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Old 08-25-2010, 05:26 AM   #1
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Default How to know yeast viable (starter)

Yeast: White Labs California Ale

Just made my first starter using 1/2 cup Light DME w/ 2 cups of water. 10 minute boil, with a chill to 70 degrees and pitched at 70 in a sanitized brown growler. Aerated by shaking and covered w/ foil.

It's been 3 days, no krausen...what are some signs that the yeast is viable?

My concern is that I put my yeast buried in a cooler with a layer of ice below the yeast, and a layer of ice above the yeast for 7 hours. My thoughts are that this could have possibly lead to the cells freezing.

I just don't know

Kevin

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Old 08-25-2010, 06:31 AM   #2
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Can you smell any alcohol in the growler?

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Old 08-25-2010, 03:28 PM   #3
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Was the yeast not frozen before you dropped it in the starter? And can you any sign of propagation? Three days seems like a long time for a starter that size, as with what sreidy12 said, what do you smell inside the growler?

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Old 08-25-2010, 03:34 PM   #4
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Just 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 08-25-2010, 04:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NBABUCKS1 View Post
Just made my first starter using 1/2 cup Light DME w/ 2 cups of water. 10 minute boil, with a chill to 70 degrees and pitched at 70 in a sanitized brown growler. Aerated by shaking and covered w/ foil.

It's been 3 days, no krausen...what are some signs that the yeast is viable?

My concern is that I put my yeast buried in a cooler with a layer of ice below the yeast, and a layer of ice above the yeast for 7 hours. My thoughts are that this could have possibly lead to the cells freezing.
A 2 cup sized starter is really quite small for a full pack, the yeast will consume the nutrients and sugars very quickly, most likely within 24 hours.

The best way way to test, is to check gravity to see if the yeast has fermented all the sugar.
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Old 08-25-2010, 07:16 PM   #6
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I made a starter with California Ale yeast too. Let it go for 32 hours, there wasn't much of a krausen. But a nice creamy sediment like Revvy's pic. The top had a bit of bubbles going on but no krausen. I could tell it smelled like alcohol smell to it and looked like the creamy sediment almost doubled in size from when i first made the starter

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Old 08-25-2010, 07:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfy View Post
The best way way to test, is to check gravity to see if the yeast has fermented all the sugar.
True, but when making a starter, do you really want to take out a sample from your vessel to read? I never bother. I trust that my yeast is going to reproduce, it's never failed me. So I look for the band and go with it.
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Old 08-25-2010, 08:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
True, but when making a starter, do you really want to take out a sample from your vessel to read? I never bother. I trust that my yeast is going to reproduce, it's never failed me. So I look for the band and go with it.
That's not the question!
(Because you are right, I've never needed to know if my starter is viable because I step them up, watch/check them, and don't freeze them ... besides I have a refractometer so the sample required is 2 drops.).
However, the OP asked "what are some signs that the yeast is viable" when he was unsure and may have frozen the yeast, and a gravity reading is one very good way to check if the yeast has done its job, which it may not have if it was frozen when it was first added.
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Old 08-25-2010, 08:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfy View Post
that's not the question!
(because you are right, i've never needed to know if my starter is viable because i step them up, watch/check them, and don't freeze them).
However, the op asked "what are some signs that the yeast is viable" when he was unsure and may have frozen the yeast, and a gravity reading is one very good way to check if the yeast has done its job, which it may not have if it was frozen when it was first added.

fight s**t is going down!!!
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Old 08-25-2010, 08:51 PM   #10
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No fight, I presume Revvy will agree, just as I agreed with him.

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