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Old 09-02-2011, 02:14 PM   #1
Xitesmai
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Default First Lager Stuck - What should I do?

So I started an Oktoberfest lager over a week ago.

I have it in a 5 gallon carboy, and used a blowoff hose at first. Pitched @ about 68 degrees. I know I underpitched, I only used one vial of WL830 German Lager Yeast. Placed in fridge @ 50 degrees (no temp controller so it fluctuates from 48 to 50ish)

So for the first 3 days I couldnt tell if I was fermenting, and the blowoff hose started to suck up my blowoff solution (water + star san), so I switched to a 3 piece bubble lock. I was only getting a bubble every few minutes. So I added another vial of WL830. My lock solution then kept evaporating, so I;ve been refilling it every day.

This helped somewhat but no at day 8 I have no activity in my lock. I've swirled the carboy a few times and that seems to help for awhile then it dies again.

I have no krausen, no gas being produced, so i think its stuck....

what should I do?

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Old 09-02-2011, 02:19 PM   #2
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Airlock activity is not a sign of fermentation. And you may not see much of a Krausen on a lager. You should really get a hydrometer to see if your gravity is falling. Then and pretty much only then can you tell if yourfermentation is stuck.


Edit and yeah you'll see it bubble when you slosh the beer around. Youre basically forcing the CO2 layer out of the fermenter at that point.

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Old 09-02-2011, 02:20 PM   #3
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I had a hydrometer, but it broke right before I made this batch...guess its time to go get a new one.

What should I be looking for FG wise?

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Old 09-02-2011, 02:24 PM   #4
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Yep, need a hydrometer reading. If you can confirm that you are stuck, you need more yeast (as an aside, what kind of Oktoberfest was it? AG? Extract? Other? I ask because I've found that underpitched AG will sometimes catch up and take off, but less so other types). Personally I would rehydrate a couple packages of dry lager yeast, pitch that, and you should be fine. Otherwise make a big starter (as per Mr. Malty), ferment it at room temp, chill, decant and re-pitch. The dry yeast makes a whole lot more sense in this situation since you can repitch immediately.

But yeah, the first step is a gravity reading. Next time, pitch enough yeast.

Your gravity reading right now if you are actually getting some fermentation would probably be in the 1.040s. Of course with your broken hydrometer you don't know what OG was but if on style, somewhere between 1.050 and 1.057.

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Old 09-02-2011, 02:45 PM   #5
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It was an extract with specialty grains.

I'll pick up another few vials and some dme to do a proper starter.

And a new hydrometer.

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Old 09-02-2011, 02:56 PM   #6
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I can bet you a money its probably done and not stuck. 7-10 days usually takes to ferment lager, I seen them done in 4 days. Lagers (at recommended fermentation temperature) NEVER ever need a blow off tube, their fermentation is so subtle you not going to see krauzen, air lock buubles or whatever. For the most part you will see little swirling around because yeast know what to do and only way to check it is to take a gravity reading. You severly underpitched. I would not even consider doing lager without 2-3 quarts starter. What is a point to go through all that work and be lazy to make a starter, just to dump it and start all over? Definatelly not for me.

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Old 09-02-2011, 03:13 PM   #7
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Easy there sparky..It was my first lager.

I realized that I underpitched, and if I underpitched that badly then its probably not done. Unless by done you mean all the yeast is dead and causing bad flavors.

I'm assuming that I can take a hydrometer reading, and if its less than 1.050 then I can try to add more yeast to get it going again.

right?

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Old 09-02-2011, 03:35 PM   #8
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[QUOTE="paraordnance"]. What is a point to go through all that work and be lazy to make a starter, just to dump it and start all over? Definatelly not for me.[/QUOT

Wow all the Guy did was ask for some advice I'm sure he didn't wanna be criticized and be called lazy.

But yeah if I were you I would get a hydrometer and get a reading asap to see where you are then go from there.

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Old 09-02-2011, 03:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paraordnance View Post
I can bet you a money its probably done and not stuck. 7-10 days usually takes to ferment lager, I seen them done in 4 days. Lagers (at recommended fermentation temperature) NEVER ever need a blow off tube, their fermentation is so subtle you not going to see krauzen, air lock buubles or whatever. For the most part you will see little swirling around because yeast know what to do and only way to check it is to take a gravity reading. You severly underpitched. I would not even consider doing lager without 2-3 quarts starter. What is a point to go through all that work and be lazy to make a starter, just to dump it and start all over? Definatelly not for me.
At 50 degrees, underpitched, after a week? I seriously doubt it's done. But you are correct about one thing, only a gravity reading can confirm this.

I have two lagers going at 48 degrees as we speak. They both have very nice krausens on them. As far as airlock bubbles...if the beer is fermenting, CO2 is getting produced...if it doesn't go out through the airlock, where is it going? I definitely wouldn't use it to judge when a beer is "done", but seeing bubbles typically lets you know how things are moving along. Certainly no substitute for a hydrometer!

To the OP...I really strongly suggest dry yeast for repitching, it's fast and you KNOW you are getting enough yeast in there. Two packs of W-34/70 rehydrated as per manufacturer's instructions would take you home. Keep us posted!
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Old 09-02-2011, 05:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osagedr View Post
At 50 degrees, underpitched, after a week? I seriously doubt it's done. But you are correct about one thing, only a gravity reading can confirm this.

I have two lagers going at 48 degrees as we speak. They both have very nice krausens on them. As far as airlock bubbles...if the beer is fermenting, CO2 is getting produced...if it doesn't go out through the airlock, where is it going? I definitely wouldn't use it to judge when a beer is "done", but seeing bubbles typically lets you know how things are moving along. Certainly no substitute for a hydrometer!

To the OP...I really strongly suggest dry yeast for repitching, it's fast and you KNOW you are getting enough yeast in there. Two packs of W-34/70 rehydrated as per manufacturer's instructions would take you home. Keep us posted!
I'm not in the group who counts bubbles during fermentation. I stoped using airlocks a while ago, carboy cap or foil over the neck of carboy does everything that airlock does, not to mention that you will never have a liquid sucked back or it will dry out. I use carboys exclusivelly so I monitor my fermentation progress based on a swirling/activity inside, I noticed that this method is far more reliable than bubbles or krausen, when in doubt I pull out my hydrometer
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