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Old 06-24-2009, 04:54 PM   #1
Buffman
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Default Starter too old?

I planned to brew on Tuesday, so I made a yeast starter on Sunday with Wyeast American Ale II (1272). The starter went right to work and has settled down. Work duties put off brew day until Thursday, so the starter has sat with an airlock since Sunday. Will the starter be good to pitch or is there an increased risk of infection? I'm inclined to use it and not worry, but it's going in my first AG batch.



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Old 06-24-2009, 05:01 PM   #2
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You should be fine.



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Old 06-24-2009, 05:04 PM   #3
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Does it smell sour???

The problem with waiting too long with an unhopped starter is that if you were less than stellar with your sanitization of the vessel, airlock etc, wild yeasties, and other nasties can take hold...But uf you didn't break the seal of the airlock, and were reasonably good with your sanitization, it might be okay.

One thing, if it's only slightly off, you can get away with decanting off the "beer" and pitching the yeast....or you can do a quick wash with sterile (preboiled) water before hand.

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Old 06-24-2009, 05:11 PM   #4
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Everything was soaked in StarSan while the starter boiled, and I slightly hopped it with a few Sterling pellets. I haven't smelled it since locking it up. I may pour off the beer - the yeast has settled out very well so that should be a snap.

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Old 06-24-2009, 05:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buffman View Post
Everything was soaked in StarSan while the starter boiled, and I slightly hopped it with a few Sterling pellets. I haven't smelled it since locking it up. I may pour off the beer - the yeast has settled out very well so that should be a snap.
Well if you did all that, I'm pretty sure you are fine...hops are preservatives and antisceptics....that's why we use them in beer, not just to cut the sweetness...but to make the beer not go bad...if you added them to your starter which few of us think to do, and doesn't matter if you are going to use it in a couple days, but like in your case, when schedules get wonky, comes in handy.

Good job!
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Old 06-24-2009, 05:49 PM   #6
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I've often made starters up to 5 days before pitching without any issues. I do pour off the beer, and taste it. If it were to taste bad (ie not just young), I'd pitch a dry yeast instead. I always have a few packs of US-05, S-04 and Notty sitting in the fridge.

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Old 06-24-2009, 06:07 PM   #7
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Starters usually taste pretty bad, and many strains will leave them a little tart, so unless it is really rancid, i wouldn't take a slight tartness to necessarily be a sign of infection.

Five days for it to sit is not ideal but shouldn't ruin it. There are a couple things you could do, though.

First, you could simply refrigerate. This will slow down the yeast and buy you several more days. It also has the handy benefit of causing the yeast to settle out, so you don't have to pitch that nasty starter beer into your batch. Simply take it out several hours before pitching to let it slowly warm to room temp. When your wort is cooled, decant the starter beer off and replace that with an equal amount of fresh wort. You can give it about a half hour on the stir plate to get acclimated the new environment before pitching.

Alternatively, you could just step up the starter by either going to a larger flask with more wort, or dumping about half of the starter out and adding fresh starter wort to what is left to let it repropagate to the previous cell count. This will keep the yeast active and happy until you are ready to brew.

As I said, five days just sitting there won't ruin it but might cause a slower start to your fermentation. The yeast have to have adequate glycogen reserves within their cells in order to have energy to get through the lag and growth phases smoothly prior to the uptake of wort sugars during true fermentation, and sitting around without anything to eat will deplete this over time.

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Old 06-27-2009, 02:55 AM   #8
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UPDATE - I now have the fastest and strongest fermentation I've ever seen. Following a suggestion, I just added more wort to the starter the night before brewing and pitched as usual into a 6.5 gallon carboy. Today it blew the airlock off! Krausen fills the headspace and part of the blowoff tube with which I replaced the airlock. Never seen such a display in my brewing. Thanks for all the advice.



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