First-time Lager Mystery WTF

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Kevin Power

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This is my first attempt at an all-grain temperature-controlled fermentation lager. It's a very simple recipe for 11 pounds of Pils, Saaz hops, and Bohemian Lager (2124) liquid yeast. After to 60-minute boil, I cooled the wort down to about 70 using my immersion wort chiller, then siphoned to the sanitized, brand-new carboy. I cooled it further in the fermentation fridge for about 90 minutes (mid 60's) before aerating with a stir stick, then pitching the yeast starter and adding the airlock. Temp was set to 50 degrees (2124 range is 45-68 degrees). That was Sunday, today is Wednesday. There is still no activity on the airlock, the foam hasn't died down, and there's this funky stuff going on with the foam but no bubbles. Is this normal for a lager or has this turned into a bad science project? Any guidance?
Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 12.40.20 PM.png
 

Rev2010

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There is still no activity on the airlock

If there's no airlock activity that means it's not sealed airtight and the gas is escaping from elsewhere. Not a need to panick really as it's still very unlikely you'd get an infection, the inside will still have positive pressure pushing outwards.


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Ruh roh. You're gonna make beer.

Looks great. Don't mess with it. Activity will cease in a week, but in my experience (@50F) you won't get to FG for a total of 3 weeks. Ales are done and kegged in 2, but lagers take a bit longer. I do raise the temperature 5F during the last few days just to be sure.
 
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Kevin Power

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It is a brand new FerMonster. I thought I put the O-ring in right but must have screwed the pooch. I feel better hearing that this is normal Krausening. It looked a little strange and the complete absence of bubbles freaked me out. Thanks for the comments.
 

schematix

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Ruh roh. You're gonna make beer.

Looks great. Don't mess with it. Activity will cease in a week, but in my experience (@50F) you won't get to FG for a total of 3 weeks. Ales are done and kegged in 2, but lagers take a bit longer. I do raise the temperature 5F during the last few days just to be sure.

Yeast don't work by the clock. Take measurements and you'll see!

A moderate strength, properly pitched ale will either be at or very near FG in as little as 2-3 days.

Lagers i've seen finish in as quick as 5 days. The only one i ever had take over 2 weeks was big OG and had residual sulfites (oops).
 
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Yeast don't work by the clock. Take measurements and you'll see!

I have (I don't any more though). Every lager was 5+ points from finishing at two weeks. Maybe I don't pitch enough yeast.

I'm a LOT more patient these days though. I also am reluctant to open a fermentor until it's done, and it's kegging time. So, I have these rules I go by and they work for me :) I'm not a fan of the daily hydrometer measurement.
 

BobBailey

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This is my first attempt at an all-grain temperature-controlled fermentation lager. It's a very simple recipe for 11 pounds of Pils, Saaz hops, and Bohemian Lager (2124) liquid yeast. After to 60-minute boil, I cooled the wort down to about 70 using my immersion wort chiller, then siphoned to the sanitized, brand-new carboy. I cooled it further in the fermentation fridge for about 90 minutes (mid 60's) before aerating with a stir stick, then pitching the yeast starter and adding the airlock. Temp was set to 50 degrees (2124 range is 45-68 degrees). That was Sunday, today is Wednesday. There is still no activity on the airlock, the foam hasn't died down, and there's this funky stuff going on with the foam but no bubbles. Is this normal for a lager or has this turned into a bad science project? Any guidance?View attachment 603174

You have a very healthy looking fermentation going on. Fermonster lids are notorious for not sealing. Trust me, I have 2 of them. Just before you sanitize the fermenter, coat the rim with a bit of keg lube. This will help it seal if you tighten the lid firmly.

Another thing you really want to do is buy the lid wrench so you can remove the lid more easily. You'll usually need to pound on the tool handles to break the lid loose. I like the Fermonsters enough that I don't mind dealing with the lids at all.
 

SEndorf

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Kevin,
Reading your OP, as your first lager attempt, I thought you underpitched. Lagers require an enormous amount of yeast. Then I saw your pic. Fantastic fermentation going on. I agree with the others; you have a leak somewhere.
I suspect this will be a great beer. Please post back your final results.
 

SEndorf

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I should also add that I recently made a Herforder Pilsner almost exactly like your recipe: 100% Salzgitter pilsner malt, Saaz and Hallertau hops and Bavarian lager yeast. Even with a massive starter it took 4 days to take off.
 

btcost

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As said. Looks like a co2 leak. But otherwise a solid fermentation.

Next time. Pitch lower. Lower temp that is. Pitch 2 degrees below normal temp. You want to ferment @ 58? Pitch @ 56.
 

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Clue:how's the ferm chamber smell? Like fermentation? Means it's coming out of the ferm Vessel.

Or you have spilled something in the chamber. Could be that too.
 

ApolloSimcoe

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It looks like in the pic you just have the probe taped to the side of the Fermonster. In the future try and insulate that from the surrounding air temps, it will give you a truer reading of what's going on inside the fermenter not the air surrounding it. Or you can invest in a 2 hole #10 stopper and add a thermowell to one of the holes. Bobby at brewhardware sells one that's perfect.
this may be the one i have, i'd have to measure
https://www.brewhardware.com/product_p/tw18-l-bare.htm
 

couchsending

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I should also add that I recently made a Herforder Pilsner almost exactly like your recipe: 100% Salzgitter pilsner malt, Saaz and Hallertau hops and Bavarian lager yeast. Even with a massive starter it took 4 days to take off.

Something was off then.

How big is “massive”?

What temp did you pitch at? Was the yeast active when you pitched it? Was the yeast at virtually the same temp as the wort?

If you do everything right you can see activity within a simailr time frame as Ale yeast. Depends on a few things but it’s generally the case.

Most lagers I make will finish in 7-10 days at 48. I never do a diacetyl rest and temp never goes above 50.

Pitch more yeast and make sure it’s well aerated.
 

Dland

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I agree the common wisdom is to pitch more lager yeast than ale, and I usually do, however, I have experimented at using only one packet 34/70 for 10 gallons in a lager with no ill effects, instead of the usual two. I did however, thoroughly oxygenate after cooling wort. Of course 34/70 is one of the more robust lager strains.

There are potential downsides to over pitching also, and the starter process can increase infection risk.

I'm also not sure about the common wisdom that initial pitching temp is that critical, have pitched lager yeast into 60sF wort and had good lagers, the bulk of fermentation usually controlled in the mid to lower 50sF. Have also tried running as low as 48F, and it worked out fine, although markedly slower. I do do a D rest in the 60s for a few days. Starting out too cold is what slows initial yeast population.
 

jmcquesten

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Q: What do you call a lager that is under pitched and fermented at room temp.

A: An ale
Haha... Exactly.

Wait, unless you're on the "warm fermented lager" thread. Then anything can be called a lager (according to the participants).
 

Dland

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Q: What do you call a lager that is under pitched and fermented at room temp.

A: An ale

Not if it tastes like a lager. While I like a lot of ales, in general, i like lagers better, and can certainly tell the difference.

I ferment at low controlled temps, but have found initial pitching temp less important than some seem to emphasize. I'd rather get the yeast in and turn out the lights at end of brew day. Since I cool my wort with ground temp well water, at 56F, during pumped transfer to fermentors in cellar, the worts are often a little on warm side initially, but always at lower temps by the next day when the yeast really gets going. In fact, I think the yeast gets a better start a little warm, and certainly would never intentionally pitch cooler than I intended to ferment at.

Pitching at levels similar to recommended by yeast manufacturer is not under pitched. And in experiment I tried with halving that, results were the same as with recommended levels with well 02 ed wort, at half the yeast cost.

No reason to believe me though, I see Brusosophy ran a similar experiment:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct...ent-results/&usg=AOvVaw0HrlPRZ0l8AJpLfbs0RBwP

Whatever, I've wasted enough time on this site to commence drinking soon, and planning the batch of delicious lager I'm going to brew tomorrow{;
 

bracconiere

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It is a brand new FerMonster. I thought I put the O-ring in right but must have screwed the pooch. I feel better hearing that this is normal Krausening. It looked a little strange and the complete absence of bubbles freaked me out. Thanks for the comments.

takes gas of some sort to make foam....

Still an ale. :)

aren't lager and ale yeast actually scientifically called something else?
 

schematix

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A warm fermented lager is going to be estery, which is going to taste like an ale.

Don’t need brulosophy to give us a half ass evaluation of that.
 

Lefou

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The Germans have a specific term for beer brewed at low ambient, then cold-aged. It's called "obergärige lagerbier".
This is how ALL my beers are done, regardless of whether it's ale or lager yeast strain. I have a WLP036 Altbier in primary ready to be bottled any time now.
Can't wait.

One of my first liquid yeast experiments was a variation of Biermuncher's Centennial blonde with California ale yeast and a bit of Cascade and Citra. I did the cold-aging and gave some out to some friends. Later on, I was told it was "lager-like".

Bingo.
 
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Dland

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^^^That is the process I use more than half the year, my brew cellar is usually below 50F for all of winter and most of spring. Has 10in poured walls and a 12in engineered concrete roof, so temps are quite stable. Right now it is 44.5F. Have to use heat wraps to keep it from cold stalling, seems colder than 48F starts to stall fermentation.

The batch I made today got pitched with 2 pks S-189, ''swiss lager yeast''. Not quite as vigorous as 34/70, but slightly cleaner finish.

When the cellar temp gets above 60F, I switch to ale yeast, for about 5 mos of year.

All of my brews get conditioned at 33F in a big coffin freezer, that is preferred serving temp too.

Not sure how 34/70 is ale yeast, it's recommended temp is 52-59F.
 

couchsending

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Not sure how 34/70 is ale yeast, it's recommended temp is 52-59F.

It’s recommended temp Is way bigger than that.. it’ll ferment below 45 and up to 70 and relatively clean even at 70.

It’s been genetically confirmed that it’s not lager yeast but ale yeast.

It’s also one of the only yeasts that have been tested to actually biotransform hop compounds. So everyone making NEIPA should toss a little in and see what happens...
 

Dland

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Holly smokes, I've been making lager from mutant yeast?

I,ve run 34/70 though all of the temps mentioned, makes the beer I am shooting for in the 50-55F range. Sometimes good to run cooler, but can get quite slow, and warmer is OK, but does taste like an ale more than a lager when into 60'sF


It’s recommended temp Is way bigger than that.. it’ll ferment below 45 and up to 70 and relatively clean even at 70.

It’s been genetically confirmed that it’s not lager yeast but ale yeast.

It’s also one of the only yeasts that have been tested to actually biotransform hop compounds. So everyone making NEIPA should toss a little in and see what happens...
 
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