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Old 04-13-2011, 08:40 AM   #1
alenub
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Default Kit Yeast Quality

Hey guys, long time listener first time caller. I'm a big fan of the show and respect the dedication everyone puts in, I've read some killer posts and learned a lot from everyone's successes and failures.

I have a Beer Makers 30L kit that has been an absolute Godsend. It's a plastic primary fermentation tank with drain spout, screw on sealed top with airlock, you know the usual basic stuff. I've made some pretty decent kit beers in it without the need for a secondary fermentation tank, so I've always been able to do without one. I just let it it ride until two days with straight readings, then bottle straight from the tank. I can't really screw it up. But something happened with a new kit beer I tried yesterday that only happened to me one other time a few years ago, and it's got me concerned: primary fermentation stopping after 1 day.

I read some threads that addressed the same concern, and I'm no longer worried that there's anything wrong with my batch. But I'm still curious why it sometimes happens. The yeast will go into binge drinking party mode and then quietly mope about rather than the usual constant moderate feasting over the course of 4-5 days. I don't really mind, other than the fact it makes me strain my eyes to read the slightest of changes to the gravity. I don't want to let my beer sit on the yeast too long (and I'm not getting a secondary fermenter until I ruin a batch!)

This is the brew in my tank now:

Munton's Gold Highland Heavy Ale kit (40 pt.)
500g dry dark malt extract (band dried non-diastatic)
Total 40 pt. (22.7 L)
kit yeast was rehydrated from tank-drawn vigorously aerated wort at 28C then pitched at same temperature
tank at constant 23C for past 24 hours
O.G. was 1.045

I came back from work today and saw the airlock level shifted, there was clear activity. I double-checked every seal was tight but alas it's dead quiet. I smelled plenty of alcohol. If I was any less experienced I would easily attribute this to just plain inconsistency. Different temps, different methods, etc. But the only difference is the kit. Based on one bad experience in the past with dated kit yeast (I will never sprinkle it again) I always rehydrate it in the wort before I pitch to ensure it's healthy. So my question is:

Is it the kit yeast? This was the first "connoisseur" kit I've tried, bought from a specialist shop rather than the supermarket. Could it be that the yeast was of a much better quality with a higher cell count, and the way I rehydrate the yeast is essential for the basic kit yeasts (Coopers, Toohey's, Brigalow) but going overboard with the healthy yeast that came with Munton's?

(Note: I am not a fan of paying an extra $6-7 a brew on quality yeast as I've been brewing for years with kit yeast just fine. I'm a tightarse. I cringed when I splurged nearly $50 on this heavy ale kit when I'm used to making pretty good stuff consistently for under $20! )

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Old 04-13-2011, 09:46 AM   #2
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Fermentation certainly shouldn't/won't be done after one day, what is the gravity now?

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Old 04-14-2011, 05:53 AM   #3
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I know fermentation isn't complete. That wasn't my question. ;-)
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:09 AM   #4
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Hidee Ho caller.

Quote:
kit yeast was rehydrated from tank-drawn vigorously aerated wort at 28C then pitched at same temperature
tank at constant 23C for past 24 hours
O.G. was 1.045

I came back from work today and saw the airlock level shifted, there was clear activity. I double-checked every seal was tight but alas it's dead quiet. I smelled plenty of alcohol. If I was any less experienced I would easily attribute this to just plain inconsistency. Different temps, different methods, etc. But the only difference is the kit. Based on one bad experience in the past with dated kit yeast (I will never sprinkle it again) I always rehydrate it in the wort before I pitch to ensure it's healthy. So my question is:

Is it the kit yeast? This was the first "connoisseur" kit I've tried, bought from a specialist shop rather than the supermarket. Could it be that the yeast was of a much better quality with a higher cell count, and the way I rehydrate the yeast is essential for the basic kit yeasts (Coopers, Toohey's, Brigalow) but going overboard with the healthy yeast that came with Munton's?

(Note: I am not a fan of paying an extra $6-7 a brew on quality yeast as I've been brewing for years with kit yeast just fine. I'm a tightarse. I cringed when I splurged nearly $50 on this heavy ale kit when I'm used to making pretty good stuff consistently for under $20! )
This is where you lost me. If you could narrow the question down. You might get some advice>
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:18 AM   #5
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What if any are the differences in weight if any between the Coopers, Toohey's, Brigalow and Muton's

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Old 04-14-2011, 08:00 AM   #6
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Looks like a moot point anyway.

Yesterday I took a reading at 1.036, and wasn't too concerned. Today I checked again and my heart sunk -- still at 1.036. I don't understand.. the yeast looked fine when I rehydrated it in wort, and I pitched it at the same temperature so I couldn't have shocked it. Any ideas?

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Old 04-14-2011, 07:22 PM   #7
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If the hydrometer remains the same tomorrow then you could have had a poor pack of yeast. Give the fermenter a swirl to introduce oxygen and check it again then. If it's still the same then I would pitch another pack of yeast.

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Old 04-14-2011, 08:23 PM   #8
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Well,if you pitched into the FV at 28C,that's a little high for yeast health. Because,as the fermenter temp goes down over night,by morning you may have thermal shocked the yeast. I did that on my first one. It seems to be better to get the wort chilled down to the lower end of the yeast's temp range before pitching. Swirl it around a bit to rouse the yeast,& keep those temps down towards minimum. I do that now,& it's def better.
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:38 PM   #9
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I got another packet of yeast, this time one that I knew was good, hydrated it and pitched it. This morning it was bubbling right along at 21C. I could have thermal shocked Munton's yeast, true, but I've pitched at the same temps many times with no issues whatsoever. I just read this thread here and am starting to think it was indeed the Munton's kit yeast to blame - either it wasn't healthy or it had a very narrow temperature tolerance. The next time I buy Munton's I will remember to chuck it.

edit: doing even more research now and I have been hearing similar stories with Munton's kits about primary fermentation not completing or abnormally slow -- and the reports are all recent

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Old 04-16-2011, 12:26 AM   #10
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The first thing I would do is find out when the kit was made, it could have been an old kit and the yeast was past its best. There will generally be a date or day and year on the packet which will tell you how old it is. There's nothing wrong with Munton's yeast it can just be that it is old or not looked after propperly. Your LHBS should give you another pack of yeast to replace a dud. I think that is the most likely scenario for why the fermentation failed.

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