I’ve never adjust kettle pH at 10 min. <<I’ve been lazy for years!>> LOL
I am still very curious with the reason behind the low pH you experienced. I find it interesting the company man didn’t engage further. Seems like they’d want to know, too.
One thing I didn’t ask: do you condition your malt prior to milling? Do you mill the day/night (or more) prior to brewing?
FWIW, I like S-189, W-34/70, M54 and M84. I’ve yet to try M76, S-23, or Diamond.
I also like S-04 for Ale because it is fast and floccs very well. The lower attenuation has to be planned for though.
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I don't condition, and usually mill the night before.
I don't always (don't often?) adjust kettle pH either, but I'm thinking this could have had an effect thusly: If, as someone earlier in the thread hypothesized, the low pH resulted from (within normal tolerance) bacterial contamination of the dry yeast, while the normal performance on repitching was because the yeast had outstripped the bacteria in the first generation, then the lower pH at pitching could have suppressed the bacteria in this most recent batch. I'll have to check the technical information on the Fermentis site to see if they mention an optimal pH for pitching wort. And why did I have this problem and you didn't? So many other variables, we'll never know what the key difference in our process is.
As to lager yeast, thanks for the recommendations. I've become disenchanted with 34/70 in all its forms, even though it was my house yeast through most of my 8-year lager mania. The others I can get locally are S-23 and S-189, and maybe Diamond, not sure about that one. Never used any MJ's, but will try anything.
I really do like S-04 not just because it's quick and clears well, but I also like the flavor, and the attenuation is about what I expect of an English ale yeast. This weekend I'm going to direct pitch it again, and I'll report whether I get a repeat of this success.