WLP820 (Oktoberfest) ferment temp

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by tngolfer, Aug 28, 2012.

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  1. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (75) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    My bottle of Oktoberfest Lager Yeast (WLP820) says:

    "Shake yeast well, open cap carefully, add to 5 gallons of aerated wort at 70-75F. Keep at this temperature until fermentation begins."

    I was planning on cooling my wort to the upper 40s and pitching there. Does anybody pitch above 70 for a lager?
  2. DNuggs

    DNuggs Aspirant (281) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Are you planning on making a starter? One vial of lager yeast is not going to be nearly enough to take care of a 5-gallon batch. That said, I typically cool my lagers to the upper 40's, pitch the yeast, let it naturally rise up to ~150-152 degrees and hold it there for 2-4 weeks.
  3. randal

    randal Initiate (80) Apr 21, 2004 Colorado

    Expect challenges with first generation 820. I became frustrated enough that I now use 830 almost exclusively for my German lagers. Also to the point above; make a starter. This is not optional.
  4. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (75) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    Yes, I'm making a starter.

    That stinks to hear I might have issues with the 820. What kind of issues did you have, slow start? Stuck fermentation?
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,931) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Below is what White Labs says about WLP820:

    “WLP820 Oktoberfest/Märzen Lager Yeast
    This yeast produces a very malty, bock like style. It does not finish as dry as WLP830. This yeast is much slower in the first generation than WLP830, so we encourage a larger starter to be used the first generation or schedule a longer lagering time.”

  6. Naugled

    Naugled Crusader (730) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    No you don't! :astonished:
  7. jokelahoma

    jokelahoma Zealot (531) May 9, 2004 Missouri

    Lots if people pitch warm with lagers. Those people are nuts, in my opinion, but they do it. I find the beer is cleaner if you follow a Narziss-ish fermentation. Pitch cold, stay cold.
  8. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (75) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    I decided to split the difference. I brewed today and pitched in the lower 60s. I set my frig for 56 due to the recommendations of the user reviews on WL's website.

    Thanks for everyone's help. Hopefully by the end of October I will have a delicious Oktoberfest.
  9. carteravebrew

    carteravebrew Zealot (502) Jan 21, 2010 Colorado

    Not advising this, just sharing a story. I brewed a smoked rye lager and used WLP838 Southern German Lager Yeast. In the 100*F weather, the coldest I could get my wort was 75*F, so I went ahead and pitched, then put the carboy in the chest freezer. The beer turned out delicious without any nasty esters and whatnot. It probably got down to the 50-55*F range in about 24 hours. This was before I read the recommendation of chilling the beer in the chest freezer BEFORE pitching :grimacing: which is what I ended up doing for me Munich helles last weekend (and will continue to do...)
  10. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (75) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    I have the same question because it never really got answered. Why does WL recommend fermenting between 70-75 for their lager yeasts? I'm using 830 this weekend and started my starter last night so I had the vial in front me.
  11. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,393) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    They don't really recommend fermenting at 70-75. They recommend pitching at a high temp and then lowering to normal lager fermentation temps once you see fermentation has begun. IMO, the reason they do this is that it's a sure fire way to a short lag time, and they avoid all the 'I pitched my yeast 2 days ago and see no signs of activity' questions, which happens more often with lagers than with ales.

    I pitch lager yeast at lager fermentation temps.

    Also, as others said, you really need a starter for 5 gallons of any lager I can think of. Not just (or even mainly) because of first generation performance issues. But also because there are nowhere near enough cells in one vial to get an adequate pitch rate.
  12. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (75) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    Ah, pitching vs. fermenting. I guess I didn't pay that much attention. That makes sense.

    I only have a 1 qt/1 L starter container so I was planning on doing a stepped starter (correct term?) where I decant the first quart and repitch to a second starter. Is this equivalent to about a 1.5 qt starter? It would be less than 2, right?
  13. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,393) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    A big factor is innoculation rate vs. starter size, and it's not particulary intuitive. A two step starter where each step is 1L will normally get you more cells than a single 2L starter.

    Here's a calculator that works well with stepped starters...


    There's also a page there that explains regular starters and stepped starters...

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