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Sulphur like old faithful

I’m brewing my first lager with a good controlled temp. I have the fermentor at 48 degrees with wyeast 2124. This beer is an Ersatz Pilsner Urquell. My concern is the entire chest freezer smells Iike Yellowstone park for a week now. Smell is getting better. Is this normal? Should I start a slow increase in temp?, and if so, when. After fermentation is complete, or when activity has slowed to a couple of burped per minute. I appreciate any info those of you that normally make lagers could give me.

Completely normal to throw sulpher. Whenever I open my lager fridge with SWMBO around, she thinks I farted.

I always increase temperature when activity all but stops, one degree every couple of days untill I get to 54. I have no idea if it makes a difference, but that’s what I do.

Yes to the above to help it finish out.
After 2-3 weeks etc… after a reading indicates you have finished primary you will want to increase the temperature to at least 60 if not 65f to do a diacetyl rest for at least 2-4 days as this strain is also well known to throw high diacetyl so the higher temps help reduce diacetyl and other off effects such as the hydrogen sulfide you are experiencing now.

Here is some information from White labs about the WL830 Strain that is a mirror of the Wyeast 2124 Regarding diacetyl.

Detection limits: .05-.80 mg/ l
Typical levels in beer: .01-.60 mg/ l
Flavor threshold: .08 mg/ l
WL830/ WY2124
Total diacetyl: 221.37ppb = .21 mg/l
As/ Is: 75.27ppb = .07 mg/ l
So you will have .07-.21 mg/ l of diacetyl when primary finishes so the higher temp rest helps the yeast to “temper” or reduce the diacetyl along with a host of other compounds including the Hydrogen sulfide. The lagering period then helps to further reduce many of the compounds then also.

Thanks for the replies. I was concerned after 25 years of brewing I was going to dump my first beer. I’ll let it go another week then raise the temp to 60 for a couple of days.

Hell, when my airlock activity slows down to about 1 bbl per 10 seconds I take it out of my lagering freezer and bring it into the living room. The flavors are set, and it helps finish up nicely.

I always use a yeast nutrient for lagers, and I’ve started fermenting at 50F rather than 48F just to keep from stressing the yeast. Yes sulfur is a normal byproduct of fermentation and some yeasts throw more than others, but its also a sign of a stressed yeast. You want to do what you can to minimize stress, and that means good nutrition and proper temps.

As for a diacetyl rest, I just pull my fermentor out of the ferm chamber when it settles down and let it sit for several days in the low 60’s. I think its more important to drop temps slowly, than it is to raise them. Yeast see a temp increase as an opportunity, they see a drop as a sign to shut down and get ready for winter.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]I always use a yeast nutrient for lagers, and I’ve started fermenting at 50F rather than 48F just to keep from stressing the yeast. Yes sulfur is a normal byproduct of fermentation and some yeasts throw more than others, but its also a sign of a stressed yeast. You want to do what you can to minimize stress, and that means good nutrition and proper temps.

As for a diacetyl rest, I just pull my fermentor out of the ferm chamber when it settles down and let it sit for several days in the low 60’s. I think its more important to drop temps slowly, than it is to raise them. Yeast see a temp increase as an opportunity, they see a drop as a sign to shut down and get ready for winter.[/quote]

TS, are you saying any sulpher production is a sign of stressed yeast or excessive sulpher is a sign?

Excessive, more than the strain is known to produce. All yeast throw a little sulfur, once in early fermentation and once late. Having a fermentor in a fridge, holds onto all the smells and kiind of concentrates them compared with a ferm going on in a large room.

I think your point about the smell being concentrated in the fermentation chamber is dead on. When I have several ales fermenting at once, you could just about pass out for lack of oxygen. I use a chest freezer so I’m sure the heavier gasses just accumulate in the bottom.

Update. It is now 2 weeks into fermentation. I have today increased the temp to 60 degrees as a the air lock has slowed to 1 burp per 10 seconds. Smells totally different now. Actually looking forward to drinking. This beer has been a favorite for a lot of years but previously fermented at 60 degrees or so with a swamp cooler In the basement. smell is no longer sulphur like. Thanks to the replies otherwise this would have been in the sewer. Looking forward to making more lagers now that I know what to expect.

Lagers are a lot of work and tough to execute, but when you get your process down it is quite rewarding.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]Lagers are a lot of work and tough to execute, but when you get your process down it is quite rewarding.[/quote]Amen to that. It also take some patients too. Last year I did a ten gallon batch with 60% 6 row, 36% 2 row and 4% C60. I fermented one half with 1007 German ale yeast and the other with 2035 American lager yeast. They both turned out very good, but after about a month and a half of cold conditioning the lager was much smoother.

I’ve got enough beer stocked up that I’m going to concentrate on brewing lagers the next couple months, taking advantage of the cool temperatures in my basement.

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