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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: rbowers on September 09, 2011, 08:05:20 PM

Title: First lager batch
Post by: rbowers on September 09, 2011, 08:05:20 PM
Going to try a batch of lager this week and haven't been down this path before so looking for a few tips.  The recipe will likely be an Oktoberfest or Shwarzbier (Sprechen Black clone?).  In terms of pitching: Is a starter necessary?  If so at what temp do I make the starter at? 
Is it ideal to pitch the yeast at room temp and then chill to 50 degrees or so or chill first. 
How long does primary fermentation take and what is a reasonable time to lager the beer for?  I am hoping to have it kegged and ready by thanksgiving.
I have a chest freezer (recently turned keezer) that I am hoping to use as the lagering and chilling vessel with the aid of a thermostat controller.  No kegs yet so I thought this would be an opportune time to use.  All suggestions appreciated.
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: ryang on September 09, 2011, 08:17:14 PM
In terms of pitching: Is a starter necessary?  Yes, pitch a large amount of yeast.  Typically it's recommended to do a 3-4liter starter.

If so at what temp do I make the starter at?  Room temp is fine. 

Is it ideal to pitch the yeast at room temp and then chill to 50 degrees or so or chill first. Chill first. 

How long does primary fermentation take and what is a reasonable time to lager the beer for? Primary fermentation should be done within a week and a half, providing you pitch enough healthy yeast and oxygenate plenty at the start.

I am hoping to have it kegged and ready by thanksgiving.  Doable.

I have a chest freezer (recently turned keezer) that I am hoping to use as the lagering and chilling vessel with the aid of a thermostat controller.  Sounds like a perfect candidate.
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: yugamrap on September 10, 2011, 07:23:23 PM
Go to www.mrmalty.com (http://www.mrmalty.com) and use the yeast pitching rate calculator to figure out how big a starter to use.  Generally, you'll pitch about twice as much yeast in a lager as you would an ale of similar OG.  Don't take shortcuts here - a proper pitch of good healthy yeast and well-controlled fermentation temperatures are essential in making good lager beers. 

Chill to your fermentation temperature (for me that's 46-48F) first, then pitch your yeast.  It's a good idea to cold crash your starter and decant the starter "beer" before pitching the yeast slurry.  This also allows you to pitch the yeast at close to the fermenting temperature to avoid shocking it.

Depending on the yeast you use, you may want to do a diacetyl rest at the end of primary fermentation.  This is just letting the temperature rise to about 10 degrees F higher than your fermenting temperature for a few days to let the yeast "clean up" diacetyl.  This is easy to do if you have a temperature controller.
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: rbowers on September 10, 2011, 07:36:30 PM
Thanks for suggestions.  Looking forward to having some more options with fermentation temp control now that I've invested in some extra equipment.  Lagers will be an interesting departure from my usual brew days. 
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: uisgue on September 21, 2011, 02:34:59 AM
"Yes, pitch a large amount of yeast.  Typically it's recommended to do a 3-4liter starter."

I have a question about this.  Can I just make up 4 liters of 1.040 starter and pitch the liquid yeast or do I have to step up to 4 liters (I'm a bit unclear about stepping up a starter)?
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: ckpash88 on September 21, 2011, 02:55:32 AM
I have the same question and my thread is asking about the same thing this is the response i got

Well said  Cheesy

ckpash just do what I advised earlier for this beer.

1)  Add 3.5 oz of DME to 1 qt water.  Boil it for a few minutes, chill, pitch the smack pack.  Let it ferment out.
2)  Put it in the fridge for 24-48 hours and let all the yeast settle out.  Then decant off the starter beer so you just have the yeast cake at the bottom.
3)  Cook up another batch of starter wort with 13 oz of DME in 4 qts water.  You want to end up with 4 qts of final volume give or take but you'll lose some volume during your short boil of the starter wort.
4)  Chill that down and add to the yeast cake.  Shake/swirl it up and then let that ferment out.  Repeat the chill/decant routine and then pitch to your beer.

Get this starter under your belt and then worry about figuring out the differences in results between intermittent shaking and a stir plate.  Don't worry too much about exact volumes and gravities this time around.  You're making a starter and you'll get a good pitch of yeast even if it's not exactly right.  As long as your sanitation practices are good you'll be well ahead of the game and will make good beer.  RDWHAHB.

Hope this helps
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: denny on September 21, 2011, 03:48:50 PM
"Yes, pitch a large amount of yeast.  Typically it's recommended to do a 3-4liter starter."

I have a question about this.  Can I just make up 4 liters of 1.040 starter and pitch the liquid yeast or do I have to step up to 4 liters (I'm a bit unclear about stepping up a starter)?

Hi Doug!  You can do it all at once.  A pack or vial might not have enough yeast for 5 gal., but it's got plenty for 4 L.
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: Kit B on September 21, 2011, 03:53:49 PM
If your time is more valuable to you than the price of the yeast, I have also gotten away with pitching multiple packs of yeast.

However...Most folks berate me for doing so.
 ::)
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: tomsawyer on September 21, 2011, 04:09:48 PM
If your time is more valuable to you than the price of the yeast, I have also gotten away with pitching multiple packs of yeast.

However...Most folks berate me for doing so.
 ::)

Thats just lazy.
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: Kit B on September 21, 2011, 05:15:18 PM
Thats just lazy.


Oh...We've met, then?
 ;D
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: chumley on September 21, 2011, 05:17:07 PM
If your time is more valuable to you than the price of the yeast, I have also gotten away with pitching multiple packs of yeast.

However...Most folks berate me for doing so.
 ::)

Thats just lazy.


Might be lazy, but with the price of DME, it makes sense. If it takes a pound of DME, which costs $5, to make a 4-L starter, and a smack pack costs $6.25 and is fresh, seems to me that the extra pack is the way to go.
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: denny on September 21, 2011, 05:18:45 PM
Might be lazy, but with the price of DME, it makes sense. If it takes a pound of DME, which costs $5, to make a 4-L starter, and a smack pack costs $6.25 and is fresh, seems to me that the extra pack is the way to go.

Sound logic, assuming 1 extra pack is all you need.
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: dbarber on September 21, 2011, 06:06:27 PM
Might be lazy, but with the price of DME, it makes sense. If it takes a pound of DME, which costs $5, to make a 4-L starter, and a smack pack costs $6.25 and is fresh, seems to me that the extra pack is the way to go.

Sound logic, assuming 1 extra pack is all you need.

For a 5.5 gal lager recipe with 1.050 SG, MrMalty calculates the amount of yeast pitched would require either a 3.56 qt starter or 4 smack packs of yeast (assuming 97% viability).
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: Kit B on September 21, 2011, 06:14:27 PM
Might be lazy, but with the price of DME, it makes sense. If it takes a pound of DME, which costs $5, to make a 4-L starter, and a smack pack costs $6.25 and is fresh, seems to me that the extra pack is the way to go.

Sound logic, assuming 1 extra pack is all you need.

However...
I recently had a problem where I brewed 10 gallons of my regular light lager...
I pitched 2 Wyeast packs into each carboy.
One carboy took off well & one did not.
I ended up grabbing a large sample from the active carboy & transfering to the inactive one.
Then, fermentation kicked off, excellently.
While I give respect to Mr. Malty, I don't believe the calcs to be true.
They are drastic overkill, IMHO.
That said...I have obviously had problems with my Wyeast packs.
And, Wyeast is the only yeast with which I have ever had any trouble.
I can't blame storage, because Midwest Supplies has excellent storage practices & mine are at least equal.
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: ynotbrusum on September 22, 2011, 12:07:49 AM
I have gone to making an initially small batch of beer (which I can drink, of course) and then using the whole cake from that in the next larger batch.  I don't waste the DME and I get a good pitchable slurry.  Then once I have it up to 10 gallon batches, I reuse for about 4-5 batches.  Seems to work great.
 ;)

Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: uisgue on September 22, 2011, 12:17:05 AM
Hi Doug!  You can do it all at once.  A pack or vial might not have enough yeast for 5 gal., but it's got plenty for 4 L.
Thanks Denny, I think I'll need to do a starter step-up anyway. I'm planning a 10 gallon 1.090 OG Baltic Porter.  Probably will need 2 4-L starters. Maybe it'll be ready for the Christmas party.
Title: Re: First lager batch
Post by: sharg54 on September 22, 2011, 02:17:32 AM
The easy way I found to make a starter for something like a Baltic porter is to make a standard porter like an American or English type first. After that you have plenty of yeast cake and don't need a starter. Just put the Baltic into the same fermenter and let it rock. Now you have two beers a nice porter and a Baltic and no guess work over how much starter you need. You should have no problem going up on OG from a standard Porter to a high gravity porter like a Baltic and it will be ready for Christmas...