Author Topic: Lager starters  (Read 2156 times)

Offline Alewyfe

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Lager starters
« on: January 28, 2016, 09:27:32 PM »
What's the consensus on making starters for lagers? My ales always get thrown on the stir plate at room temp. I toss all the beer away and just pitch the yeast cake. I got to thinking, would it be a mistake to ferment lager starters at room temp? Rigging a stir plate in a temp controlled environment would be a bit of a pain for me.
Certainly I could put it in the coolest place in the house. How important do you think it is to actually grow the starters in the low 50 degree range?

We started a small focus group in our club to gain mastery of brewing German and Czech Pils and of course i want to make the best beer possible for the ultimate tasting meeting. I will have temp control for the primary fermentation and lagering phases. I just wonder how important that would be for the starter.
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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2016, 09:30:53 PM »
What's the consensus on making starters for lagers? My ales always get thrown on the stir plate at room temp. I toss all the beer away and just pitch the yeast cake. I got to thinking, would it be a mistake to ferment lager starters at room temp? Rigging a stir plate in a temp controlled environment would be a bit of a pain for me.
Certainly I could put it in the coolest place in the house. How important do you think it is to actually grow the starters in the low 50 degree range?

We started a small focus group in our club to gain mastery of brewing German and Czech Pils and of course i want to make the best beer possible for the ultimate tasting meeting. I will have temp control for the primary fermentation and lagering phases. I just wonder how important that would be for the starter.

The purpose of a starter is to grow yeast, not make beer, and yeast grows better at warmer temps.  I've made all my lager starters at room temp with no il effects, so that's what I'd recommend.  Also, I've put my stir plate away in favor of the 1 qt. "shaken not stirred" starter method.  Much easier and results at least as good, if not better, than with the stir plate.
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Offline beersk

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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2016, 09:48:23 PM »
I always grow mine at room temp, stepped up from 2L to 3L usually and crashed/decanted. I'm not sure how I feel about the "shaken not stirred" method for lagers yet.
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Offline Alewyfe

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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2016, 09:49:25 PM »
Denny, Thanks for the quick feedback oh ye of no life. I kind of was thinking that, but you never know. There are some great lager makers out there and I just thought  it would be fun to ask if anybody is even concerned with starter temps.

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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2016, 10:02:15 PM »

I always grow mine at room temp, stepped up from 2L to 3L usually and crashed/decanted. I'm not sure how I feel about the "shaken not stirred" method for lagers yet.

Mark had discussed pitching 250B even for lagers using the SNS method.


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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2016, 10:06:48 PM »
I always grow mine at room temp, stepped up from 2L to 3L usually and crashed/decanted. I'm not sure how I feel about the "shaken not stirred" method for lagers yet.

All it took for me was to try it.  Can't argue with success!
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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2016, 10:07:33 PM »
Denny, Thanks for the quick feedback oh ye of no life. I kind of was thinking that, but you never know. There are some great lager makers out there and I just thought  it would be fun to ask if anybody is even concerned with starter temps.

No life?  I'm sitting here editing the podcast and working on the outline for the next book!  I'm busier now than when I was working!
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Offline blatz

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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2016, 10:16:58 PM »

I always grow mine at room temp, stepped up from 2L to 3L usually and crashed/decanted. I'm not sure how I feel about the "shaken not stirred" method for lagers yet.

Mark had discussed pitching 250B even for lagers using the SNS method.


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you know, I tried this for a lager and it came out too fruity for my liking - moderate notes of banana in it - possibly a sign of stress and/or underpitching.  I make lagers all the time and don't usually have this issue.  I went back to using a stir plate on the next lager and voila - back to high quality.

I think SNS has its place for ales, but I'm not convinced with lagers...
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RPIScotty

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Lager starters
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2016, 10:20:47 PM »

I always grow mine at room temp, stepped up from 2L to 3L usually and crashed/decanted. I'm not sure how I feel about the "shaken not stirred" method for lagers yet.

Mark had discussed pitching 250B even for lagers using the SNS method.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

you know, I tried this for a lager and it came out too fruity for my liking - moderate notes of banana in it - possibly a sign of stress and/or underpitching.  I make lagers all the time and don't usually have this issue.  I went back to using a stir plate on the next lager and voila - back to high quality.

I think SNS has its place for ales, but I'm not convinced with lagers...

I think the key is timing high krausen. This is of course a bit difficult.

The theory is sound but the brewer's execution of the process will always be the variable.

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« Last Edit: January 28, 2016, 10:27:20 PM by RPIScotty »

Offline Philbrew

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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2016, 10:31:24 PM »
I've been doing SNS lager starters for a year now with excellent results.  But I do 2 qt. starters for lagers (1 qt. for ales) in 6 gal. batches (with starter).
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Offline martinj

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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2016, 11:08:58 PM »

I always grow mine at room temp, stepped up from 2L to 3L usually and crashed/decanted. I'm not sure how I feel about the "shaken not stirred" method for lagers yet.

Mark had discussed pitching 250B even for lagers using the SNS method.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

you know, I tried this for a lager and it came out too fruity for my liking - moderate notes of banana in it - possibly a sign of stress and/or underpitching.  I make lagers all the time and don't usually have this issue.  I went back to using a stir plate on the next lager and voila - back to high quality.

I think SNS has its place for ales, but I'm not convinced with lagers...

I think the key is timing high krausen. This is of course a bit difficult.

The theory is sound but the brewer's execution of the process will always be the variable.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I agree, pitching at high krausen has it's benefits. However, an underpitch is an underpitch, high krausen or not.

That said, I've done a lot of reading and contemplating the SNS method, and I see practical and theoretical advantages and disadvantages to both SNS and the stirplate method. I choose to stay with the stirplate, even though it is less convenient. 2l for most ales, 2l 2 step for most lagers.  In either case, I make the starters in advance, then store them until I'm ready to use them. I then decant, bring to room temp, add 1l of wort and let it come to high krausen while I'm brewing (no stirplate), and pitch the whole thing. I know it's a lot of steps, but hey, it's a hobby, and it works very well for me.
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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2016, 11:10:24 PM »
I agree martinj and do basically the same as you
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RPIScotty

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Lager starters
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2016, 11:22:10 PM »

I agree, pitching at high krausen has it's benefits. However, an underpitch is an underpitch, high krausen or not.


The assumption being that pitching 250B or so cells at high krausen constitutes underpitching.

If the yeast mass doubles it's cell count just shy of 90 minutes in the wort then your not really underpitching. It's all relative.

Like many have said the mechanics behind the SNS starter can be abstract and offer a different paradigm to the one proposed by the now ubiquitous yeast starter calculators.

Like Denny has said many times, "What works for you may not work for other homebrewers."

It's all good. It's all beer. Cheers man.


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« Last Edit: January 28, 2016, 11:24:08 PM by RPIScotty »

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2016, 11:47:52 PM »

I always grow mine at room temp, stepped up from 2L to 3L usually and crashed/decanted. I'm not sure how I feel about the "shaken not stirred" method for lagers yet.

Mark had discussed pitching 250B even for lagers using the SNS method.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

you know, I tried this for a lager and it came out too fruity for my liking - moderate notes of banana in it - possibly a sign of stress and/or underpitching.  I make lagers all the time and don't usually have this issue.  I went back to using a stir plate on the next lager and voila - back to high quality.

I think SNS has its place for ales, but I'm not convinced with lagers...

I'll also throw my hat in for not using Mark's method for lagers. I've tried it and have not experienced a clean lager with it. Apples, pears, and other esters that aren't what I got with my usual 2 packs in a 4L stirred starter for a 5g batch. I have abandoned the shaken, not stirred method in lagers.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Lager starters
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2016, 12:10:16 AM »

I always grow mine at room temp, stepped up from 2L to 3L usually and crashed/decanted. I'm not sure how I feel about the "shaken not stirred" method for lagers yet.

Mark had discussed pitching 250B even for lagers using the SNS method.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

you know, I tried this for a lager and it came out too fruity for my liking - moderate notes of banana in it - possibly a sign of stress and/or underpitching.  I make lagers all the time and don't usually have this issue.  I went back to using a stir plate on the next lager and voila - back to high quality.

I think SNS has its place for ales, but I'm not convinced with lagers...

I'll also throw my hat in for not using Mark's method for lagers. I've tried it and have not experienced a clean lager with it. Apples, pears, and other esters that aren't what I got with my usual 2 packs in a 4L stirred starter for a 5g batch. I have abandoned the shaken, not stirred method in lagers.


This does nothing to make me want to try it on a lager. I've done SNS on regular-ish OG ales and it works well. But a healthy pitch of slurry is all I want going into my lagers. Thanks for the feedback.
Jon H.