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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Secret Fears of an Amateur Yeast Pitcher
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Old 11-07-2013, 01:55 PM   #1
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Default Secret Fears of an Amateur Yeast Pitcher

So I made a couple silly mistakes pitching yeast on what I hope will still be a tasty vanilla porter. This is my second batch and here's what I realize I did poorly - would like to know if this sounds tragic or just unfortunate:

1) I rehydrated the yeast but didn't stir it in the mixing vessel before pitching, and I just kinda dumped it on top of the wort without stirring it in. Despite this, there was pretty vigorous activity on the airlock and within 24 hours it was bubbling probably 2 or 3 times per second. So I don't ~think~ that lack of stirring was a problem. There should have been oxygen in the wort before pitching.

2) I misread how cold my basement was and used a heating belt.. I think the brew got up to somewhere in the neighbourhood of 75F (max, I'm hoping). Using a Safale S-04, so I'm still in the range apparently. I've since taken that belt off and should still be in the 60-65 range methinks. But now.... no activity on the airlock whatsoever. It's been 3.5 days but the airlock stopped after about 2 days.

I hate opening up the fermenter to take an SG reading if all that's needed is some patience, but if I need to do something to kick start the yeast (I'm worried that it got too hot and I've put them to a sugary death) now is the time to find out.

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Old 11-07-2013, 01:57 PM   #2
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the re-hydration isn't a big deal, although the manufacturer does say to avoid clumps

the fast ferment is explained by the high temps. the next step is just waiting for some of the yeast to fall out or put it in a secondary if that is your thing.

hopefully it tastes good!

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Old 11-07-2013, 02:08 PM   #3
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You could've left some yeast behind by not stiring the rehydrate before pitching. The big temp swing could've shocked the yeast into floccing out.

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Old 11-07-2013, 03:40 PM   #4
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I agree with everything above, but would just add in regards to #1:

I always stir my rehydrated yeast in the "rehydration unit" (fancy name for a Pyrex cup) just enough to get any clumps sticking to the sides of the "unit". I don't keep stirring for 30 minutes like the Fermentis website says, because I don't have 3 hands.

As for stirring in the fermenter after you pitch, I find that's not necessary for rehydrated yeast because the liquid sinks right in. If I sprinkle dry yeast directly into the fermenter, I am more comfortable mixing it in ... otherwise the dry yeast cells just sit on a fluffy cloud of StarSan and aerated wort.

Never had any problems with the process above, and I've used almost exclusively dry yeast (sometimes rehydrated, sometimes not) for the last 18 months.

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Old 11-07-2013, 05:25 PM   #5
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Thanks guys - how can I tell if I've 'flocced out' ?

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Old 11-07-2013, 05:44 PM   #6
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your beer will be clear when the yeast have "flocced out", a brewing term for sinking to the bottom. If its still in suspension, it hasn't flocculated yet. A beer where the yeast haven't flocced out will be cloudy, similar to a heffeweizen.

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Old 11-07-2013, 06:13 PM   #7
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There are a couple boo-boos there, I wouldn't even call them errors, much less mistakes.
The biggest one is letting the beer get too warm. You're still well below any temp where you are risking killing the yeast - that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 100F.
You may have some off-flavors in there from too-warm yeast, but not terrible, I would think, with that strain.
My advice would be to take Papazians mantra - relax, don't worry, have a (home)brew. Give it another week or so, a little longer won't hurt, before popping the top. Check the gravity, then seal it up, wait 2 or 3 days, and check again. Dollars to doughnuts it'll be the same, and you can bottle.
Just mind your sanitization. Anything can theoretically infect the beer at any time, but it's after the boil is over is when you really have to be vigilant.

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Old 11-07-2013, 06:27 PM   #8
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Agree with a few things. First, you want to keep the temps down at the start of the ferment, and while it's really going strong. The fermentation process itself creates heat, so if your thermometer reads 75, the beer inside might be 80 or more. Whether this is a problem depends on the beer style and the strain of yeast. I do nto know off the top of my head how US-04 reacts to 75+ temps.

After the initial strong fermentation you can safely raise the temps a bit at a time if you like. The vast majority of the fermentation will be over and any off flavors created will be unnoticeable.

As far as clumping, you got a good fermentation and it sounds vigorous enough to help bust those clumps up. No biggie.

So for next time try to pitch at 62-65 and then slowly raise the temp after the big ferment it over. Or even let it ride at 65 or so.

Lastly, do not fear taking samples. Just make sure to sanitize your thief or baster, or whatever you use.

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Old 11-07-2013, 06:52 PM   #9
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I'd just like to add that yeast genocide starts at around 120F. Rehydration temps from various manufacturerers are from 80-105. I've even had 68.8 work fine rehydrating US-05.

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Old 11-08-2013, 12:39 PM   #10
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THanks everybody, great advice all around. Much appreciated.

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