Failure to Launch for my Oktoberfest :-[

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

boondocksaint

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
Messages
201
Reaction score
50
Location
Chesapeake
Mon we brewed an Oktoberfest. Everything went well and we hit the intended SG of 1.057. Chilled the wort with counterflow wort chiller and using an old immersion chiller in a bucket of ice/water that we run the cooling water through before running through the counterflow chiller. Could only get the wort down to 64 degrees.

Decided to pitch the two packs of Wyeast #2633 Oktoberfest Lager yeast rather than wait and put my conical into the fermentation chamber (upright freezer). Dialed the temp controller to 50 and finished cleaning up. Now, it took about 6 hrs for the ferm chamber to get the wort down to 50 degrees (from 64). *Optimum temp for this yeast is 48-58 degrees. Also, it may or may not be important to mention but I activated both packs a few hours prior to pitching and neither of the smack packs inflated like they normally do.

We are now at about 53 hours post pitch and there are zero signs of life. No bubbles from the blow off tube and no change in reading from the Tilt. (I know the Tilt has it's issues but I have used it reliably to at least track fermentation and know when it's done. Then, I check numbers with the Anton Paar Smart Ref and old school hydrometer.

Anybody have experience with this strain? Does it normally take some time to get rolling? Full disclosure, I have only ever brewed ales and had to ferment at the 68-72 range.

Should I have waited (too late now) to cool the wort in the chamber and not pitch until it was at 50 degrees? How long do I wait before I re-pitch? And, should I stick with Wyeast #2633 or should I go with dry yeast? If the latter, would I need to make a starter and let it go 2-3 days prior to pitching? I have never had a lag like this with Wyeast, so am at a loss.

Also, normally I make a starter 3 days prior to brew day, which also helps me to verify yeast viability. I did not this time because I was too tired after a long day.
 
Two packs, no starter made? You are going to have a lag time of a few days before it gets going. A 1.057 lager, assuming 5 gallon batch, according to Brewer's Friend yeast calculator, at the minimum lager rate (1.5 million cells per mL per degree Plato) needs 399 billion cells. Two packs of 2633, if they were just packaged today, would only provide you 200 billion cells and would mean you underpitched by 50%, but since they obviously were not brand new yeast, you are very underpitched and right now the yeast is in a growth stage before it will start eating the sugar.

Rule of thumb for lagers is you need on average 3 times more yeast than an ale of the same gravity. Since nobody wants to spend money on buying 4 packs of liquid yeast, pitching those two packs into a 2 liter 1.040 starter wort, would have got you where you need to be.

I would pitch another pack at least and then just let it ride.
 
Thank you! Yeah, realizing I grossly underpitched I bought two more packs and paid for expedited shipping (which advertised Sat delivery). Checked tracking today and saw they don't do Sat delivery and my yeast won't be here until Mon! So, I'm debating on just pitching the additional two packs straight away or making a starter. If the latter, the wort will be 9-10 days post brew before the starter gets pitched.

Ugh! Live and learn....And, RDWHAHB
 
Two packs, no starter made? You are going to have a lag time of a few days before it gets going. A 1.057 lager, assuming 5 gallon batch, according to Brewer's Friend yeast calculator, at the minimum lager rate (1.5 million cells per mL per degree Plato) needs 399 billion cells. Two packs of 2633, if they were just packaged today, would only provide you 200 billion cells and would mean you underpitched by 50%, but since they obviously were not brand new yeast, you are very underpitched and right now the yeast is in a growth stage before it will start eating the sugar.

Rule of thumb for lagers is you need on average 3 times more yeast than an ale of the same gravity. Since nobody wants to spend money on buying 4 packs of liquid yeast, pitching those two packs into a 2 liter 1.040 starter wort, would have got you where you need to be.

I would pitch another pack at least and then just let it ride.
Much appreciated...That is now the plan! :cool:
 
I’m betting you’ll have a nice strong fermentation going by Monday when you receive the new yeast. If so, it is probably not worth it to pitch more. If you still don’t see any activity, go for it.
 
OP been gone for a week. I wonder if it took off a day after he ordered extra yeast. That's my guess.

I'd have made a starter. Otherwise probably 4 packs of reasonably fresh yeast would have been needed. That's effin expensive -- who's got that much money to waste?!

Always keep a few packs of dry yeast on hand for emergencies -- it's cheap, always very effective with just one pack, lasts forever in the fridge... Get some S-189 or Diamond. Two packs if you're worried about underpitching, but I've found one pack gets the job done within like 16-32 hours anyway.
 
3 times more lager yeast than an ale? That is a lot. I usually go around twice that.
It's the difference between what would usually work vs. what will always work. Even the calculators are only taking a stab at a pack's viability based on ideal storage and time. Yeast that gets shipped is rarely stored ideally so the packs can be down to very small cell counts.

Saying "two packs" of liquid yeast without the age is almost meaningless information.
 
OP been gone for a week. I wonder if it took off a day after he ordered extra yeast. That's my guess.

I'd have made a starter. Otherwise probably 4 packs of reasonably fresh yeast would have been needed. That's effin expensive -- who's got that much money to waste?!

Always keep a few packs of dry yeast on hand for emergencies -- it's cheap, always very effective with just one pack, lasts forever in the fridge... Get some S-189 or Diamond. Two packs if you're worried about underpitching, but I've found one pack gets the job done within like 16-32 hours anyway.
I did think about adding some dry yeast but wanted to continue with the same strain. Ultimately, I decided I had already spent $100+ on ingredients, so I'd rather spend another $40 (2 smack packs & expedited shipping) than risk wasting the money/time/effort for the batch.

I was crushed after spending the day at the water park with the kiddos and did not make a starter. Next time, I will not let that be an excuse to not make a starter.
 
Baller Wow GIF by Back to the Future Trilogy


I'm glad it turned out for you.
 
Back
Top