Lager Fermentation Problem??

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KINNEYO

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I'm very new to homebrewing. I'm brewing my first Lager (German Oktoberfest) and I'm wondering if I have a fermentation problem.

Last night I brewed following the instructions on the kit. After boiling, I brought the wort down to 60°F and pitched my yeast. I then put the carboy in my garage where the temperature is approximately 40°F. I'm wodering if the change in temparture has affected how my yiest is performing. This morning when I checked it, my airlock was only bubbling maybe once every minute. Is this normal? The only other beer I've brewed was an IPA, and that was way more active on the first day. (I'm thinking because the fermentation temperature was warmer.) I'm wondering if I have a fermentation problem, or will it eventually become more active?

I have since transfered my carboy into my basement refridge, where the temperature is holding steady at 50°. It continues to bubble maybe once every minute or so.

Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated. Thanks.
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menschmaschine

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You might ask one of the mods to move this to the "Fermentation and Yeast" forum.

40°F is too low for lager fermentation. Depending on the yeast, it might ferment at that temp, but very slowly. Most lager yeasts are best in the 50-55°F range. You could lager it at 40°F... even though that is at the upper end for lagering temps.

Also, lagers require a lot of yeast... so if you only pitched one pack, that will take a while to get going and you could have some flavors you didn't expect (esters, etc.) due to the low pitch rate.
 
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KINNEYO

KINNEYO

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Thanks for the input. After moving the carboy to the fridge at 50°F, it has become much more active. My airlock is bubbling about every 6-8 seconds. Is this typical for lagers, or should it be more active in the first couple of days? I have my fridge set at the highest possible setting, but it won't get warmer than 50°.

A friend of mine suggested letting it sit at room temperature for a day, to get things going quicker. Although I'm not so sure this is a good idea. I think I'm just going to leave it alone. I think I read somewhere that temperature changes of more than 10° could create problems.
 

menschmaschine

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If your lager is fermenting at 50°F, that's perfect. Even a couple degrees colder is still good. Most lager yeasts that ferment at even 48 or 49°F will ferment just fine and produce a nice clean lager.

Don't move it to room temp. That's a bad idea for a lager and will result in increased diacetyl, esters, etc. Towards the end of fermentation, if you have diacetyl or just want to do a diacetyl rest (can't hurt), you can move it to 60-65°F for a couple days. This is done as fermentation is dying down... like 80% done. This will actually help clean up the beer as opposed to producing flavor-active compounds like if the temperature was high in the early part of fermentation.
 
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KINNEYO

KINNEYO

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After 11 days, my gravity has only dropped from 1.060 to 1.052. It's been bubbling about once every 10 seconds or so for the last 10 days. Not sure whether to leave it alone, or do I need to pitch more yeast? I was going to perform a D-rest tonight, before racking into the secondary but it's looking like that's not going to happen. The beer smells great, it's just not moving at the pace I thought this would be happening. What should I do?
 
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That's bad. Fermentation should be finished by now. You need to get some alcohol in there or the bacteria will begin to take over.

I'd bring it up to 60 until you begin to get much more activity, then drop it down to 50.

I'd also consider pitching a rehydrated packet of dry lager yeast in there. You do need to get that fermentation going right now.
 
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