Author Topic: Getting and Oktoberfest starter ready to go to work  (Read 809 times)

Offline lazydog79

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Getting and Oktoberfest starter ready to go to work
« on: June 29, 2010, 08:09:21 PM »
My 3 qt. starter of White Labs 820 Oktoberfest Lager is chugging away.  I pitched the yeast Sunday, but it didn't really get going good until last night.  It's currently at 60 degrees.  My question is this - I'm going to go ahead with the brew tomorrow.  It's a little early for the starter, but I'm a little schedule pinched.  Normally, I would let it ferment out longer.  Plus, I'm this is my first full lager and I'm not real sure how lager yeast behave.  I was thinking of cold crashing it in the morning to get the yeast to settle out, then warming it back up to fermentation temp for pitching sometime around early evening tomorrow.  Good plan or good way to wreck good yeast?

Offline troy@uk

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Re: Getting and Oktoberfest starter ready to go to work
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2010, 02:22:39 AM »
Since my lager starters are usually bigger than the ale starters, I will crash the starter the night before I brew.  In the morning I will decant most of the liquid off of the yeast, leaving only enough to stir the yeast up so it is easier to pour when it has reached pitching temp (I pitch lagers cold @ 45-50 F).  No, I don't think you will hurt the yeast in the fridge.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2010, 04:04:15 AM by troy@uk »
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Offline Beertracker

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Re: Getting and Oktoberfest starter ready to go to work
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2010, 02:39:36 PM »
Either way would be just fine, but I'd probably pitch as is. I prefer to pitch my lager starters at room temp & high krausen. Happy lagering!  ;)
CHEERS! Jeff
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Offline lazydog79

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Re: Getting and Oktoberfest starter ready to go to work
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2010, 12:06:47 PM »
Side note/Question - How much starter is too much to pitch?  For my ales, I try to decant off almost all the liquid, leaving just enough to swirl the yeast.  For the Oktoberfest, in trying to get a little more yeast and worried I was pouring too much out, I pitched about a quart of starter beer and yeast cake.  Too much?

Offline wingnut

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Re: Getting and Oktoberfest starter ready to go to work
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2010, 08:01:24 AM »
With the 820 yeast, for the most part, if you keep the temps above 50F, the starter takes about 2 to 3 days to begin “roaring”.  Most of the yeast growth takes place BEFORE you see the CO2 bubbles in your starter.  So essentially, if you are seeing lots of CO2 bubbles, you yeast are ready to pitch. 

Also, in my experience, (I know there is a lot of debate on this) I tend to pitch the whole starter if it has not fermented out.  With the lager yeast, (especially the 820 and 830) I have found it hard to get the yeast to “crash” once it starts.  I have cooled it down to 38F after it has gotten rolling, and I still have seen significant activity.  Once it ferments out, however, the yeast tends to drop out nicely after a day or two at 38F.

Keep in mind that the most active yeast is not the yeast on the bottom of the starter, but the yeast floating around in the wort.  So if you do not get a good crash, and you decant off the wort, you are selecting yeast that are less likely to fully ferement your Lager to that dry finish.  If this is a fresh pitch from the tube, you will probably be fine either way.  However, after about the 3rd generation, I highly recommend pitching the whole thing if it has not fermented out!

Good luck, and enjoy my favorite style of beer!  Prost!
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Offline lazydog79

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Re: Getting and Oktoberfest starter ready to go to work
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2010, 07:13:20 AM »
With the 820 yeast, for the most part, if you keep the temps above 50F, the starter takes about 2 to 3 days to begin “roaring”.  Most of the yeast growth takes place BEFORE you see the CO2 bubbles in your starter.  So essentially, if you are seeing lots of CO2 bubbles, you yeast are ready to pitch. 

Also, in my experience, (I know there is a lot of debate on this) I tend to pitch the whole starter if it has not fermented out.  With the lager yeast, (especially the 820 and 830) I have found it hard to get the yeast to “crash” once it starts.  I have cooled it down to 38F after it has gotten rolling, and I still have seen significant activity.  Once it ferments out, however, the yeast tends to drop out nicely after a day or two at 38F.

Keep in mind that the most active yeast is not the yeast on the bottom of the starter, but the yeast floating around in the wort.  So if you do not get a good crash, and you decant off the wort, you are selecting yeast that are less likely to fully ferement your Lager to that dry finish.  If this is a fresh pitch from the tube, you will probably be fine either way.  However, after about the 3rd generation, I highly recommend pitching the whole thing if it has not fermented out!

Good luck, and enjoy my favorite style of beer!  Prost!

That was exactly what I had going on - it took a while to start so wasn't all the way done by the time I needed it and wouldn't "crash."  I must have done something, right though.  I had visible fermentation in under 24 hours.  I'm always paranoid about off flavors from the starter, but it shouldn't be a problem.  Only time will tell.  I love Oktoberfest too, so I'm probably a little extra paranoid about it!  Thanks!

Offline wingnut

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Re: Getting and Oktoberfest starter ready to go to work
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2010, 07:55:05 AM »
Wow! Getting the yeast to take off in the beer in under 18 hours on the first pitch is quite a trick.  This yeast seems to come in slow, (sometimes a couple days lag without a large starter) and it keeps fermenting for a couple weeks, and then it finally tails off. 

One other thing with the 820 yeast... it tends to throw a significant amount of sulfur.  Sometimes the sulfur lingers into the finished beer.  (An aggressive pour seems to get rid of it though).  However, I have been experimenting with ways of trying to "de-gas" in the fermentor. 

Ideally, the commercial guys bubble some CO2 into the bottom of the fermentor and that pulls the sulfur out.

For the batch I just bottled yesterday, I tried swirling the bucket about every other day during the first and third week of fermentation (I was out of town for the second..)  I also left the beer on the yeast for four weeks before bottling.  My thinking was that agitating the yeast would cause some CO2 to drop out of solution...kind of maybe accomplishing the same thing.

When I bottled, the beer my hydrometer sample seemed to have less sulfur... If I am not out of town again in two weeks, I will let you know how it worked.

Good luck!
-- Wingnut - Cheers!