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Lager slow start, or no start?

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mattrettig

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Hello all. I'm trying a lager yeast--the WLP 800 pilsener yeast--and it's been in the carboy for about 5 days now and still not a bubble in the airlock or anywhere visible in the beer. My basement was at 52^ for a few days but now it's getting too cold so I brought it upstairs, and as I agitated it while carrying it, and now even that it's been set down for a few hours, the airlock has bubbles.

I notice there is a huge amount of protein break at the bottom of the carboy--is it possible the yeast was trapped under that along with a little CO2, and now that's been agitated it all released? I had problems with my boil, running out of propane about 50 minutes in, so I didn't get the good long vigorous boil I wanted--could that explain the extra protein break?

Trying to save this batch!

Thanks,

--Matt
 
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mattrettig

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I made a starter, though only about 30 hours prior to pitching. There was no visible action in the starter when I pitched, though there was a hiss and some bubbling when I opened the vial of yeast, so I'm thinking the yeast itself must have been OK out of the vial. I probably pitched at about 55 or 60 degrees.

I haven't taken a gravity reading because with no bubbles in the airlock and no krausen I'm pretty confident nothing is happening. I'm already concerned about contamination since the yeast isn't doing anything, so I don't want to open up and dip a hydrometer in there.
 

SirBrewsAlot

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I had similar issue with my last lager. Had a lot of protein break & pitched my yeast around 50* F. After a few days nothing so I got worried & moved it to a warmer area. And within a short time of raising the temp, fermentation started. So based on your experience & mine it sounds like it was too cold & the yeast just had to be woken up with a little warmth.
 

Tiber_Brew

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I had similar issue with my last lager. Had a lot of protein break & pitched my yeast around 50* F. After a few days nothing so I got worried & moved it to a warmer area. And within a short time of raising the temp, fermentation started. So based on your experience & mine it sounds like it was too cold & the yeast just had to be woken up with a little warmth.
Which sounds to me like too small of a starter. You shouldn't have to warm your wort up to begin fermentation if you make a sufficient starter.
 
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mattrettig

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Which sounds to me like too small of a starter. You shouldn't have to warm your wort up to begin fermentation if you make a sufficient starter.
I think you're probably right. WhiteLabs recommends a much bigger starter for cold-pitched lager yeasts (I think like 4L with two cups of DME?), whereas mine was only 1L with 1/2 cup DME. I did bring it upstairs to a warmer environment for about 10 hours and got some action, and now it's back in the 52^ environment and seems to be doing OK. Thanks to everyone for their posts, and I think the lesson is take care with those starters! Make sure that yeast is good and healthy and plentiful before you pitch. Not that that should surprise anyone....But thanks again!

--Matt
 
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