Underpitched a lager - next steps

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davcar74

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I started doing homework after my first extract w/grains lager brew (mistake 1)...and discovered that I underpitched my lager with 1 Wyeast 2206 Activator pkg (no starter - mistake 1B). I brewed this on Tusday and pitched at about 1 pm. After realizing that I underpitched (and that I had no way to get more lager yeast until wed night), I kept the fermenter at 70-71 for 36 hours. I did aerate well (5 min) with a drill-attached stir rod.

Although there were no visible signs of ferm. after 36 hours (no airlock activity, no kruasen), my gravity last night was 1.03. Although I did not take a starting gravity reading (Mistake 2), Beersmith 2.0 pegged it at 1.049. In addition, though loose measurement, I used slightly more grain and extract than the recipe called for. So, I assume the starting gravity was at least 1.049 if not slightly higher. This lead me to the conclusion that fermentation was happening and when I applied a bit of pressure to the bucket lid, I did get some bubbles (twice, an hour apart).

I moved this into the ferm chamber last night at 65 degrees and plan on dropping 5 degrees every 12-18 hours until I get to 50 degrees. I can get more yeast tonight and pitch it (either a similar whilte labs strain or safalager), but at this point, am I better off just letting this thing run its course and seeing what happens?

Thanks in advance.
 

makomachine

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You missed the mistake 1C - raising your temp to 70F while underpitched. You are extremely likely to have added some not so funkiliciousness as fermentation temperature is most critical at the start of fermentation. Lager yeast @ 70 equals a very off lager...

Let it run it's course at this point is my vote, as I'm not sure there is much you can do to fix where you are at with this beer. Maybe I'm wrong and it will be fine.
 

RoadKing

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The Activator claims to have enough cells to be directley pitched into 5 gallons.
While it's probably underpitched, It should be enough to do the job.
I would get the temp down to where it belongs (70 is way to high) and see if it takes off. I've never had yeast not work, even when I first started and used to just pitch a smack pack.
 
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davcar74

davcar74

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Thanks. I left at 70 after I realized my mistake and then decided to pitch based on the smack pack instructions, which said 65-72 until noticable activity, then lower to ferm. temp. I knew this was not best practice based on the research I did on here, but neither was jumping into this on the day I got my chest freezer without knowing what I was doing. Oh well, that's how we learn...I have brewed 10 ales since getting started a few months ago, and most have been great, with only 3 being so-so to not great and I have made a small mistake or two on all of them. All of them were drinkable, even the 2-3 that didn't turn out great. Hoping for the best.
 
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davcar74

davcar74

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Bubbling away now...should have temp down to 50 by tomorrow ... thankfully this is balanced out by my first taste of my ESB after carbing, which worked out fine...one of the positives of having several going in different stages..
 
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