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Old 09-24-2012, 02:03 AM   #1
oakasfan
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Default Liquid Yeast - WLP004 - starter failure?

Hey all -

I am an inexperienced brewer with a grand total of 2 extract brews under my belt thus far. Both were Midwest kits - Irish Red and a wheat (currently finishing fermentation). Both used dry yeast.

I will be doing a stout next (also from Midwest) and this will be a partial mash. I wanted to try liquid yeast this time and got the White Labs (WLP004) that was recommended with the kit. I haven't been able to brew this as of yet but I have kept the yeast vial in the refrigerator. It was in the fridge for about 2 months and is currently still within the "Best Before" date of Oct 14, 2012.

Yesterday, I wanted to make a starter and mixed 1/2 cup of DME into 2 pints of water. Boiled and cooled. I warmed the yeast vial for about 3 hours, shaking intermittently, and pitched when the wort was cooled. Two mistakes at this point - 1) I failed to sanitize the glass container I was using but it was clean at least. 2) I failed to shake / aerate the cooled wort before pitching. Can't do anything about the first but I have been frequently swirling the glass container in hopes of getting some aeration.

It has been a full 24 hours and I have seen nary a bubble or foam forming in the starter. I can't tell if there is any activity. There may be (very questionable) more sediment in the bottom, but I guess I wouldn't expect growth without seeing outward signs of it.

Is there anything that is recommended at this point. I am hesitant to pitch this into anything other than the kitchen sink.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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Old 09-24-2012, 02:31 AM   #2
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It is probably fine. Starters don't usually get the obvious signs of fermentation that you'll see with larger batches. When you swirl it, you can usually see bubbles of co2 released (or hear them if your starter glass isn't see through). Make sure your starter is covered w something that allows oxygen in like foil rather than airlock too.

If you are still concerned, step up your starter and see if you can convince yourself that everything is ok. My biggest concern is the lack of sanitation rather than viability and growth of your yeast. If you're still unsure, get new yeast!

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Old 09-24-2012, 02:41 AM   #3
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Get a stir plate

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Old 09-24-2012, 02:47 AM   #4
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Same thing happend first starter I did except I sanitized, mine turned out to be a noticably better than average beer also. Rather than the other beers I made with washed yeast without the starter. Just go as scheduled.Its common to not see anything with a starter,its such a small amount.

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Old 09-24-2012, 02:53 AM   #5
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If you are really concerned, take a gravity reading

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Old 09-24-2012, 02:54 AM   #6
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The glass jar is covered with foil... I remembered that at least.
I may step-up tomorrow and see what it does for a day or so. Alternatively, the sanitation failure makes me believe I should just pitch it all and spend the 6 bucks on a new vial..

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Old 09-24-2012, 03:03 AM   #7
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Wait it out it is still early for an intermittently shaken starter.

You may also want to check out mrmalty.com and yeastcalc.com to see if you are making the right sized starter for the beer you are brewing.

As already said, the signs of fermentation in a starter are often very subtle. I have had a couple where the only difference I saw was the increase of the cake on the bottom of the flask.

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Old 09-24-2012, 03:23 AM   #8
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Are there any indications of an infected starter I should be watching for? Is it worth pitching even if I can confirm the yeast are active?

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Old 09-25-2012, 12:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oakasfan View Post
Are there any indications of an infected starter I should be watching for? Is it worth pitching even if I can confirm the yeast are active?
If it smells different than yeast should.Its your call I guess as far as the sanitation. If I was making larger batches I probably would do it, but it shure would suck to dump that much beer. Ive had a few infected batches that were not worth dumping,it also took along time for them to overcarbonate-so even if it was infected you still could drink it younger anyway.Main thing is to look for a suspicious finish gravity or visual developeing signs in the ferementer. If you cleaned the jar well and rinsed well and covered after drying or whatever I would still pretty confident about it I guess. Or just ge t some dry 04 yeast and not have to worry,if you think you will be paranoid about it.
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Old 09-25-2012, 12:55 AM   #10
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Thanks for the input thus far....

Re-pitched into a new batch of starter wort. Aerated as well as I could by shaking it in a "sanitized" container until foamy. Hoping to see better results to make me more confident. This is supposed to go into a stout that I intended to leave in the primary for about 6-8 weeks. Does that duration in the primary have any affect on the likelihood of an infection given my initial un-sanitized starter?

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