The Troublesome Lager

This troublemaker started off as they all do: innocently enough.

I began with the intent to make a lager and the twist in the plan was that I was going to use the yeast that I had for last year’s dunkel. It’s been sitting in my fridge waiting for someone to use it and I just never was able to get it traded to anyone else so…why not me?

I put the yeast in some sugar solution for a day ahead of time to see if it was still good: if it seemed active, great! If not, I could still go to the store and buy a yeast, no harm no foul. 24 hours later, the yeast seemed happy and bubbling so I figured: awesomesauce!

But seven days later, there was virtually no activity on this beer. The airlock was showing little, if any activity. Sometimes it would look like there was but of a push, and shaking it to integrate oxygen seemed to help for a little bit, and sometimes it seemed as though there was negative pressure-that is, air from the outside was pushing in on the wort! That is no good.

Off to FH Steinbarts to ask what to do and after a little discussion, they recommended another yeast. They suggested that a yeast that old is just going to be tired and they reminded me that when making a lager, you generally want to add in twice the yeast as you would ordinarily. I figured this might be the case and I had nothing to lose at this point, right? If another yeast works, then I’ll take it. So I pulled an Oktoberfest Lager Blend on their recommendation, took it home and dumped it in.

The good news: the beer took off. Fermenting beer is happy beer. Or something like that.

The bad news is…I have no idea what’s going to become of any of this. I didn’t give this lager yeast time to double because I figured the sooner I got the yeast in, the better and I was hoping that, tired as my original yeast may have been, it had still done some work. A very tiny amount of work. However it’s still likely that I underpitched.

I racked this beer into secondary last weekend and it tasted a little sweeter than I would like. I know the yeast isn’t going to be very active at this point, but I’m going to shove it into the sub-basement and let it sit for a couple weeks anyway. If it can dry out even a little bit more, I think the beer will be much more drinkable. If not…well, at least it’s not the winter warmer.

3 thoughts on “The Troublesome Lager”

  1. I have found that sometimes these little setbacks result in some really interesting beer. I would be interested in a follow-up on how this turns out, and what you think the two different yeasts might have added to the party.

    1. I actually look forward to this finishing out, because one way or another? It’s going to be something to write about.

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