Losing sleep here....
Hi, just brewed my first professional lager and am getting pretty nervous. Pitched a "15 bbl" pitch of WLP833 into about 11 bbl of 16.4ºP beer at 10ºC. Raised temp to 11ºC after about 16 hours. 40 hours after pitching, no activity is noticable. The pH has dropped only from 5.01 to 4.99, and samples drawn from about 6 inches above the cone are crystal clear -- not much yeast in them.
What is a normal lag time for this yeast? White Labs' website says I may not see activity for up to 72 hours when cold pitching lager yeast, but that seems more aimed at under-pitching homebrewers, don't you think?
If this doesn't start up soon, I'm thinking of pushing some oxygen up through the bottom of the fermenter to give them some air to breathe and get them up in the beer. Is there anything else I can do?
I had a similar problem. When you pitch White lab yeast, make sure you follow their directions on the bottle. Let the yeast sit out in room temp for two hours or so before it is pitched.
How many hours has it been? If it has been more than a couple of days, I wouldn't push oxygen up there. If you do, just shoot a couple of quick shot up there to stir up the yeast.
Be patient, it took about 72 hours for my last batch to start and it is fininishing just fine.
shoulda pitched warmer
Looks like you probably pitched enough yeast, but it was too cold, I think. What do the included instructions say re: pitching?? Ales say start at 75 and cool at first sign of krausen. Maybe lagers should be colder, but not 10C??
I had the same concern as you probably had,"I don't want any fruity esters in my lager" and I heard it directly from Chris White's mouth: Ester formation does not occur during the first 24 hours. I believe him and have not had a problem since.
You need the higher temp for good growth. My guess is that your growth was very little due to the little buggers freezin their tails off!
MAybe I'm way off-but that's what I think.
First, I would turn your jackets off.
Then,I would call White labs.
Then I would rouse yeast with O2 but I'm not so sure that will help.
Then I owuld call another brewer and borrow a good healthy lager yeast. Don't worry about the strain-pitch it and cross your fingers.
White Labs has a different formula for pitchable sizes than does wyeast so your 15bbl pitch might be enough for an ale but at lager temps could be to low. For a 15bbl Pitchable lager strain you need double the yeast so double the cost about $600-$700 bucks. Quick fix shut off Jackets, inject o2, when fermentation starts let it warm a bit to 12-14celcius or so then when the gravity has started to drop you can bring your temp down to 10 C. As for 10c/50F being to cold maybe for the low pitch rate but if you have plenty of yeast there shouldn't be a problem. One other problem is that you are pitching into a pretty big beer at 16plato I know that now a days that's normal strength but the yeast may not think so. One suggestion I have for next time is start your yeast in a normal gravity brew 12 plato and harvest off that for the big beers. all else fails get some lager yeast from some else. hope that helps.
After a call to White Labs, I allowed the temp to rise until fermentation started. All that was required was a rise to 13ºC and I let it go up to 14 just to be nice. Once I'm sure it's going to keep going happily, I'll back it down a bit.
Seems that the problem is that when you order a "15 bbl" pitch from WL, they're assuming that you're warm pitching when they dole it out. For cold pitching, you're supposed to order a "30 bbl" pitch for your 15 bbl batch.