 34 F

5/27/2014: WLP820 carboy appears to be slowing down, raised temp setting to 60 F.

6/2/2014: crashed to 34 F in freezer

6/5/2014: racked WLP820 into keg. Beer is outrageously cloudy, and tastes awful. Sitting in the keezer at 34 F for a summer of lagering.
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Old 08-29-2014, 12:24 AM   #9
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Thank you all for the feedback - definitely won't be making the high OG starter mistake again, yikes.

I'm now at about 4.5 days post-pitch (started at 48F, bumped to 49F after about two days), and while I am getting some airlock activity, it isn't particularly vigorous, maybe 2-3 bubbles/minute (though I am fermenting 5 gallons in an 8 gallon bucket, so I've got a lot of headroom - I've learned not to read too much into airlock activity). Might take mkeckjr's advice and try pushing up to the 54-55F range and see what that does.

Thanks again!

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Old 08-29-2014, 02:23 AM   #10
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There's this guy you may have heard of named Gordon Strong. He pitches one WYeast smack pack into his lagers. No starter, just WYeast nutrient and oxygen.

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