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Old 03-05-2011, 09:00 PM   #1
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Default I think I'm done with WYeast

The very first batch I ever made I made with WYeast and had to repitch several days later due to zero activity. I thought I pitched at too high of a temp and it was my fault, now I'm not so sure.

My second batch I used dry yeast, everything worked fine. Had a very successful and "explosive" fermentation period.

Starting my third batch tomorrow so I did my starter this morning. Figured I try a WYeast again. This time I did everything spot on, temps, ratio, everything. It's been about 7 hours now and I have zero activity going on in my starter!

The only thing I can figure is the yeast is dead before I even pitch it. I'm in Wichita, KS and the LHBS's WYeast selection sucks (they only carry 3 types). Not only that but ALL the wheat ones were dated Jan 18th, 2011. It should be good for 90 days according to the web site.. but dunno.

Think it's safe to use the non-refrigerated dry yeast that came in my coopers wheat kit?

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:03 PM   #2
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I don't think you've given the starter enough time before saying it's not working! Give it up to 72 hours before worrying.

A starter usually ferments out in a day or two, but since it's a relatively small amount of fermentation, you may miss all the signs of it. You don't tend to get much of a krausen with a small starter.

I assume your starter's OG was about 1.040?

A one-day lead for a starter is cutting it close, but at least it's a bit of a start. I'd suggest making the starter at least two days before brewing, but I usually make a fairly large starter and start about 3-4 days ahead.

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:07 PM   #3
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Ya, usually starters are fast. I'd expect at least something at 7 hours. I'd bet it's due to bad handling on the part of your LHBS or somewhere in shipping. I've never gotten Wyeast from my LHBS older than 3 weeks and usually it's within 2 weeks. How does the yeast smell before you pitched in either case? I'm not sure on the dry yeast, but if it's not too old and never got too hot it's probably OK.

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:13 PM   #4
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Are you using a stir-plate or doing any agitation? When I use a stirplate, I have always seen some amount of krausen. Even without a stirplate I have always seen some visible signs of fermentation within 7 hours, but I will qualify that with the fact that I've only dealt with about 5 Wyeast strains, 1007, 1968, 1762, 3787, 2633. I know other more experienced brewers like Yoop have noted starters with little or no visible signs of fermentation. Maybe yours is one of those.

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:15 PM   #5
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find one that will ship outside your area with a cold-pack. Due to what I suspect is low turnover at the LHBS, i have started buying from one in Austin that will ship my yeast with a cold pack. Since I'm about 3 hours away, i get it the next day and have never had any issue with Wyeast products... prefer their smackpack as I can verify the viability before opening the package.

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:17 PM   #6
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What are you meaning by "activity?" if you are going by airlock and not a hydrometer reading, especially one after 72 hours than how can you be pronouncing your yeast dead, especially if you've made a starter. If you are purely going by airlock then you pretty much are jumping the gun on nothing. I find it unlikely that your yeasts are all bad....

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:21 PM   #7
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When I use a fresh/new smack pack (Activator pack) it's typically less than two weeks old. If the LHBS you're getting it from isn't storing it properly, or they don't get them sent overnight, then they're setting you up for failure before you even start.

As mentioned, get the next batch of yeast from a source that will overnight it to you, with a freezer pack so that it's still cold when it arrives.

I typically plan to have my starters going 1-2 days before the planned brew day. I also plan another day 'buffer' so that I don't need to worry about the starter not taking off as expected, or not finishing in time.

If that LHBS has great selection on everything else, see if they'll special order you yeast. The LHBS I visit places their yeast order on either Sunday or Monday. So if I tell them a week before my brew day, they'll have that yeast on hand for me. It arrives on Thursday, and is dated from just a few days prior. 100% success with all yeast I've gotten from them.

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:38 PM   #8
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I'm still in the process of assembling my magnetic stirrer so I've just been shaking it every other hour or so. I won't give up all hope until tomorrow after church. If there are still no signs around noon tomorrow I may re-pitch that dry yeast into it just for giggles. It's either that or wait a few days on mail, which would put me one weekend behind.

Seen a few threads on the Coopers Wheat kit on here... anyone ever used the yeast that comes with the kit?

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:46 PM   #9
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Post up a pic of the starter...

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:48 PM   #10
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As much as I like the convinience of dry yeast, I find that liquid yeast make a superior beer regarding my taste. But the key is to smack the pack and let it swell, make a starter days ahead of brewday, and for me when doing large volume starters for lagers, decant the spent wort before pitching.
I don't think I have ever had a liquid yeast fail me.

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