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Old 01-04-2008, 05:18 PM   #1
birdman mark
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I've got 5.5 gallons of an attempted doppelbock wort that has not started fermentation in 192 hours (8 days)! I'm looking for advice on how to salvage this wort. Background: this is my 19th batch, 11th AG. This is only my 2nd lager attempt and this first one is going great; it was a pilsner and is lagering now. This current stalled wort was my first time using Wyeast; always used dry yeast previously.

Two mistakes that I know that I made: 1. I have never aerated the wort any more than pouring it from kettle to carboy. 2. I have never made a yeast starter.

I smacked the wyeast 2206 pack when we started the batch, thinking that 5 hours would be plenty to get it going. When were cooling the wort, the package was still not swelling, so we made a starter with a half cup of DME, allowed the starter to go overnight at ~65F, and cooled the wort to ~70. 24 hours later, the wort was ~60F and we agitated the carboy and pitched. Since then, the wort has been at ~50-52F and we have seen no activity.

OG = 1.066 (I know, too low for a doppelbock, oops)
8 days later, gravity = 1.066
There is a layer of sediment (which I thought was dead yeast cells) ~2" thick at the sides.

I have an oxygenation kit on order. I have two main questions:
1. should I syphon off the top and reboil the wort before pitching new yeast?
2. should I try pitching another lager yeast, or cut my losses and just make this into a strong ale by pitching a reliable dry ale yeast?

Thanks for any input!

Mark

 
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Old 01-04-2008, 05:26 PM   #2
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Personally, if the wort is not showing signs of infection, then I'd get the lager yeast (I use 2 dry packs in a starter) and make a starter. Pitch it in. It makes no sense, imho to try and make it an Ale. You will need to aerate though.

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Old 01-04-2008, 05:26 PM   #3
cheezydemon
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In my limited lager experience, It may have been a little too cold for starting fermentation.

Also, I use White labs and have never had a peroblem, but wyeast should be good quality too. Did the starter actually ferment?

No action on the smack pack makes me wonder.

If all else seems OK, I would get 2-3 vials of white labs german lager yeast and pitch that.

Syphoning and reboiling sounds like a bad idea.
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Old 01-04-2008, 05:36 PM   #4
birdman mark
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There is no sign of infection; the wort tastes good and sweet.

There was not visible fermentation of the starter, but with my limited lager experience, I had hoped that the thick blanket on the bottom of the jug indicated activity.

I can't get a good lager yeast locally, so I'll have to mail order. That means that this wort will have sat for about two weeks by then. Fingers crossed.

 
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Old 01-04-2008, 05:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birdman mark
There is no sign of infection; the wort tastes good and sweet.

There was not visible fermentation of the starter, but with my limited lager experience, I had hoped that the thick blanket on the bottom of the jug indicated activity.
Your gravity indicates that nothing is happening though . Just keep it cold and don't mess with it until you have the yeast ready, in order to reduce the risk of infecting the wort.

It's wierd though that you have that much yeast there and NO sign of drop in gravity....did you remember to correct for temperature (although at low temperatures the correction is very small)? Lagers are slow and you might have some kind of activity....? Or conversely, did you take your OG reading too high in temp and correct? Did that number 1.066 match your recipe projections?

It sounds to me, the more I look at this, that you probably had a very slow start and didn't have enough yeast. At this point rather than worrying about what is, I think it is best to go back and repitch. Dig in a little though on the investigation to make sure you didn't overlook something...but I get the feeling that the yeast was not very viable. How did the starter look? Active?
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:12 PM   #6
birdman mark
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Good point about the temps at gravity reading, but my initial reading was at 70F and my most recent at 60F. My hydrometer instructions indicate that no adjustment is required at these temps.

Your post reminded me though, that I did not factor in the 1/2 pound of DME that was added with the starter. That would make my OG = 1.070, indicating that it has dropped 0.004 in 8 days. Could it be proceeding that slowly?

 
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:17 PM   #7
cheezydemon
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You should still have seen some activity. My marzen that I pitched 2 days ago looks like a dark snowstorm with crap blowing up and down. It is truely glorious!

The lack of activity in the starter is unsettling too. It may be crapped out yeast. Either way order it and if it starts in the mean time you just have some spare yeast which is never a bad thing (case in point)
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheezydemon
In my limited lager experience, It may have been a little too cold for starting fermentation.
I agree with Cheezy... I've done a few lagers... with both ale and lagers, I like to pitch the yeast between 70-75 degrees and keep that temp till the wort starts to show bubbles in the airlock... then, in the case of a lager, I cool the wort down to 50.

If I were you I would put your bucket (or carboy) in front of a heater and heat the wort back up to 70-75 to see if the yeast will kick in.... as soon as the fermintation starts, cool back down again.

Best of luck.
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Old 01-04-2008, 08:01 PM   #9
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I also agree about the temperature. I've had lager yeasts poop out on me after getting too cold. I raised the temperature a few degrees and got activity again.


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Old 01-04-2008, 08:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birdman mark
Good point about the temps at gravity reading, but my initial reading was at 70F and my most recent at 60F. My hydrometer instructions indicate that no adjustment is required at these temps.

Your post reminded me though, that I did not factor in the 1/2 pound of DME that was added with the starter. That would make my OG = 1.070, indicating that it has dropped 0.004 in 8 days. Could it be proceeding that slowly?
Yeah it sounds more and more like you may have had older yeast/and or stalled. You can tack on another point for the correction to 60 (the 1.066 is 1.065), so you have indeed gone down .005 in 8 days indicating a very very slow ferment. I agree with the other advice, bring up the temps and see if fermentation doesn't kick in by 36 to 48 hrs., and if not then repitch. Make sure you do a diacetyl rest, especially if you plan on raising up the temps high.
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