I brewed my first lager on Saturday. I made a starter on Friday evening (WLP833)...just under a gallon. By the time I was done my batch on Saturday there was still no activity in my starter. Fearing it was dead I went to my brew shop and bought a vial of White Labs WLP800. I had to go ahead and just pitch that vial, knowing that I was probably under-pitching. I cooled the wort down to about 62 degrees F. Pitched the yeast which was probably about 70 degrees F. I am slowly letting it come up to 70 degrees F until I see activity and then was going to ramp it back down in temp.
My question is: Does it take a long time for fermentation to start in lager yeasts? My ales don't take more than 8-12 hours to start rolling. I typically make my ale starters 1-2 days before and they are rolling in a few hours. Should I be seeing any activity? Is there anything I can do to save my lager?
Lagers are a difficult beast. IMO, they take more work, more resources and definitely more time than ales. I imagine that is (partly) why the craft explosion is centered around ales. I highly recommend scrolling through the pages of the Jamil Show on the Brewing Network and listen to the podcasts on the lagers: light lagers, pilsners, dark lagers and bocks. Jamil and Plise are great lager brewers and they go into great detail on their methods for making great lagers.
Here is the link: http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/The-Jamil-Show