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Old 07-14-2009, 12:28 PM   #1
tomwirsing
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Default When do I decide if my yeast is toast?

I did 10 gallons of an AG pale ale on Sunday. Towards the end of my boil I realized that my two vials of yeast (White Labs 001) were still in the fridge. The label says to take them out 3-6 hours ahead of time. There was a pitcher of warm water sitting there, so I threw them in to speed the warming, intending to remove after a few minutes. They ended up staying in there for what was probably 30-45 minutes. I'd estimate the initial water temperature to be 90 F, but that's based on sticking my finger in there. I wouldn't be surprised if it was anywhere from 80-105.

When I realized I'd left them in there, I pulled them and set them on a table. They were quite warm.

I pitched as planned around 3 o'clock, Sunday afternoon. As of 7, Tuesday morning, I'm still showing no activity. The carboys are sitting in my 72 F basement. I did not oxygenate, just tried to splash a bit as I siphoned from boil kettle to carboy.

I realize that up to 72 hours for activity to begin is not unusual, so I'm still relaxing and not worrying. I am trying to be proactive about gathering information. I plan on doing nothing until at least Wednesday evening (77 hours from pitch).

If I don't see anything by Wednesday evening, should I conclude that I toasted my yeast, run to the LHBS and re-pitch, or wait longer. I'm trying to gather this information in advance, rather than waiting until Wednesday night, searching for information, running out of time to get more yeast, and losing another day.

As I said, I'm still relaxing and not worrying. I won't be one bit surprised if I get home from work today or wake up tomorrow and see bubbling. I just want to be ready to act if I get home from work on Wednesday and see nothing.

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Old 07-14-2009, 01:07 PM   #2
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Edit: AFTER 72 HOURS!!!

Stop what you are doing and take a gravity reading If it's lower than when you pitched, your yeasties are alive and well. If after 72 hours it's the exact same... well wait another day and try again. If by then it's still the same you screwed up and would probably wanna repitch.

Do yourself a favor and keep a few packs of Safale US-05 yeast on hand. It's dry yeast and you literally just dump it in the carboy when you are ready to pitch. Two pack of that is a total of like 4 bucks. Plus if you kill your liquid yeast its always a good backup. Not to mention it ferments better than liquid yeast.

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Old 07-14-2009, 01:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvstrat View Post
Stop what you are doing and take a gravity reading If it's lower than when you pitched, your yeasties are alive and well. If after 72 hours it's the exact same... well wait another day and try again. If by then it's still the same you screwed up and would probably wanna repitch.
+1,000 to this....if by "activity" you mean airlock, then stop relying on it as a "fermentation gauge," It's NOT it is only a release valve to vent off excess co2 to keep from painting your ceiling. NOTHING ELSE.

Airlock bubbling, lack of airlock bubbling, stopped airlock bubbling, fast airlock bubbling, slow airlcok bubbling, heavy metal airlcok bubbling, or disco airlock bubbling really is not an indicator of what is happening to your beer.

I have 9 different fermenters and have been brewing for a few years, and OVER HALF OF MY BEERS NEVER HAVE ANY BUBBLING IN THE AIRLOCK AND THEY ALL TURN OUT FINE!

Fermentation is not always "dynamic," just because you don't SEE anything happenning, doesn't mean that anything's wrong, and also doesn't mean that the yeast are still not working dilligantly away, doing what they've been doing for over 4,000 years....

If you've oxygentated, and pitched plenty of yeast, then you SHOULD reach your yeast attenuation, and get close to the final gravity.....that is all that is important...NOT whether or not you airlock goes "blip" or "Rattattattatta!!!!"

In fact many no longer use airlocks at all, just cover the hole with a piece of tinfoil, or use a piece of plexiglass instead of a lid.

Read this for why airlock analysing is useless, and what is the only gauge of ferementation...http://www.homebrewtalk.com/1217925-post3.html And there is a link to my blog in there as well....

The only way to truly know what is going on in your fermenter is with your hydrometer. Like I said here in my blog, which I encourage you to read, Think evaluation before action you sure as HELL wouldn't want a doctor to start cutting on you unless he used the proper diagnostic instuments like x-rays first, right? You wouldn't want him to just take a look in your eyes briefly and say "I'm cutting into your chest first thing in the morning." You would want them to use the right diagnostic tools before the slice and dice, right? You'd cry malpractice, I would hope, if they didn't say they were sending you for an MRI and other things before going in.....

So ignore your airlock, ok???? It's fun entertainment to watch, but doesn't mean anythings wrong if you don't see it happening.

Today is just barely at the 72 hour mark. More than likely your yeast being cold meant that it was dormant, and would need AT LEAST 72 hours to wake up and start working. Additionally if your temp was hot (but below boiling which would kill your yeast) and your yeast was cold, you may have SHOCKED your yeast, which of course would mean some lag time to contend with.

But you won't really know what's happening UNTIL you check "under the hood."
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Old 07-14-2009, 02:34 PM   #4
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Thanks for the tips. I realized airlock bubbling wasn't important, but I thought I would see bubbling or swirling inside my carboy.

If I don't see anything by Wednesday evening, I'l take a reading. If gravity hasn't changed on Wednesday, I'll try again Thursday (that will be around 100 hours since pitching). If no change in gravity by Thursday evening, I'll re-pitch.

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Old 07-14-2009, 09:43 PM   #5
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sounds like a good plan.

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Old 07-15-2009, 01:28 AM   #6
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I've got one carboy bubbling steadily and one that is just starting to push throught the hose in my remote trap.

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Old 07-15-2009, 02:04 AM   #7
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Glad you posted this, because I also forgot my yeast in the fridge last night, and I put it in some warm water for maybe 10-15 minutes before I put it in a small starter of warmish wort. I'm not worrying about the lack of airlock activity both because of revvy's posts and because I've noticed that liquid yeast seems to take longer to get going than dry yeast. That said, I think I'll start using dry yeast more if only for peace of mind.

Edit: As of 9am this morning (~33 hours after pitching), the yeast is bubbling.

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Old 07-19-2009, 04:41 PM   #8
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I haven't brewed in a while and I just statered again. I am still new to brewing. My father offen buys ingredents for me to make for him. I brewed a Belgain Wit. The kit was sitting around for a few months. As I started brewing it I noticed the yeast was to be in the fridge and it wasn't. I used anyway because I am making it for a family party at the end of August. Should I be concerned and try to repitch after a few days or wait and see. I took a gravity reading and it was 40. Please help. Thanks

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