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Old 11-10-2012, 06:30 PM   #1
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Default Problems/Confusion with Yeast Starter

As a beginner, this is my first yeast starter, but from what I have read, it will improve the taste of the beer, so I decided to not be lazy and put one together for my first attempt at a partial mash.

On Thursday night, I boiled 1 cup of LME with 7 cups of water for ten minutes, funneled it into a 1/2 gallon carboy, pitched the yeast, gave the carboy a good shake, cheered on the yeast, and went to bed.

The next morning, I was pleased to see the airlock bubbling once every two seconds. Then, I came home from work, and airlock activity had stopped.

I took a gravity reading 1.080 prior to pitching.

I'm confused, because the posts I have read about problems with yeast starters are mostly about delayed yeast activity. I seemed to have a lot of early yeast activity followed by nothing.

Is everything OK in there? Is this starter OK to pitch? Did I not cheer hard enough for the yeast? Should I take another gravity reading?

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Old 11-10-2012, 06:33 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by UrineDrinker View Post
As a beginner, this is my first yeast starter, but from what I have read, it will improve the taste of the beer, so I decided to not be lazy and put one together for my first attempt at a partial mash.

On Thursday night, I boiled 1 cup of LME with 7 cups of water for ten minutes, funneled it into a 1/2 gallon carboy, pitched the yeast, gave the carboy a good shake, cheered on the yeast, and went to bed.

The next morning, I was pleased to see the airlock bubbling once every two seconds. Then, I came home from work, and airlock activity had stopped.

I took a gravity reading 1.080 prior to pitching.

I'm confused, because the posts I have read about problems with yeast starters are mostly about delayed yeast activity. I seemed to have a lot of early yeast activity followed by nothing.

Is everything OK in there? Is this starter OK to pitch? Did I not cheer hard enough for the yeast? Should I take another gravity reading?
What is the gravity reading now?
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:34 PM   #3
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The point of a starter is to grow healthy yeast. By making a starter of 1.080 (!) that's a really high OG and it can stress the yeast. Since it's a small amount of wort, starters often ferment out in 12-24 hours.

Ideally, the SG of a starter is 1.035-1.040, so I'm not sure what to tell you. You may have grown more yeast, but I don't even reuse yeast that was used in a beer above 1.065.

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Old 11-10-2012, 06:36 PM   #4
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When doing a starter you should weigh out the DME in a 10:1 ratio such as 100grams DME to 1L of water. This will produce a fg of 1.040 which is the recommended strength of a starer to grow a healthy cell count

As for activity, usually starters ferment out pretty quick, within 12-24 hours depending on the stir/shake method employed. Sometimes, it is difficult to see any activity at all, depends on the yeast

As for making starters, it is one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve your beer and if done properly with good aeration, lag time is shortened.

As for pitching, if you have time you can cold crash it and force the yeast to settle out over 12 hours, decant the finished beer on top, leave a little and swirl up as a slurry to direct pitch

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Old 11-10-2012, 06:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. It's at 1.055 right now. I didn't realize to shoot for 10:1/1.040 - I must have either gotten bogus information online or done the metric conversion inaccurately.

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Old 11-10-2012, 07:16 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses. It's at 1.055 right now.
You have caught it in time to prevent pooped out yeast. Boil some water in a covered pan about 10 min and cool it, still covered. Dilute your gravity to about 1.040 or so and let it ferment out and drop. As that is happening, shake the container once in a while to help oxygenate the wort. You'll be fine.
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Old 11-10-2012, 07:40 PM   #7
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You have caught it in time to prevent pooped out yeast. Boil some water in a covered pan about 10 min and cool it, still covered. Dilute your gravity to about 1.040 or so and let it ferment out and drop. As that is happening, shake the container once in a while to help oxygenate the wort. You'll be fine.
^^ This. And remove the airlock. you want to introduce oxygen into a starter to help the yeast reproduce. Take a piece of foil, sanitize it and cover the mouth of your vessel loosely. Shake up the wort every time you pass by. It should go a little lower in gravity.

Sometimes starters show very little in activity that you would see in a normal brew. I use a stirplate and sometimes the only sign that I see is very tiny bubbles rising in the wort and an increased lay of yeast on the bottom when taken off the stirplate.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sudbuster View Post
You have caught it in time to prevent pooped out yeast. Boil some water in a covered pan about 10 min and cool it, still covered. Dilute your gravity to about 1.040 or so and let it ferment out and drop. As that is happening, shake the container once in a while to help oxygenate the wort. You'll be fine.
I did the above (diluted to exactly 1.040), am shaking periodically, and have replaced the airlock with some loose foil. I'm going to give it some time and test the gravity again. Any gravity range I should shoot for?

Also, do I still need to decant the top, and use what is in the bottom, or should I be using everything in the carboy as the starter?

(Thanks again)
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrineDrinker

I did the above (diluted to exactly 1.040), am shaking periodically, and have replaced the airlock with some loose foil. I'm going to give it some time and test the gravity again. Any gravity range I should shoot for?

Also, do I still need to decant the top, and use what is in the bottom, or should I be using everything in the carboy as the starter?

(Thanks again)
You don't really need to check gravity again, just give it a shake every time you walk by it and it should be fermented out by this time tomorrow:

If you have time to put it in the fridge for 18-24 hours before brewing then do so, decant as mentioned prior and pitch when ready. If you don't have time you can pitch the whole starter
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:16 PM   #10
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You don't really need to check gravity again, just give it a shake every time you walk by it and it should be fermented out by this time tomorrow:
After following everyone's instructions with the yeast, and brewing the partial mash last night (Sunday), I woke up this morning and the airlock was going crazy!

Thanks!
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