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Lager yeast starters

I have only made one lager in the past, an Octoberfest that I made in August. It turned out well. So I am preparing to make my 2nd and 3rd lagers ever and made initial starters Friday night. I smacked the yeast pack and there was very modest swelling in a couple hours it seemed. I poured into a one and two liter wort starter, respectively, and shook well to aerate and let sit overnight. Next morning both looked flat, so I shook good and placed one on a stir plate since I was going out of town for about 36 hours. When I shook, there was very little foam, which is what I get with an ale starter.

Arrive back last night and the one on the stir plate was chugging away with no evidence of foam or krausen at all. The just looked real flat with just a think layer of clearer liquid at the top. I swapped which one was on the stir plate and shook the one that had been stirred, expecting to get foam or some evidence of activity. Almost nothing. An ale starter would have nearly foamed out of the flask at this point.

I realize lager yeast ferments from the bottom, but is this normal? It seems unlikely that both yeast packs were “dead” They were packaged in late August.

Did you take a gravity reading? They probably fermented out.

I did not think to take an OG reading. I guess I can take a reading tonight and see if they are about where I would expect them to finish.

Do you know if it is normal for them to be so much “tamer” than Ale yeasts?

I took a gravity reading last night. One of the had clearly started working but you could not really tell until you poured into a Thief, where it foamed up so I could not read anything.

The other poured just fine and looked as dead and flat as a doornail. I could not make it foam. No sediment on the bottom. About to give up, I just let it sit on the counter overnight at about 70*. This morning there was the “possibility” of some activity. I will check again tonight.

Is this at all normal for lager yeast? 96 hours to start? Weird that it was the same for both. They were ordered from NB at the same time, probably in Sept and could have gotten hot, but I have never had an issue before.

I’ve got Wyeast 2782 Strato Prague (lager) spinning on a stir plate right now and I’m am having some of your same issues. 2L to 4L and I still can’t quite tell if it’s doing what I would expect it to do.

2L of Wyeast 1335 British Ale II spinning right next to it and that looks entirely different.

I’ll let them both spin for the rest of the day and then get them into the fridge for decanting. I’ll be brewing tomorrow & Friday and I’ll just hope for the best.

If I have to, I’ll pitch 2 34/70 in place of the Strato Prague.

Good Luck

Yea, this is so weird. I am real glad I am going the starter route and gave myself plenty of time. I am hoping that I can step them both up another time and have them finish before Halloween, when I hoped to brew.

Time is a helper for sure. I started the lager, Strato Prague, 2L on Sunday midday. 4L was Tuesday midday and , this afternoon, it actually looks like it is doing something good. :smiley:

I’ll let it spin overnight now. Cold crash it tomorrow and brew with it Friday.

Good Luck

Knowing that I still needed to step up, I brewed some more starter wort and while cooling , I cold crashed the two flasks. After several hours, only a thin layer of partially clear beer on top, then degrees of cloudy and a decent layer of sediment on the bottom. I was afraid to decant much, so I poured off just a little and realized that I was losing the cloudy beer. Is that yeast?? Still in suspension?

I decided to let it sit in refrigeration overnight and this am there was not a lot of change. I went ahead and poured off about 2/3 of each flash and added new cold wort, shook well, putting the larger one on the stir plate. Both are at room temp. We will see what happens. I have enough wort to do one more step up but not sure if they will be active enough to allow this before Monday when I plan to brew. Hopefully the buggers are finally awake and hungry and this will go more smoothly.

If this is how lager yeast behaves, what a PIA

I just did my first lager yeast starter this week as well, and my experience could not have been different than yours. it was obviously active in about 12 hours, (no stir plate, just swirling as freqently as possible) with a lot of foam, nearly to the top of the flask. This was white labs pilsner lager yeast #800. Just one experience, but I would say that lager yeasts do not always act like yours did.

I’ve done lager starters that behave differently too. This one has just been sluggish.

Good Luck

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