With the cool weather finally here I decided to try a lager (since I don't have a ferm chamber or a spare fridge). I need a few questions answered, though.
Firstly: I bought a Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager yeast pack, broke the nutrient pack and let it sit at room temp for ~6 hours. It never swelled to near bursting. I think it swelled, a little, but not much. I made a starter for it, 2 cups water & 1/2 cup DME with 1/4 tsp yeast nutrient. A small krausen formed, but nothing like ale yeast (which I read would happen). 12 hours later I can see a yeast layer has formed on the bottom. I figured this meant the yeast were viable since they grew. I chilled the starter, decanted and pitched at 64F. Is this lack of swelling typical of lager yeast or did I possibly get a "tired" yeast pack. I didn't check the date on the pack (why would I do that?).
Secondly: Fermenting temperature. Beer was 64F when I pitched and put the fermenter into the swamp cooler with 40F water. 12 hours after pitching I checked the beer's temp and it was down to 50, same with the cooler water. According to Palmer you shouldn't pitch warm and slowly bring the temperature down as that can produce increased diacetyl's. However, the HBT wiki suggests pitching warm until airlock activity and then cool to fermenting temps. I have 3 gallons in a 7 gallon pail so I don't expect to see any airlock activity. Should I have let the beer sit at a warmer temp before chilling it to fermenting temps or did I do right by chilling it as quickly as I did?
I really don't want to screw this up and I think I might be starting to get a little overwhelmed with all the information I am trying to digest, process and put to use. So, any help would be appreciated. Thanks.