Lager yeast take off time?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Granitebeard, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (97) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    On Sunday I brewed my first larger beer. I chilled down to about 58F before pitching two packages of wyeast 2124. I placed it in a mini fridge with temp control and it is set to 52F. Here I sit over 48 hours later and there is no airlock activity. Should I grab another pack and pitch it or wait and see?
  2. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (436) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    That is pretty normal for dry lager yeast in my experience. Did you rehydrate or pitch dry? Rehydrating will shorten that time some, but otherwise it's fairly normal.

    Using liquid yeast with the proper starters, they kick off quickly (less than a few hours).

    Also, are you fermenting in a bucket or? Make sure the lid is sealed properly, as it may be going but not holding any pressure to show signs of airlock activity.

    Good luck with your lager!
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,714) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Did you 'pop' your 2124 packages to confirm yeast viability?

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  4. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (436) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    Oops, I don't know why I thought dry yeast here. My apologies.

    As Jack had asked, did you confirm the yeast was viable with the built-in wort/nutrient bag? Did it swell?

    For healthy yeast, pitched at the proper rates, a lag of 48hrs isn't ideal or normal, but possible depending on the age, wort strength and volume.
  5. dmtaylor

    dmtaylor Aspirant (204) Dec 30, 2003 Wisconsin

    Give it a few more hours. Maybe even 72 hours. And yes, double check all your seals and look for krausen. If there are ZERO signs of any ferm within 72 hours, then add more yeast.
  6. InVinoVeritas

    InVinoVeritas Devotee (415) Apr 16, 2012 Wisconsin

    Guys, kinda missing a big question / point here relevant to lag - what's the OG? Calculating pitch rate, two packs of dried yeast is good for a very small lager, 1.030 OG. For example, just brewed a few weeks ago a Helles and a Märzen, pitched the equivalent via starter of 4 and 7 packs, for OGs 1.050 and 1.062 respectively.

    In my experience, with the right pitch amount, lag for lagers only trails ales by about a half day. Obviously, this is a very general statement with assumed holes with all the variables involved.

    This is not intended to make originally poster unnecessarily worred. However, if lag continues, to me it likely points to pitch rate. Pitch rate is critical for lagers - need to help the yeast to be successful in the cold environment.
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  7. InVinoVeritas

    InVinoVeritas Devotee (415) Apr 16, 2012 Wisconsin

    Just saw two packs of liquid. Without question, under pitched. Manufacturing date will make this even worst.
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  8. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (436) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    I agree. When I thought it was dry yeast at first, that would have been a decent pitch rate assuming around 200B cells per packet... But liquid yeast, he probably only pitched around 125-150B total when usually, 400-500B is the required amount for a typical 5-gal, 1.050ish lager.
  9. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (97) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    Ok so it sounds like I should go get more yeast. I don't remember what the OG was, but it was well above 1.03.

    Seems kind of silly to me that they would make it so you buy 4+ packs of yeast for one brew. I get the starter mind set for this, I just have never had better luck with them, and also can do one to the size you are talking.
  10. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,470) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    It's not so much that yeast from a starter is better or worse than yeast directly from a pack. It's really about pitching at an appropriate rate. And with lagers, starters (or repitching) are the way to go if you don't want to break the bank.
  11. premierpro

    premierpro Aspirant (239) Mar 21, 2009 Michigan

    I would warm up your fermenter. Two vials will get the job done with no ill effects. I do not ferment any lager under 54 degrees. I have fermented this strain at 60 degrees and I could not tell any difference. Good luck!
  12. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (436) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    For lagers, either pitch two packs of Saflager W-34/70 (which is a great all around dry yeast by the way, easy and no starter required)... Or you need to make starters, yes, plural.

    Even with a fresh vial (or pack) of yeast, I always have to do a double step to get to proper pitch rates. Usually something like a 1.25L to 2.5L starter, via stirplate, which I start about a week out from my brew day. It's a pain, sure, but lagers require a lot of yeast! I use for the proper pitch rates.

    Pure O2 is your friend as well... I always give 90 seconds of pure O2 to my lagers for fermentation. The proper yeast pitch plus the proper O2 results in strong, quick fermentation (5-7 days to FG)... No issues of stalling out, diacetyl or anything like that. I don't even D-rest anymore, it just stays at 48F the entire time until in the keg, spunded and then crashed to 30F for a few weeks.

    The easy method though, is just pitch 2 packs of dry lager yeast, rehydrated. I've done it quite a bit and the results were excellent. Never any issue.
  13. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,245) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    I did a 4l starter using two wlp block yeast packs for my 1.050 marzen. It took off in less that 12 hours. 2x smack packs is under pitching for sure. Will it ferment? Probably. Will it have that clean lager flavor? Let us know.
  14. TooHopTooHandle

    TooHopTooHandle Initiate (84) Dec 20, 2016 New York

    When I did my lager (1.050) if I remembered correctly and my yeast calculator required 5 liquid yeast packages or a 2 in a 4 liter starter. I used 2 packages (wlp800) in a 4 liter start and also aerated for 90 seconds when I pitched it. I would say with my judgment that you most likely under pitched. I will note that mine did not show any sign until about 72 hours in. I was fermenting at 50 degrees. The lag time did not effect the beer at all imo and I placed 2nd place in a comp with it in the Czech lager category
  15. TheBeerery

    TheBeerery Initiate (84) May 2, 2016 Minnesota

    2.5mil pitch rate (basically 1 smack pack per gallon). High nutrient wort ( step mash, soft boil, sauergut additions), 4hrs lag at 45F. 5 days until spund (1% extract remaining) complete fermentation and off to lagering in 7 days temperature consistent at 45. Assuming 12p beer.
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  16. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,755) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    Always has taken longer for me than ale yeast. Your experience is not outside of my own.
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  17. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,755) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    Another thing that makes sense to me, and someone else should check my logic, is that CO2 solubility at lower temperatures. You are used to airlock activity at ale temps, and based on your experiences, you are inferring some relationship between that activity and fermentation. That relationship probably is different at lager fermentation temps, as more CO2 produced will stay in solution.
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  18. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,755) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    Meant to say “CO2 solubility increases at lower temperature.”

  19. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (97) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    Grabbed two packs of saflager-23 on Friday, got home today and it was chugging along.