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2 weeks and lager is still churning away

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mr_lahey

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FYI This is my first lager

Recipe: Pilsner Urquell Clone
Yeast: Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils (2 step starter)
OG: 1.050
Target: 1.013

It has been 2 weeks since I pitched the yeast and I can see this thing is still churning away inside the carboy, with bubbles constantly in the airlock. I know bubbles aren't necessarily indicative of any kind of fermentation, but the flurry inside the carboy makes me believe something is happening. The krausen has dropped a bit but there is still about 1/2 inch of white foam on top.

I originally pitched at 48f and brought it up to 50f. I have been ramping up by a degree every few days. It has been sitting at 55f for 3 days now and the churning inside the carboy is still the same.

I took a gravity reading today and it is at 1.026. So only 48% attenuated after 2 weeks and still 13 points from my target FG. It does smell and taste good.

So my plan is to RDWHAHB, let it sit for another week and see what happens, at least until the churning in the carboy stops. I'm only slightly concerned because of all the posts that I have read of lagers being fully fermented in 10-14 days at most.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Thanks!
 

day_trippr

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I think I'd jump the temp to the top of the recommended running range (58°F), stay the course, and see what happens...

Cheers!
 

D.B.Moody

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FYI This is my first lager

It has been 2 weeks since I pitched the yeast . . . So my plan is to RDWHAHB, let it sit for another week and see what happens
I think you've got it nailed.

I brew ales, and my fermentation temperature control is whatever the basement temperature is. But I do know this: listen to your beer. If it wants to sit and ferment, let it.

RDWHAHB
 

Conehead

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If you are doing a d rest, I would take it up to 65 F.
 

Vale71

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listen to your beer. If it wants to sit and ferment, let it.

RDWHAHB
Always good advice.

Thanks
No it isn't. The brewer should be in control of the fermentation, just like any part of the process, and not the other way around.
Maybe if you gave us a little bit more information on your process (such as batch size, starter process, oxygenation an so on) we could try and give you some actual meaningful advice instead of the mostly meaningless platitudes this guy has been posting ever since he joined.
 
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mr_lahey

mr_lahey

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Maybe if you gave us a little bit more information on your process (such as batch size, starter process, oxygenation an so on)
Sure.

Batch size 5.5 Gal.

The yeast was a few months old, but I followed the starter process as generated by Brewfather:

Step 1: 0.8L - 2.79oz DME
Step 2: 1.8L - 6.24oz DME

372 billion cells
1.4 million cells / ml / *p

I used a stir plate. I let step 1 spin for 24 hours and then step 2 spin for 36 hours. I decanted the step 1 beer between steps.

I let the wort fall/splash into the carboy when i'm draining the kettle. And then I sealed the carboy with plastic wrap, picked it up, and shook it like crazy for a few minutes before pitching the decanted yeast.

I have a fermentation chamber which controls the temperature consistently with the temps that I described in my first post.

Now that I think about it, It was a really cold day in my garage when I was brewing. I did have some trouble with the mash temperature in my gatorade cooler dropping too quickly throughout the hour. I wanted to infusion mash at 149 for 90 minutes. I missed my dough in temp but brought it back up with about 0.7 gals of near boiling water. But by the end of the mash it had dropped again to about 144.

Thanks
 

Vale71

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Starter steps look a bit small for a lager, I'd go at least three liters as a final step. Oxygenation is also very critical for lagers fermented at such low temperatures. The best results are with air infusion with a sintered steel stone and pump and should always be started only when the wort is at pitching temp to achieve the highest possible oxigenation rate (around 10-12 ppm al those temps). With simple splashing and shaking you're probably getting at most half of that
 
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mr_lahey

mr_lahey

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Yep, that makes sense.

I was just hoping to make the best with the equipment that I have. No stone or pump. And my flask is only 2L.
 
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mr_lahey

mr_lahey

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Update

Day 19:
  • The foam on top has dropped a bunch. It is very thin now, but still present.
  • Still seeing activity in the beer. It has slowed a bit but I can still see churning/flurries inside.
  • Gravity reading today shows 1.020. Down from 1.026 taken 4 days ago. It is now 59% attenuated
  • Smells and tastes pretty decent. In fact I don't think I ever got any sulfur odours as seems to be commonly reported with this yeast.
I have a new found hope by the fact that the gravity reading showed some movement in the last 4 days. I am going to wait 2-3 more days and then take another reading. I am hoping this will still attenuate closer to the target, albeit very slowly. And like I said above, the carboy still looks like it is churning away inside.

I'm feeling good about this.
 
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mr_lahey

mr_lahey

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Update

Day 21:
  • Still very thin layer of foam on top of beer, with patches of beer showing through
  • Still seeing activity in carboy. Churning. It is noticeably slower, but still present.
  • Gravity reading today shows 1.018. Down from 1.020 two days ago. It is now 64% attenuated.
3 weeks into fermentation and the gravity is still slowly moving! I am now 5 points from my FG so I think I'm going to bump it up now for diacetyl rest and to hopefully speed it up to finish fermenting.

I will be ramping it from 58f to 65f over the next 12 hours.
 

porterpounder

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First gen lager yeast can be very lazy when it's not fresh. Your numbers and process look good, but may you just didn't get that 1.4 mil/ml/P you were aiming for in the starter. As long as it smells and tastes good, ride it out.
 

Unicorn_Platypus

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I only have experience with the saflager 34/70. I always just ramp it right up to 68 degrees after 5 days or so and it's ready to keg in 10 days time. After two weeks there is absolutely no reason not to just bring it right up to the high end of the range. Esther formation is already way done.
 

hottpeper13

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Is it possible that when you decanted the starters they weren't clear? The yeast still in suspension are the ones that do the final fermenting and throwing out the baby with the bath water is a bad practice.
 
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mr_lahey

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Update

Day 25:
  • Been at 65f-67f for 4 days of diacetyl rest so far
  • No foam on top of beer in caboy
  • Still seeing some activity in carboy. Very slow churning. It is much less than a few days ago, since I Bumped up the temp. Blow-off tube still bubbling consistently.
  • Gravity reading today shows 1.013. Down from 1.018 four days ago. It is now at my target FG.
I'm going to wait another day and check the gravity again to make sure that it has leveled off, since I can STILL see activity in the fermenter.

I'm very happy it finished up, even though it took over 3 weeks.
 
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Great work! I know it can be difficult to be patient, but it looks like your process and planning has paid off. I bet the yeastie boys are finishing their work. Finish off your D-rest and start your lager process and let it ride.
 
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mr_lahey

mr_lahey

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Update

Day 27:
  • Still see activity in carboy. Blow-off tube is still bubbling
  • Gravity reading is 1.011. It has gone past my target FG of 1.013.
So it is still fermenting. I'm inclined to believe that it is finishing lower than expected because of my low mash temp as I mentioned in my third post above. I wonder how low it will go.
 
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I'm sure it's nearly there. Especially if you're two solid days into your D-rest. Check again Friday, I bet it'll be the same.
 

CornKing

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Your FG might drop a little more, but not much. I have used WLP802 a couple times, which is supposed to be equivalent to 2278. Its taken a 1.05 down to 1.010 and a 1.048 down to 1.008 in 10-12 days. That said, both of those were step mashed and designed to finish dry.
I have seen many lager-familiar people, including pro brewers, suggesting beginning the D-rest a bit earlier than you did. I usually start a free rise when I estimate that it is about 2/3 the way through fermentation. Free rise will take it from low-mid 50s to high 50s or low 60s within a couple days, although lately (when the ambient temp surrounding my fermentation chamber is freezing ass cold) I found it easier to just turn on the inkbird-controlled fermwrap to take it up to D-rest temps by like 3-5 F per day. While I don't really think this particular yeast is a big diacatyl risk, I do think it helps fermentation finish strong when you bump the temp at the end.
Lager that sucker for a month and it will be killer.
 
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