WAS going to do my first lager this weekend...advice?

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Coastarine

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I was planning on brewing my first lager this weekend, the bohemian pilsener recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. I went to mr malty to confirm what starter size I need. OG 1.056, 5gal batch, stirplate starter, but here's the kicker: I have two smack packs of wyeast 2001 Urquell mfg on 27oct08. According to mr malty, that puts it at 10% viability. Is that right? If that's the case, it says I'd need to use a 5300mL starter with SEVEN packs of yeast. Obviously I only have two, and I'd like to keep the starter size at 2000mL.

I could put off the pilsener and brew my american amber. Anyone think the yeast viability is off? Anyone think BMW owes me some fresher yeast? I ordered it on 3/1/09.
 

brewmasterpa

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wow, that is some old yeast for a march 1st order date. i think i would go with some fresher yeast, and make a two pack starter. no sense in chancing it.
 
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Coastarine

Coastarine

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Reply from BMW:
Jon,

I know what you mean by not exactly fresh yeast since it was manufactured on 10/27/08. Although this is a on the older side for liquid yeast it is still fresh. Wyeast gurantees all packages less than 6 months old, and your yeast is just over 4 months old. Once you activate the smack pack the yeast will reproduce. Give the package time to swell (12-18 hours min.) the full 100 Billion Cells they advertise will be in the package, which would be sufficent amount to get a lager starter going strong.

At the same time we are all about customer service, and I want to make you happy, so if you if what I have said does not make you feel better about your yeast please let me know what I can do to make sure that you feel great about your purchase.


Thanks,

Ed
 

oguss0311

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Fair enough from a retailers point of view.....
Slightly off topic- but when I do lagers (All two of them) I went with White Labs and considered Wyeasts' activator pack- not the smack pack...Because even though the White Labs says we can pitch right into the wort, we all get a starter going...And the Activator pack is Supposed to be used with a starter- and then you can get your Uber big starter going, like we often use with lagers to avoid Diactyl (SP- that does not look right) etc.
costaMarine- you gonna do a decoction mash? My second was way easier than my first- and though I've yet to taste the fruits of my labor, I'm really excited by that procedure at the moment....
 
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Coastarine

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Nope, I rarely differ from Jamil's advice, and he never does anything but single infusion. And don't worry devil, those numbers aren't lost on me.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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Once you activate the smack pack the yeast will reproduce. Give the package time to swell (12-18 hours min.) the full 100 Billion Cells they advertise will be in the package, which would be sufficent amount to get a lager starter going strong.
That's not really enough for a lager....it's actually barely enough for a low gravity ale (relative to proper pitching rates). If it were me I'd put off the lager but would make a big starter pretty soon so that it can ferment to finish and I could decant the liquid. At the very minimum I would pitch both Activator packs.
 

flyangler18

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That's not really enough for a lager....it's actually barely enough for a low gravity ale (relative to proper pitching rates). If it were me I'd put off the lager but would make a big starter pretty soon so that it can ferment to finish and I could decant the liquid. At the very minimum I would pitch both Activator packs.
Yeah, that is severely underpitching for a lager. Underpitching lager yeast to that degree will result in, among other things, lots of esters and phenols which are supremely undesirable in a lager.
 

david_42

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Come on guys! 100 billion cells is more than enough to make a STARTER!
 

flyangler18

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Come on guys! 100 billion cells is more than enough to make a STARTER!
D'oh! I feel silly for not reading more closely now. :(

Coastarine, if you want to keep the starter size down to 2L total volume, build up the starter, cold-crash and decant enough times to get the amount of yeast you need. If you're assuming 10% viability, you'll have to this quite a few times. You're only going to get doubling of the cells with each addition.
 
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Coastarine

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Well I appreciate the help but you guys aren't telling me anything I don't already know...I guess I'll brew the amber ale this weekend and just keep stepping up a starter to do the lager at a later date.

To put into perspective the amount of yeast actually necessary I looked at how much slurry I should pitch based on mr malty. If the slurry was nearly 100% yeast, which from a starter it would be close, and as thick as it comes, I'd need 875mL of slurry, which is a layer about 1.5" thick in the bottom of my 2000mL flask. That's a whole lot.
 

flyangler18

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To put into perspective the amount of yeast actually necessary I looked at how much slurry I should pitch based on mr malty. If the slurry was nearly 100% yeast, which from a starter it would be close, and as thick as it comes, I'd need 875mL of slurry, which is a layer about 1.5" thick in the bottom of my 2000mL flask. That's a whole lot.
Yep, but you need a whole lot of yeast for a lager, considerably more than an ale of the same OG. That's just a reality of brewing lagers.
 
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Coastarine

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Did I accidentally post this in the beginner brewing forum or something?;) I know I said first lager, but I am aware of the need for an elevated pitching rate.:p
 
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