First time using Lager yeast.

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Ragman

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Making a small batch (3.25 gallons) of traditional Bock.

Couldnt find the Bock Yeast so I ended up going with White Labs German Lager Yeast.

Never used this yeast strain before and it says it ferments between 50F and 55F.

I have a couple questions. 1st, when I make my starter I normally boil my DME and cool to 70F and pitch my yeast - then it sits on the counter for a day or so and I will cold crash after fermenting is complete.
question - Do I need to do anything different here? Do I cool the wort lower before I pitch my yeast into the starter? Im thinking I will need to put my starter into my ferm chamber at 53F to get it to kick off but not sure.

The answers to that 1st question might resolve the second. - When I add my yeast starter to my all grain wort - can I still pitch at 70F? Or do I need to cool down thw Wort even more?

Any help would be great. Just dont want to kill my yeast or stall it out.
 

hottpeper13

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I make all my starters at 70-72 * on a stir plate. I will not decant unless the liquid is clear. Sometimes when I'm making my first lager from a starter it will be 1.044 or so and I'll make the starter 1 week ahead and crash so I can decant. On brew day I decant and bring to ambient. After a 10 min boil I pull a quart of wort and put in freezer, when cool I pitch into starter and bring to high krausen and then pitch the whole thing. I can't chill my wort to 50 after a high pitching temp fast enough so I chill then O2 then pitch at or a little below 50*
 
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Ragman

Ragman

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I hear you. The concern I guess I have is will the starter ferment at room temp? According to the yeast strain description it ferments at 50-55.
 

pvtpublic

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It will ferment a room temp. Hell, it wants be at 80! But it will toss out all sorts of nasty by-products, whereas at 50F, it's metabolism slows down enough to be efficient at a clean ferment.
My process is to build up my starter, and crash it. Brew day comes along and I chill my wort down to about room temp and put it in my ferment fridge with my starter. Then once everything is at 45, I pitch and bring it up to 50.
 
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Ragman

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It will ferment a room temp. Hell, it wants be at 80! But it will toss out all sorts of nasty by-products, whereas at 50F, it's metabolism slows down enough to be efficient at a clean ferment.
My process is to build up my starter, and crash it. Brew day comes along and I chill my wort down to about room temp and put it in my ferment fridge with my starter. Then once everything is at 45, I pitch and bring it up to 50.
So for my starter, i boil my dme, chill to 70, add yeast and put in ferm chamber at 55 for a day or two?
 

Leezer

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I recently used a lager yeast and fermented in the 50s. But when I made the starter I made it at room temp like usual and it worked out fine. I did put it in the fridge about 24 hours prior to brew day so that I could decant off some of the liquid.
When I chilled the wort, I did manage to chill it to the upper 50s in my ice bath sink, and pitched the chilled and decanted starter. It was a 2.5G batch so the smaller size may have made it easier to chill down the wort to that temp.
 
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Ragman

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ok so I made my starter last night. Chilled my wort to just under 70 and pitched. Its on the stir plate now but Im not seeing much activity. I plan to cold crash it tonight and brew on Saturday. Does anyone know how long you should cold crash - in other words, whats the minimum time for cold crashing? - I plan to decant or "dump out all the extra liquid" before pitching into my final wort.
 

hottpeper13

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If I want to decant a starter I make it a week before. My lager yeasts can take up to 3 days to finish then 4 in the fridge. If yours is cloudy at all you should pitch the whole thing.
 

Bassman2003

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This is your first time using lager yeast, so you have a learning curve ahead of you. Lager is not difficult but it is different.

The main think with making lagers is to pitch a lot of yeast. Much more than you would first expect. The idea is to gang up on the batch as to not create any off flavors. More yeast = cleaner flavor.

As far as your starter, I like to let the starter go for at least two days or longer based upon letting it finish out. Once visual signs appear of the wort clearing etc... an overnight in the fridge is enough time to drop most everything out for the decant before pitching. So it is important to make sure the yeast is finished and drops out before you move on to the next step.

It is also worth mentioning the difference between growing yeast and just rousing yeast. Growing yeast involves much more time and wort as opposed to just making a vitality starter to wake them up for duty.

As for starter temperature, if you are growing yeast, then room temps are best as you will make more cells. This implies you will not throw the starter wort into your batch. If you are making a vitality starter, then the batch temps might be the better way to go as you might pitch the whole starter in.

Last thing - stir plates are the best. I put together a stir plate with a computer fan and 3D printed a base a few years ago after never having one. It is so much better to have a stir plate. I hope some of this helps.
 
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Ragman

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This is your first time using lager yeast, so you have a learning curve ahead of you. Lager is not difficult but it is different.

The main think with making lagers is to pitch a lot of yeast. Much more than you would first expect. The idea is to gang up on the batch as to not create any off flavors. More yeast = cleaner flavor.

As far as your starter, I like to let the starter go for at least two days or longer based upon letting it finish out. Once visual signs appear of the wort clearing etc... an overnight in the fridge is enough time to drop most everything out for the decant before pitching. So it is important to make sure the yeast is finished and drops out before you move on to the next step.

It is also worth mentioning the difference between growing yeast and just rousing yeast. Growing yeast involves much more time and wort as opposed to just making a vitality starter to wake them up for duty.

As for starter temperature, if you are growing yeast, then room temps are best as you will make more cells. This implies you will not throw the starter wort into your batch. If you are making a vitality starter, then the batch temps might be the better way to go as you might pitch the whole starter in.

Last thing - stir plates are the best. I put together a stir plate with a computer fan and 3D printed a base a few years ago after never having one. It is so much better to have a stir plate. I hope some of this helps.
Thanks everyone for the replies. I plan to let the starter sit until at least Saturday afternoon, which will be 48 hrs. Then I will cold crash and probably brew Sunday sometime. I will try to chill my wort to 55 degrees before pitching - and attempt to have my starter at a similar temp. SO long as I see a good amount of yeast at the bottom of my starter, I plan to dump most of the liquid out of my starter as I dont want that DME flavor in my beer, (only making a 3.25 gal batch.

IS there a way to tell if my yeast fermented in my starter if I have no cake and no foam, besides cold crashing and looking for a layer on the bottom?
 

pvtpublic

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I agree with hot pepper, you need time to build your population. Doing the starter the night before is only going to get them active again. By letting it go a few days, they'll have time to reproduce. My typical routine is for a Saturday brew. Depending on the OG of my wort and how old my yeast is, I'll do either a one step or two step starter. I'll always use a single pack of White Labs. For a two step, I'll pitch Sunday, crash Tuesday, decant and rematch Wednesday, crash again Friday, then put in the fridge with my new wort to get them both to 45F. Then on Sunday, I'll decant and pitch.

When first started doing all grain, I used all the pots in the house to collect my run off. My mash efficiency was so high that I ran off 8 gallons instead of 7. So, that having it in random containers allowed me to calculate all the different gravities and blend them until I had the preboil gravity that I wanted. And the extra gallon was adjusted to 1040 and pressure canned in quart jars. These I use for my 1L starters each time (a quart isn't exactly a liter, I know, but close enough for me). My set up has changed since then but I still use a three container collecting system. I hit my numbers everytime without fail.

Here's some resources that have helped me




 

Bassman2003

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Thanks everyone for the replies. I plan to let the starter sit until at least Saturday afternoon, which will be 48 hrs. Then I will cold crash and probably brew Sunday sometime. I will try to chill my wort to 55 degrees before pitching - and attempt to have my starter at a similar temp. SO long as I see a good amount of yeast at the bottom of my starter, I plan to dump most of the liquid out of my starter as I dont want that DME flavor in my beer, (only making a 3.25 gal batch.

IS there a way to tell if my yeast fermented in my starter if I have no cake and no foam, besides cold crashing and looking for a layer on the bottom?
It is best to use a glass or clear plastic container for starters so you can have a good visual on the yeast and wort. If you do not see very much yeast on the bottom you are in trouble :) Most often you see some activity with some foam etc... If not the yeast is probably old & tired.

BTW, it is fine to chill the starter colder than the batch and let it warm up to the batch temp. The colder the better for the overnight yeast drop (not freezing though). I use a hose and siphon the wort away. That way the yeast is undisturbed at the bottom.
 

hottpeper13

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I haven't used DME for starters since going all grain. I make 6 gal batches so I can rack clearer wort into the fermenter. I pour the remaining sludge into a sanitized pitcher,cover with foil and put in my lagerator at 33*. In the morning I pour off crystal clear wort into a jug and into the freezer. Because it was boiled I just bring it to a boil in the flask,let it cool and pitch.
 
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Ragman

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I haven't used DME for starters since going all grain. I make 6 gal batches so I can rack clearer wort into the fermenter. I pour the remaining sludge into a sanitized pitcher,cover with foil and put in my lagerator at 33*. In the morning I pour off crystal clear wort into a jug and into the freezer. Because it was boiled I just bring it to a boil in the flask,let it cool and pitch.
Hmm. Never thought of that. So basically you are using the leftover wort from your brew to use as your starter wort? And you say you freeze the wort you collect from your brew?
 

hottpeper13

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I made a water calculation mistake once, and had 4 qts of clear wort extra so I pressure canned those,but most I freeze in used 1 qt cider bottles. Really,Really, it only happened once,yeah, yeah that's the ticket!
 

Bassman2003

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Just be careful with freezing any kind of wort. It is not food safe practice. Probably already known but I always bring this up if folks might read this in the future...
 

Leezer

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I’ll just add that I’ve found the Online Yeast Starter Calculator on brewunited.com to be very helpful in making my starters. Sometimes I overbuild the starter and save the extra to make a starter for another future batch. That extra gets saved in a mason jar in the fridge.
 

hottpeper13

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Bassman , where are you getting your info? I've been collecting remnant wort and freezing it since 2012 without issue. It would be like saying you can't freeze soup stock. You just need to bring it to a boil after it's thawed.
 

Bassman2003

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National food safety guidelines. Wort is a low acid food (pH above 4.6) which means botulism spores can grow. Boiling will not kill the spores. (only pressure cooking - 240F for 15 minutes) This is why it is important to always point this out as "getting away with it" does not mean it should be accepted practice.
 

pvtpublic

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National food safety guidelines. Wort is a low acid food (pH above 4.6) which means botulism spores can grow. Boiling will not kill the spores. (only pressure cooking - 240F for 15 minutes) This is why it is important to always point this out as "getting away with it" does not mean it should be accepted practice.
For canning your wort, yes, a water bath won't suffice. But if you're freezing, it doesn't matter. There's also a study out there that shows results of boiling for twenty minutes denatured the neurotoxins produced by the spores.
 

Bassman2003

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Pressure Canning anything is for longer term storage - i.e. safe. Nothing I want to mess around with just for homebrewing or convenience. Not judging, I just know how dogmatic homebrewers are. If something is written, it is often followed.
 

hottpeper13

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Whats the difference between letting the wort cool,putting it in a sanitized container and in the freezer, and blanching vegetables,ice water bath,bag and freeze?
I was a gardener before a brewer and according to you I should have passed long ago, or at least gotten sick. Last time i got a cold was 2015.
 

Bassman2003

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No need to be defensive. It all centers around pH levels. Certain vegetables need this kind of treatment as well. Wort has a normal pH above the threshold of safe botulism handling. (pH 4.6 or below). Wort is basically a growth medium as it is nutrient rich sugar water. Some attention needs to be paid to handling it safely imho.
 

pvtpublic

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The differentiating factor between canning and freezing (beyond the obvious) is the temperature of storage. When frozen, botulism spores can't "hatch" which produces the neurotoxins in the process. But at room temperature and a pH of over 4.6, they can. So in order to destroy them, you would have to reach a temperature of at least 240F. A water bath will only top out at boiling according elevation, whereas a pressure canner can get to 240F. It's not dogma, it's safety. For those of us who choose to save wort, freezing and pressure canning are the only two safe options.
 
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