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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Starter has a faint wine smell!?
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Old 11-10-2011, 12:54 AM   #1
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Default Starter has a faint wine smell!?

I just took a 1.5L WLP810 (San Fran Lager) starter off of the stir plate after 48 hrs. I took the lid off of my container to remove the stir-bar so I can crash it in the fridge over night. I noticed a bit of a "wine smell" ... Is this normal? Usually my starters just smell like beer. Is this a sign that my starter is infected? How would I know for sure if it is indeed infected?

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Old 11-10-2011, 01:10 AM   #2
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After doing a search of this topic on this sight it would appear that this sour/wine taste might be normal for a starter. I'm thinking after it crashes I'll take a little taste and make up my mind if I should pitch the yeast or not.

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Old 04-21-2012, 03:07 PM   #3
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What did you end up doing here? My past two starters made from rinsed yeast have had a fairly strong banana ester. I didn't use the first one, contemplating using this second one today. After Crash cooling, I tasted the decant starter beer and it tasted kinda of wine like.

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Old 04-21-2012, 03:11 PM   #4
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Easiest solution I know of is not to sniff your starters. Or your fementing beers. Fermentation is ugly and stinky even when everything is fine.

Yes it's quite common for starter "beers" to sour, it doesn't mean anything for the yeast below. But remember one of the most important roles of hops is of a preservative. Without some form of prservative, (either hops or the herbs traditionally added to gruits) beer will sour quite rapidly. And all a starter is is a small beer. Some folks add a hop pellet or two to thier starters but that's not really important especially if you are decanting your starters.

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Old 04-21-2012, 04:34 PM   #5
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Wow,that explains why my gruit ale,turned to tart lemon beer.

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Old 04-21-2012, 06:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Easiest solution I know of is not to sniff your starters. Or your fementing beers. Fermentation is ugly and stinky even when everything is fine.

Yes it's quite common for starter "beers" to sour, it doesn't mean anything for the yeast below. But remember one of the most important roles of hops is of a preservative. Without some form of prservative, (either hops or the herbs traditionally added to gruits) beer will sour quite rapidly. And all a starter is is a small beer. Some folks add a hop pellet or two to thier starters but that's not really important especially if you are decanting your starters.
Yes and No...

If one always smells/tastes starters and or fermentations then they can avoid potential problems in their full batch of beer. Every yeast strain is different. When I made a starter with my kolsch yeast it threw a bunch of sulfur, but I knew that yeast was prone to do that so that smell told me "hey, its going great!" The banana smell, to my knowledge is a sign of stressed yeast most likely from a higher fermentation temperature. I pitched my starter at 65, but its very likely it rose to the mid 70s while i was a work. It was about 69 when i got home late last night.

I know I can pitch the yeast from this starter and make beer. I just like to try and do everything I can to make the best beer possible. I am trying to decide if I want to use this starter yeast of rinsed wlp002 or go with a dry yeast backup I have. The banana smell I got was nowhere in the taste, which leads me to think this starter will be ok for my pale ale.
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Old 04-21-2012, 06:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brettwasbtd View Post
What did you end up doing here? My past two starters made from rinsed yeast have had a fairly strong banana ester. I didn't use the first one, contemplating using this second one today. After Crash cooling, I tasted the decant starter beer and it tasted kinda of wine like.
I ended up using it without any problems. I've since learned that lager yeasts will be quite funky in a starter and during fermentation. I can't really comment on your "banana" issues, as that hasn't happened to me (that I know of). I would say don't worry about it if you are quite sure of your sanitation habbits..
Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Easiest solution I know of is not to sniff your starters. Or your fementing beers. Fermentation is ugly and stinky even when everything is fine.

Yes it's quite common for starter "beers" to sour, it doesn't mean anything for the yeast below. But remember one of the most important roles of hops is of a preservative. Without some form of prservative, (either hops or the herbs traditionally added to gruits) beer will sour quite rapidly. And all a starter is is a small beer. Some folks add a hop pellet or two to thier starters but that's not really important especially if you are decanting your starters.
You're quite right! Now whenever I make a starter the entire house gets a sour beer smell to it. I don't even notice it anymore, but if someone comes over to visit they will always say "ewww what's that SMELL?"... I just say "sorry"

On a serious note, I sometimes have wort leftover from my boil since I design my recipes at 6 gallons now. I usually freeze it and save it for starters. So, with that said, a lot of my starters have hops in the mix. I never smell or taste them anymore. I just decant and pitch... No worries!
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