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Old 12-17-2008, 12:42 AM   #1
Dougan
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Default Lager yeast question

First off I'm going to come out and say this is a 'why isn't my beer fermenting?' question. I've already have a batch take 9 days to start fermenting and it turned out excellent. I'm well aware of the value of leaving questionable batches and not messing with them for awhile. I just brewed this batch on Sunday and don't have any intent on messing with it until at least a couple weeks.

Anyway, it's my first lager (Extract, still). Long story short, I'm an apartment brewer in Wisconsin so my storage options are 65 and outside which was at -10 last night (F). So I decided I was goign to stash it in my girlfriend's garage, which is heated, but not very well (usually about 55). Well, I brewed it (dry yeast), and put it in there immediately (it was very warm this weekend and with the extra heat boost it was about 60 in the garage, seemed like a good idea at the time) but it immediately cooled down outside, and the roommates closed the heat vent in the garage that very night. I'm lucky the damn thing didn't freeze by the time I checked on it yesterday.

I suspected there wasn't any fermentation so I brought it inside and let it warm up overnight. I opened it tonight and there was no sign of fermentation (same gravity). Hopefully if it does magically start up again it'll go strong so I can see the airlock bubbling because I'm not going to keep opening it up to check.

I obviously know why this happened because that's not the way it's supposed to be stored right away. My current plan is to leave it inside until the end of the month (unless it clearly starts fermenting) and at that point probably pitch more yeast if nothing's picked up. Does this sound good? I guess my concern is that it might slowly ferment and I won't notice it, so it'll ferment out at higher-than-ideal-lager temperatures.

Guess I'm just looking for input because I've never had experience with lager yeast before. Would such a drastic temperature change before fermentation took off kill the yeast?

Thanks,
Scott

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Old 12-17-2008, 12:49 AM   #2
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I've never used dry lager yeast- but I'd suggest that if you're going to repitch, to repitch with a neutral ale yeast. Lager yeast get sulfury and fruity at ale temperatures. Sometimes that's exactly what you want (like California Common), but most of the time it's weird flavored. So, a dry neutral yeast like S05, or Nottingham in the low 60s might give you decent results.

I make a few lagers, but I don't have any advice regarding the temperature changes. If the yeast didn't freeze or otherwise die, they should regroup and get going. I would wait only three days, however. If after three days nothing is happening, pitch the dry ale yeast. A couple of weeks is simply asking for an infection.

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Old 12-17-2008, 12:51 AM   #3
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Clearly you understand that the temp swings were bad for the yeast. Lager yeasts are known for starting slowly, thats why when using a liquid yeast it is highly recommended that you use a starter. Using a dry yeast under the conditions you descibed is not going to help things get started. You did not kill the yeast, they will just take a while to get started. RDWHAHB

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Old 12-17-2008, 01:56 AM   #4
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Sort of the responses I expected, thanks.

So do I wait at room temp for it to start fermenting or do i stick it in my buddy's basement that's probably going to stay 50 or above?

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Old 12-18-2008, 02:38 AM   #5
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I'm bumping this because I have an update. After only 48 hours of leaving it alone (no repitching) it appears that it is fermenting. There are bubbles coming out of the airlock-- slower than any batch i've ever had, but they're definitely there. It's in my house currently. Should I drop it off at my buddy's basement (55 F or so) tomorrow morning (in 10 hrs)? I don't like the idea of driving around and sloshing this thing around, but I'm not sure if doing that early in fermentation would outweigh the taste difference of using lager yeast at room temp. The whole point of this experiment was to examine the difference between lagers vs. ales, but if i have to cut my losses and ferment it at room temp, so be it.

Scott

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