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Wyeast package won't "puff"

Hi all,

So I’m doing my first lager (the schwatzbier kit) and got the Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast. I made a mistake after smacking it and just left it out on the counter, where it didn’t ferment because it’s a lager yeast. I then moved it to the lager fridge, where it’s 52° (according to my carboy that’s in there waiting for the yeast), but it’s just not inflating.

Opinions on what I should do? Make a starter, cool it off in the fridge, and add the yeast? Is the yeast ruined? Should I wait longer (it’s been ~36 hours now since it’s been in the fridge).

Thanks!

You don’t need to cool it to inflate it. I would take it out of the fridge and see if it inflates more. If not, you probably don’t have many viable yeast cells there. Regardless of how well it expands, you need to make a starter for a lager.

I say just use it. Also, the little packet inside the pouch is slippery and evasive - it could be that you missed crushing it. Feel around and see if it’s still intact. Isolate it in a corner and really smack it. If it fails to break, Wyeast says just pour the main contents into the wort, cut the little packet with sanitized scissors, and pour that in as well.

I definitely smacked it properly. It’s just slightly inflated. I’ll try taking it out of the fridge, and may just do a starter too.

Is it safe to pitch the yeast on Sunday if I brewed the wort on Thursday?

I would make a starter with any smack pack. I don’t think there are nearly enough yeast cells in a smack pack, especially for a lager. Try mrmalty.com

I made a starter and wasn’t sure if I should let it do it’s thing in the fridge (it being a lager yeast) or in open air, so I decided to put it in the fridge (it’s warm here).

The “Mr. Malty” site mentioned above is an excellent resource to answer various yeast-related questions.

www.mrmalty.com/

There are a couple great write-ups about starters and pitch rates under “Articles”. According to Jamil Z, the author of the site, doing a lager starter at about 70-72F is the way to go (see below)

http://www.mrmalty.com/pitching.php#s4

The purpose of the starter is to get optimum cell growth and health, and for the starter wort you’re not so concerned about byproducts that are produced at higher temps.

Hope this helps!

The fridge, if at normal temps will slow things way down. I let my lager yeast ferment at normal room temps

Yes, whether ale or lager, it’s best to ferment the starter at room temp. You;re growing yeast, not making beer. For a lager you’ll need a very large starter, possibly a gal. or more. You don’t want that stale starter wort in your beer, so make the starter a week or so before you brew. Let it ferment out completely, then put it in the fridge for a couple days to drop out the yeast. Gently pour off the spent wort and pitch the yeast slurry on the bottom.

I guess I totally screwed this up. The yeast is in the wort, and has been since Sunday, and it’s just not fermenting in the fridge at all.

Is there any way to rescue this? Can I use some dry yeast that I could get at the local store? If so, any good Saflager replacements? Maybe switch to an ale yeast and completely change the beer? Maybe pull the beer out of the fridge (it’s about 50°) until the yeast gets going?

Adventures in lager, I guess.

Pitched on Sunday, still no activity on Wed. Not to out of the norm for 3 day lag time. Especially with an older pack of yeast. Do you still have the pack to see what the date is on it?

But, you are going on 1 week after you boiled the wort. That is concerning.

You won’t find a direct replacement for the liquid yeast in dry form. You can toss in a pack of w-34/70 (lager), or US-05 (ale). Some report the US-05 to ferment well in the 50’s. Pitch 2 packs of either.

+1 to all this ^^^ and I’ll add that not all Wyeast packs will swell up nice and big. Sometimes you’ll get just a little swelling, but that’s enough to tell you have viable yeast. But yes, for a lager you’ll need a big starter. And starters do NOT need to be made cold, even if using a lager yeast. Warmer is better. Like Denny said, you’re growing yeast not making beer. Just be sure to cool the wort after your starter is done to drop the yeast out of suspension. Then pour off the spent wort and just pitch the yeast with as little wort as possible.

I was going to go buy more yeast today, but it’s gotten even stranger… I took the wort out of the fridge a few days ago and put it on the basement floor, and today it’s fermenting. I have about 2" of krausen at the top. That’s good. But the fermometer reads 72°, which is waaay too warm for 2206.

Can/should I put it back in the fridge? Should I leave it out and run the risk of off flavors? I’m leaning towards putting it back in the fridge and would love feedback on what to do.

Put it back in the fridge ASAP.

Done! Thanks!

Maybe crank the fridge up to 55 or so too so it doesn’t cool off too quickly. That yeast should be fine up to a wort temp of about 55, if you crash it from 72 to 50 too quick it might stop all together. Unfortunately for you the most off flavors from warm temps are produced early in the primary ferment… Just let the batch lager a good long time when it’s done and hopefully it’ll all turn out ok…

It’s almost gone dormant again. Temp’s at 50 in the fridge, but it’s only bubbling every 15 seconds or so. Krausen’s still sitting at the top, but it’s barely active.

Your beer is fine. Lagers ferment slow and steady. They are not as violent/active as ale fermentations. Close the fridge and don’t open it again for a week or two. Have a few beers in the mean time and relax. You’re beer will be just fine.

Don’t worry about the bubbles. Don’t even look at them!

Kruesen at the top on a lager means you are fermenting just fine. That’s about as active as you’re gonna get on a lager at 50 degrees. By the way, the important part is the beer temp, not the fridge temp. I imagine your beer is at 52 to 55, which should be fine…

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