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Old 12-22-2007, 01:51 AM   #1
alowishus
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Default Vienna Lager Extract - Issues Starting Fermentation

Hi All,

Yes, this is another one of those threads on "wtf my beer won't start fermenting". This is also my first lager attempt.

Firstly, the recipe I used was from Listermann's. It's their Vienna Lager recipe (found here):
http://www.listermann.com/PDF/Vienna.pdf

I made this batch on 12/19/07 (around 6pm). I did everything exactly per the instructions. The SG was 1.055 at around 64-66 degrees (before pitching in the yeast).

I left the primary out in the garage where I thought it would be between 50-60 degrees for fermentation. Unfortunately, I was incorrect about the weather and in the morning my thermometer read 36 degrees!

At this point, I brought it inside and put it in the basement, where it eventually came up to the basement temperature (66 degrees). As of now, it's been in for 48 hours.

I've opened the primary and checked, there's no sign of activity, nor has the SG changed. It's still measuring 1.055.

The yeast in this kit was Superior Lager yeast. I know it ferments at lower temps than other yeasts, but I'm thinking I got it too cold before it could take off. What do I do to correct this? Do I pitch in more yeast? Give the current yeast some persuasion of some sort?

Any ideas would be helpful. I was hoping to get the fermentation completed before Christmas night (so I could lager it in the garage while I was away for a weeks vacation). I don't know if that's going to be possible at this point.

Thanks!
alow

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Old 12-22-2007, 02:02 AM   #2
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Well, lagers usually need a BIG starter to get going. I usually pitch about a gallon starter of yeast slurry to get it going. Without one, you have a long lag time. Also, yeast doesn't do well with extreme temperature changes, and were probably quite stressed by the temperature change.

When I lager (depending on which yeast strain I'm using), I usually primary at 50 degrees for about 2 weeks, then do the diacetyl rest if needed, then secondary for about 2 weeks at 50-55. Then I drop the temperature 5 degrees per day until I'm at 34 degrees and lager for 4-12 weeks.

I would think that no matter what, you're be rushing to even consider beginning tolager before at least 4 weeks is passed. Since you've stressed your yeast, I would recommend keeping it at 50 degrees for at least 3 weeks before even considering anything else at this point.

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Old 12-22-2007, 02:18 AM   #3
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I talked with Dan Listermann prior to pitching the yeast. He recommended just throwing it into the wort dry.

I really don't have an opinion either way regarding dry or rehydrated yeast - I really just wanted to follow the directions.

The instructions pretty much indicate that fermentation should be complete in a week or so. I understand what you're saying about proper lagering, but I've not got the setup for it. Iwas hoping for more of a poor man's attempt at lagering by using the garage after fermentation was done.

I'll just keep an eye on it now then - I really dont have any way of regulating the temp below what my basement sits at - which is around 60-66 degrees. It's onthe high side for this yeast, but maybe it'll help kick it in a bit faster.

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Old 12-22-2007, 03:33 AM   #4
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Dry yeast is typically 20 billion cells per gram, so figure you got about 150 billion in your pack. I would think you would want about double that for a lager, but if you are pitching at the 65F to 75F range that Dan recommends, maybe he is figuring that you will get good growth before it cools to the 50F to 60F fermentation temperature.

Personally, I would throw in a second pack, reaerate, and put it at 60F to 65F if you have to leave it for a few days without monitoring. I think that Superior yeast can withstand higher temperatures although it will affect your flavor a bit.

EDIT: I was just at Listermann's today and they (Chuck specifically) hooked me up big time. I had a really old corny that I was using for the first time. It had a plastic gas side dip tube that was badly cracked and all gunked up so I tossed it. I tried to put in a spare metal one that I had lying around and it wouldn't fit (this is of course after I filled the keg, so now I am committed). I put on the post hok up the gas without a dip tube and can't maintain pressure - it leaks badly. Internet searches for this plastic tube show it is seemingly rare and I couldn't track down a replacement. I dropped in at Listermann's and asked what they had lying around in the back (they have a TON of old stuff in the back just filling up boxes). Less than a minute later I have a plastic dip tube in hand - no charge. Thanks guys!!!

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Old 12-22-2007, 03:38 AM   #5
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Yes- you can leave it in your basement for a while. I'd say not before Christmas- maybe plan the lagering for way after that when fermentation is done. It's best to keep it at a more steady temperature and avoid temperature swings.

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Old 12-22-2007, 04:01 PM   #6
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I'd try rousing the yeast with a sanitized spoon or wand and aerate again if that's easy for you (aeration system). If that doesn't get you anything, throw in more yeast.

Kai

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Old 12-22-2007, 08:16 PM   #7
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Just a quick update.

Still no action this afternoon. I just got back from Listermann's where they usggested either just leaving it or throwing some additional yeast on it. For $1.25 or so I just bought another packet of yeast (and a better aerator stir stick - since my spoon doesn't reach all the way to the bottom of the bucket).

Anyway, I stirred up the stuff inthe bucket for a bit, then I threw the additional yeast in there with a few tsp. of yeast nutrient. I then mixed it really well and sealed it back up.

I'll keep an eye on it and see what happens.

It's 66 down there still, so this should start things rolling fairly quickly given the temperature range of the yeast.

Thanks for the help!
alow

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Old 12-23-2007, 12:50 AM   #8
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Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd we have airlock action.....

Yay!
Thanks All!

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