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Old 08-01-2008, 11:50 PM   #1
CWalters
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Default Lager fermentation Primary

This is my first Lager and I've been having some problems with it.

First, the WYeast that was original pitched never took off, which I think was due to my lack of experience. After waiting 4 or 5 days I sprinkled some dry Lager yeast over the top of the wort, and within 24 hours a Krausen layer formed. I left the fermenting wort sit at 68 degrees for 48 hours, then transferred it to a (50 degree) controlled temp freezer where it sat, as of today, for 10 days. It still has a thin layer of something on the top. I wish I took a SG reading but did not. So is it safe to say that I can start the 24 hour diacetyl rest, then transfer it to the secondary (40 degree) for 10-14 more days?

http://chriswaltersphoto.com/MiscIma...erKrausen1.jpg

http://chriswaltersphoto.com/MiscIma...erKrausen2.jpg

Sorry for the crappy pics, I took them with my camera phone.

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Old 08-02-2008, 02:18 AM   #2
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Why can't you take a SG reading now, at least you can get some idea where it is at now. Lager fermentation's are known to take longer then ales.

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Old 08-02-2008, 12:41 PM   #3
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The SG reading is currently 1.030 @ 50 degree.

The starting gravity should have been around 1.064, per kit product sheet.

Should it be fine to rack to the secondary?

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Old 08-02-2008, 01:47 PM   #4
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1.030 is pretty darn high for a typical lager-- sounds like your yeast didn't attenuate very much. I don't really know what to do-- but once you rack it into a secondary, that yeast of yours is done (unless you repitched AGAIN-- I don't know what would happen then).

For future reference, the problems that happened here:

Pitching at 68 and then moving down to 50 does create a lot of problems for the yeast. If you have the temperature control capabilities, you definitely need to be pitching at or below your target temperature (if you pitch below 2-3 degrees, then you can ramp up to your temp to help the yeast get going). Doing this also eliminates the need for a Diacetyl rest.

Dry yeast really needs to be rehydrated in sterilized (pre-boiled) water before pitching. When you pitch dry yeast straight into wort, the yeast cell membranes can end up overloading with sugar from the wort and end up dying quickly-- it's an easy way to decrease your yeast cell count quickly (which is important to be high always, but ESPECIALLY in lager/high gravity beers).

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Old 08-02-2008, 02:12 PM   #5
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There are some differences to lager fermentation that you should be aware of. First, as you know, most lager yeasts ferment best at the 50-55dF range. It is usually even better to go a little lower as this will produce a cleaner lager, but this will ferment out a little more slowly. Ideally, you want to pitch your yeast with your wort in the 40s and then allow the temp to rise to 50. It's OK to pitch it higher, but this will produce more diacetyl and esters, most of which can be gotten rid of later with a diacetyl rest and lagering.

Primary lager fermentation takes on average 10 to 14 days depending on lag time, yeast health and pitch rate, and OG. If you're doing a diacetyl rest, it should be done near the end of primary fermentation... about 6 points above target FG. But since this is difficult to gauge, you can start it when there is just a little krausen still on top. There are no set times for diacetyl rests, but they are typically 1 to 3 days. You know they are complete when the krausen is fully fallen and airlock bubbling has practically stopped (I say practically because there will be some residual CO2 coming out of solution that can still cause some bubbling).

You shouldn't rack to secondary/lagering until everything is complete, including primary fermentation, diacetyl rest, and reducing the beer to 38-40dF (but don't reduce the temp until primary fermentation and/or diacetyl rest is complete).

My typical lagers take 7 to 14 days before I even start diacetyl rest. I usually don't "need" diacetyl rests, but do them anyway to clean it up. Lagering times are also not "set". They depend on the wort. A good rule of thumb for average lager worts (medium amount of dextrins) would be to lager 7 days for every 8 points of OG at 33-36dF. So, if your OG was 1.048, you could lager for 6 weeks.

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Old 08-03-2008, 08:33 PM   #6
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Great wealth of information, thanks.

I took SG reading today, this time I let the beer warm up to 60 degrees, and it was at 1.026. The krausen head is gone, so I'm going to begin the diacetyl rest, and then rack to the secondary. We'll see what happens.

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Old 08-04-2008, 01:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CWalters View Post
Great wealth of information, thanks.

I took SG reading today, this time I let the beer warm up to 60 degrees, and it was at 1.026. The krausen head is gone, so I'm going to begin the diacetyl rest, and then rack to the secondary. We'll see what happens.
What are you shooting for? I don't see it listed above...
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Old 08-04-2008, 02:36 AM   #8
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The FG should be around 1.15, per kit product sheet.

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