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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > First Yeast Starter - No Activity
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Old 09-18-2012, 06:03 AM   #1
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Default First Yeast Starter - No Activity

I've never bothered with a yeast starter before and have never had any major problems with fermentation, but after reading so many posts where people swear by it, I decided to give it a shot.

I basically followed White Labs instructions for a 1L starter. I boiled 1/2 cup of DME in 1000 mL for 10 minutes, chilled it down to room temperature, gave it a good shake, and pitched the yeast (WLP810, San Francisco Lager). It has been sitting at room temperature for >2 days and I see absolutely zero signs of any activity. I know it shouldn't be vigorously fermenting or anything, but I was expecting to see at least some sign of life. I've been swirling the wort around occasionally also.

Could something be wrong? Should I be concerned? Can I just pitch the entire 1000mL solution into the wort when the time comes?

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Old 09-18-2012, 07:00 AM   #2
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How old was the yeast? I have had starters that take up to 3 days to get going.

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Old 09-18-2012, 09:05 AM   #3
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I'd expect activity by now, but in starters often times it happens and is over before you notice it. Are there any signs of even the slightest bit of krausen? Even just a few specs of darker brown will indicate activity. What about sweat? Above the wort line to to the next you should get some inner sweat or condensation if activity occurred.

If neither happened, sanitize and take a gravity reading.

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Old 09-18-2012, 12:33 PM   #4
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I'll second the gravity reading, thats the true way to tell... your starter should have been somewhere between 1.03 and 1.04 starting gravity, so if its down around 1.010 or so, then you know that the yeast did what its supposed to. If you have a 2L starter flask you can add another liter of wort to grow some cells, as 1L will basically just wake up the yeast, it won't create a lot of growth in that volume.

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Old 09-18-2012, 12:45 PM   #5
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Something I picked up since using starters, I thought my Weihenstephan Wheat stalled or was dead a few weeks ago. Does it appear any cloudier then when you first pitched it? Also, whats it smell like? Stronger odor usually (but not necessarily always) means its active but slow going.

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Old 09-18-2012, 12:50 PM   #6
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This happened to me the first starter I made also. My problem was I used an airlock on the flask instead of just covering it with foil. It needs to be able to get oxygen.

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Old 09-18-2012, 02:27 PM   #7
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I recently went through something similar with a starter. Things I learned:

1. Lack of bubbling/krausen doesn't mean your culture is dead.
2. Change in color of the starter liquid (brownish to gold/blonde) is an indicator that your culture is growing and viable

Have you noticed a color change?

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Old 09-18-2012, 02:50 PM   #8
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I did use an airlock so that could be part of it. I'm going to switch to foil now for the next 12 hours. I do see some condensation in the neck of the flask. In terms of color change, I suppose it has lightened slightly but that could just be the yeast falling out of solution and settling on the bottom, thus lightening the overlying liquid. The yeast should be plenty viable as the best before date was December and I bought it from the LHBS who takes good care of their yeast.

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Old 09-18-2012, 02:58 PM   #9
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Yep, check gravity - its the only way to tell. I once had a starter with a really aggressive yeast ferment completely out in less than 24 hours. I didn't see the activity and assumed nothing had happened - until I took a gravity reading.

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Old 09-18-2012, 03:42 PM   #10
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Just checked the gravity and it is 1.010. I'm guessing the yeast did its job and I didn't even notice. Stealthy.

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