Good Lager Yeast?

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Good Lager Yeast?

Postby GREM » Sun Dec 25, 2011 2:05 am

I'm using BTP for the first time working up a recipe for my first lager. Thought I'd try a dark one... a Dunkel. Any suggestions on yeast? Looks like about 5.3% ABV so far. Do I need to pitch more than a standard packet or vial per 5 gal batch using 52 degrees F as pitch temp? Thanks in advance.
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Lager Yeast

Postby slothrob » Sun Dec 25, 2011 9:16 am

A great tasting and reliable Lager yeast is WLP830/WY2124 and I've heard similar compliments for WLP820/WY2206. I found WLP830 to be a quick and dependable fermenter that was somewhat tolerant of higher temperatures and dropped out well for a Lager yeast, and I would recommend it highly as a first Lager yeast.

WLP830 will tend to finish drier and WLP820 will tend to make a maltier beer, which might be nice for a Dunkel, depending on what you are looking for. Most of the Lagers that i have brewed have been Dunkel, because it is one of my favorite styles, and WLP830 makes a great tasting Dunkel, too.

The White Labs website does warn that WLP820 can be slow to start, and suggests a good sized starter, but I would suggest that for any beer, especially a Lager. The Mrmalty.com yeast pitching calculator suggests a 3-4 Liter starter, with intermittent shaking, in order to match recommended pitching rates.
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Recipe Change

Postby GREM » Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:14 am

Thanks! Decided to brew a 10 gal batch of Classic American Pilsner instead as the LHBS didn't have any WLP830 in stock when I called a few days ago. The Dunkel recipe is saved in BTP for another time.

The Mrmalty.com yeast pitching calculator suggests a 3-4 Liter starter, with intermittent shaking, in order to match recommended pitching rates.


After some research I decided to use a gift certificate I received to buy a stir plate so no shaking would be required. The stir plate was too small for the size of the vessel I purchased; so when I plugged it in the magnet spun a while then deposited itself along the side & stayed there.

I shook the vessel a few times before heading to bed & deposited it in a safe cool place...There's always tomorrow...

http://gallery.me.com/landres#100452
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Re: Recipe Change

Postby slothrob » Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:22 am

GREM wrote:After some research I decided to use a gift certificate I received to buy a stir plate so no shaking would be required. The stir plate was too small for the size of the vessel I purchased; so when I plugged it in the magnet spun a while then deposited itself along the side & stayed there.

Try raising the speed of the stir plate slowly and gradually, the stir bar is more apt to plant itself against the side if you raise the speed quickly.

Also, you don't need to have the speed so high that it looks like a volcano. All you really need to do is keep the yeast suspended and keep the liquid moving at the surface to maximize air exchange. Perhaps your stir plate will be able to hold the bar at a lower speed.

Also, I see in the video that you linked to that they used an airlock. You'll get better air exchange, and potentially more yeast growth, if you use something that allows air in as well as out. They sell special foam plugs, but a very popular solution is to use a piece of sanitized foil crimped over the top. The foil will never be air-tight, allowing CO2 out and oxygen in, but keeping wild bacteria and yeast out.

Which yeast did you choose for the Pilsner?
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You Nailed It!

Postby GREM » Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:25 pm

THANKS! I did exactly as you suggested & it is working great @ 1/4 throttle. Within 60 seconds the airlock started to bubble. That was my video I shot last night & put up on my homepage. I had some sanitizer left in a bucket so I sanitized a piece of foil & replaced the airlock with it.

The brew store only had WY2007 & no WL vials so I bought 4 smack packs & smacked all four last night. Two went into the flask for a starter & the other two have puffed up in the converted freezer. Everything is sitting @ 49 F. The plan is to brew this afternoon & pitch the starter into one carboy & pitch the packets directly into another. Should I wait to brew for another day? Your thoughts?

Thanks again...after all the time & money spent to get this far I was getting frustrated.
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lager starter

Postby slothrob » Fri Dec 30, 2011 2:11 pm

I'm a biochemist, so I've had way too much experience with troublesome stir plates.

So, do I understand that you are making a 10 gallon batch and splitting it between 2 carboys, then pitching the starter into 1 and the 2 packs into the other? Are you doing that as an experiment?

Since the yeast sounds like it got off to a good start, I would think you should have a good amount of growth after 24 hours, and since you are starting with 2 packs you don't need as much growth.

2007 is the Budweiser yeast and it tends to leave a little acetaldehyde, which has an apple-like flavor. I believe this is why that beer is "beechwood-aged". Make sure you give the yeast sufficient time to ferment, plus a couple days, before you cold crash it for lagering. I'd taste it first, to make sure it's clean. A warm diacetyl rest can help reduce acetaldehyde, too.
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Postby GREM » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:05 am

So, do I understand that you are making a 10 gallon batch and splitting it between 2 carboys, then pitching the starter into 1 and the 2 packs into the other? Are you doing that as an experiment?


Originally that was the plan, but as brew day progressed we had to adjust.

Myself & a coworker have brewed about 10 batches of all grain ales on the "Ruby Street Brewery" system http://www.rubystreetbrewing.com/tp40/page.asp?id=263057 since August of this year. We decided to bypass the extract phase; so in our case everything we have done could be considered an experiment. :D

The temps in the garage will be colder for the next few months hence the switch to a lager. We typically brew 10 gal batches & use two 6.5 gal carboys for primary then rack into two 5 gal carboys for secondary. Fermentation is done in a converted chest freezer with two digital controllers...one for cooling & another for heating with a heat blanket. For fermenting a lager the controllers are now set to keep the temps using a thermowell between 48 & 52 degrees F. We plan on fermenting @ those temps for three weeks then reducing the temps for lagering after a diacetyl rest.

The 4 Litre starter did indeed get off to a good start but since the two other smack packs were puffed up we needed to do something fast; so we made the decision to brew up ten gallons & split it evenly between the 2 carboys, then pitch the starter into one of the carboys & use some of the cooled wort for another starter to pitch into the other carboy the next day.

We used a 3 step mash schedule starting @104 F then 140 F to 158 F...30 minutes each with a 90 min boil. The end result was a final wort volume less than the recipe called for; so after huddle we pitched one of the puffed up smack packs & half of the 4 Litre starter into each of the carboys.

On paper the OG was supposed to be around 1.053 but in reality it was 1.064. After 18 hrs no action. However after 24 hrs a nice white foam started to appear in the middle of one carboy & about 4 hrs later the other one started to show some action. Nothing like some of the more active one's we've seen from ales so far. A nice slow & consistent bubbling so far.

We forgot to add the whirlflock, so I hope it doesn't come back to bite us. Other than that I've got my hopes up & am looking forward to the final result.

Happy New Year everyone...
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Lager starter

Postby slothrob » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:44 am

GREM wrote:...since the two other smack packs were puffed up we needed to do something fast.

For future reference, you can store a swollen smack pack in the fridge, where it will be good for weeks. A few days to a week before you are ready to brew again, you can take the pack out and use it for a starter. The same is true of a starter, which can be stored for a couple weeks in the fridge if things ever interrupt a planned brewday.
On paper the OG was supposed to be around 1.053 but in reality it was 1.064.

If you find that your boil-off is more than planned, you can always dilute the wort with pre-boiled water to hit your desired OG. Of course you can always accept the higher OG, like you did, being aware that the beer you are making will finish sweeter and with more body. This kind of OG difference is essentially the only difference between a Helles and a Maibock or a Dunkel and a Bock.
We forgot to add the whirlflock, so I hope it doesn't come back to bite us.

One advantage to a Lager, in this case, is that a 2-3 weeks of Lagering should clear the beer. If it doesn't look to be clearing to your liking, you can always try fining the beer in secondary. Some additional time cold in the keg should also further clear the beer.
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Fermenting Nicely

Postby GREM » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:15 am

I took a peek this morning after about 60 hrs & both carboys have a nice light colored layer of foam about 1/4 " thick with some nice slow bubbles coming out of the airlock at a steady pace.

Thanks so much for helping avoid disaster & for the great learning experience! The plan is to rack into two 5 gal carboys for secondary. When it gets closer to that time I'll check back in with questions about the best way to lower the temps for lagering. :D
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Update & Question

Postby GREM » Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:25 am

It's been twelve days now so an hour ago I took a gravity reading. It's 1.024 @ 48 F. The plan this weekend is to transfer into Corny kegs using low pressure C02 then start dropping temps 1 degree a day until temps reach 33-35 F for lagering for another two to three weeks.

Make sure you give the yeast sufficient time to ferment, plus a couple days, before you cold crash it for lagering. I'd taste it first, to make sure it's clean. A warm diacetyl rest can help reduce acetaldehyde, too.


Given the yeast strain & the gravity readings thus far do I need to do a diacetyl rest or should I just move ahead? The sample tasted ok to me, so I guess my question is does doing a warmer diacetyl rest hurt anything?...Any downsides to doing it anyway?

Thanks...
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Re: Update & Question

Postby slothrob » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:17 pm

GREM wrote:Given the yeast strain & the gravity readings thus far do I need to do a diacetyl rest or should I just move ahead? The sample tasted ok to me, so I guess my question is does doing a warmer diacetyl rest hurt anything?...Any downsides to doing it anyway

The yeast strain and fermentation temperature can hint at whether you might need a diacetyl rest, but the real test is the taste test.

If the beer tastes clean, particularly from diacetyl, sulfur and acetaldehyde, then you probably don't need the diacetyl rest. I don't think there's any risk to doing one anyway, if you want, other than adding a couple days to the process.

If I tasted the beer and it tasted good, I'd probably just start lagering.
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The Latest...

Postby GREM » Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:07 am

If I tasted the beer and it tasted good, I'd probably just start lagering.


The sample tasted good enough to me so I decided to pass on the "D" rest.

After 14 days in the primary carboys I transferred into two 5 gal corny kegs. I failed to release the C02 pressure on the first receiving keg before hooking up the transfer line; so I managed to turn the first carboy into foam resembling something like cold beer poured into a hot glass :!:. Since it was C02 & not oxygen I put the re-sanitized airlock back on & left it alone. The second carboy/corny keg transfer went as planned so I started dropping temps 1 degree a day. After a week I transferred the first carboy (after it settled back down) into a corny keg & took a gravity reading. Down to 1.018 which is target for the recipe. Temps have been holding steady now between 32 F & 35F for the last ten days so the plan is to let them both "lager" at those temps for another week then do another transfer into two more corny kegs for carbonation & conditioning. I'm liking what I see so far & looking forward to the results... :)
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Lager

Postby slothrob » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:08 am

Sounds good. You should have a nice clear beer after the second transfer, and you won't have to worry about leaving the keg undisturbed in the kegerator to avoid stirring up the settled yeast.
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Re: The Latest...

Postby GREM » Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:21 pm

Temps have been holding steady now between 32 F & 35F for the last ten days so the plan is to let them both "lager" at those temps for another week then do another transfer into two more corny kegs for carbonation & conditioning.


I plan to transfer tomorrow. I was originally planning on priming the Corny kegs after transfer with corn sugar & letting them set for a few more weeks @ 35 F. For 2.5 volumes of C02 in each 5 gal Corny keg I'm coming up with 2.69 oz of corn sugar needed per keg. This can be done without moving any of the kegs. Is there going to be enough yeast still available for that to work :?:... or would it be best in this case to just put them in the kegerator @35- 40F & force carb with a steady 11lbs for the next week or two.

Thanks again...
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Carbonation

Postby slothrob » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:23 pm

There should be plenty of yeast to carbonate the beer after priming, but one of the luxuries of kegging is being able to quickly and reliably force carbonate beer and not have a large yeast cake on the bottom to deal with later.
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