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Problem with my first Lager yeast.

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Dave the Brewer

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I smacked the Wyeast American Lager, and busted the starter inside. I let it set for about 2 and a half hours. It didn't really rise much, maybe a little. I got impatient and poured the contents of the smack pack in a sterilized jar. I added a little corn sugar and after that the yeasted started a foam at the top, only a little. I didn't give it much time and then I pitched it into the wort. The wort sat at about 65 degrees for 14 hours, then I got it at 50 degrees and its been sitting there for about 20 hours. Absolutely no activity out of the air lock, not even slightly. Did I get a bad batch of yeast? Was I impatient? (3 hours of starting yeast should be plenty IMO) If I need to repitch a new pack of yeast, can the wort wait a week or so? I will have to order more.:mad:
 

King of the Swill

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I did my first lager two weeks ago and what you describe sounds like what my experience was. It took roughly 80-90 hours until I saw any activity. I had mine at about 55 degrees. Lager yeast takes about twice as long as ale yeast to start going at those temps. You will be fine, no reason to re-pitch unless it goes into day 5 IMHO. I did a starter 24 hrs ahead of time and didn't have any activity in it when I pitched. Next time I would do a starter 48 hrs early for a lager. I am at day 14 for my lager and the airlock activity has been very slow but consistent. I get a bubble every minute. Hope this helped.
 

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Lagers really do need a monster sized starter, and even then they go more slowly than what we usually see with ales. Read up a little on lagers in the wiki, and I think you'll be relieved to find what you are describing is pretty normal!

Also, next time, make sure you make a starter about a week in advance. I step mine up a few times to make sure I have enough yeast to pitch.
 
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Dave the Brewer

Dave the Brewer

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Wow ok, I'm feeling better already. When I make a starter and let it sit for a few days; do I leave it at room temperature or 50-55 degrees. Another question, can I jar and refrigerate lager yeast like I do with my ale yeast? It sure saves me a hand full of cash.
 

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Well, there is some debate on the best way to propogate lager yeasts. I do it at room temperature but then put the starter in the fridge when it's done and decant all the spent wort. You can do it at actual fermentation temperatures (and it's probably better to do that, since you'll get it used to fermenting at the proper temperature) but I think that I'm growing yeast, not making beer, so I do it in the quickest way.

One other thing I do is do pitch the starter at about 48 degrees by taking it out of the fridge and letting it get a bit warmer and then pitch it into 50 degree wort. It seems like the yeast like that, and it doesn't shock them. You don't want to pitch refrigerator cold into warm wort, because of the temperature difference. You will also read of some differences here- some people pitch their lagers warm, and then reduce the temperature. I would never do that due to the risk of off-flavors or the risk of stalling the fermentation, but lots of people do. As you can see, there are many different opinions!

And you can treat lager yeast the same as ale yeast and wash it and save it.
 
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