Author Topic: California Lager Yeast not working?  (Read 990 times)

Offline alikocho

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California Lager Yeast not working?
« on: August 31, 2010, 02:11:01 AM »
I brewed a California Common about 48 hours ago (OG 1.048), pitched at the right temperature and it's where its stayed. My smack pack didn't swell much, but I could hear it fizzing. As yet I have no airlock activity (in fact my bubbler is negative IYSWIM), but there are some small bubbles on the surface, according to my SO (I'm on a business trip).

So the question: Am I just experiencing a long lag time with sleepy yeast, and should wait, or should I pitch a dry yeast (I have s-22) now?
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Online chezteth

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Re: California Lager Yeast not working?
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2010, 05:11:47 AM »
It sounds to me like you have a long lag tme.  Wait one more day.  If it isn't active then pitch your other yeast.  When making lagers I always make a starter with the Wyeast smackpacks (or any liquid yeast).  A starter helps ensure they yeast from the pack is in good shape as well as getting the fermentation going quickly.

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Offline majorvices

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Re: California Lager Yeast not working?
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2010, 05:13:52 AM »
Sounds like you didn't make a starter, which could be why you are having such a long lag. Be warned that a smack pack or vial only has enough cells to "properly" ferment a 1.040 ale, and that is assuming the yeast is extremely fresh (say 90% viable). If your yeast is even close to the exp. date it may only be about 20% viable. Simply said, you will have better beer and more control over your lag time if you make a starter for every beer.

That said, if you are in a bucket you should pop the lid to see if you have activity. Bucket seals can leak and bubbles are not a very good indicator of fermentation.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: California Lager Yeast not working?
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2010, 06:24:58 AM »
The fermentation is the most critical part of the homebrewing process and pitching the proper amount of healthy yeast is paramount to producing great beer.  There'e a calculator on that will estimate the amount of yeast required.  Let us know how your beer turns out.  Good luck!
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Offline GrainSpiller

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Re: California Lager Yeast not working?
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2010, 09:18:25 PM »
When the yeast packet doesn't swell within a few hours, your yeast viability is low.  The activator pack doesn't increase cell count, it just energizes the yeast.  Did you check the expiration date on the yeast packet?  The viability might be too low to start fermentation and as a result can create more diacetyl (off-flavor) during the lag process.  Best bet is to pitch a healthy yeast packet that's within a couple weeks of the manufacturing date.  If it's older than that, make a yeast starter to increase the yeast population.  I usually use a half gallon with 7 oz. of DME (Dry Malt Extract) and let it sit for a few days between 64F-70F until fermentation is complete.  The more yeast, the better and its ability to clean up diacetyl production that occurred during lag phase.