Author Topic: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?  (Read 3496 times)

Offline mpietropaoli

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Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« on: August 06, 2012, 06:33:42 PM »
TLDR version: 1.). Will a German lager yeast, like wlp830 produce enough esters for a steam, if fermented in the low/mid 60s?
2.) is 7 days enough time with this yeast to service a 1.054 ish steam
3.) any issues with using a yeast cake for a lager

So my wife got me a blichmann burner as a one year Anni present, and designed a label for us to make a beer together.  She likes o fest, so we decided on doing that.  Been researching them a bit, and it looks like, based on jamils recipe, that we should be able to get it done and lagered in time for the month that bears its name. 

My question is, instead of doing a boring old yeast starter, could I just make a steam beer with the Bavarian lager yeast (ray Daniels says its an appropriate yeast for the style, and I have an assload of northern brewers in the freezer)

My only worry would be that the steam wouldnt be done in time, if we want to brew our o fest on august 18th.  I would need to brew the steam by the 11th at the latest to give the yeast time to ferment.  I hate rushing yeast personally, and tend to leave beers in the primary for 3-4 weeks now. I'd probably ferment the steam at around 60-64 with a d rest at 70 for a day or two.  Bottom line: the steam won't have much time I the primary, even if I brew on Wednesday of this week.

I should also mention that this is my first lager.  I do want to make sure I have plenty of yeast and would need an extra day to get the yeast cake down to pitching temp for the marzen (~50).

Doing a steam (even extract for expediencys sake) would also let me test my system for the ever-finicky and foreboding lager. 

Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated!  (ESP those directed toward lager brewing for lager novices)
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 07:00:13 PM by mpietropaoli »
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Offline tygo

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Re: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2012, 06:58:43 PM »
I share your concern about rushing the steam fermentation that much.  If your primary goal is brewing the o fest I'd just do a starter and brew the lager, given that time frame.

Don't be intimidated by lager brewing.  You need more yeast, you need to be able to control the fermentation temperature at a lower level than for an ale fermentation, and you need to give it more time.  Other than that, it's not really more difficult than doing an ale.  On the hot side there's really no difference at all.
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Offline mpietropaoli

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Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2012, 07:06:13 PM »
True.   Maybe I'll cut out of work tomorrow and grab the ingredients for the steam and do a weeknight brew so it has some time.  As a back up, I can just top crop some yeast off the steam and if its not finishing up, I can do a liter starter for the o fest a few days ahead of the lager brew. 

I hate when work gets in the way of my brewing.
Primary: Common Cider; Xmas FauxCAP
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Bottled: Putain Biere de Garde; 51 RIS; Glutang Clan Roggenbier
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Offline euge

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Re: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2012, 07:26:09 PM »
Haha...

I just did my first steam-beer. Two weeks at 60F and then lagered on the yeast for two weeks at 46F. Bottled it up last night. Tasted clean without any weird or off flavors.

Normally I wouldn't leave my beer much more than two weeks before packaging. Anyway, I figured the much cooler temps ought to stave off any potential problems. ;)

And I'm gonna do my first lager and Oktoberfest this week (maybe tomorrow) so it'll be ready in time. Was wondering about using the cali lager yeast for it but I actually have some S-189 that was given me.

Good luck with the first-time lager. Seems like we are in the same boat. ;D
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Offline mpietropaoli

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Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2012, 08:18:47 PM »
Hmmm based on your experience looks like I'm top cropping...then maybe I will just 'lager' the steam at the o fests ferm temp of 50...
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2012, 09:02:32 PM »
Will it taste like a prototypical steam beer? No. Will it be a serviceable steam-ish pseudo-lager? Probably.

Make a 1-2 L starter for the steam beer, and it should reach FG in 7 days, especially at ale temperatures. Rack the Oktoberfest onto the cake and proceed normally.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2012, 09:26:11 AM »
...I hate when work gets in the way of my brewing.

+1 to this!

(I guess that's the trade-off of being a homebrewer)
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Offline mpietropaoli

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Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2012, 10:32:59 AM »
So the proprietor of my lhbs who is very knowledgeable on yeast says that if I top crop, I only would need a few tablespoons of yeast, no starter, no whole yeast cake...even for a lager.  His point was that cell count will be though the roof on yeast from the top, and even for a lager, using a whole yeast cake is too much, as the cells don't need to grow and actually start killing each other competitively.  Also said that pitching on the warmer side was ok/advisable since we are only a few short months away from October...
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Bottled: Putain Biere de Garde; 51 RIS; Glutang Clan Roggenbier
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Re: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2012, 10:40:41 AM »
So the proprietor of my lhbs who is very knowledgeable on yeast says that if I top crop, I only would need a few tablespoons of yeast, no starter, no whole yeast cake...even for a lager.  His point was that cell count will be though the roof on yeast from the top, and even for a lager, using a whole yeast cake is too much, as the cells don't need to grow and actually start killing each other competitively.  Also said that pitching on the warmer side was ok/advisable since we are only a few short months away from October...

I don't agree with either of his statements.  Especially the "pitch warmer" and "yeast start killing each other".
« Last Edit: August 07, 2012, 10:49:02 AM by denny »
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Offline euge

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Re: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2012, 10:46:24 AM »
I've top-cropped a couple times. A ladle-full (cup) at the height of krausen or fermentation if you will and it took off in about 45 minutes. Crop later than that and there is a definite lag and isn't much different than pitching a starter or dry yeast.

I'm not sure about the yeast killing each other either. No experience with the lager cropping.
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2012, 11:25:48 AM »
I only would need a few tablespoons of yeast, no starter, no whole yeast cake...even for a lager. 

You won't be able to top-crop since this is a lager and you don't get much yeast in the Kraeusen that is formed.

Quote
His point was that cell count will be though the roof on yeast from the top, and even for a lager,

There will be more yeast per gram of slurry in top cropped yeast, but it will be at most 2x to what you find in a similar amount of bottom harvested slurry. A few table spoons is too little, though. For a 5 gal batch you would still need about a quarter to a third of a cup, though.

Quote
using a whole yeast cake is too much, as the cells don't need to grow and actually start killing each other competitively.

There is no competitive killing, but growth will be reduced if too much is pictched.

Quote
  Also said that pitching on the warmer side was ok/advisable since we are only a few short months away from October...

There difference in fermentation time that warm vs cold pitching causes is not enough to justify pitching warm. You still want to pitch a lager cold and ferment it around 50F. You may want to speed up maturation of the beer by warming it up later if you are pressed for time.

Kai

Offline mpietropaoli

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Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2012, 11:50:20 AM »
I only would need a few tablespoons of yeast, no starter, no whole yeast cake...even for a lager. 

You won't be able to top-crop since this is a lager and you don't get much yeast in the Kraeusen that is formed.

Quote
His point was that cell count will be though the roof on yeast from the top, and even for a lager,

There will be more yeast per gram of slurry in top cropped yeast, but it will be at most 2x to what you find in a similar amount of bottom harvested slurry. A few table spoons is too little, though. For a 5 gal batch you would still need about a quarter to a third of a cup, though.

Quote
using a whole yeast cake is too much, as the cells don't need to grow and actually start killing each other competitively.

There is no competitive killing, but growth will be reduced if too much is pictched.

Quote
  Also said that pitching on the warmer side was ok/advisable since we are only a few short months away from October...

There difference in fermentation time that warm vs cold pitching causes is not enough to justify pitching warm. You still want to pitch a lager cold and ferment it around 50F. You may want to speed up maturation of the beer by warming it up later if you are pressed for time.

Kai

So, would you advise to pitch onto the whole cake in this hairbrained scheme of mine?
Primary: Common Cider; Xmas FauxCAP
Kegged: Pliny Clone; Rodney's Weizenbock; RIS
Bottled: Putain Biere de Garde; 51 RIS; Glutang Clan Roggenbier
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2012, 12:44:03 PM »

So, would you advise to pitch onto the whole cake in this hairbrained scheme of mine?

No, pitch about 1/2 cup of the dense sediment.

Kai

Offline euge

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Re: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2012, 05:56:35 PM »
Man I just cracked a bottle of the cali-common bottled on sunday. Wasn't expecting for much carbonation and it wasn't even close. But the flavor and mouthfeel is excellent. I can taste all the malts and they balance nicely with the hops. mmmmmmm yummy!
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Late Oktoberfest...steam as a starter?
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2012, 09:26:29 PM »
So the proprietor of my lhbs who is very knowledgeable on yeast says ...

To each his own and all that, but this guy sounds like he knows *nothing* about yeast.
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