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Old 07-01-2011, 02:59 PM   #1
WoofdogABC
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Default no fermentation, suggestions needed

First AG batch, things went reasonably well until pitching. I think some yeast shipments cooked; pitched 2 smack packs which had only marginally inflated in 24 hours. after 60 hours, no gravity change (1051 og). had a 14-hour old 1-liter stirplate starter on hand I was going ot use for something else, pitched it (too early?) this starter was from a white labs vial which had had the coolpack include. that was 48 hours ago, and still *no* gravity change. wort is 4 1/2 days post-boil now. I have done numerous extract batches now and while I have already found issues with the smack packs, starters have always caused batches to take off.

options? I have a 36-hour old stirplate-starter I made to replace the one I used to repitch this. I also have a pack of safale s-04 here.

when pitching from a starter, how can I tell if the current starter is viable at all, or if damaged yeasts were used?

I think the underlying yeast issue is that 1) my yeast is shipped to an agency that then reships to me from miami, adding a few days to the procees in heat and 2) northern brewer did not put the yeast I used in the initial pitch with a cool pack when they shipped (thus the smack packs were cooked). The white labs vial used with the starter did have one former coolpack in the packet with it.

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Old 07-01-2011, 03:22 PM   #2
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Does the starter have bubbles at all? It is common to have the yeast die when shipped in the summer even with a cold pack. I had this happen to me this last week. I would suggest just re-hydrating your S-04 and drop it in. Should start fermenting within a few hours.

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Old 07-01-2011, 03:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acefaser View Post
Does the starter have bubbles at all? It is common to have the yeast die when shipped in the summer even with a cold pack. I had this happen to me this last week. I would suggest just re-hydrating your S-04 and drop it in. Should start fermenting within a few hours.
The starter was on a stir plate 30 hours or so, I do recall seeing some bubbles at some point early on. (that is the starter on hand now). I don't trust my memory on the starter I pitched 2 days ago. All that said, I just smelled the current starter and it does NOT smell like beer at all, it smells like a yeast vial + something else.
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Old 07-01-2011, 03:41 PM   #4
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Turn off your stirplate and see what you have.

Activity in a starter really only means one thing and one thing only.

It doesn't matter one blip in your fermenter or your starter flask if the airlock bubbles or not (if you are using an airlock and not tinfoil if you are using tinfoil, you aren't getting bibbling anyway,) or if you see a krauzen. In fact starter fermentation are some of the fastest or slowest but most importantly, the most boring fermentations out there. Usually it's done withing a few hours of yeast pitch...usually overnight when we are sleeping, and the starter looks like nothing ever happened...except for the little band at the bottom. Or it can take awhile...but either way there's often no "activity" whatsoever....

I usually run my stirplate for the first 24 hours, then shut it down, if you are spinning your starter it is really hard to get a krausen to form anyway, since it's all spinning, and there's often a head of foam on it from the movement.


All that really matters is that creamy band o yeast at the bottom.





This is a chilled sample so it's flocculated, but even with an unchilled sample you should see a band of yeast at the bottom. Here's an unchilled version



Same thing, a band.

As it is I've only ever seen two or three krausens actually on my starter (one blew off a bunch of krausen and knocked the tinfoil off the flask,) and the evidence of one on the flask at the "waterline" once. But I've never not had a starter take off.

Look for the yeast at the bottom, don't worry what it looks like on top.

If you have yeast on the bottom....that's all you really need.

If it looks anything like that, your are ready to either feed it again, or use it.

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Old 07-01-2011, 04:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acefaser View Post
Does the starter have bubbles at all? It is common to have the yeast die when shipped in the summer even with a cold pack. I had this happen to me this last week. I would suggest just re-hydrating your S-04 and drop it in. Should start fermenting within a few hours.
the current starter has a gravity of 1032 now, 36 hours after putting on stir plate. I suspect OG was somewhat lower than 1040 since I lost some of the DME (100g in 1.2L preboil water). It is quite possible it has not fermented at all.
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:49 PM   #6
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Dead yeast will settle to the bottom also, so looking at your starter yeast may not help. I have found that if you take it off the starter and check for little bubbles forming at the edge of the liquid. Give it a couple hours if you had it on the stir plate then arouse the yeast by giving it a swirl. It should produce more Co2 bubbles to be released from the starter. In the photos above that Revvy posted you can actually see the small bubbles at the edge of the liquid on the glass. This is what I look for. You usually wont get much more than that as Revvy stated.
I dont take gravity readings of my starters because of risk of infection. Make a starter that should be around 1.040 and let it do its work.

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