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> Lagering in South Florida, First time making a Lager
jetpilot01
post Dec 22 2008, 11:18 AM
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This weekend I brewed my first 5 gallon batch of a Peppercorn Rye Bock (from Sam Calagione's Extreme Brewing). Its a lager, and I have a wine fridge that holds a 6 gallon carboy perfectly. I've got the temperature down to 50 degrees F. Like I said, this is my first time doing a lager. I pitched the yeast yesterday, once the temperature was low enough. I used Wyeast Munich Lager #2308 liquid yeast. I was sure to shake up and aerate the carboy really well, before pitching. Then a good shaking once the yeast was in there.

Here's my dilemma. I'm used to ales, so when I pitch the yeast, within 24 hours that air lock is bubbling like its going out of style. This morning, when I checked on my lager, nothing. No activity at all. I understand that lager yeast is bottom fermenting. The bottom of the carboy has what appears to be a thick foamy layer. It is much thicker than what I'm used to seeing when brewing an ale with the normal settling of the wort. However, CO2 is still a by product of fermentation, so the air lock should be bubbling by now. Should I be concerned? I'm wondering if everything is much slower due to the lower temperatures.

The only mistake I could have made was breaking the smack pack of yeast a day early. I did this the day I brewed, thinking the temperature would be low enough a few hours later. However, I had to wait until the following morning for the fridge to get the temperature down low enough (below 55 degrees). So the yeast sat in the pack for almost 18 hours, but I did keep it in the refridgerator, so it should be fine. The pack never did swell up.

Should I panic and pitch another smack pack if nothing happens in the air lock by tomorrow? Or is this process normal, and I'm not going to get the kind of activity I'm used to getting from my ales? Thanks for any help you folks have to offer.
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blatzy
post Dec 22 2008, 11:42 AM
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there's three things I see that aren't ideal in your process.

1). you pitched just the pack of yeast with no starter? A starter is a pre-req for all liquid yeasts in my book, but especially necessary for lagers - you need a huge starter for a lager. Assuming a 1.065 bock, you'd need about a 2.5 gallon starter without a stirplate.

2). you need a buttload of oxygen for a big lager - shaking a little is not going to be enough, IMO - you'd need to shake it for like an hour to get the oxygen you need.

3). 50df refrig temp is not the best for lagers - you will want to ferment most strains in the 48-50df range, which means you'll need the temp inside the fridge to be around 45df to counteract the heat generated by the yeast during fermentation. However, being that you drastically underpitched and didn't aerate enough, the warmer temp *might* help a bit.

The yeast will eventually take off, some lagers take 30+ hours to show visible signs of fermentation, but I would be highly shocked if you were able to get a complete fermentation with your current situation.

Personally, I would pitch 2 packs of US-05 and continue to ferment it as is, maybe even bump the temp up a little for the US-05 to kickstart - and next time you make a lager, make a huge starter and aerate well (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/wink.gif)

This post has been edited by blatzy: Dec 22 2008, 11:44 AM
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MtnBrewer
post Dec 22 2008, 12:06 PM
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I agree w/ blatzy except for point number 3. 50F should be fine for fermenting a lager. Fermentation won't add 5 degrees to the temperature of the fermenting wort. My question though is how do you plan to lager it?
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jetpilot01
post Dec 22 2008, 03:38 PM
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[quote name='blatzy' date='Dec 22 2008, 11:42 AM' post='1297813']
there's three things I see that aren't ideal in your process.

1). you pitched just the pack of yeast with no starter? A starter is a pre-req for all liquid yeasts in my book, but especially necessary for lagers - you need a huge starter for a lager. Assuming a 1.065 bock, you'd need about a 2.5 gallon starter without a stirplate.

2). you need a buttload of oxygen for a big lager - shaking a little is not going to be enough, IMO - you'd need to shake it for like an hour to get the oxygen you need.

Ok, well there's nothing I can do about the starter now. As far as a buttload of O2, I just purchased a new fish tank stone and some tubing. I let it all sit in a sanitzed solution of BTF & water for an hour. Now I'll let it aerate for an hour or two and see what happens. If I don't see any activity by Wednesday morning, I'll try pitching the US-50. Thanks for the advice.

Oh, and as far as how I'm going to lager it, the wine fridge can get 5 gallons of beer down to 38 degrees. I'll do that in the secondary in about two weeks.
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MtnBrewer
post Dec 22 2008, 03:43 PM
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QUOTE(jetpilot01 @ Dec 22 2008, 02:38 PM) *
Oh, and as far as how I'm going to lager it, the wine fridge can get 5 gallons of beer down to 38 degrees. I'll do that in the secondary in about two weeks.

That should be fine but I would wait until it's completely finished fermenting before doing that.
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blatzy
post Dec 22 2008, 03:50 PM
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nice to see another WPB area guy on the board.

Honestly, I'd do the US-05 now regardless - I really don't think you will get a complete fermentation with just a smack pack of lager yeast.

A lot of folks use US-05 at ~ 55df to create pseudo lagers - it turns out surprisingly clean and lager like, but not exactly. But you'll get some of the lager characteristics from what you have - you'll have you're own blend, so to speak.

I'd personally take the plunge with my US-05 insurance policy rather than risk the yeast kicking out on you at 1.025-30 or so, which underpitched lagers can sometimes do.
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blatzy
post Dec 22 2008, 03:53 PM
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QUOTE(MtnBrewer @ Dec 22 2008, 12:06 PM) *
I agree w/ blatzy except for point number 3. 50F should be fine for fermenting a lager. Fermentation won't add 5 degrees to the temperature of the fermenting wort. My question though is how do you plan to lager it?


yeah - that's more nitpicky (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/hehe.gif) . My experience is that lager ferments add about 3 or so df, and I like to ferment on the cooler side of the yeast's range, so I usually target a ferm temp of 48 or so, but you're right that 50 is okay, especially for that strain which can go a little higher.

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twocents
post Dec 22 2008, 04:00 PM
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So, using pure Oxygen, how long would you run that through a lager for fermentation then?
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blatzy
post Dec 22 2008, 04:04 PM
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QUOTE(twocents @ Dec 22 2008, 04:00 PM) *
So, using pure Oxygen, how long would you run that through a lager for fermentation then?


I stone it with pure oxygen for 75-120 seconds depending on gravity, just prior to pitching yeast.

some guys i've spoken with hit it again a few hours later for really big lagers (*I think*) but I've never tried this personally, and I don't usually have abnormal lag time, nor do I usually make REALLY big lagers.
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jetpilot01
post Dec 22 2008, 04:13 PM
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QUOTE(blatzy @ Dec 22 2008, 03:50 PM) *
nice to see another WPB area guy on the board.

Honestly, I'd do the US-05 now regardless - I really don't think you will get a complete fermentation with just a smack pack of lager yeast.

A lot of folks use US-05 at ~ 55df to create pseudo lagers - it turns out surprisingly clean and lager like, but not exactly. But you'll get some of the lager characteristics from what you have - you'll have you're own blend, so to speak.

I'd personally take the plunge with my US-05 insurance policy rather than risk the yeast kicking out on you at 1.025-30 or so, which underpitched lagers can sometimes do.


All right, I'll do that. The BX isn't open today. Gonna have to wait until tomorrow. Are you a PB Draughtsman?
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blatzy
post Dec 22 2008, 04:18 PM
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QUOTE(jetpilot01 @ Dec 22 2008, 04:13 PM) *
Are you a PB Draughtsman?


yup - I go when I can.
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