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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > 1st post - Yeast starter question
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Old 12-18-2012, 04:52 AM   #11
zeg
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It sounds like you're using dry yeast (guessing from the word "packet"). If so, did you really make a starter---i.e., add the yeast to a jar full of wort---or simply rehydrate in water?

If the latter, 3 hours of hanging out without any food is going to make the yeast pretty pissed off. It's hard to get solid numbers on many varieties of yeast, but on a wine yeast I've used a couple times, there is an instruction to pitch no more than 45 minutes after starting rehydration. That agrees with some information I've seen elsewhere for beer yeasts, so I think it's probably a fairly general goal. Either way, you probably didn't kill all your yeast, but you may well have knocked the viability down pretty significantly.
(here's some very useful information I just came across: http://www.homebrewersassociation.or...70262#msg70262)

I've not ever had a beer take more than about 12 hours before krausen was evident, but if you're in a bucket fermenter you can't see that. While that's not encouraging, take solace in the sticky thread about fermentation taking up to 72 hours to begin. You've got a good day and a half to go before it's time to worry---it's probably not a great sign for your beer if it takes that long to get going (assuming an ordinary starting gravity and a typical ale yeast), but in the vast majority of cases the magic will still happen.

If you don't see bubbling after 72 hours, I'd carefully open the lid and see whether there's evidence of fermentation. It's quite possible that your bucket lid is not airtight. If there's really nothing going on at that point, I'd be strongly inclined to add dry yeast (whether you used dry or liquid to start).

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Old 12-18-2012, 05:08 AM   #12
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I mis-spoke. I meant rehydrated, not starter, as it was a dry yeast. I read the post you linked to, Zeg (very helpful, BTW). I will wait until Wednesday morning and see if anything is going on. It seemed like there was some initial bubbling on the first day, but I am seeing nothing now... I guess time will tell. The OG was 1.064, in the range of what the instructions said: 1.056 - 1.064.

Dr. Cone seems to be saying that it should be OK, but not ideal. Am I interpreting this correctly?

"We recommend that the rehydrated yeast be added to the wort within 30
minutes. We have built into each cell a large amount of glycogen and
trehalose that give the yeast a burst of energy to kick off the growth
cycle when it is in the wort. It is quickly used up if the yeast is
rehydrated for more than 30 minutes. There is no damage done here if it is
not immediatly add to the wort. You just do not get the added benefit of
that sudden burst of energy."

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Old 12-18-2012, 03:58 PM   #13
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Yes, it should be ok, it just won't take off as fast as it might have otherwise done.

Assuming you're using a bucket, those are rather unreliable for getting an airtight seal. It can happen that you have one at first, so bubbles go through the airlock, and between pressure, thermal changes, and being moved or bumped, that a leak develops somewhere else. I don't use buckets, but I saw this recently on a jug with a metal lid I'd drilled to install an airlock in. It bubbled the first day or so, then a leak developed somewhere.

It's nothing to worry about.

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Old 12-18-2012, 05:09 PM   #14
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Thanks, Zeg. Any way to fix said leaks? Other than just pushing on the top and hoping for a proper seal?

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Old 12-18-2012, 05:19 PM   #15
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As already mentioned, fermentation can take up to 72 hours to start and this will depend upon the yeast used, how well the wort was aerated and pitching at the proper rate for the said beer. Airlock activity only means the beer is off gassing and relieving built up pressure in the vessel. If there is a leak in the seal then the gas will escape somewhere other than the airlock.

You can take off the lid, check to see if there is krausen development and then re-seat the lid. You can even take a gravity sample to see if it is dropping. Gravity readings are really the only way to tell exactly what your beer is doing.

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Old 12-18-2012, 05:20 PM   #16
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Afraid I can't offer much help, as I nearly always use better bottles. (My claim that the seals are unreliable is based on reading various posts around this forum, not direct experience with bucket fermenting.)

If I suspected a problem, I would probably press firmly all around the circumference of the lid. You can also test by slowly pressing down a bit on the center of the lid---if the lid is airtight, bubbles should come out through the airlock. (When you're done, release the lid SLOWLY so you don't suck liquid back out of the airlock, and don't do this if your airlock is overfilled!) If it doesn't bubble, you definitely have a leak. If it does bubble, you probably don't, but it's conceivable it's a slow leak that can't keep up with your pressing. (In that case, I'd expect you to get some bubbles when vigorous fermentation sets in for the same reason, though.)

At this point, I would not do anything further to try to seal it up. You're more likely to do harm than good, since a small leak won't hurt anything.

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Old 12-19-2012, 05:09 AM   #17
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If you don't have obvious activity by now, get another pack of yeast and sprinkle it right on to the wort.

I see a lot of the "it can take 72 hours" posts on here, but I've never had a beer take that long to start weather using dry, vile, smack pack, or bottle harvest. Actually I've never had it take more than about 6 hours to get activity with the exception of a pack of S04 about a month ago. I can only assume it had been exposed to extreme heat or mishandled at one point and that killed it. Pitched some Bell's I had just washed the day before and off it went in about 3 hours.

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Old 12-19-2012, 05:46 AM   #18
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Check the rubber seal around the airlock. I brewed a double IPA last weekend and thought it wasn't fermenting after 36 hours. Went and got more yeast but then realized there wasn't a good seal around the airlock. Applied some keg lube around the seal and it was bubbling away. Fermenting the whole time. Spray some starsan on the lid and see if there are bubbles

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Old 12-20-2012, 02:10 AM   #19
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For those following what's been going on, I opened the lid this afternoon and...

TADA!

Nothing.
Nothing.
Nothing.

The oatmeal stout was black as tar and sitting there without the slightest glimmer of yeasty movement. Not even a bubble on top...

So, I decided to pitch the whole thing. When I did, there was a whole ton of dead yeast at the bottom of the fermenter (I had strained my beer, so most of the trub had been taken out). I had made some other mistakes with the steep-to-convert process and it just seemed like the whole thing had been a miserable failure. But I learned a whole ton about the process! I bought a new Brewer's Best Oatmeal Stout kit and re-brewed this afternoon. Everything went swimmingly. Yeast was only rehydrated for about 20 minutes before getting pitched into the dark, aerated worty waters. I'm excited. I felt about ten thousand times better about this brew than my first and I'm only out $50. No biggie.

So, a word to the wise (and not so wise, such as myself) never let your rehydrated yeast sit for 3 hours. It will die. Thanks for all of the advice.

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Old 12-20-2012, 03:00 AM   #20
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Aww, that's too bad. Did you taste the "beer" before dumping it? If it wasn't tasting bad, you probably *could* have repitched without a problem.

But I don't blame you for starting over, I'd have trouble being excited about babysitting a beer I didn't have a good feeling about. Glad to hear your second try worked better! Isn't it amazing how much you learn from screwing things up the first time around?

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