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Old 10-15-2007, 05:32 PM   #1
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Default Is My Yeast Dead?

I started my first ever batch on Saturday night - a Breakfast Stout extract kit from Northern Brewer. I've also been reading John Palmer's How to Brew book since I'm going at this alone. The kit came with a Wyeast Smack Pack that I smacked and incubated for a little over a day at which point it fully inflated. I pitched it after oxidizing the batch and sealed it in a bucket fermenter with an airlock.

The next morning the airlock was bubbling furiously. However, that evening I went to check on it again and it's done bubbling. From what I can see through the bucket walls, some krausen has already formed. The morning after that (this morning), it's still inactive.

I watch the temperature like a hawk - I have a thermometer sitting on the bucket lid - and I've made sure the bucket lid is tight. Is it possible that my yeast is dead? The smack pack ballooned so I know it wasn't when I pitched it. I didn't make a starter since NB recommended that only for lagering or high OG beer (mine is only 1.035).

I'm ordering new yeast since there's no brew shops nearby. How long can my brew sit like it is before it goes bad? Also, will adding new yeast affect the flavor at all?

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Old 10-15-2007, 05:41 PM   #2
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If it started fermenting, then it's not dead. My guess is that you let the temp get a little high and the ferment went really active and finished up quickly (especially since it's such a low gravity recipe). It's not quite done but the active ferment is over. Wait another couple days and then check the gravity with a hydrometer (which you should have by now). I mean, that kit is a 1.030 and that includes a pound of lactose that won't ferment out either. I've had 1.050 beers ferment out in less than 48 hours.

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Old 10-15-2007, 05:43 PM   #3
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I've had multiple "small" beers ferment out in 24 hours.

Don't use the "bubbler" to determine your progress. Like Bobby said...take hydrometer readings. It's how your beer talks to you.

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Old 10-15-2007, 06:03 PM   #4
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Hmm, my beer talks directly to me without this hydrometer communication device, but then I AM a beer whisperer and all.

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Old 10-15-2007, 08:56 PM   #5
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My beer says "Drink Me"

My hydrometer tells me when it's done.

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Old 10-15-2007, 10:24 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone! I do think the temperature was a little high initially since the yeast recommended 62-72F and this time of year in the midwest it can be 40F at night and 80F in mid-day, making a steady temp somewhat tricky.

I'll check with my hydrometer in a couple days.

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Old 10-15-2007, 10:32 PM   #7
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with an OG of only 1.035, its a very light gravity, so I can totally see airlock activity only lasting 24 hours.

also, a minor thing: you didn't "oxidize" your wort prior to pitching...you 'aerated' it.

aeration is the act of introducing air into the wort. if you aerate at the wrong time, you can cause oxidation...which can impart a stale, off-flavor to the beer the longer it sits in the bottle/keg (it affects long term stability, it doesn't instantly ruin your beer).

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Old 10-16-2007, 05:09 PM   #8
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FWIW, my 1.038 God Rush Ale I did Sunday afternoon was completely ferneted out by the end of day yesterday. 24 hours.

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Old 10-17-2007, 02:43 AM   #9
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I just took a hydrometer reading - it's been 3 days since I sealed it. The OG was 1.035, which according to JJ Palmer means that at an FG of 1.00875 it should be finished. The reading I got tonight was 1.0157.

Does this sound like it's on the right track? I took too big of a sample so I had quite a taste of it and it wasn't that bad. Didn't taste incredibly yeasty but you could tell it wasn't finished.

... another thing: how long should something this light ferment before I bottle it?
Thanks again

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