Quantcast

First Oktoberfest/Lager

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Starkam

New Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Hey folks, been brewing a few years now and decided to take a crack at my first Lager with an Oktoberfest. I haven't been going long enough to tackle all grain yet, so I'm still working with extract kits. Anyway, I just got the kit today from the company I've been using since day 1 but the directions are far more vague than normal and I could use some clarification on a few things. The yeast I'm working with is Wyeast 2633(Octoberfest Lager blend) in a smack pack and it appears to have a optimum temp at 48-55F. First, all my liquid yeast has been the small vials before, never the pack style, and I'm not sure if I need to work with it any differently than the vials. Do I need to adjust liquid or ingredient levels for a basic yeast starter with this style? Second, the recipe has basic guidance to ferment 1-2 weeks on primary then transfer to secondary and lager 2 months at 35-40F. I'm not seeing anything about a temp for the primary or any type of diacetyl rest that I've seen mentioned in many of the other Lager recipes on forum. I'm assuming the primary should be done in the yeast optimum temp range(but you know what they say about assuming) however I'm not really sure how to deal with the transition from primary to secondary to lager and if I need to give it a diacetyl rest or not. So I would really love some insight there.

P.S. It may be overly adventurous but I was also debating adding some oak chips to the secondary for that barrel aged feel. I've done it with success on a high gravity IPA, but I'm not sure what effect it would have on a Lager. Any thoughts?

Thanks!
Adam
 

VikeMan

It ain't all burritos and strippers, my friend.
Joined
Aug 24, 2010
Messages
1,980
Reaction score
1,115
First, all my liquid yeast has been the small vials before, never the pack style, and I'm not sure if I need to work with it any differently than the vials. Do I need to adjust liquid or ingredient levels for a basic yeast starter with this style?
By vials, do you mean the White Labs PurePitch packs? Sort of like a flattened tube? (White Labs hasn't used vials for Sacch yeasts for quite a while now.) Anyway, the yeast works the same in a starter. You might want to estimate a lower starting cell count for the Wyeast SmackPack for its given age vs a White Labs pack of similar age (since White Labs claims a slower die-off) and thus build a relatively larger starter.

I'm not seeing anything about a temp for the primary or any type of diacetyl rest that I've seen mentioned in many of the other Lager recipes on forum. I'm assuming the primary should be done in the yeast optimum temp range(but you know what they say about assuming) however I'm not really sure how to deal with the transition from primary to secondary to lager and if I need to give it a diacetyl rest or not.
Yes, you want to ferment in the yeast's optimum temp range. Diacetyl rest...it may or may not be needed. I usually do one with lagers as it helps the yeast finish attenuation even if the rest wasn't actually needed for diacetyl.

For lagering, do you have a way to bring your temp down in your fermenter without sucking air into it? If not, consider bottling (and carbonating) first, then lagering in the bottles (assuming you're bottling). It's not ideal (because the stuff that drops out during lagering will still be in the bottles - pour carefully!), but IMO it beats oxidation.

If you keg, you can lager in a keg and avoid O2 that way.
 
Last edited:
OP
S

Starkam

New Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
By vials, do you mean the White Labs PurePitch packs? Sort of like a flattened tube? (White Labs hasn't used vials for Sacch yeasts for quite a while now.) Anyway, the yeast works the same in a starter. You might want to estimate a lower starting cell count for the Wyeast SmackPack for its given age vs a White Labs pack of similar age (since White Labs claims a slower die-off) and thus build a relatively larger starter.
It may have been White Labs, or at least that sounds familiar, but it was in a vial like a short stubby test tube. I did have to take a few years off from brewing due to changing jobs moving, and having kids. So I could easily have missed a change in there somewhere. I usually do a 1L starter with everything I've brewed but I'll look into getting a 2L flask if I need to go bigger for this one.
Yes, you want to ferment in the yeast's optimum temp range. Diacetyl rest...it may or may not be needed. I usually do one with lagers as it helps the yeast finish attenuation even if the rest wasn't actually needed for diacetyl.
Copy on the primary temps, what would you recommend shooting for temp&time wise for a diacetyl with this yeast? Most of what I'm seeing generally seems 60-70F for 2-3 days average.
For lagering, do you have a way to bring your temp down in your fermenter without sucking air into it? If not, consider bottling (and carbonating) first, then lagering in the bottles (assuming you're bottling). It's not ideal (because the stuff that drops out during lagering will still be in the bottles - pour carefully!), but IMO it beats oxidation.
Both my primary and secondary fermenters are glass Big Mouth Bubblers with stoppers and S-type airlocks. I've done temp control by fermenting in an old spare refrigerator attached to an analog thermostat that will hold the fridge anywhere between low 30s to mid 80s F. So I can fairly reliably manipulate the temp of the fermenter and the only exposure to open air would be in the transfer from primary to secondary. I'm not sure if that matches what your talking about with cooling it without sucking air into it but that's how I've been doing my previous batches.
If you keg, you can lager in a keg and avoid O2 that way.
In regards to kegging, I don't keg. All my previous batches have been naturally carbonated by the addition of priming sugar and bottle conditioning. I bottle in regular 12oz bottles with the crimp on bottle caps if that makes a difference.
 

VikeMan

It ain't all burritos and strippers, my friend.
Joined
Aug 24, 2010
Messages
1,980
Reaction score
1,115
I usually do a 1L starter with everything I've brewed but I'll look into getting a 2L flask if I need to go bigger for this one.
Assuming a 5 gallon batch, a one liter starter, and possibly even a two liter starter, is/are not going to really be big enough for a mid gravity lager. I'd recommend consulting a yeast calculator, like Mr. Malty, which will take into account the starting cell count, the age of the yeast, the volume and gravity of the wort, and the yeast type (lager).

Copy on the primary temps, what would you recommend shooting for temp&time wise for a diacetyl with this yeast? Most of what I'm seeing generally seems 60-70F for 2-3 days average.
2633 is a blend. I don't know what strains are in it. But I think 65F for 3 days should be plenty (for any strain).

So I can fairly reliably manipulate the temp of the fermenter and the only exposure to open air would be in the transfer from primary to secondary. I'm not sure if that matches what your talking about with cooling it without sucking air into it but that's how I've been doing my previous batches.
While you cold crash to lager temps, air will be sucked into the fermenter through the airlocks.
 
OP
S

Starkam

New Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
While you cold crash to lager temps, air will be sucked into the fermenter through the airlocks.
The info from your last reply sounds good. I'll take a look into finding this Mr. Malty calculator and see what it thinks, and the rest temp is about what I was getting from reading so it seems like I'm on the right track there. I am curious about the air getting sucked through the airlock during the cold crash though. I get it's basic thermodynamics(cold contraction etc.) and that an S type airlock in particular could be vulnerable to having air/water sucked back through it in the event the fermenter goes into a vacuum condition. Would using a different airlock style be better, like say a 3 piece bubbler type, or is there another way short of kegging or bottling after the diacetyl rest prior to lagering that will help prevent air getting sucked into the fermenter during this process?
 

Rob2010SS

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 16, 2017
Messages
2,534
Reaction score
845
Location
Spring Grove
To prevent the suck back during cold crashing, short of kegging or having a fermenter that can handle pressure, you can hook up a mylar balloon to the airlock to capture the CO2 during fermentation. Then, when you cold crash, the fermenter will suck back some of that CO2 that you harvested. This will prevent oxygen ingress into the fermenter.
 

VikeMan

It ain't all burritos and strippers, my friend.
Joined
Aug 24, 2010
Messages
1,980
Reaction score
1,115
Would using a different airlock style be better, like say a 3 piece bubbler type, or is there another way short of kegging or bottling after the diacetyl rest prior to lagering that will help prevent air getting sucked into the fermenter during this process?
Any airlock will let air in as the pressure changes. To prevent this, the mylar balloon method is pretty popular, but keep in mind that it needs to be filled with CO2 (from fermentation or elsewhere) for it to work. If you rack to secondary after primary is finished, you won't be producing any more CO2 in the secondary. But depending on how sophisticated you get with the balloon, I suppose you could capture from primary, remove and close the balloon, then re-install on the secondary.
 

Beermeister32

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jul 20, 2013
Messages
167
Reaction score
120
Location
Southern California
I've used the WY2633 Oktoberfest lager yeast, it is a seasonally available blend. Worked great on a Oktoberfest I did a couple years ago. Make a big starter, I typically do a 2 liter. Pitch maybe 46-48F, ferment maybe 48-50F. I'd save the oak chips for another recipe, not sure those flavors go with a traditional Oktoberfest.
 

cactusgarrett

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2008
Messages
1,841
Reaction score
531
Location
Madison, WI
Also, I would recommend not transferring to a secondary vessel - this is just one more vector for potential oxidation. 2-3 months of lager on the primary yeast cake won't negatively impact the beer. Just (as discussed) factor in for the small change in volume and the air suck-back that chilling the batch will cause.

As far as a d-rest goes, as VikeMan mentioned, I also use a d-rest as to help the lager yeast finish attenuating. In addition to scrubbing any diacetyl that's present, increasing the temp gives the yeast fermentation "momentum" to easier hit the expected FG. My rule of thumb is to start the rest once it's fermented 75% of the expected way. For example, with my 1.055 OG and expected 1.013 FG, I'll start my d-rest around 1.023.
 
Top