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WLP820 -- lazy yeast or just under pitch?

After a few years of ale-only brewing, the wife wanted us to brew our first lager. We did an Oktoberfest, into which we pitched a packet of WLP820. I probably should have done a starter, but it was only a 3-gallon batch, so I fugured I could be lazy. Maybe not.

All I can say is, DANG this was slow to take off. Almost 72 hours before any sign of fermentation. I haven’t had the “Did I kill my yeast” worries so bad since, well, I’ve never had it that bad.

From what I’ve been reading, this yeast is a slow starter, so I’m not clear if a starter would have helped.

Most lager yeast take awhile to show signs of fermentation. But yeah, even a 3gal batch needs a larger, healthy pitch. I still think you’ll be fine. After 6-7 days start ramping by 3-4° per day to help those stressed yeast complete fermentation and to clean up byproducts.

I can do that.
Do you mean start 6-7 days from seeing the start of fermentation (today), or from the initial pitch. (7/4)
And 3-4° until what temperature? I was planning a D rest at 68 in a couple weeks,

6-7 days AFTER fermentation starts. Take it all the way up to your desired 68° d-rest temp.

I agree with Loop. You underpitched it. Maybe just a bit or maybe more. Really depends on the wort OG and how old the yeast was. You can determine how big your starter needs to be with a calculator. I use brewer’s friend.

In my experience the chances are about 50/50 of having a good beer when I’ve underpitched or had a lager take that long to start fermenting. I’d definitely do a d rest and lager it for a few weeks at least to see what you have. It may be ok.

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WLP820 is crap. You’ll be happier in the future with any other lager yeast on the planet.

I’ve since read reviews online that say the same, only not as succinctly. :smile:

The recipe I was working from specified WY 2633. But when I was buying ingredients, the LHBS was out of the Wyeast; and I presumed the White labs strain was equivalent, it at keast close enough.

I guess it’s a happy accident that I also blew my mash temps, and ended up a bit low on my OG. Once the D rest is done I plan on sticking this in the back of the Kegerator and leaving it until October.

Dave doesn’t mince words. haha

2633 is great yeast.

So as it turns out I can’t actually do that.
About 5-6 days after the start of visible fermentation the compressor on the GD freezer decided to die. So the lager went from 55 to 68 (basement ambient) in about 12 hours. I’m pretty much giving up on this being a quality brew. Once I get some time, I’ll just transfer it to a keg and lose it in the back of the Kegerator for a couple months.

A couple of years ago I put a lager in my ferm chamber and set the temp controller to 52F. Checked a week later and the fermometer read 75F. It turns out temp controllers and refrigerators work better if they’re plugged in. The beer turned out pretty good. So, don’t give up hope and let us know how it turns out.

Used 34/70 yeast which is very forgiving.

Yes, don’t give up the ship, I’ve seen else where that that lager yeast works just fine at a higher temp… Sneezles61

Update:
The Oktoberfest turned out pretty good. The wife and I even did a head-to-head with take out Oktoberfest from the local brew pub. Theirs was clearly superior, but despite all the underpitching and loss of temp control my beer was actually in the ballpark. Sure, I don’t think it would go very far in competition, but I’m enjoying it and have no qualms about serving it to friends.

I only wish I had a second batch in the pipeline.

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Thats were 10 gallon brews are the next step. ones being quaffed, the other aging nicely, and the best of all, it takes about the same time as a 5-er! Sneezles61

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