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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Pilsner Lagering question
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Old 08-19-2009, 01:56 AM   #1
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Default Pilsner Lagering question

I have recently switched to all grain and decided to make my first lager. It is a german pils. I pitched the yeast (white labs pilsner) they recomend pitching at 70-75 and then fermenting at 50-55. I pitched at 70 then placed in frig and took right to 52. It was made on Saturday and nothing has started. Should I have waited to place in frig until fermentation has begun?

Keg 1- Wit (AG)
Keg 2- empty
Keg 3- empty

Primary 1-IPA (AG)
Primary 2-Pilsner (AG)
Primary 3-Pumpkin Ale (AG)

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Old 08-19-2009, 02:14 AM   #2
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I have recently switched to all grain and decided to make my first lager. It is a german pils. I pitched the yeast (white labs pilsner) they recomend pitching at 70-75 and then fermenting at 50-55. I pitched at 70 then placed in frig and took right to 52. It was made on Saturday and nothing has started. Should I have waited to place in frig until fermentation has begun?

Keg 1- Wit (AG)
Keg 2- empty
Keg 3- empty

Primary 1-IPA (AG)
Primary 2-Pilsner (AG)
Primary 3-Pumpkin Ale (AG)
In my opinion, no. But, I don't agree with those package instructions.

First, take a look at mrmalty.com, and check out the "pitching calculator". Usually for lagers, you make a huge starter to increase the cell count before pitching. That's what I do- make an enormous starter, and then pitch at fermentation temperatures (usually 50 degrees). The reason is simple- I don't pitch my ales at 90 degrees and wait for them to start before lowering them to 70 degrees. Likewise, I don't pitch my lagers 20 degrees too warm either.

If you didnt' make a starter, you're in for a long lag time. Just wait it out. Yo-yoing the temps isn't good for the beer, but if you pitched less than optimal amounts of yeast, it'll take a good long time for them to get going. I think the instructions on the yeast packages are terrible- if you wait until signs of fermentation are visible, by the time you get the fermenter to 50 degrees, 80% of the fermentation would be over. Just wait it out, if you can.

If your sanitation was good, fermentation with the lager yeast should start soon.
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Old 08-19-2009, 02:21 AM   #3
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Thanks!......any benefit to pitching more yeast? Since I didn't make a starter......I have time so waiting it out is no big deal

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Old 08-19-2009, 03:00 AM   #4
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Thanks!......any benefit to pitching more yeast? Since I didn't make a starter......I have time so waiting it out is no big deal
No real big benefit to pitching more yeast at this point. Would it help sure it will, but it will have altered the enviroment that the yeast have come accustom which is not necessarily a good thing. RDWHAHB and wait it out.

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Old 08-19-2009, 03:00 PM   #5
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Also, in the future i believe it's better for yeast health to slowly drop the temp if you're going to make a big jump like that.

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Old 08-20-2009, 02:53 AM   #6
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I don't understand why the Yeast Guys(TM) have you pitch warm then cool. I'm far from an expert on yeast, but it just doesn't seem to add any value. Less stuck ferments when underpitching, maybe?

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Old 08-20-2009, 03:09 AM   #7
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I don't understand why the Yeast Guys(TM) have you pitch warm then cool. I'm far from an expert on yeast, but it just doesn't seem to add any value. Less stuck ferments when underpitching, maybe?
It reduces the risk of their product not working "properly". They do that because (this is just my opinion now) they know the lager yeast straight from the vial or smack pack is underpitching for a 5 gallon batch if you don't make a starter. Warmer temps initially help the yeast get started. Also, storage and transport conditions after leaving the manufacturing facility and date towards expiration can compromise yeast viability. So, starting warmer can help that as well. But what this also does is increases the amount of flavor-active compounds produced by the yeast (diacetyl, esters, fusel alcohols, etc.). Some of these get cleaned up with a diacetyl rest and lagering, some don't.

It's interesting because all of the knowledge of modern lager brewing indicates to pitch the right amount of yeast (a lot) and pitch it cold (<50°F) for the trademark clean lager beer.
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