Sulfur smell during first few days in fermenter

Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:59 pm

I have a question that I know was answered on one of the Sunday Sessions (cant remember which one...I was just introduced to the show a week ago and have listened to many shows on itunes!) and figured it would be easier to ask than try to find it in the show again.

I brewed an American light lager on this past Sunday and put it in my fermenter that night, placing it in my basement which is roughly 56-59 degrees F. After roughly 24 hours i had a decently strong sulfur smell that has since died down a bit (72 hours later). One thing i want to note is that i haven't seen many signs of fermentation in the air lock.

1.) Should I be concerned about the sulfur smell or is that normal due to the type of beer? (i think i heard them saying on the show that the lager yeast can produce things like sulfur smells)

2.) How long should I wait before determining that the yeast isn't working? If it isn't, is there anything I can do to revive the batch or is it junk?

Thanks for the help!
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Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:40 pm

Relax, everything is fine. Most lager yeasts will produce a sulfur smell during fermentation. This will go away as fermentation progresses. Likewise, slow fermentation is also normal for a lager due to the low temperature. If you got the sulfur smell, fermentation is indeed underway. You won't see a lot of action in the air lock. If you have any kind of leak around the fermenter lid (if you are using a bucket) you may be losing pressure there instead of through the air lock. It doesn't matter if it does leak, nothing is going to crawl in there.

If you pitched using only a small starter or (heaven forbd! :shock: ) no starter, you will have extremely slow activity. If this is the case, be prepared to go a couple of weeks before the gravity drops low enough to do your diacetyl rest.

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Fri May 02, 2008 9:36 am

if you're used to ale fermenations, don't forget the colder a liquid the more gas it can hold

while an ale can quickly overload the beer with CO2 and start the fermenter bubbling, a lager is both working colder so it's working slower, and it is has to produce more CO2 to show a reaction -- because the beer is colder and can hold more gas
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