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Old 03-13-2011, 03:35 PM   #1
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Default Making a yeast starter from washed yeast. What are some physical signs of success?

I am making a yeast starter from my first attempt at washing yeast and I am not sure if this has been successful. I used the same amount of DME and water as I have in the past but this time I used some washed yeast and I don't have the same signs of activity as I have had before. I usually get some foaming action when I shake/swirl the vessels by hand but not this time. I may have made the mistake of letting the cold washed yeast set out too long (8+ hours overnight) prior to washing. I decanted most of the liquid in my mason jars prior to pitching the yeast into the starter. The
does seem to be a thicker layer of yeast on the bottom than what I started with.

Can anyone tell me some physical signs to look for that shows the starter to be OK?

thanks,

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Old 03-13-2011, 03:40 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by msa8967 View Post
Can anyone tell me some physical signs to look for that shows the starter to be OK?

thanks,
The same as any other liquid yeast...A starter is a starter is a starter...

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.

People always think the yeast at the bottom of the flask is the same, but they are wrong. I am 100% sure your starter took off fine.

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Old 03-13-2011, 04:04 PM   #3
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Thanks for the detailed answer. I am using a soft foam stopper in my two flasks. From many of your previous posts I know to not use air bubbles in an air0lock as a sign that fermentation has started but to use gravity readings.

I don't yet have a stir plate (but hope to eother make one or buy one soon) and thus I do the hand shake/swirl method everytime I walk by the flasks. In the past once I swirled the yeast starter I would see lots of foam and bubbles created that would reach the top and then fall back. First time using washed yeast so I was unsure of what to expect (if anything being different.) I was concerned that I made a msitake of letting the mason jars of washed yeast sit out to long at room temp.

Thanks for all the info. I hope to pitch these later today.

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Old 03-14-2011, 12:45 AM   #4
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Just as with a full batch primary fermentation, the thing that is most easily measurable is specific gravity. If you measure the SG of your starter before pitching the yeast, then you can measure it again after 24 hours or so. If the SG has dropped, then the yeast have been doing their job. Of course, that doesn't tell you whether they have increased their cell count, but if you are keeping it well aerated, you have done your part to promote cell growth.

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Old 03-14-2011, 01:27 AM   #5
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Don't worry about leaving the yeast at room temperature for too long. A few hours will make no measurable difference. If you leave the yeast for several weeks or months at room temperature, that would be different.
Harvested yeast usually takes a bit longer to get going than a fresh smack pack, but once they get going, they work just as well.

-a.

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Old 03-16-2011, 01:07 AM   #6
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Anyone know how long I should wait to check the gravity in my fermentor? This is the first time I have used washed yeast and it has been 24 hours since pitching the yeast. The thickness of the yeast cake became more pronounced after making a starter but I am still not sure of how long to wait to check the sg so that I am confident that the washed yeast is doing its thing.

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Old 03-16-2011, 02:04 AM   #7
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I've been washing and repitching yeast for a while now and I almost always notice a lot of activity in my starters. I generally use a 1000 ml erlenmeyer flask with an airlock (although I know for starters some oxygen exposure is a good thing) and within about 12 hours I'll see at least a good band of krausen on top and in some cases, it'll blow right up into the airlock.

That said, revvy is right: no activity doesn't mean a bad starter and the real test is gravity readings.

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Old 03-16-2011, 02:16 AM   #8
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I agree with Revy that trying to see signs of activity by relying only on the airlock is pointless. What I would like to know at this point is how long I should wait after pitching to check the SG of the beer to see if it has changed enough to indicate that the yeast are doing their job.

Sorry if my previous post was not clear enough about this question.

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Old 03-16-2011, 11:19 AM   #9
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I know you are probably really anxious to find out if your yeast is working, but more than likely they are doing fine. I would wait at least a week before checking gravity.

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