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Old 12-24-2011, 03:23 PM   #11
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Activity in a starter really only means one thing and one thing only.

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 if you are using tinfoil, you aren't getting bibbling anyway,) 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. Here's an unchilled version



Same thing, a band.

As it is I've only ever seen two or three krausens actually on my starter (one blew off a bunch of krausen and knocked the tinfoil off the flask,) and the evidence of one on the flask at the "waterline" once. But I've never not had a starter take off.

Look for the yeast at the bottom, don't worry what it looks like on top.

If you have yeast on the bottom....that's all you really need.

If it looks anything like that, your are ready to either feed it again, or use it.

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Old 12-24-2011, 03:49 PM   #12
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I recently had to eat my words on starter activity, I used to think that I had to see something happen in a starter to think that is was done. I would want to some evidence of a krausen having happened or a chance in color. I have been making starters for the last 3 years and stepping up from slants from slants for the last 12 months and every time I saw the same reaction and assumed that is what I would always see. I would have a krausen, sometimes an explosion removing the foil and covering the stir plate in yeastie ooze and always saw a change in color making the starter milky. Interestingly that was when I lived in Hawaii where temps are basically the same year round.

Since moving to PA where my house is cooler and water is different I now have had 5 starters that show absolutely no signs that anything is going on. I have been just about to throw them out every time accept my better sense (and words echoing in my ears from Revy's posts) saying leave it be, that made me let it sit and every time I get my yeast settling out in about 1/2 and hour.

Like Revy says trust the yeast will do its job, if it has been on the stir plate for 24 hrs and it is not a really old sample etc then switch it off for 20-30min and see if the yeast is flocking out.

Clem

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Old 12-24-2011, 04:30 PM   #13
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Yeast at the bottom is a sure sign. You won't see this with a stir plate unless you turn it off for a few. Some other good indications of activity are color change, smell and condensation inside the starter vessel. When using a stir plate, I've also noticed that when all the sugar is consumed and the yeast are ready to floc out, you will see some wavy lines in the starter. This is less pronounced with lower floculating yeast but I always see it occur.

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Old 12-24-2011, 05:51 PM   #14
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Then I rest assured of the original intention. This starter had a foam topper which most definitely let the gases out very easily. It smelled very strongly of yeast activity. There were small bubbles rising but dissipated soon after reaching the small head of foam. There is a 1/4 inch of yeast layer on the bottom . . . job done. Thanks for the info guys.

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Old 07-04-2014, 09:00 PM   #15
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Thread necro...found this just as I was wondering what was up with my first ever starter. Four years brewing, first time trying to do a starter. Going with the shake it up method every time I walk by, so going to trust that the yeast settling inbetween shakes is actually growing up to more than just the smack pack had.
Thanks.

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Old 07-04-2014, 09:29 PM   #16
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Thanks for the necro, this thread was really informative!

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Old 07-09-2014, 08:40 PM   #17
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Well, posting an update. Things worked pretty good and it smells AMAZING in there.

By later in the day, after brew was going I did a quick swirl and shake and nearly blew the aluminum top off the bottle. While it wasn't 'active' it was surely storing up CO2 somehow...LOL. So be careful with the agressive swirling if you have ignored it for a few hours brewing the next day.

Active fermentation didn't seem to happen quicker, still took almost 24 hours and it peaked out and dropped krausen in about four days. So that is all about as expected from when I don't use a starter, but this was 4 month old smack pack and brewers friend did say it was only 15% viable...so maybe avg times are good here?

Anyway, going to be another 3-4 weeks before I taste test it.

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