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Another is my lager ok story

Brewed a Czech Pilsner on Friday evening. Made a yeast starter with Wyeast Czech Pils 2278. I will admit I waited far too long to make the starter. I made an 800ml starter about 4 hours before I began brewing so it was about 7 hours old when I pitched it. I also put about 30% of the smack pack into another flask to make a smaller 500 ml starter for a future batch. After 72 hours I do not have any krausen. There are the slightest bubbles on top but I wouldn’t call them “islands” just yet. There was an enormous cold break when I chilled the wort and there is about 3-4 inches of troob at the bottom of my crystal clear hopfully-lager. I got impatient with lack of progress appearance and decided to just rack my next batch onto this yeast cake; so I drained off the spent wort from my second starter and pitched into the fermenter just now. Even the starter had very little activity - no krausen, few bubbles. My only clear indication of active fermentation was that the white ring of yeast flocculated out on the bottom of the flask is definitely bigger than it was 2 days ago. I’m assuming this means that the beer will be fine and that I just don’t have enough experience yet with cold fermentation. This is my first lager and I grew my starters in the same chamber where my beer is fermenting (maybe) now. 52 degrees at the moment.

Is my Pilsner just fine? Or do I need to worry about it and possibly pitch a different lager yeast starter?
Anyone who could shed some light on this would be greatly appreciated.

First off, what are the stats of your recipe? 5 gal, OG??

You need a big starter for lagers. Much bigger than 800ml. I’m also not sure why you split the smack pack. And a starter that is only 7hrs old isn’t gonna do much. Maybe the yeast woke up, but they surely didn’t have time to really start fermenting and growing. This is double true if you had your starter at cold lager temps. When making a starter, even for a larger, you don’t need cold temps. You’re only growing yeast. Not making beer. So you should have made an appropriate size stater using Mr.Malty, let it ferment out completely, cold crash it for at least 24hrs, decant the spent wort and just pitch the yeast.

With all due respect, it sounds like your impatience is to blame for the lag time and slow start. Lagers also are much less active during fermentation so don’t worry if you don’t see the normal activity of an ale fermentation.

Thanks for the reply.

Lesson learned with the starter.

I’m assuming this batch should be fine though, right?

Greatly under pitched. So “fine”, well that’s relative.

Straight from Wyeast

Proper Pitch Rates:

“The term pitch rate refers to the amount of yeast that is added to cooled wort. Pitch rate is generally referred to in cells per milliliter. Consistent and reproducible fermentations are not possible without consistent and accurate pitch rates. Successful re-pitching depends upon an adequate pitch rate for a healthy fermentation. Under-pitching on the first brew will not only produce an aroma and flavor profile that is less than desirable, but will also lead to less consistency and fewer generations of use from that culture.”

So until it’s done there’s no way to know for sure, but I wouldn’t expect that beer to be “fine”. But our expectations as to what fine is may differ.

Again, what is the recipe, size, OG? All relative to what you want to know. If the OG is low, you may be ok. If medium to high, I would think you could have issues.

I’ve posted this before. Here is 1 guys take on making Lagers.

http://www.brew-wineforum.com/shwmessag ... geID=59851

Single infusion mash. Sacc rest at 151 for 60, mashout at 170 for 10 min. Brew in a bag.

Fermentables:
9.5 lbs Bohemian Pilsner malt.
0.25 lbs Carahell.
I added about 6 ounces of Pilsner LME because I had it leftover in my fridge and assumed my efficiency would be low with the brew in a bag.

Hops:
1 oz German Perle @ 60 min
1 oz Czech Saaz @30 min
1 oz French Strisselspalt @ 15 min

Yeast:
2278 Czech Pils.

OG: 1.045

I’ve had my fermenting chamber set at 52 degrees. I made the starters at room temp and left them out for about 7 hours. Pitched the ‘bigger’ one and put the smaller one in the chamber with the beer. I was planning to try and grow another starter of the same yeast smack pack but quickly figured out that I needed all the yeast cells I could get if this thing was going to have a chance.

Still no Krausen. I obviously underpitched. Lots of troob. Little islands of clear bubbles and a slight film, almost like pond scum forming on the top. Still smells fantastic, no off odors or strange looking bacteria. The one great thing I have going for me is am very diligent with my sanitation.

I think our definitions of “fine” certainly differ. I’m still new to brewing and for my first ever lager all I’m really expecting is something drinkable that I can use as a baseline for future batches. So as long as it’s drinkable and fully fermented I’ll consider this a baby step in the success column.

Would it help if I added some yeast energizer? (For stuck fermentations)

Or should I overnight another 2278 smack pack and get another starter working?

Or should I just let it go and see what happens?

All I’m really interested is whether or not I ruined the batch; and by “ruined” I mean, will it be beer? Will it ferment completely or is this batch destined for the drain?

Just took a gravity reading:

1.034

so I guess ‘something’ is happening. Tasted ok, still a little sweet. Very smooth, obviously the flavors are still very young and harsh. Had a distinct nutty taste with a slight hint of that fresh wort/unfinished beer flavor.

Ok, so last night I raised my fermentation chamber temp from 52 to 55. Woke up this morning to find what I think is the beginning stages of Krausen. Took a picture for reference. Slowly cooling things back down to around 50 once things start to take off.

Houston, we have lift off. This took a while to get started but appears to now be in the midst of a very healthy looking fermentation.

Not sure about any off flavors but I’m going to see how much of that I can coax the yeast into cleaning up.

Thanks for the help everyone. Lagers are different but I neglected the #1 rule. rdwhahb!

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