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Old 04-05-2008, 01:37 AM   #1
mdowns63's Avatar
Oct 2007
Birmingham, AL
Posts: 34

I'm doing my first lager and I'm also doing my first yeast starter. I'm making a Bavarian Helles and using Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Smack Pack that apparently prefers 46-56 degree fermentation. Do I keep the starter at room temperature (75) until I pitch in 1-2 days or do I keep the starter around 50?

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Old 04-05-2008, 02:16 AM   #2
Ale's What Cures You!
Yooper's Avatar
Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
Posts: 69,879
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When I make lagers, I do the starter at room temperature. After all, I am growing yeast, not making beer. BUT I make it at least a week in advance, and add another pint of starter wort when the first one finishes. Then when it's completely done, I refrigerate until the yeast is at the bottom and only clear spent wort is at the top. I then decant the spent wort, and pitch the yeast. When I pitch the yeast, the yeast is at 48 degrees, and the wort is at 50 degrees. I find it gives me the best start at fermentation.
Broken Leg Brewery
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Old 04-05-2008, 02:33 AM   #3
menschmaschine's Avatar
Jun 2007
Posts: 3,272
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It's probably no big deal to ferment lager starters at room temp (and it looks like it works for Yooper!). However... One possibility here is that if the yeast get used to fermenting at warmer temps, there could be an increased lag time for colder temps. But this may not be so noticable in a homebrew batch size. Aside from that, it depends how big the starter is relative to your batch size and if you plan to pitch the whole starter or just the yeast slurry. A Helles is a very delicate beer that doesn't hide inexact practices well. Lager yeast produce fruity esters at higher fermentation temps. If you pitch the whole starter, these could end up in your Helles. And stepping up the starter like Yoop said is great advice, as well. Personally, I ferment all my starters at the same temp as primary fermentation. I definitely would with a Helles.

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Old 04-05-2008, 11:29 AM   #4
Jan 2008
Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 1,139
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I made a pint starter a day and a half before I did my lager and kept it at room temperature. I used an airlock on the bottle and it was active. I then pitched the whole thing at around 70 and put the wort into the cold room and fermented at 54, at the higher end of the range. Fermentation took off quickly and was done in 9 days.

On mine the bubbling was different than on the ales that I've done. It was more like burping where a big release would happen, not a steady tick, tick. Whatever it does is probably OK.

Mine is still lagering so I don't know how it came out. The one taste I had tells me it'll be good. I didn't notice any diacetyls nor esters, but maybe I don't know what to taste for.

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Old 04-05-2008, 05:28 PM   #5
homebrewer_99's Avatar
Feb 2005
Atkinson (near the Quad Cities), IL
Posts: 17,796
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I read somewhere that you should start your lagers at room temp to make sure the fermentation is taking place then place the fermenter into the colder environment.

Others do cold pitching...where your wort and yeast are already cold.

If you pitch a lager and let it ferment at room temps it'll get somewhat fruity and will be more of a "Steam" technique.
HB Bill

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