making a lager yeast starter

lager starter bubbling away

feeling a little sentiment for san francisco, I decided to brew an anchor steam beer clone.

  • steam/california common beers are native to this area, and although they use lager yeast, they ferment at slightly warmer temperatures, traditionally without refrigeration (see the link for a lot more info).
  • since I can get away with slightly higher primary fermentation temps, I figured a steam beer would be a good introduction to brewing lagers.
  • I also decided to brew this steam beer the old-fashioned way (without refrigeration) after determining that my shed held a consistent temperature under 60F even during moderately warm days.

however, due to the decreased primary fermentation temperatures for lagers as opposed to ales, a significant starter was in order.

  • learning my lesson from my last starter preparation, I added a little less than 4oz of DME and a pinch of yeast nutrient before adding any water to my flask.

DME and nutrient in the flask

  • I then added 800mL of water and a drop or two of fermcap (after confirming that the sodium metabisulphite in the solution was only used as a preservative and would not adversely affect my brew – see comments from my last starter session).

water and fermcap added to flask

  • I then boiled the solution for approx. 10 minutes, with no boil overs or other issues.

boiling starter wort

cooling starter wort

added propagor yeast

  • I was a little concerned that the propagator pack had not swollen during the many hours after I smacked it before I added it to the starter wort, but I figured it was just due to the smaller size compared to the activator packs.  however, when I saw absolutely no activity in the starter after 12 hours, I knew something was up.  I ran over to sf brewcraft (review coming this week) and grabbed a packet of saflager s-23 dry lager yeast, which I added to the starter (and which immediately took off).

saflager s-23 yeastto the rescue

  • this is the third time I have had problems with william’s yeast in the past year, and although they do send you a complimentary replacement packet, it’s usually too late to be of any use since I (and most others) do their brewing on the weekends and make starters only a day or two before that.  it’s a bummer, and unfortuantely I think I will get my yeast elsewhere from now on.

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