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Old 02-04-2014, 12:37 AM   #1
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Default Lager Noob Questions

Hi all,

I currently have a Shiner Bock clone and a Doppelbock in primary, and could use a little advice as to how to proceed. I started both of them on 1-16-14, and they both are partial mash.

The Doppelbock is on Bohemian Lager yeast (two smack packs) had a OG of 1.09, and is currently at a SG of 1.024. The krausen fell yesterday. I started it at 45 degrees then brought it slowly up to 63 for a diacetyl rest about 4 days ago. The recipe calls for a FG of 1.016. Should I rack to secondary and chill it down for a month or so to finish fermentation?

The Shiner clone has been going very slowly. It started at an OG of 1.058, had one smack pack of Munich yeast pitched initially, and a dry pack added on 1-20-14 after no fermentation had been noted. Krausen was there the next day. It has been at 45 degrees most of the time but is cooler now (36 or so) due to weather conditions. I took a SG today and it is down to 1.036 with an inch or better of krausen on it still. FG should be 1.015 or so. Should I pitch more yeast, leave it alone for a while, warm it up to rev up fermentation a bit, or maybe aerate it?

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

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Old 02-04-2014, 04:41 AM   #2
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1) Don't aerate now. You're way to far along for that. Did you aerate the wort before pitching? By what method?

2) Leave them in the primaries a while longer. Lager ferments often take longer than ales, especially at the temps you described. 45*F is on the cool side, but workable for some lager strains. At 36*F, the cells may have gone dormant. It doesn't sound like either of them are completely done. Can you get them both up to 55*F or so and keep them there a week or two? Maybe swirl them to try and rouse the yeast after warm up?

3) If you didn't do a sizeable starter for either beer, you severely underpitched. The base pitch rate for lagers is 1.50 which is twice the pitch rate of ales. For high gravity lagers like the doppel, the suggested rate is 2.00 which means that 5.25 gallons of 1.090 wort should have been dosed with 857 billion cells. If those two smack packs were super-fresh, that gave you 200 billion. If one month old, together they had a mere 157 billion cells (less than 20% the recommended pitch).

One of the ill effects of underpitching is a failure to attenuate. You may have that issue going on here. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but lagers basics include aerating the wort really well (preferably with O2), pitching the right amount of yeast into cool (mid-40's) wort and precisely controlling the ferment temps. They're a bigger brewing challenge than ales.


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Old 02-04-2014, 04:49 AM   #3
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+1, Floyd hit it on the nose. If you're planning on doing lots of lagers, I would highly recommend an O2 injector as well. Get the most out of your yeast / fermentations.
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclman View Post
+1, Floyd hit it on the nose. If you're planning on doing lots of lagers, I would highly recommend an O2 injector as well. Get the most out of your yeast / fermentations.
And a stir plate with flask

And a controlled fermenter chamber.

And a lagering freezer.

When my wife asks me why I need all that stuff, I can answer, "gotta have it to do lagers, babe."
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigFloyd View Post
And a stir plate with flask

And a controlled fermenter chamber.

And a lagering freezer.

When my wife asks me why I need all that stuff, I can answer, "gotta have it to do lagers, babe."
Yea it took me a 3 steppings(7 days) of 2L starters to get the 600ish Billion my measly 1.050 Oktoberfest wanted.

Lagering fridge can be replaced with Kegerator/keezer though
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:25 AM   #6
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Folks,,

Thanks for the info.

I aerated the worts before pitching with an aeration set-up I got from my lhbs. It's basically an aquarium pump with a hepa-filter at the intake and a length of plastic airline with an airstone. I also swirled the carboy and shot the wort from the pot into the carboy at pressure to try to dissolve as much O2 as possible.

I can bring them into a warmer environment, but it might be closer to 65 degrees than 55. Basically I don't have a fridge for them, so my choices are downstairs in my house at 65, or outside under my deck, at 45.

I followed the recipes for the amounts of yeast I used, but I do think I should have used more. Should I add some now, or try the heating/rousing approach first and see where I am in a couple weeks?

If in a couple weeks I've hit my FGs, should I then rack to secondary and let them lager for a month or two?

Thanks much,

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Old 02-04-2014, 01:00 PM   #7
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Your aeration setup sounds fine if you did it long enough.

Unfortunately, it sounds like you may be yet another victim of woefully inadequate recipe instructions. Did your LHBS tell you that or was it some kit instructions? Either way it wasn't the right advice for using lager yeast.

The doppel is at 73.3%. That may be as good as it gets considering the low pitch rate. As much as I hate to suggest it, warming the Shiner up to 65*F and trying to rouse may be your best shot. I'd be afraid to bottle it at 1.036. To pitch more liquid yeast at this point requires making a starter and pitching it at high krausen. Adding another rescue pack of rehydrated dry lager yeast may or may not help it.

Recommended minimum lagering times at 33-35*f for those is 6 weeks for the Shiner, 10+ weeks for the doppelbock.
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:20 PM   #8
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Thanks for the advice. I'll bring the brews indoors for a while and check them in a week or so.

The lhbs I go to is the only one within an hour and a half drive, and we're just glad to have it. The truth is though, the proprietor has never actually done a lager either, so probably he was the wrong one to go to for advice. Luckily, this forum exists to spread the wisdom around.

So at what point should I rack to secondary?

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Old 02-04-2014, 09:34 PM   #9
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In this case, you may want to give them a full month in primary before transferring to the secondaries to lager.


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