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White Labs Kolsch Yeast

Just made a kolch extract batch two days ago and used the recomended White Labs Kolsch yeast. The air lock has been moving slower than any of my previous batches before, and I wasn’t sure if that was normal or what I did. I didn’t make a yeast starter and just pitched the vial into the wort. I also didn’t double check my final wort temp before pitching because my wife had taken my thermometer away to check something she was cooking. I chilled the wort to 90 and filled the rest of the fermenter up with 54 degree water. I figured that would get me in range. I was planning on just monitoring it for awhile or would it be better for me to pitch a dose of dry yeast I have to give it a boost?

If you have a hydrometer, you might check and see if it is working itself down. (Air locks are not usually a reliable means of judging fermentation.) If it is, then you are good and should just leave it alone. You may have a leak and the CO2 may be excaping. If you decide to add more yeast, you may want to get another vial and make a quick starter. If you don’t have a stir plate, put it in a mason jar and cover well enough that it doesn’t allow airborne critters to fall in, but can stay oxygenated. Give it a swirl every time you walk through the kitchen. Pitch this in once it gets active, but keep your fermenter sealed so that it stays sanitary.

It sounds like it was underpitched a bit, since the Kolsch yeast is one that will work well at lower temperatures. I don’t know what temperature you pitched it at or are fermenting at based on your statement, but I would be hesitant to throw dry yeast on it at this point (the dry yeast could take over and the Kolsch yeast are probably still gearing up). Don’t be afraid to open the fermenter (bucket, I presume) and take a look. It may well be fermenting fine and the air lock or lid seal is not tight.


I agree with ynot above. I brewed 42 gallons of Kolsch last month. I bought two Wyeast smack packs and made two starters. Even though I made the double starters and stepped them up 3 times, it still took a while to build up steam. That was for the first 21 gallons. The second 21 gallons, I just put the wort right on top of the original yeast cakes. Give yours a couple weeks minimum in the primary; maybe even more since you did not use a starter.

This is indeed a very slow yeast by nature. Even with a yeast starter it will take a good 5 to 6 weeks to finish. Be extra patient with this yeast, and you will be well rewarded.

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