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Question: Oktoberfest Fermentation

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NewtobrewMN

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I'm slightly nervous after moving my Oktoberfest to primary, because it doesn't seem to be doing or reacting much. this is my first lager, and only second brew. The fluid in the airlock has all shifted so it seems like it's expelling something, but it's much much less aggressive than my first brew, which is to be expected given it was a Pliney copycat with tons of sugar/grain/yeast., but still makes me nervous...Appreciate any help or criticism on any part of what I've done/plan to do.

My grain bill and mash schedule's are below. I'm using Wyeast #2633 and keeping it in a refrigerator attached to a controller set at 51 F and plan to go slightly warmer over the next 8-10 days, let it sit near or at room temperature (around 65 in our storage spot) for a day or two, then crash it for a few weeks just above freezing.

Mash Schedule: Protein rest 122 for 20, beta 149 for 30, alpha 158 for 30, sparge at 170, then boil for an hour. Chilled to about 47 degrees before pitching yeast. Moved immediately to refrigerator at 51 with an OG of 1.06

5 lbs. German Pilsner Malt

- 5 lbs German Munich Malt

- 1 lb German Dark Munich Malt

- .5 lbs. Weyermann Caramunich II

- 1 oz German Tradition (60 min)
 

apache_brew

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Sounds like you hit the ground running. Multi-step mashes on brew #2! May want to consider 90 minute boils for beers with a lot of Pilsner malt. What was your gravity reading? Airlock activity isn’t consistent with yeast activity. Depending on what you’re fermenting in, it could have leaks. (Plastic buckets) Did you make a yeast starter? Looks like you highlighted all the other good aspects. I was waiting to read that you made a big a** yeast starter, and oxygenated your wort prior to pitching.
 
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NewtobrewMN

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Sounds like your hit the ground running. Multi-step mashes on brew #2! May want to consider 90 minute boils for beers with a lot of Pilsner malt. What was your gravity reading? Airlock activity isn’t consistent with yeast activity. Depending on what you’re fermenting in, it could have leaks. (Plastic buckets) Did you make a yeast starter? Looks like you highlighted all the other good aspects. I was waiting to read that you made a big a** yeast starter, and oxygenated your wort prior to pitching.
Thanks for reply, and advice on boiling! to answer your couple questions:

gravity was 1.06 ish when the wort was cooled prior to moving to primary. I'm using a 6 gallon glass carboy for this as pictured. I did not use a yeast starter, the recipe I was following called only for the dry or liquid yeast, I opted for the latter, specifically Wyeast 2633 Octoberfest Lager Blend. As far as oxygynation, I've got a re-circulator that for my 2 brews so far, I've used as the Wort cools to 1) help cool it faster, and 2, create some oxygenation as it splashes back into the kettle.
 

micraftbeer

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Agree with @apache_brew on airlock activity. I've found some lagers to have almost no airlock activity at all. Colder temps = slower activity. But sounds like you nailed most everything great for process. I also agree you should either be double-pitching yeast, or doing a starter. Colder temps is harder for yeast, so pitching a lot of yeast helps avoid some unwanted flavors, as well as oxygenating the wort on cold temps.
 
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NewtobrewMN

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Agree with @apache_brew on airlock activity. I've found some lagers to have almost no airlock activity at all. Colder temps = slower activity. But sounds like you nailed most everything great for process. I also agree you should either be double-pitching yeast, or doing a starter. Colder temps is harder for yeast, so pitching a lot of yeast helps avoid some unwanted flavors, as well as oxygenating the wort on cold temps.
Appreciate the advice! Is it too late to pitch another packet of the same yeast ? It's only been in the primary for about 12 hours. Are there ever consequences of adding too much yeast or should two packets just be my normal? I really need to look at yeast starters, not something I've done or know much about at all yet.
 
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apache_brew

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Thanks for reply, and advice on boiling! to answer your couple questions:

gravity was 1.06 ish when the wort was cooled prior to moving to primary. I'm using a 6 gallon glass carboy for this as pictured. I did not use a yeast starter, the recipe I was following called only for the dry or liquid yeast, I opted for the latter, specifically Wyeast 2633 Octoberfest Lager Blend. As far as oxygynation, I've got a re-circulator that for my 2 brews so far, I've used as the Wort cools to 1) help cool it faster, and 2, create some oxygenation as it splashes back into the kettle.
I meant what is the gravity right now? (indication of yeast activity). You need to make yeast starters for lagers. Do some research on yeast pitch calculators and how many cells different beer styles (and volumes) require when pitching. That single smack pack without a starter is probably fine for a 1 or 2 gallon lager batch, anything bigger and you surely need a yeast starter. Do you mean a pump? If you're able to, just shake up the carboy after it's chilled (somewhat dangerous) or better yet get a diffusion stone to pump pure oxygen prior to pitching yeast, at a minimum just splash it around so it's bubbly.

Buy a copy of How to Brew by John Palmer, great resource.
 

micraftbeer

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I used to use double yeast packs for lagers before I was doing starters. You should be able to add additional after it's already started, just be careful about touching anything inside or anything falling in while doing so. Some people will add yeast very late into a batch if it stalls out before reaching final gravity, so you should be fine this early on.

I know you're new into this, so dishing out cash has probably already put a dent in your bank account. But I've found the Tilt to be invaluable particularly for lagers. It's so hard to tell from airlock activity what's going on, and the cool fermentation temp gives your yeast plenty of opportunity to slow down or stop early. Continuous monitoring of the gravity let's you know when you need to intervene with either more yeast, adding oxygen, or raising fermentation temp.
 
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NewtobrewMN

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I meant what is the gravity right now? (indication of yeast activity). You need to make yeast starters for lagers. Do some research on yeast pitch calculators and how many cells different beer styles (and volumes) require when pitching. That single smack pack without a starter is probably fine for a 1 or 2 gallon lager batch, anything bigger and you surely need a yeast starter. Do you mean a pump? If you're able to, just shake up the carboy after it's chilled (somewhat dangerous) or better yet get a diffusion stone to pump pure oxygen prior to pitching yeast, at a minimum just splash it around so it's bubbly.

Buy a copy of How to Brew by John Palmer, great resource.
I took @micraftbeer advice and bought a the tilt, but the gravity is now reading 1.073...

@apache_brew you had asked for this but that seems wrong/impossible. I also do own the mentioned book, I've been knocking it out slowly but surely, it's pretty long.

I did add a second packet of yeast as recommended last night.... not sure what to do next, It's now been about 50-60 hours since I originally pitched 1 packet of yeast, and about 10 since pitching the second....
 

apache_brew

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I took @micraftbeer advice and bought a the tilt, but the gravity is now reading 1.073...

@apache_brew you had asked for this but that seems wrong/impossible. I also do own the mentioned book, I've been knocking it out slowly but surely, it's pretty long.

I did add a second packet of yeast as recommended last night.... not sure what to do next, It's now been about 50-60 hours since I originally pitched 1 packet of yeast, and about 10 since pitching the second....
Either a wort fairy came in and added 13 more gravity points to your beer in your carboy, or that electronic hydrometer isn't calibrated. Without using the same instrument to take successive readings, it's going to be hard to understand what's going on here. Not sure what you mean by wrong or impossible.
That's a cool gadget and and will probably make it easier for you to keep track of things on later batches using a carboy (minimizing taking samples), but the added benefit of actually taking hydrometer samples is that you get to taste your beer. When I switched from plastic buckets to a stainless fermenter with a sample valve it made a big difference in my understanding of yeast activity by easily being able to take a sample every 1 or 2 days throughout fermentation, and then tasting the beer. Squirt the outlet valve with Starsan, take a sample, squirt the outlet valve with starsan, boom, done.
Give a another few days on your most current yeast pitch. It's probably making beer right now, just at a slow pace. For you're own understanding, check the manufactured dates on the yeast packets. Input your info into this calculator and get an idea of how much you should be pitching for your next batch. Brewer's Friend Yeast Pitch Calculator
 

micraftbeer

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The key benefit of the Tilt is tracking fermentation progress throughout without having to open your fermentor or deal with taking samples. You do need to calibrate it when you first use it, but that just gives you an offset. So the fact it's reading 1.073 and you measured 1.060 shouldn't bother you. You can now watch it, and see if the gravity is dropping or sitting flat. You will see a slope as it drops, and then it will eventually slow down (where you want to bump up the fermentation temperature to help it finish off). Then it will eventually flatline, and then you make sure the temperature increases end up having you ~75F, and sit there for a couple days.

I'm a data nerd, so I calibrate the Tilt in distilled water for 1.000 SG point, and then a wort at something higher around 1.050 (verified with whatever hydrometer or refractometer tool you use). You program those adjustments into the Tilt app. Then it will be closer to your OG.

You can also calibrate the temperature through the Tilt app. This used to bug me as the Tilt maybe showed ~2 degrees different than what my fermentation temperature control was using. So I calibrated them all to a Thermoworks temperature probe so everything (Tilt and fermentation temp controllers) were all set to a common value. But now I'm starting to digress into a Tilt discussion...
 
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NewtobrewMN

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The key benefit of the Tilt is tracking fermentation progress throughout without having to open your fermentor or deal with taking samples. You do need to calibrate it when you first use it, but that just gives you an offset. So the fact it's reading 1.073 and you measured 1.060 shouldn't bother you. You can now watch it, and see if the gravity is dropping or sitting flat. You will see a slope as it drops, and then it will eventually slow down (where you want to bump up the fermentation temperature to help it finish off). Then it will eventually flatline, and then you make sure the temperature increases end up having you ~75F, and sit there for a couple days.

I'm a data nerd, so I calibrate the Tilt in distilled water for 1.000 SG point, and then a wort at something higher around 1.050 (verified with whatever hydrometer or refractometer tool you use). You program those adjustments into the Tilt app. Then it will be closer to your OG.

You can also calibrate the temperature through the Tilt app. This used to bug me as the Tilt maybe showed ~2 degrees different than what my fermentation temperature control was using. So I calibrated them all to a Thermoworks temperature probe so everything (Tilt and fermentation temp controllers) were all set to a common value. But now I'm starting to digress into a Tilt discussion...
Appreciate the advice on calibration, none of this is called out in the packaging... I did put it in a glass of water for a couple hours, wter similar to what I used to brew and was getting .998 ish, so thought I was set. As I check it now, a few hours after seeing it at 1.073, it is at 1.059, so to your advice, I'll keep an eye on it to start to level out at it's current 54 ish degrees, bring to warm/room temperature for a day or two, and then crash it.
 
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NewtobrewMN

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Either a wort fairy came in and added 13 more gravity points to your beer in your carboy, or that electronic hydrometer isn't calibrated. Without using the same instrument to take successive readings, it's going to be hard to understand what's going on here. Not sure what you mean by wrong or impossible.
That's a cool gadget and and will probably make it easier for you to keep track of things on later batches using a carboy (minimizing taking samples), but the added benefit of actually taking hydrometer samples is that you get to taste your beer. When I switched from plastic buckets to a stainless fermenter with a sample valve it made a big difference in my understanding of yeast activity by easily being able to take a sample every 1 or 2 days throughout fermentation, and then tasting the beer. Squirt the outlet valve with Starsan, take a sample, squirt the outlet valve with starsan, boom, done.
Give a another few days on your most current yeast pitch. It's probably making beer right now, just at a slow pace. For you're own understanding, check the manufactured dates on the yeast packets. Input your info into this calculator and get an idea of how much you should be pitching for your next batch. Brewer's Friend Yeast Pitch Calculator
I'd like to blame a wort fairy, but I think your latter idea is probably more likely. Unfortunately I'm using all glass carboys. maybe someday I'll move into a SS setup, it sounds really handy. I'll save that calculator for future uses and will not ever try a cool ferment without doing a full starter again!
 
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