Author Topic: Slow Lager Starter  (Read 951 times)

Offline gmac

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Slow Lager Starter
« on: March 14, 2011, 08:51:40 AM »
I started my first lager starter yesterday using Wyeast Czech Pils (sorry forget the #) and when I checked it before work this morning, it was completely flat.  There didn't appear to be any activity at all except that the yeast had all settled to the bottom. I gave it a good shake but I'm a bit worried that after 24 hours there is no appearance of any activity at all.  I've never used lager yeast before so maybe this is perfectly normal but I'm wondering if the yeast was bad or if I screwed it up in some way.

The starter is 125g of DME in 1.5L of water that was boiled for 5 minutes and then cooled in a water bath.  I don't know the temperature I pitched the yeast at but it was rather cool given the water bath.  I didn't allow the package to swell and don't usually if it's going into a starter.  I usually break the inner bag and let it warm to room temp and then pitch it.  Perhaps I should wait but then again, in this case I would have thought it was bad and discarded it by now given the lack of apparent activity.

I washed my starter container with bleach but rinsed it thoroughly and haven't had problems in the past with this.  I now use Star-San for my brewing vessels but for such a small amount, and given that I had no Star-San available, I went with bleach. 

So, should I just keep waiting patiently and shaking when I'm home or is this one a dud?
Thanks
Graham

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2011, 09:05:12 AM »
It might still be ok, I'd check the gravity of the starter and see if it is dropping.  Did you check the date on the package?
Tom Schmidlin

Offline gmac

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2011, 09:24:34 AM »
Package says it was manufactured Jan 18, 2011. 

Offline bluesman

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2011, 09:33:22 AM »
I would shake it intermittently and give it some time to ferment out. Sometimes there will be signs like a milky type activity right above the yeast on the bottom or a slight frothy film on the top surface of the wort.  Can you post a pic?

It's prudent to know the actual pitching temp for future reference.
Ron Price

Offline gmac

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2011, 10:10:34 AM »
It's prudent to know the actual pitching temp for future reference.

So I need to know volumes and now temperature?  This is getting far too complicated.  Maybe I should just buy beer and go back to playing World of Warcraft.... :D

On my next trip to the restaurant supply, later today, I will be coming home with a new long-stem thermometer and a 1 gal measuring cup.

Offline gmac

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2011, 08:22:48 AM »
Took a gravity today, 1.034.  I don't think it's gone down much from the original (didn't take OG) but I'll leave it for a couple days and see if it drops anymore.  There is a slight milky layer above the yeast but I can't decide if it's just yeast still settling out of suspension or something else.  
I disturbed it when I took the gravity so I'll let it settle again for a few hours and try a picture.
Just not sure if its working or not.  Absolutely no sign of foam or bubbles or anything else even remotely similar to the ale starters I've done.  I know it will be slower but this is puzzling.

Offline gmac

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2011, 12:55:59 PM »
When I looked at the hydrometer tube a few minutes after measuring, there were bubbles that had formed on the walls of the tube.  I guess I will take this to be CO2 and hence, a sign of life. 
I don't have a fermentation lock on it, just tin foil as others have suggested.  I may put a lock on it just to see if it bubbles someday.

Offline oscarvan

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2011, 01:40:32 PM »
Stir Plate.
Wooden Shoe Brew Works (not a commercial operation) Bethlehem, PA
http://www.woodenshoemusic.com/WSBW/WSBW_All_grain_Setup.html
I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline gmac

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2011, 02:11:05 PM »

Offline gmac

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2011, 02:42:49 PM »
I guess it's alive.  Patches of froth on top and it foams now when I shake it.  I can't believe how slow this is to get going.  I am really glad I did a starter or I'd have probably given it up for dead and gone out and gotten some dry yeast and pitched that if it had been in a carboy.  I'll give it another day and then cool it to brew on Friday.  I really can't get over how slow it was to get started.  Is this typical for most lager yeasts?

Offline gmac

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2011, 02:53:51 PM »
Now I'm starting to wonder if I should leave it longer before brewing.  I sort of have to work around available days as well.  Would it be advisable to cool it, dump the liquid from the yeast cake and then add a second batch of 1.040 wort and leave it longer?  Would this give me a higher yeast # or would the yeast that is there just use up the sugar without increasing any further in #?  I keep reading that for a lager I need a huge # of yeast and Mr. Malty seems to think I need something around 3. 75 L of starter which seems like an awful lot. 

Or, just stick with the original plan to give it another day, chill and brew?

Next question, and perhaps its a silly one but I will have a bit of yeast left in the bottom of the jug when I pitch.  Is there any reason I can't put a small amount of boiled wort (say a cup or two) on top of that and start it all over again? 

Offline skyler

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2011, 11:05:23 AM »
(1)Would it be advisable to cool it, dump the liquid from the yeast cake and then add a second batch of 1.040 wort and leave it longer?  (2)Would this give me a higher yeast # or would the yeast that is there just use up the sugar without increasing any further in #?  I keep reading that for a lager I need a huge # of yeast and Mr. Malty seems to think I need something around 3. 75 L of starter which seems like an awful lot. 

(3)Or, just stick with the original plan to give it another day, chill and brew?

Next question, and perhaps its a silly one but I will have a bit of yeast left in the bottom of the jug when I pitch.  (4)Is there any reason I can't put a small amount of boiled wort (say a cup or two) on top of that and start it all over again? 

1) Yes
2) There will be more yeast grown this way, it is called "stepping up" a starter
3) I wouldn't, because it sounds like you don't have enough healthy yeast
4) This sounds like a decent way of building up a starter for another batch of lager

Offline gmac

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Re: Slow Lager Starter
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2011, 06:24:29 AM »
[(3)Or, just stick with the original plan to give it another day, chill and brew?

3) I wouldn't, because it sounds like you don't have enough healthy yeast.

Thanks.  I will hold off on brewing today.  It's actually disappointing, I was looking forward to trying another batch.  How long would you guess (and I know it's only a guess since you can't see this) before there would be enough yeast?  If I chill and step up today, do you think Monday?