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Old 11-16-2010, 08:07 AM   #1
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Default Lager fermenting problems

This is my first lager attempt, and I need some guidance. My instructions say to ferment for two weeks at 55 degrees using 2308 wyeast. I pitched the yeast at 70 degrees as instructed by a fellow brewer. Within a few hours, it started fermentation. After 24 hours, I dropped it down to 65 degrees. Another 24 hours later I moved it to 60 degrees. Then all fermentation halted completely.

Do I need to move it back to 70 degrees and throw a new batch of wyeast in there?

Why did the yeast stop fermenting after it got down to 60 when this is supposed to ferment at 55 for two weeks, then 35 for 8 weeks?

Any help will be appreciated.

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Old 11-16-2010, 12:10 PM   #2
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Default Lager fermenting problems

This is my first lager attempt, and I need some guidance. My instructions say to ferment for two weeks at 55 degrees using 2308 wyeast. I pitched the yeast at 70 degrees as instructed by a fellow brewer. Within a few hours, it started fermentation. After 24 hours, I dropped it down to 65 degrees. Another 24 hours later I moved it to 60 degrees. Then all fermentation halted completely.

Do I need to move it back to 70 degrees and throw a new batch of wyeast in there?

Why did the yeast stop fermenting after it got down to 60 when this is supposed to ferment at 55 for two weeks, then 35 for 8 weeks?

Any help will be appreciated.

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Old 11-16-2010, 12:11 PM   #3
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Default Lager fermenting problems

This is my first lager attempt, and I need some guidance. My instructions say to ferment for two weeks at 55 degrees using 2308 wyeast. I pitched the yeast at 70 degrees as instructed by a fellow brewer. Within a few hours, it started fermentation. After 24 hours, I dropped it down to 65 degrees. Another 24 hours later I moved it to 60 degrees. Then all fermentation halted completely.

Do I need to move it back to 70 degrees and throw a new batch of wyeast in there?

Why did the yeast stop fermenting after it got down to 60 when this is supposed to ferment at 55 for two weeks, then 35 for 8 weeks?

Any help will be appreciated.

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Old 11-16-2010, 12:20 PM   #4
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This is my first lager attempt, and I need some guidance. My instructions say to ferment for two weeks at 55 degrees using 2308 wyeast. I pitched the yeast at 70 degrees as instructed by a fellow brewer. Within a few hours, it started fermentation. After 24 hours, I dropped it down to 65 degrees. Another 24 hours later I moved it to 60 degrees. Then all fermentation halted completely.

Do I need to move it back to 70 degrees and throw a new batch of wyeast in there?

Why did the yeast stop fermenting after it got down to 60 when this is supposed to ferment at 55 for two weeks, then 35 for 8 weeks?

Any help will be appreciated.
At 70 degrees, the fermentation could have been completely done before you got down to the desired fermentation temperatures. If it spent 48 hours fermenting at such a warm temeprature, I'm betting it's done.

Because it take a LONG time for 5 gallons of fermenting beer to drop temperature, and the fermentation can be over before you actually get to 50 degrees, it's generally a bad idea to pitch a yeast 20 degrees too warm. I don't do it for ales, and I don't do it for lagers. Think of it this way- say you pitched an ale at 85 degrees, then lowered the temperature 48 hours later. As you know, the yeast go crazy at warmer temperatures and will go nuts. The bulk of the fermentation would be done before you hit the desired temperature. I think that's what happened here.

Pitching too warm is a "fix" for underpitching yeast, as yeast will reproduce faster at higher temperatures. It's not the best technique for making a clean tasting lager.

I bet if you check the SG, you'll discover that you're within a couple of points of your FG.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:29 PM   #5
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So your telling me it completed fermentation in 48 hours? It didn't look like enough activity and krausen to have completed. Also, what is the point of dropping to 55 for two weeks if fermentation completes sooner? Does this mean the yeast is done and I dont even need to drop it down to 35 for 8 weeks?

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Old 11-16-2010, 12:37 PM   #6
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So your telling me it completed fermentation in 48 hours? It didn't look like enough activity and krausen to have completed. Also, what is the point of dropping to 55 for two weeks if fermentation completes sooner? Does this mean the yeast is done and I dont even need to drop it down to 35 for 8 weeks?
Yes, it's probably finished or close to it. I've had beers ferment out in 24 hours before, but generally not while dropping the temperature.

You don't have to drop the temperature to 55 anymore- your "lager" is an ale, since it fermented above 60 degrees. Or more correctly called a "steam beer" which is an ale fermented with lager yeast. A lager is fermented at 48-55 degrees, depending on the strain.

You can still lager it, and it should help the flavor.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:54 PM   #7
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I'm not an expert, and brewing is not an exact science. But you should consider that 5 gallons of wort takes a long time to cool to 55 degrees in a lager chest. Also consider that it will cool from the outside in so that temp readings taken on the outside may not reflect the 'core' temperature of the wort.

Thus, I agree with Yooper, it is probably finished. Next time don't wait, if you pitch your lager yeast at 70 or above, immediately put it in a 50-55 degree fermentation chamber. It will take at least 24 hours to bring the temp down to 55 degrees. This method gives the yeast a good start but brings them to the proper temp in time for the majority of the fermentation to occur at the proper temp. I use this method all the time. In fact White Labs 840 American Lager yeast is supposed to be pitched at 70 degrees.

If you chill the wort before you pitch you will most likely have unsatisfactory results. That has been my experience.

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Old 11-16-2010, 12:59 PM   #8
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If you chill the wort before you pitch you will most likely have unsatisfactory results. That has been my experience.
I don't agree with that statement- because there is one big key that's missing. The key to a great lager is pitching at fermentation temperature, or even slightly below, but pitching the proper amount of yeast. If you're pitching one vial of yeast, or one smackpack, it's severely underpitching. If you underpitch, yes, you'll have to start the lager warm in order to get the yeast to reproduce enough to ferment well without stress.

Check out mrmalty.com, and the pitching calculator he has on the site. Most lagers require about twice as much yeast as ales, and even two packages of yeast wouldn't be enough for a lager pitched at fermentation temperatures.

That's the biggest difference in the two techniques- pitch warm with too-little yeast, and pitch cold with an enormous amount of yeast. Both work, and there are proponents of both. My experience is that cold pitching works best for me. Same with ales- I don't pitch ales 25 degrees too warm, either.
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:16 PM   #9
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Damn, I really wanted to make a lager this time.

So at this point, should I go ahead and bottle and age at 40 degrees? Or should I transfer to the secondary fermenter and let it sit at 35 degrees for 8 weeks? I do not see any activity at all in there now. No bubbles, no krausen.

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Old 11-16-2010, 01:52 PM   #10
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Damn, I really wanted to make a lager this time.

So at this point, should I go ahead and bottle and age at 40 degrees? Or should I transfer to the secondary fermenter and let it sit at 35 degrees for 8 weeks? I do not see any activity at all in there now. No bubbles, no krausen.
What is the SG right now and what was your target FG?

If it is done fermenting and you have the patience to wait, I would lager/cold condi tion it; as Yoop said it should improve the taste (and clarity as well). Then get the same recipe started right away, but pitch at proper temps (make sure you pitch enough yeast). It will be a great learning experience to compare the two finished brews and let us know about the differences between them!
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