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Old 01-08-2013, 01:23 AM   #1
nolabrew85
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Default lager help

I pitched the yeast on my first lager and put it in the fridge Saturday night. I probably pitched the yeast somewhere around 65 to 70 degrees. It was a wyeast Czech pils smack pack. The fridge is keeping the contents of the fermenter between 52 and 54 degrees, but I have seen absolutely no airlock bubbling yet (almost 2 days later). Is that normal for lagers? If not, any suggestions on how to kick start it?


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Old 01-08-2013, 01:49 AM   #2
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Give it some time, when I do lagers I generally make a gallon starter and have activity in 12 hours or so. I'm not a calculations guy so I can't say for sure but it would seem that you under pitched. I would give it time.


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Old 01-08-2013, 01:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nolabrew85 View Post
I pitched the yeast on my first lager and put it in the fridge Saturday night. I probably pitched the yeast somewhere around 65 to 70 degrees. It was a wyeast Czech pils smack pack. The fridge is keeping the contents of the fermenter between 52 and 54 degrees, but I have seen absolutely no airlock bubbling yet (almost 2 days later). Is that normal for lagers? If not, any suggestions on how to kick start it?
Well, sir, me thinks someone left out some important information on lager brewing. Lagers require a pitch level 3 to 4 times the ale level. You might get away with pitching a smack-pack into a low gravity ale, but not a lager. Most lager brewers make a starter of up to 1/5 the brew volume. Wishing you good luck.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sudbuster

Well, sir, me thinks someone left out some important information on lager brewing. Lagers require a pitch level 3 to 4 times the ale level. You might get away with pitching a smack-pack into a low gravity ale, but not a lager. Most lager brewers make a starter of up to 1/5 the brew volume. Wishing you good luck.
Damn! I have heard you have to use more yeast for lagers, but thought I had enough. This was my first time using a smack pack. I have always used 11g of dry yeast for my ales and always achieve about 5% ABV. So when the brewstore recommended one smack pack, which looks like it would be considerably more yeast than 11g, I thought it would be enough.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:21 AM   #5
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It has to do with the quality of the yeast also. Dry yeast are healthy and ready to go. Liquid need to build reserves and multiply....hence why the starter is imperative.

Edit:

"An excellent property of dry brewing yeast is that they have a very high cell count, they store well (years) and the yeast are packed with nutrient reserves which allow for fast starts. When brewing lagers, the vast majority of yeast strains are liquid yeast strains, requiring large starters for lager beers. Liquid yeasts contain a much lower cell count and lack the nutrient reserves that the dried yeast strains hold. For this reason it is nice that there are a few dried lager yeasts available to home brewers."
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:42 AM   #6
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So what should I do at this point? Go get more yeast tomorrow and pitch it? Should I take bucket out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit to try to kick it start it and then put back in immediately after bubbling?
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:15 AM   #7
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Give it some time.

Yes, you should have made a starter, but the smack pack should still be sufficient to ferment your beer. Before I started making starters, I made a few lagers/pilsners where I pitched only a smack pack and not even close to what you get by doing an "appropriate" lager starter. One of them got a 3rd place in a comp...not saying it wouldn't have been significantly better if I had made a starter, but just saying that if the pack swelled, you should eventually see some activity. Just give it some time.

Make sure you do the rest of the fermentation on a good schedule, allowing for a good diacetyl rest a day or so after you see the krausen drop (edit - and of course lager for a good period after that). Your beers should still turn out fine. Maybe not perfect, but RDWHAHB
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:50 AM   #8
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Thanks. I raised the temp up to 55 over night and when I woke up, it was bubbling fine. And then brought back down to 53 and still going good
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Old 01-09-2013, 05:40 AM   #9
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It still may not be as good as it could have been though. Next time, make a starter and see how good beer can be.
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Old 01-09-2013, 05:53 AM   #10
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In addition to a starter, it's a good idea to pitch a bit below the intended fermentation temperature and let it warm up to the temp you want. Pitching high and then cooling can encourage off flavors in the early part of fermentation, and possibly cause some of the yeast to go dormant early, leading to attenuation problems. The general principle is that as yeast are becoming less active, you want to be increasing the temperature.


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