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Czech Pilsner not starting

Just started my first lager, the NB Czech Pilsner (extract). Using the recommended Wyeast, but did not make a starter. I have it at 47-48 degrees in my basement. It should be ideal conditions. But I am past the 48 hour mark and there is no activity. Just hold tight on it or should I get some more yeast?

You extremly under pitched. What yeast did use?

According to mr malty you would need a 2.8L simple stater with two smack packs.

Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils. Only one pack. (:confused:

Agree with the previous poster. If it was an 11g sachet of dry yeast you likely underpitched by a moderate amount (probably less than a factor of 2). If it was a smackpack of WY or vial of White yeast, you probably pitched 1/3 or maybe even 1/4 the ideal amount of yeast depending on your OG (one container of liquid yeast has much lower cell-count than one 11g pack of dry).

Either way, it would be a good idea to buy more yeast and pitch ASAP. Not sure if you want to re-aerate or not at this point.

Lagers need a LOT higher cell-count than ales for ideal fermentation, and they are also less vigorous under the best of circumstances (which is fine–the fastest fermentation is not necessarily best).

Also, I suspect that 47-48 is a little on the cool side, and while it may be fine in the end, it will not ferment very vigorously (again, this is not a bad thing, just helpful to keep in mind when judging whether you have a problem).

Feel free to ask more questions, and good luck!

Great advice, thanks. So my local homebrew shop doesn’t carry Wyeast, only White Labs. Is there an equivalent WL strain that would be compatible with the Wyeast 2278?

Looks like I have to learn how to make a starter…

If you want to solve the problem quickly and with least risk to the beer, you probably want to buy 2 more packs and pitch ASAP.

There is always a risk that it’s already compromised by the low initial pitch rate and will still have problems even if you dump another $12 worth of yeast into it, but that’s your best shot.

Or, perhaps you might get by and end up with an acceptable beer if you just go with what you have, warm it up just a couple degrees and hope for the best. Not very likely, but stranger things have happened…

[quote=“Mike Foran”]Great advice, thanks. So my local homebrew shop doesn’t carry Wyeast, only White Labs. Is there an equivalent WL strain that would be compatible with the Wyeast 2278?

Looks like I have to learn how to make a starter…[/quote]

White Labs WLP800 Pilsner Lager

Classic pilsner strain from the premier pilsner producer in the Czech Republic. Somewhat dry with a malty finish, this yeast is best suited for European pilsners.

There is always a risk that it’s already compromised by the low initial pitch rate and will still have problems[/quote]

What kind of compromises might happen here? Is it that some other wild yeastie or bacteria might take over and dominate? Or would the existing yeast be overburdened and put out off flavors? Or something else?

[quote=“Mike Foran”]Great advice, thanks. So my local homebrew shop doesn’t carry Wyeast, only White Labs. Is there an equivalent WL strain that would be compatible with the Wyeast 2278?

Looks like I have to learn how to make a starter…[/quote]

WY2278 is apparently the Pilsner Urquell “D” strain, and I don’t think there’s an exact White substitution. With that said, WL800 is the standard Pilsner Urquell yeast, and I honestly can’t say which is a better yeast in the end, so you’re good to go if they have it!

This link (and everything else on the “Mrmalty” site, is a great resource. Lots of very good info on starters, etc.

http://www.mrmalty.com/white-labs.php

Thing is, with a starter you’ll need to make starter wort, which will require you to buy some extract, boil, cool, pitch, and allow to ferment until the yeast has multiplied a good amount. Not sure if the extra time that will take is worth it or if you should just buy 2 vials of WL800 and pitch it straight in.

There are probably others who have better advice on this than I, though…

There is always a risk that it’s already compromised by the low initial pitch rate and will still have problems[/quote]

What kind of compromises might happen here? Is it that some other wild yeastie or bacteria might take over and dominate? Or would the existing yeast be overburdened and put out off flavors? Or something else?[/quote]

I guess both, but don’t let me worry you about that.

Brewing is never a 100% certainty…your underpitching has certainly upped the chance that you’ll have problems (more than likely more subtle issues than infection that will leave your lager a bit less “lager-y” than is ideal), but lots of beers I’ve made have turned out quite well despite mistakes…

Agree with everything above, but I’ll also add this - the lower temperature will make “apparent” fermentation activity harder to see for a few reasons - first is obviously the yeast are less active at the lower temps, but you also increase the wort’s ability to absorb CO2, so it takes a little longer to see it bubbling through an airlock. FWIW, the last lager I brewed took about 48 hours to see obvious activity (krauesen), and I pitched the slurry from a gallon starter, and pumped pure oxygen into it before pitching - pretty much ideal conditions for lager pitching.

I’d personally let it go another day or two before I added more yeast. At that point, I’d pull it out into a room temp area, add a sachet of rehydrated US-05, and call it a cream ale :cheers:

By the way, airlock activity is not a perfect measure of yeast activity. A small leak around your stopper/lid/airlock-hole and you’'ll have CO2 exiting the fermentor by that “path of least resistance”. With a lager fermentation that should be more slow and steady, the chance that you won’t see bubbles is even higher if you have something like this going on.

Of course, you’re right to be concerned and should take steps to remedy the situation if possible (again, just upping the chances that you’ll get a desirable result using tried-and-true and scientifically valid “best practices”)

OK, I’m done pontificating :slight_smile: . Good luck!

Thanks for all the advice and replies. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

What is the OG right now? Has it changed? One other suggestion, and this may change the beer a little, is to move the beer to a warmer location until you have confirmed that fermentation has started (hydrometer is your friend - I just leave mine in the bucket). Then move it to a cooler location. Pitching a large starter or quantity of harvested yeast does not require this.

Agree what everyone else has said - pitching one pkg of lager yeast and fermenting at 47oF is asking for trouble.

What you could do if this thing does take off and finish,
Is essentially use this batch as the starter,
Rack it to secondary and dump another pils onto the yeast cake.
You’d be starting with the appropriate cell count of yeast that way.
Package and drink this first batch by all means, just don’t waste all that yeast.

To the OP - you really have to make a starter for lagers. A big starter. There’s just no way around it especially if you want to pitch and ferment in the 48-52 range. If you can’t do a big starter you should pitch at 60-5 and slowly drop the temp to 50 after 12 hours plus or minus. I would probably warm this beer up into the 55-60 range and see if that helps. If it does, raise the temp into the 60’s after a week or so of fermentation because the yeast will probably crash prematurely due to the low pitch rate. The increased temp will help to prevent this.

I had a similar problem a while ago with making pilsners. I’ve even waited out 72 hours till any activity started. The larger starter is the way to go especially at low temps.

I don’t like to make starters very often, so I make small batches of beer that I will actually drink. Then I step up to a larger batch with the slurry from the smaller batch. It is a great way to get to know how the yeast will ferment and how well it will taste. I work from about 2 gallons to 5 gallons and then up to my standard 10 gallon batches. Then I make about 3 ten gallon successive batches, each from the slurry of the predecessor (about half or so of the total slurry at that point). After 5 generations, I usually call it quits on a yeast, but you could wash the yeast and start back over, if you wanted to do that (mutation and bud scarring is a concern for me). Always add some yeast nutrient for good measure.

Like Scott Miller said above, learn from this batch and salvage the yeast for another run at it.

:cheers:

I have never made one for any of my ales, although some of them could have used it. I think I’ll be making starters for pretty much all my beers in the future, especially lagers.

I brought this one up to room temps (about 65 in this case) and after another 36 hours it still had not even pushed the water in the airlock into the second chamber, and there was no krasen. Pretty sure there were no leaks in the seal.

So I decided to take Louie’s advice and pitched a pack of US-05 into it last night. It’s developed a nice krasen and is bubbling nicely now. It’s not going to win any awards but I’m pretty sure I’ll drink it.

So here’s a question: Would it be worth it to lager this for a few weeks after primary fermentation is done? Or would that not produce a good result with this yeast?

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