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Old 09-02-2010, 02:16 AM   #1
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Default How can I tell if my yeast starter is dead?

So, last night I made a 2L starter with WLP566 so that I can start brewing a saison tomorrow. When I woke up this morning I noticed that there was no visible foam or activity, but I've never used this strain before so I wasn't sure what to really expect.

Got home this evening, and the starter looks completely still. Just like this morning there is a sediment layer on the bottom that I expect to find in my starters, but I'm worried that could be just from the vial getting added and settling. When I opened the vial last night it actually seemed bubbly and somewhat carbonated, which was something I hadn't seen before.

Soooo...is my yeast dead? I'm not really sure how to go about figuring out if this is normal for this strain or if I need to find myself some new yeast. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 09-02-2010, 06:48 AM   #2
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Do you use a stir plate? if not try swirling the yeast back into suspension, if that does not work add some DME and try again... if still nothing, than your yeast is probably bad

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Old 09-02-2010, 02:18 PM   #3
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Taste the starter...

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Old 09-02-2010, 02:40 PM   #4
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It's only been a few hours. Starters can sometimes take up to three days (though rare) to get going. I bet you it will be going fine tonight though.

But remember, ust like in the fermenter, starter fermentation isn't always dynamic...It doesn't matter one blip in your fermenter or your starter flask if the airlock bubbles or not (if you are using an airlock and not tinfoil,) or if you see a krauzen. In fact starter fermentation are some of the fastest or slowest but most importantly, the most boring fermentations out there. Usually it's done withing a few hours of yeast pitch...usually overnight when we are sleeping, and the starter looks like nothing ever happened...except for the little band at the bottom. Or it can take awhile...but either way there's often no "activity" whatsoever....

I usually run my stirplate for the first 24 hours, then shut it down, if you are spinning your starter it is really hard to get a krausen to form anyway, since it's all spinning, and there's often a head of foam on it from the movement.


All that really matters is that creamy band o yeast at the bottom.





This is a chilled sample so it's flocculated, but even with an unchilled sample you should see a band of yeast at the bottom.

As it is I've only ever seen two krausens actually on my starter, and the evidence of one on the flask at the "waterline" once. But I've never not had a starter take off.

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Old 09-02-2010, 04:02 PM   #5
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The only time I've seen a krausen in a starter it was a VERY fresh Wy3068 and it knocked the foil off the jar.

That reminds me, I need to make a Pils Urquell starter tonight...

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Old 09-02-2010, 06:09 PM   #6
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Awesome, thanks guys. I'm going to just go ahead and start my batch today and pitch what I have. It will likely be fine, I imagine. I just got worried when things were so drastically different from what I'm used to.

Oh, and no stir plate (yet). I just shake the hell out of the little guys!

Off to try out my saison recipe! Thanks for helping me not worry.

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