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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: lazydog79 on July 12, 2010, 09:01:47 AM

Title: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: lazydog79 on July 12, 2010, 09:01:47 AM
O.k., I am sweating my aforementioned Oktoberfest again.  I pulled a gravity sample today to see if I am getting near needing to start my diacetyl rest.  It has been in primary for 11 days.  The bubbling has slowed to about 8 blips a minute, so I was figuring it was probably somewhere in the mid-20s after starting at 1.055.  My hydrometer read 1.041!   ???  I even took the reading twice. 16 points in 11 days?  What gives?! 

I had previously checked gravity 5 days prior and got a 1.046.  Again, I am a newbie with lager yeasts.  Is this typical performance for this yeast?  At this rate, it's going to take forever to ferment out.  Any insights would be helpful.  Thanks!
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: pyrite on July 12, 2010, 09:21:08 AM
In my experience, if you’re using a first generation yeast culture that yeast is notorious for what you are describing.  Only after the second generation or a healthy and large yeast starter will that yeast show improvement in its fermentation of wort.   I have to mention, depending on your mashing temps and other factors like fermentation temps, that yeast strain is delicate and could stop around 1.018-1020 (in the past it has for me).    
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: lazydog79 on July 12, 2010, 09:32:09 AM
Should I rouse the yeast or anything to get it going or just let it ride?
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: pyrite on July 12, 2010, 10:51:58 AM
Not knowing much about your process, if I were fermenting with that yeast I would let it ride for 3 more weeks, expecting the gravity to reach about 1.020.  After about 3 more weeks, and or reaching about 1.020 I would raise the temp a couple degree per day and rouse the yeast a bit as well until you reach D-rest temps. 

Using that Ocktober/Marzen WL yeast strain and being that it is first generation, I would expect it to take a bit longer than other normal lager fermentations. Give it time and it will get there. This is just from my experiance though. 
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: lazydog79 on July 12, 2010, 01:24:48 PM
Thanks, pyrite!  All of the literature on this yeast said it was slow - I just didn't realize how slow, slow was!
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: wingnut on July 12, 2010, 02:25:49 PM
What is the temp you are fermenting at? 

Did you use a yeast starter? What Size? Any idea how old was the yeast vial was?

I have some experience with the yeast, and what you are describing is what I have experienced when I ferment at about 45F with the yeast. (after a yeast starter)  What I found was that it took FOREVER to take off, and then when it did, it just kind of chugged slowly.  It took about 5 days to see any real drop in the gravity, then it took a full 22 days to complete, and then it was at 1.018 (started 1.055), which is a bit higher than normal for me. 

My suspicion is that you may have under pitched and are running at a low temp.  However, if you are seeing a few bubbles a minute, I would not change much at this point, and would just ride it out.  The     next batch, I would possibly pitch a bit more yeast, or raise the fermentation temp a couple degrees   if that seems appropriate. 

Good luck with the lager, I started down the lager path two years ago and while they take quite a bit more time to produce than Ales,  I have loved the end results!
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: dmtaylor on July 13, 2010, 05:14:48 AM
Sorry to be the bearer of an unfavorable opinion, but WLP820 is terrible stuff.  I brewed several batches with it before determining that I won't ever use it again.  Even when it does finish properly, it finishes at relatively high gravity and doesn't taste as awesome as other lager yeasts.  Bottom line is that there are dozens of other good lager yeasts out there -- why they still sell WLP820 with its finicky, unpredictable, and underattenuating nature, I do not know.

If I were you, I'd throw in some yeast energizer to get this batch moving.  It might help.  It's worked wonders for a lot of my beers.  Alternatively, you could make a big yeast starter with a different yeast and pitch the new yeast.  This might help even more.
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: lazydog79 on July 13, 2010, 07:10:28 AM
Yes wingnut, I should have posted the particulars.  It is ferementing @ 54 (fermenter temp) - right in the yeasts wheelhouse.  I mate a 3 qt. starter, settled it, and pitched about the last quart of it.  After posting here and on another board, I think you are right - this yeast is a slow chugger - no 14 day wonder here.  I got a pretty rapid takeoff, so I was expecting more out of it.  Like I said, I'm a lager virgin, so I'm not sure if "results are typical."

Sorry to be the bearer of an unfavorable opinion, but WLP820 is terrible stuff.  I brewed several batches with it before determining that I won't ever use it again.  Even when it does finish properly, it finishes at relatively high gravity and doesn't taste as awesome as other lager yeasts.  Bottom line is that there are dozens of other good lager yeasts out there -- why they still sell WLP820 with its finicky, unpredictable, and underattenuating nature, I do not know.

Yes, I have heard some negative opinions on this one.  It was not actually my first choice.  I had intended to use the Wyeast Oktoberfest blend, but the yeast I got from NB was bad.  That's what I get for ordering mail order!  I do have a local source for yeast, but they only have White Labs.  JZ used this yeast in "Classic Styles" so, I figured I'd go with it.  I'll have to evaluate the final product, but based on what I have read and what I have experienced thus far, I'm inclined to go with 838 - South German Lager next time.
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: lazydog79 on July 13, 2010, 07:11:41 AM
Yes wingnut, I should have posted the particulars.  It is ferementing @ 54 (fermenter temp) - right in the yeasts wheelhouse.  I mate a 3 qt. starter, settled it, and pitched about the last quart of it.  After posting here and on another board, I think you are right - this yeast is a slow chugger - no 14 day wonder here.  I got a pretty rapid takeoff, so I was expecting more out of it.  Like I said, I'm a lager virgin, so I'm not sure if "results are typical."

Sorry to be the bearer of an unfavorable opinion, but WLP820 is terrible stuff.  I brewed several batches with it before determining that I won't ever use it again.  Even when it does finish properly, it finishes at relatively high gravity and doesn't taste as awesome as other lager yeasts.  Bottom line is that there are dozens of other good lager yeasts out there -- why they still sell WLP820 with its finicky, unpredictable, and underattenuating nature, I do not know.

Yes, I have heard some negative opinions on this one.  It was not actually my first choice.  I had intended to use the Wyeast Oktoberfest blend, but the yeast I got from NB was bad.  That's what I get for ordering mail order!  I do have a local source for yeast, but they only have White Labs.  JZ used this yeast in "Classic Styles" so, I figured I'd go with it.  I'll have to evaluate the final product, but based on what I have read and what I have experienced thus far, I'm inclined to go with 838 - South German Lager next time.
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: timmyr on July 13, 2010, 08:22:08 PM
Keep this thread up...I just brewed JZ's Oktoberfest (12-gallons) and split the ferment between WLP820 and WLP833.  OG 1.059 (overshot by 4-points).  WLP833 took off around 15-hours; WLP820 took off 30-hours after pitch.  Both are now chugging and sitting tight at 50F (fermenter temp).  I'd be happy to post my starter size/targets.  I used Mr Malty, 4-vials of each strain, and based on oldest vial of each stir plated starters (1.5 and 3L.)  I'll follow-up with how the two compare in the end.  I've done some searching and found a lot of people who like WLP820 but recommend giving it a long ferment and long lager time.  This seems to follow the information presented on the old episode of The Jamil Show that Dr. Scott hosted on Oktoberfest
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: pyrite on July 13, 2010, 10:43:03 PM
I do have to say the WLP820 yeast strain in my opinion makes for a delicious festbier; well once you get past the double lag periods (at the start and close to hitting final gravity) and the first generation difficulties. The malty profile and crisp clean lager flavor this yeast strain produces makes it one of my two favorite festbier yeast strains, the other being White Labs Zurick lager yeast.  The trick is having the patients and the delicate hand to help it reach final gravity about 1.014. Good luck guys.
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: wingnut on July 14, 2010, 01:06:16 PM
Lazydog,

In reviewing the particulars, it sounds like you are having a much different experience than I have had with the yeast...  A 3qt starter and the 54 (a bit warmer than I ferment at normally) is right along my fermentation schedule.   The only difference I see is that I usually pitch the whole starter and do so while it is still actively fermenting.  My starters are done on a stir plate at 68F to 70F.  Other than that possible difference, it sounds like your procedures are identical to mine.  I wish I had a better explanation for you!


Good luck!!
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: lazydog79 on July 15, 2010, 12:34:09 PM
Keep this thread up...I just brewed JZ's Oktoberfest (12-gallons) and split the ferment between WLP820 and WLP833.  OG 1.059 (overshot by 4-points).  WLP833 took off around 15-hours; WLP820 took off 30-hours after pitch.  Both are now chugging and sitting tight at 50F (fermenter temp).  I'd be happy to post my starter size/targets.  I used Mr Malty, 4-vials of each strain, and based on oldest vial of each stir plated starters (1.5 and 3L.)  I'll follow-up with how the two compare in the end.  I've done some searching and found a lot of people who like WLP820 but recommend giving it a long ferment and long lager time.  This seems to follow the information presented on the old episode of The Jamil Show that Dr. Scott hosted on Oktoberfest
That's where I got my recipe too.  The only "tweak" I made was to do a single decoctition during the mash, which is my main concern now.  I was attempting to do Palmer's single decoctition - sach. rest @154, pull a decoc., hold @ 160 for 20 min, boil for 45, and re-mix for mashout.  The big slip I had was that I didn't hold at 160 too well - overshot to 170-ish for about 5 minutes.  Now, I'm hoping my oopsie didn't give me the world's most dextrinous wort!   :-[  I've fallen off to 4-5 burps a minute from the blowoff, and I know the SG is still pretty high, so I am worried.  However, this wouldn't be anything new - I always sit on my fermentations like a nervous mother hen!  ::)

Oh well, this beer isn't in a hurry - don't need it until the end of September.  I'll just stick to the plan and let it hang in the primary for 3 weeks and then see where I'm at.  I was planning to lager it until the beginning of Sept. to give it enough time to carb in the bottle.  We'll see what happens!  Thanks again all!
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: wingnut on July 15, 2010, 08:11:02 PM
Lazydog,

You can rest easy about the decoction, in reviewing Palmer's decoction directions on page 172 of How to Brew... Holding 30 to 50 min at 150F to 155F, should convert a huge portion, if not all of the mash.  Pulling the thinner mash, and slowly ramping to 160 is not really a necessary step.  It is a safe move to convert the last little bits of starch that is floating around, but in reality, there really will not be any starches remaining after the 30 to 50 minute rest at 150-155. 

Also, as long as you pulled the thinner portion of the mash, you will not liberate any extra starches from the grains, as you would have if you pulled the thick part and boiled it.  (Kai Troester has written a few articles and discussed decoction mashing on a few podcasts if you want to get into more details)

So ferment on!!!
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: hopaddicted on July 16, 2010, 04:05:35 AM
After reading through all of the posts here, I'm dying to check my batch lagering. I don't typically measure SG before I move to secondary, as long as I've seen a strong fermentation and the krausen has subsided (I usually leave each batch for 1-2wks in prim and at least 4 wks in second). That being said I pitched the tube straight with no starter, I know it not best practice, but with one day at about 70 degrees before dropping to lagering temps, 50 to started and after my fridge broke about 56, it tasted on point after about 2 months. I'll have to check the hydrometer when I get home to be certain...
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: a10t2 on July 16, 2010, 10:18:36 AM
Sorry to be the bearer of an unfavorable opinion, but WLP820 is terrible stuff.

 :o This is W206, right? Same as Wyeast 2206? Any chance you have a bum culture? I mean, it's one of the most commonly used lager yeasts in the world, and has been for a century. I guess there's no point in debating flavor online, but I've never had any problems with it. This year's Oktoberfest dropped from 1.054 to 1.014 in ~12 days, and that was the first generation. The maibock that's currently fermenting has dropped from 1.069 to under 1.020 after 9 days (FFT went to 1.012). Both of these were mashed fairly high - with a low single-infusion mash it will get to >85% ADF.

Lazydog: I'm wondering if you under-pitched. I know you made a 3 qt starter, but how was it handled? Airlock, shaking, stirplate? How old was the vial? How confident are you in the temperature? I would typically ferment at 48-50°F, so if it's at 54°F I'm surprised you haven't seen a very fast fermentation.
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: dmtaylor on July 16, 2010, 11:14:07 AM
This is W206, right? Same as Wyeast 2206?

WLP820 and Wyeast 2206 are NOT the same.  IMHO, none of the White Labs or Wyeast strains are exactly the same anymore, regardless of what you might read in various sources.  They might have started from the same ancestor (did they? I didn't look it up), but each side has mutated so many hundreds if not millions of times over the past 30 or 40 years that they are quite different now.  Still similar, MAYBE, but definitely not the same.

I mean, think about it -- Nottingham, WLP001, Wyeast 1056, and US-05 supposedly all originated from the same stuff way back when.  Are they the same now?  No.  They might be very similar, and under most circumstances can be used interchangeably, to a point... but many brewers would agree that they are NOT identical.  US-05 seems to attenuate the most, while Nottingham gives some people a mysterious "tartness".  I don't like WLP001, while another guy loves it but despises Wyeast 1056..... these are all similar, but not identical.  Don't believe me?  Try splitting a batch of a wimpy light beer with low hop character sometime, using two or three or four of the different brands that are supposedly "all the same thing".  I'll bet you a zillion dollars that the resulting beers are similar, yes, similar, BUT, also detectably quite different.
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: joeysmokedporter on July 17, 2010, 04:53:45 AM
I only used WLP820 once, in a maerzen.  The results were decent although I hadn't yet uncovered a water chemistry issue with alkalinity that imparted some off-flavors.  I did notice the lag in fermentation time, and since switched to 833 for my German lager brewing--have used this for helles, bock and maerzen with great results (flavor and fermentation mgmt).

I am surprised that you only got as much attenuation as you did, even with 820 (for me it got down to final gravity within 3 weeks, diacetyl rest included).  I think someone else mentioned that the yeast in the starter may have had a problem.  Only other thing I can think of is whether you had enough oxygen; this can certainly affect time.  Worst case, make a krausen starter with same/similar OG at 5% of the volume of your beer, with fresh good yeast, and pitch the starter when it comes to krausen.  This could help push it along.
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: lazydog79 on July 17, 2010, 01:22:54 PM
2206 is what I had that was no good.  Wish it had been....  I'm going out of town until Thursday - 3 weeks since pitch.  I'll check it again then.  I hope I get some "magic."
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: seajellie on July 17, 2010, 01:58:42 PM
LD79, I hope whatever magic happens ... is good magic!

I love the intense aroma and nice flavor from 820. But it's also the consistently worst performing yeast I've ever experienced. Every two years or so I get psyched again to try it. If I decide to use it again, I will buy two tubes and build a single yeast starter using both. I've simply had too many fail to get going properly. Absolutely everything must be sterile when starting this yeast; don't let any wee beasties have an opportunity during the long lag time.

Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: timmyr on July 23, 2010, 08:11:18 PM
Keep this thread up...I just brewed JZ's Oktoberfest (12-gallons) and split the ferment between WLP820 and WLP833.  OG 1.059 (overshot by 4-points).  WLP833 took off around 15-hours; WLP820 took off 30-hours after pitch.  Both are now chugging and sitting tight at 50F (fermenter temp).  I'd be happy to post my starter size/targets.  I used Mr Malty, 4-vials of each strain, and based on oldest vial of each stir plated starters (1.5 and 3L.)  I'll follow-up with how the two compare in the end.  I've done some searching and found a lot of people who like WLP820 but recommend giving it a long ferment and long lager time.  This seems to follow the information presented on the old episode of The Jamil Show that Dr. Scott hosted on Oktoberfest


Just home from vacation and both kraeusens have fallen.  I started ramping up to 60F today.  The WLP833 has fallen completely and the 820 appears to still have some foam.  More to follow.
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: timmyr on July 23, 2010, 08:12:16 PM
Keep this thread up...I just brewed JZ's Oktoberfest (12-gallons) and split the ferment between WLP820 and WLP833.  OG 1.059 (overshot by 4-points).  WLP833 took off around 15-hours; WLP820 took off 30-hours after pitch.  Both are now chugging and sitting tight at 50F (fermenter temp).  I'd be happy to post my starter size/targets.  I used Mr Malty, 4-vials of each strain, and based on oldest vial of each stir plated starters (1.5 and 3L.)  I'll follow-up with how the two compare in the end.  I've done some searching and found a lot of people who like WLP820 but recommend giving it a long ferment and long lager time.  This seems to follow the information presented on the old episode of The Jamil Show that Dr. Scott hosted on Oktoberfest
That's where I got my recipe too.  The only "tweak" I made was to do a single decoctition during the mash, which is my main concern now.  I was attempting to do Palmer's single decoctition - sach. rest @154, pull a decoc., hold @ 160 for 20 min, boil for 45, and re-mix for mashout.  The big slip I had was that I didn't hold at 160 too well - overshot to 170-ish for about 5 minutes.  Now, I'm hoping my oopsie didn't give me the world's most dextrinous wort!   :-[  I've fallen off to 4-5 burps a minute from the blowoff, and I know the SG is still pretty high, so I am worried.  However, this wouldn't be anything new - I always sit on my fermentations like a nervous mother hen!  ::)

Oh well, this beer isn't in a hurry - don't need it until the end of September.  I'll just stick to the plan and let it hang in the primary for 3 weeks and then see where I'm at.  I was planning to lager it until the beginning of Sept. to give it enough time to carb in the bottle.  We'll see what happens!  Thanks again all!

I'll post my mash schedule once I finally pull it off my voice recorder...need to check my notes....
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: lazydog79 on July 24, 2010, 12:31:29 PM
O.k., I pulled a gravity sample today - 1.036 after 23 days   >:(  I think I am officially stuck.  I gave the yeast a little rouse to see if that gets it moving.  The fermentation is still at 54 degrees.  I was originally planning to get it near 1.020 and do a D-rest, but now I'm wondering if a temp bump might not help it get going.  Any other ideas to help get it moving and salvage the batch?
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: pyrite on July 24, 2010, 03:36:45 PM
I would get a different lager yeast strain, make a starter on a stir plate if you have one, so that it get's maximum aeration and let it finish the job for you.
Title: Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
Post by: dmtaylor on July 26, 2010, 05:23:31 AM
"Yeast energizer" should do the trick.  It has saved many batches for me.  This is not exactly the same thing as "yeast nutrient".  Look for the energizer.  It takes a long time to ferment out, but it is very likely to help.