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Cal. Common? WLP820

I love the idea behind a low gravity beer being used as a way to grow yeast. Has anyone done this with WLP820? I only have two lagers under my belt both done at 46-48. I would like to make a 4.5% or so beer with this yeast. Then wash and split the cake between two lagers?

Short answer: yes!

Long Answer: I actually just did something similar to this. I wanted to propogate enough yeast for 5 gallons of Oktoberfest, but didn’t want to dedicate my ferm chamber for a ‘starter’ lager, as I needed it for the Oktoberfest!

Anyway, I had a bunch of Northern Brewers in the freezer, and wanted to brew Jamil’s Cali Common. According to Ray Daniels, you can use Bavarian Lager yeasts for this style (as this is basically what the original brewers of Cali Common had with them).

The only issue you will have is: how will you harvest the yeast? These strains are bottom-fermenting, so top-cropping won’t give you a lot of viable cells. Racking the common off the cake, then throwing your lager onto that will present the problem of having all the trub/proteins, etc. of the CC get into your O-fest. Lots of yeast, but lots of other stuff that you may or may not want in what is supposed to be a clean-tasting lager.

Here’s how I dealt with it:

When brewing my Cali Common, I essentially did it as a no-chill (actually a partial-chill) batch.

1.) Brew the common as normal
2.) When chilling, only chill it to 120-130 or so. This will help ensure that DMS will precipitate out (the opponents of no-chill are most concerned with this)
3.) Dump the whole kettle into a fermenter (can leave some trub behind if you want
4.) Place that fermenter with lid and airlock in your chamber (I’m assuming you have one if you are doing a lager), and set your controller to your pitching temp (Jamil’s CC is 60 degrees IIRC)
5.) If you are using a chest freezer, the wort will chill down to pitching temp over the next 8-12 hours.
6.) When it gets to pitching temp, have an additional clean, santized fermenter ready to go
7.) Dump the ‘cooling’ fermenter into the new fermenter (all splashy-like), but LEAVE the trub behind in the first fermenter (this also bypasses the need to whirlpool), aerate more
8.) Pitch the lager yeast – the starter (yes, use a starter) should be at or below the temp of the wort

-this will give you pretty much nothing but yeast in the bottom of your ‘clean’ fermenter. That way, if you need to get at some yeast (for the lager) before the Steam is done fermenting, you can take a sanitized racking cane, and basically pull pure slurry off the bottom (move it around in the cake so it doesn’t grab beer).

I did this exact process and 2 things happened:
1.) As a result of having about a cup and a half of slurry to pitch into my Oktoberfest, I had an awesome primary ferment and will likely not need a long conditioning period
2.) I am sold on this method of chilling and have done a few batches this way since.

Let me know how it goes!

also, this should yield plenty of yeast for 2 lagers…

I planned to wash the yeast but even that has not really removed a whole lot of trub in my limited yeast washing experience; I usually don’t leave anything behind in the kettle. I like your idea of letting everything settle out and then transferring to another fermentor. This is all preparation for a month or so when the back room in my basement will be lager temps. I have a fridge that I did my first two in but my back room is large and holds a consistently cold temp in winter. Before I had a keezer it was my walk in fridge in winter.

make sure to report back when your steam is done. This was a very malty steam, and got great reviews. I’d be curious to know if you have similar results.

Will respond back might be a while have a handful of HG’s I want to get done to age for the middle of winter.

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