Holy Cow - That's a Long Time (WLP820 Lag)

Nov 21, 10:05 AM

I am no stranger to lagers. I fully understand the differences with technique. I just wanted to share an experience I just had with my latest Pilsener — the starter took forever to get going.

WLP820, got the starter going on Thursday of the week in question, on the stir plate (off and on) until brew day on Sunday. The mash and boil went without incident, nothing strange there, pitched the yeast early Sunday afternoon and waited.

And waited…

And Waited some more….

After just a little bit more waiting, finally there was some activity in the fermenter. Thursday at lunchtime. So what’s that, roughly 4 full days for the yeast to kick in. Fermenting just fine right now at 54 degrees. Yeast was approx 60 degrees when pitched into the starter at 60 degrees. The starter was at 65 degrees when pitched into the fermenter at 65 degrees. The fermenter was put into my cold place and allowed to cool down to fermenting temp of 54.

A few things in retrospect that I could have done different – I never checked the starter to see if it actually “started”. I normally never do, pitch from the vial into the flask, put it on the stir plate for a day or two, then pitch into the fermenter after force cooling the wort. Lesson #1 – make sure the yeast is working.

Larger starter. I pitched two vials into the flask. I should have made sure they started, then transferred the slurry off to another flask and grew even more yeast. I figure I underpitched – I just never had this issue before with my pilsenser. Lesson #2 – make sure there is enough yeast.

Finally, don’t know what you’d call this one, but I believe I started the ferment too cold. In the past, I usually let the fermenter sit at 65 – 70 until the ferment starts, then move to my cool place for the remainder. Lesson #3 – make sure lesson #1 and #2 were followed and this one won’t make a huge difference.