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Old 08-17-2012, 06:41 PM   #1
Nutcase168
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Default First Lager, Oktoberfest have questions

So I am in the process of hopefully making my first Oktoberfest. I did the boil about 2 weeks ago(two weeks on Monday). But instead of pitching the yeast at fermentation temp, I did it at room temp and then quickly dropped the temp down (like right away put it in freezer set to 54F).

So I saw no activity for awhile, I only looked in on it to check for activity on the bubbler and verify the temp controller was working properly. So I didn't really see anything for awhile but I had read that lager were slower. But after a week I was concerned. I was going to do another addition when I got sick, so I checked on it last night and saw activity, it was bubbling about 1/every 3 seconds with the lovely sulfur smell.

So my questions are:
1. How much longer should I leave it in primary (sitting at 52 right now)?
2. Do I need to do a Diacteyl Rest?
3. my OG was around 1.052, how long to lager it? I'm using WLP830 as my yeast.
4. Do I need to add yeast when bottling(don't have kegging equipment, yet)

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Old 08-17-2012, 06:51 PM   #2
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1. Until you get three consecutive days of the same FG reading. I've gotten into a habit of just leaving it alone for 3-4 weeks and just checking FG once.
2. Yes. 48 hours @ 60°F
3. I lager 1 month for every 1% ABV. Worked well so far but my 8% Imperial Oktoberfest is a PITA to not touch for 8 months.
4. No. Yeast in suspension will still get to work.

Now a future note for your lagers, you need to use a starter always. While lager yeast is notoriously slow vs ale yeasts, pitching the proper yeast amount should give you fermentation within 24-48 hours. Any slower and you either didn't pitch enough yeast or you have oxygen problems.

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Old 08-17-2012, 06:55 PM   #3
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Most excellent!

Others with more experience will jump in here, but to date I have done four Oktoberfest lagers, this year's is still in the lagering fridge after placing it there four or five months ago. Yes, to get the cleanest, clearest, most excellent tasting O'fest takes time (which is why the style is "Marzen" or "March" beer).

Anyway, here is my take on your questions:

1. How much longer should I leave it in primary (sitting at 52 right now)?

You can only tell this with a specific gravity reading. Only transfer to secondary when your expected finish gravity is close (3-5 points from estimated). Mine take 4-6 weeks for this to happen.

2. Do I need to do a Diacteyl Rest?

This would be a good idea when your reading is close as stated above. Raise the temp to 65-70 degrees for a couple of days, then transfer to secondary and drop down to lagering temps.

3. my OG was around 1.052, how long to lager it? I'm using WLP830 as my yeast.

So many things factor into this, it really depends on how it tastes and how complete your fermentation is. My own rule is to let it go as long as my patience and thirst allows, which is why this year I brewed in March. I know of pro brewers in the area who lager for six weeks with good results.

4. Do I need to add yeast when bottling(don't have kegging equipment, yet)

I never have, and never had a problem with carbonation. One thing to look at is the amount of priming sugars to use, as the "rule of thumb" is not correct to style. I use this site:
http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/priming.html

Good luck with it!

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:17 PM   #4
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Thanks for the input so far. I was hoping to enjoy this batch sometime in October but seems like it may be rushing it (depending on FG). I was planning on 5-6 weeks of lagering at 34F.

How do you take you samples without contaminating the batch?

On the starter note, I haven't tried a starter yet, so in this case I used 2 vials of the yeast instead of one. I think one of the calculators said that should be enough cells.
I had it in a bucket so I couldn't see any activity outside of the bubbler, but its possible it was going sooner than that. I was worried I shocked the yeast by dropping the temp so fast.

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:37 PM   #5
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I brewed my first lager (Octoberfest) on August 12th. First thing, you shouldn't really pitch lager yeast at ambient temp, I read that you want to pitch at either 48-54*F or so for the cleanest tasting lager. I could only get my lager wort down to 75*F. I put it in the chest freezer to cool to 54*F and then pitched then. It's okay to wait a few hours to pitch as long as you practice good sanitation.

You really should invest in starter equipment (flash, stir plate). I did a stepped up starter and my lager took off in 7 hours. I'm going to lager until October 14th, that is 8 weeks.

G'luck, hopefully get to enjoy some Ofest at the end of October.
justin

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Old 08-18-2012, 12:00 AM   #6
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I use better bottle carboys, and i just pour my sample straight out of the carboy into the sample cylinder. I have yet to infect a batch. I'm very careful to not touch anything that could potentially touch the beer. The better way would be to get a wine thief, and sanitize it to snag your sample. I've been meaning to do this but keep forgetting to grab one when I'm at the LHBS.

2 vials of yeast is much better than one, but is still leaving you light on yeast for a 5 gallon batch. Lagers take a TON of yeast to not get off flavors. For the Oktoberfest I made this year, Also on Aug 12 , I made a 2 liter starter, and pitched 2 vials into that to get the cell count where Mr. Malty recommended it. You may still get a few off flavors from the underpitch, but the beer will still be good. I did one last year where i just did one vial, before i discovered starters, and the beer turned out great, so dont worry.

I'm rushing my batch for an oktoberfest contest in Aurora at the end of september. I'll only be able to lager for a few weeks after fermentation is done, and it might not be quite as crisp and clear as it potentially could be, but I'm not too worried about it. Maybe I'll bottle half, and let half lager until november. Next year I'll plan ahead more . I also pitched at 75, as cold as I could chill, then threw it in the fridge, and got it down to 52 over the next 12 hours. I took a sample today and it tasted fine so far. Pitching at room temp shouldnt be a big deal. Some guys recommend it, but more don't.

Good luck w the batch! hope its good! In a nutshell, just allow extra time for everything: fermenting, bottle conditioning and all, because the lager yeasts are slower.

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Old 08-18-2012, 01:18 AM   #7
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I do 2 weeks primary in a carboy, 4-6 weeks lagering in a corny and transfer to a second corny for serving.

For non kegging people doing lagers (crazy guys) I would do 3 weeks primary in a carboy, bottle, allow 2 weeks to prime and lager for 4-6 weeks in the bottle.

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Old 08-18-2012, 01:29 AM   #8
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For a lager, you want to do the diacetyl rest when the yeast are still active, but winding down. That's usually at a SG of about 1.020. For me, with a cold pitch and a proper pitching rate, that is usually about day 10. Then I bring it up 10 degrees above fermentation temperature for 48 hours. Once there is no hint of diacetyl (with a taste sample), you can rack and begin the lagering process.

A typical lagering schedule is one week of lagering for every 8-10 points of OG. So, for a 1.056 beer, that would be 6-7 weeks or so.

Don't worry about taking SG samples- simply sanitize a wine thief or turkey baster and take the sample. Don't pour it back into the carboy when you're done, just drink it.

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Old 08-23-2012, 02:10 PM   #9
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Thanks again for all the input, I have it in diactyl rest right now for 48 hours.

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