Author Topic: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?  (Read 4145 times)

Offline lazydog79

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WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« 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!

Offline pyrite

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #1 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).    
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Offline lazydog79

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2010, 09:32:09 AM »
Should I rouse the yeast or anything to get it going or just let it ride?

Offline pyrite

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #3 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. 
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Offline lazydog79

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #4 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!

Offline wingnut

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #5 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!
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #6 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.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 05:17:15 AM by dmtaylor »
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Offline lazydog79

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #7 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.

Offline lazydog79

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #8 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.

Offline timmyr

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #9 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
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Offline pyrite

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #10 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.
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Offline wingnut

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #11 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!!
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Offline lazydog79

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #12 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!

Offline wingnut

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #13 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!!!
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Offline hopaddicted

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Re: WLP 820 rate of Fermentation?
« Reply #14 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...
Primary: Lambic
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John Harvard Imperial Stout clone, Hoppy Amber, Witch's Brew (Habanero and Smoked Corn Small Ale), Porter, Dunkleweizen, Dry Stout, Irish Red Ale, American Maple Wheat Ale, Black Wit, Belgian style Wit, Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Kegged: IPA, Saison, Hoppy Brown Ale