Octoberfest 2633 starter questions

I have been brewing ales for a little while and decided to get my feet wet with a lager. i bought wyeast 2633 oktoberfest and am planning on brewing an oktoberfest/marzen… OG around 1.054 and 5 gallon batch. i pitched the yeast to a 2L starter two days ago with minimal activity that i can see, ive been trying to take a decent hydrometer reading but the wort foams in my tube quite a bit and i cannot get a good enough reading (is this common?)… i want to brew on sunday (4 days from now) but i want to be sure i have enough yeast built up for this lager (390m cells thereabouts). i have not cold crashed this first starter but i want to step it up another 2 liters before sunday… can i just add 2 more liters of wort to existing starter and then hopefully cold crash on friday and the starter be ready to decant and use on sunday? i know general rule with lagers is to not rush them and let them work at their own pace… starter is at room temp now… my last question is this lager seems really slow, even at room temp, i guess a lager yeast usually dont show too much activity, is this common for this type of yeast? there is no krausen to speak of unless i count the way the starter foams up when shaken, almost like the head on a beer, then quickly dissapates. thanks for all your responses in advance.

The only way to know if anything (including a starter) has fermented is to take a gravity reading. Depending on how much DME/H20 you used, you can figure out attenuation. A couple other questions:

-what temp is the starter at? Room temp?
-Is it on a stir plate, or are you just intermittently shaking it?
-Did you use a yeast calculator? Typically you would do a step starter to at least double the cell count of a vial/smack pack by making a 1L starter, decanting, then pitching into a 2L starter. Or alternatively, buying 2 smack packs/vials and pitching into 2 liters.
-Either way, I don’t think you have enough yeast at this point. I personally would brew something else this weekend, and brew your lager when you have enough yeast

i finally was able to get a decent hydrometer reading once bubbles subsided in my hydrometer tube… it is around 1.016… unfortunately i did not take an OG reading im guessing it was around 1.035… i used 200 grams of light pilsner DME in 2 liters of water. and to answer your questions.

  • starter is at room temp 70degrees F in a closet ( i have a 3 gallon glass vessel i use for starters)
    -it is not on a stir plate, i am shaking intermittently (it foams up like beer, then subsides)
    -i used the starter calculator on beersmith, and also used several online caculators and each suggest around 390 million cells.
    so my question is would it be ok to add 2 more liters of 1.035 wort to existing starter, let yeast multiply a couple days then cold crash and decant for sunday… if i cannot brew on sunday its obviously not the end of the world, i just am not too familiar with lager yeast starters, as they do not put on a show like my ale yeasts so im not getting a good read on them, except of course SG readings.

I think you probably want to decant off as much of the beer as you can, low pH and alcohol are not the best environments to grow yeast, which is your objective. I have noticed that starters take time with some lager yeasts (just like beer with lager yeasts).

thanks for the advice.
there is a decent layer of yeast on bottom of vessel, i will decant as much liquid as i can and add 2 more liters of wort to this slurry, hopefully that will get my yeast count up to a decent number for this lager… i guess i am afraid of decanting too much un-floc’d yeast since i didnt store in fridge before decanting.

If you have a layer of yeast on the bottom and the starter wort clears when you let it settle, I’d chill overnight, decant and add your new wort then repeat the cycle. Shaking as often as possible will help your yeast finish off the wort quicker.

FWIW, the process you’re following is exactly how I create my lager starters. 2L, 2 step should get you what you need if the yeast you started with was reasonably fresh. I’m doing the same right now with a saved slurry of 2633. I usually begin my starter a week from brew day to give it plenty of time.

awesome info… thanks guys

hey dannyboy58 is this yeast a relatively slow starting yeast?.. just asking because i dont ‘see’ alot of activity, i know thats not an indication that the yeast is working but im just curious of your experience with this particular strain.

Seems about average of the lager yeasts I’ve used. My starters generally kick off within a few hours and finish in 36-48 with lots of swirling/shaking throughout the day. I began this starter almost 48 hours ago and it’s still going strong. I expect it to start dropping overnight tonight so if it’s starting to clear tomorrow AM, I’ll put it in the fridge for the day, decant and add new wort tomorrow evening. Should be ready for a Sunday afternoon brew session.

When I decant and pitch to the fermenter they usually kick off within 12 hours or less. Lager yeast generally won’t give you as much vigorous activity as ale yeast IME, probably due mostly to the lower temps?