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Old 02-08-2011, 02:11 AM   #1
TurkCowan
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Default lager lesson learned - carbonation

I brewed my first lager this past december and it is delicious. But I did learn a lesson that's probably worth passing on.

At 1 month of lagering in the mid 30's this beer is one of the tastiest, clearest beers I've had. And I'm glad it's so tasty because I just tested a sample I bottled two weeks ago as an experiment. I wanted to see if there was enough yeast in suspension to carbonate a bottle in a reasonable timeframe, so I did just one.

This evening, I'm sad to say, it was entirely flat. I realize two weeks at 70F is not the ideal but it should have been at least a little bubbly (it was about as carbonated as tap water). I know there are some that would say to let it go for 3 weeks or longer, but that's sort of why I did the test. Before I bottle the rest of the batch (now lagered for 6 weeks) I will be adding some of the original yeast (S-23) harvested from the primary to the bottling bucket.

Anyone ever have this experience??

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Old 02-08-2011, 02:35 AM   #2
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There are alot of variables at play when it comes to time to carb. I had a 1.060 lager carb up just fine in only two weeks and after two months lagering and no yeast additions.

One thing that comes to mind in your situation is how did you rack your bottling sample. If you drew only from the top maybe you didn't get much yeast. When I bottle condition my lagers I intentionally disturb some of the bottom yeast to make sure there is enough for carbing. Also, how did you prime the single bottle?

I would add that if you've already got the yeast, there isn't much harm in adding it for insurance

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Old 02-08-2011, 04:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Hex23 View Post
There are alot of variables at play when it comes to time to carb. I had a 1.060 lager carb up just fine in only two weeks and after two months lagering and no yeast additions.

One thing that comes to mind in your situation is how did you rack your bottling sample. If you drew only from the top maybe you didn't get much yeast. When I bottle condition my lagers I intentionally disturb some of the bottom yeast to make sure there is enough for carbing. Also, how did you prime the single bottle?

I would add that if you've already got the yeast, there isn't much harm in adding it for insurance
That makes so much sense now that you say it. I drew from somewhere in the middle but probably would have been much better off to mix in a little bit of the cake on the bottom. I'll probably make a really small starter from my saved yeast and add that at bottling just to be sure but I bet that was my problem. Thanks!!
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Old 02-08-2011, 04:36 PM   #4
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Thanks for sharing... regarding the addition of new yeasts, would just pitching it dry (like prior to fermenting) be a valid method, before botteling?
.. currently have 3 6gal batches lagering outside in the snow..

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Old 02-08-2011, 05:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by brewew View Post
Thanks for sharing... regarding the addition of new yeasts, would just pitching it dry (like prior to fermenting) be a valid method, before botteling?
.. currently have 3 6gal batches lagering outside in the snow..
I would think so, though I would recommend rehydrating per the dry yeast instructions prior to adding it to the bottling bucket so you have better distribution and can avoid clumping. I'm only making a starter so I don't have to use all of my saved yeast (I'm brewing a helles this weekend I want to save some yeast for).
Most say re-pitching is not neccessary but I've read horror stories about whole batches not carbing and although that's probably an outside chance, given the time it takes to actually make a good lager, it would be a shame to have to drink it flat.

Funny you mentioned the snow; I do it the same way in Boston.
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Old 02-08-2011, 05:39 PM   #6
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robably would have been much better off to mix in a little bit of the cake on the bottom
Uh, don't do that. You'll likely get way more yeast than you need.

I've made quite a few lagers, and I've never added more yeast (I've used S-23 many times). I even gelatin them before I crash them below freezing. I've never had a problem with carbonation, although the really clear pilsners do take 2 or more weeks to carb completely.

I keep them closer to 75 when bottle-conditioning, so that might make a difference. I know that some guys can't get bottles to carb in the 60s.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:14 AM   #7
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Thanks for answeing TurkCowan ! How cool ! I've definetely established a new and more friendly relationship with the cruel Norwegian snow after I started brewing lagers.. hehe !!

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