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Old 01-18-2010, 04:46 PM   #1
csh8428
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Default Temp too cold for lager fermentation start?

I got a kit in a box(don't judge) from the local brew depot for a lager since it's winter time and it's cold enough in my garage for lagering. It's similar to an Octoberfest beer. I'm in Atlanta. I've done several ales successfully, but this is my first lager. I followed all the initial boil, transfer, and pitch instructions in the kit.

It's been about 60 hours since pitching. Yeast was put in lukewarm tapwater for 10 minutes prior to pitching. Wort was at 55f at time of pitching. Since then the wort has stayed between 43-48f for probably 50 hours. I have not seen any bubbles in the airlock at all. The temperature will range from 40-55 in the garage, but stays between 45-50 unless it gets extremely cold or warmer than average outside for an extended time.

1. Can it get too cold for lagering?(obviously below 32 is too cold)
2. Should I just "wait" as is the normal answer to this issue? For how long?
3. Any other recommendations?

Thanks,

Craig


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Old 01-18-2010, 05:01 PM   #2
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are you brewing in a bucket? if so the non-bubbling airlock doesn't mean anything. this is a common problem with buckets. the lids don't get sealed completely and the gas escapes through the gaps and not out the airlock. an airlock is just a pressure release valve not a fermentation indicator. take a gravity reading. if its lower than your OG then you have fermentation and should just walk away and leave it alone.

how much yeast did you pitch? in grams not packets please.
what was your OG? if you didn't take a reading what does the box say your OG should be?



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Old 01-18-2010, 05:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TipsyDragon View Post
are you brewing in a bucket? if so the non-bubbling airlock doesn't mean anything. this is a common problem with buckets. the lids don't get sealed completely and the gas escapes through the gaps and not out the airlock. an airlock is just a pressure release valve not a fermentation indicator. take a gravity reading. if its lower than your OG then you have fermentation and should just walk away and leave it alone.

how much yeast did you pitch? in grams not packets please.
what was your OG? if you didn't take a reading what does the box say your OG should be?
Yes, I'm brewing in a bucket. If I push even slightly on the top of the bucket I get lots of bubbles, so I think the lid is sealed pretty well. I will take an OG reading when I get home later today.

I really can't tell you exactly how much yeast I used because it was just a packet. I would guess 11-12g.

Thanks,

Craig
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:16 PM   #4
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pushing the lid doesn't mean anything. all that does is increase the pressure to above what can escape through the gaps in the lid and most, but not all, of the pressure goes out the airlock. the lid may still not be on 100%. but like i said don't give it a second thought this is normal for buckets.

since you already pitched the yeast and its most likely been fermenting all this time you cant really called it an OG reading, by this point its an SG reading. take the reading wait a few days and take another. if the second reading is lower then you have fermentation. that is the ONLY way to gauge weather or not you have fermentation and if fermentation is over or not.


what does the box say the OG should be?
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:13 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by TipsyDragon View Post
pushing the lid doesn't mean anything. all that does is increase the pressure to above what can escape through the gaps in the lid and most, but not all, of the pressure goes out the airlock. the lid may still not be on 100%. but like i said don't give it a second thought this is normal for buckets.

since you already pitched the yeast and its most likely been fermenting all this time you cant really called it an OG reading, by this point its an SG reading. take the reading wait a few days and take another. if the second reading is lower then you have fermentation. that is the ONLY way to gauge weather or not you have fermentation and if fermentation is over or not.


what does the box say the OG should be?
OG before pitching(late Friday night) was 1.039. The kit says to OG should be 1.052-1.056 though before pitching. Current gravity on Monday night is 1.064.
It doesn't list an FG. I know the new gravity number should be lower, so I would assume that because I took the OG reading at a higher temperature around 60F. The 1.064 reading was at 45F.

My original question.. Though. Can it be too cold for lagering?

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Old 01-19-2010, 03:07 AM   #6
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OG before pitching(late Friday night) was 1.039. The kit says to OG should be 1.052-1.056 though before pitching. Current gravity on Monday night is 1.064.
It doesn't list an FG.

My original question.. Though. Can it be too cold for lagering?
You're not lagering. You want to be fermenting. Lager means "to store". That's when you store the beer at near freezing temperatures. You want to be at optimum fermentation temperatures.

How you know the optimum fermentation temperature is by looking at the yeast strain you're using. Each manufacturer tells you the temperature range of that yeast strain. For example, here is Wyeast's info on the lager strain called Bohemian lager yeast: Carlsberg type yeast and most widely used lager strain in the world. Produces a distinct malty profile with some ester character and a crisp finish. Will ferment in the 45-55F range for various beer styles. Benefits from diacetyl rest at 58F (14C) for 24 hours after fermentation is complete.

What yeast strain are you using? That will tell you the fermentation temperature.
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Old 01-19-2010, 04:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csh8428 View Post
OG before pitching(late Friday night) was 1.039. The kit says to OG should be 1.052-1.056 though before pitching. Current gravity on Monday night is 1.064.
It doesn't list an FG. I know the new gravity number should be lower, so I would assume that because I took the OG reading at a higher temperature around 60F. The 1.064 reading was at 45F.

My original question.. Though. Can it be too cold for lagering?
Your OG reading was low because you didn't get proper extract mixture and it stratified. you probably drew your sample from the top of the pot where the mix was thinner. the reading you got Monday night was after everything finally mixed properly but was at a very low temperature. lower temperatures will give you an artificially high reading and higher temperatures will give you artificially low readings.

unfortunately your OG reading is meaningless because the extract wasn't fully mixed. typically i whirlpool and mix the crap out of an extract batch after its cooled to both aerate and mix before i take a gravity reading. this seems to do the trick. your Monday SG reading is artificially high because of the cold temp. when taking a SG reading you need to pay close attention to the temperature and right it down accurately. there are plenty of tools and charts out there to give you the proper adjustment for your readings.
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:05 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
You're not lagering. You want to be fermenting. Lager means "to store". That's when you store the beer at near freezing temperatures. You want to be at optimum fermentation temperatures.

What yeast strain are you using? That will tell you the fermentation temperature.


Thanks for the terminology clarification.

I am using Breferm's lager yeast: http://www.brewferm.be/en/index.htm
Optimum fermentation temp is 50-60f, so I guess it's too cold in my garage(40-55f). I keep the house between 57-63, so I think if I filled the downstairs bathroom tub with water and put the brew in there it should say within the proper range. Should I do that?
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:05 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by TipsyDragon View Post
Your OG reading was low because you didn't get proper extract mixture and it stratified. you probably drew your sample from the top of the pot where the mix was thinner. the reading you got Monday night was after everything finally mixed properly but was at a very low temperature. lower temperatures will give you an artificially high reading and higher temperatures will give you artificially low readings.

unfortunately your OG reading is meaningless because the extract wasn't fully mixed. typically i whirlpool and mix the crap out of an extract batch after its cooled to both aerate and mix before i take a gravity reading. this seems to do the trick. your Monday SG reading is artificially high because of the cold temp. when taking a SG reading you need to pay close attention to the temperature and right it down accurately. there are plenty of tools and charts out there to give you the proper adjustment for your readings.
Thanks for the info Tipsy.
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:11 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by csh8428 View Post
Thanks for the terminology clarification.

I am using Breferm's lager yeast: http://www.brewferm.be/en/index.htm
Optimum fermentation temp is 50-60f, so I guess it's too cold in my garage(40-55f). I keep the house between 57-63, so I think if I filled the downstairs bathroom tub with water and put the brew in there it should say within the proper range. Should I do that?
Yes, if that's the only way you can get it to the proper fermentation temperature. Or, you could try a water bath with an aquarium heater in the garage, if you could find a way to keep it at 50 degrees. Lagers are trickier than ales, and much more temperature dependent.


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