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Old 05-24-2010, 06:13 PM   #121
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Time for a progress report, I s'pose.

The EC-1118 starter, with 6 hour spin/additions failed spectacularly. Not a bubble or gravity shift 72 hours after pitching... just a nice, growing layer of yeast on the bottom of the carboy (and yes, I did give the whole thing a whirl once or twice daily with a drill-mounted stir paddle... a de-gasser to be specific).

I thought to myself "Self, you're read endlessly about the perils of making a starter with dry yeast, that they are dried at the peak of nutrition and that making a starter actually sets them back." So, I took a trip to the LHBS to seek advice, and a vial of liquid yeast to make a starter with.

Talking with my usual guru there, he advised that if making a starter, especially in this case, to definitely start with liquid yeast. He also suggested building a 2L starter in one go, with a gravity of ~1.040, no staggered additions, and spinning it for 24 hours before pitching, using nutrients and energizer as per the original technique. Additionally, he mentioned that most wine and mead yeasts will do well in environments as acidic as 3pH, and even as low as 2.5pH but with some difficulty. Incidentally, the lemonade must is 2.75pH (I have a lovely pH meter... might as well get some use out of it).

I bought a vial of White Labs Champagne Yeast (WLP715), and as an afterthought, two more packets of EC-1118 dry yeast... I figured that if the starter from the liquid yeast failed, this batch was going to become a grand experiment, and that I was going to write it off anyway and start anew, so I may as well tinker extensively with it.

Built my starter from 2Q water and 1 can of MinuteMaid lemonade concentrate -- which, by the way, was a perfect 1.042 gravity without adding any sugar. Added the liquid yeast with ¼ TSP each nutrient and energizer, and spun it for 24 hours. Nuked the must with Campden tablets when I built the starter to give it 24 hours to build a clean slate. The starter turned a lovely creamy color with a tiny bit of foam on top by the time it finished. Pitched it, aerated the hell out of the must, and waited anxiously.

Nothing.

72 hours, and two daily stirs later, nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Just a thicker layer of yeast on the bottom of the carboy.

*sigh*

Again, I turned to my best brew partner "Self, I guess we go all mad scientist and try some unusual things now." I rehydrated the 2 packets of EC-1118 yeast in 100°F water for 15 minutes and pitched it, thinking that it would never work without a starter, but also figuring that if dry yeast works better when pitched without being made into a starter, this was its best chance.

3 hours later, I was getting bubbles in my airlock. Slowly, but surely. All the old, dead yeast that had settled to the bottom, but got stirred up when I added the new yeast, hadn't settled again... they became a krausen. I kid you not, there is a squishy, fluffy layer of off-white/pale-yellow krausen floating on top. After every daily stir, it comes right back with almost nothing on the bottom of the carboy. 36 hours later, the gravity had dropped ~10 points, at 60 hours the airlock is bubbling ferociously -- 1 bubble every second.

Thinking this was a fluke, I decided to build another batch from scratch, and try the liquid yeast starter method again. Described what happened to my guy at the LHBS, and he was baffled, but insanely curious to know how this new batch went. Bought another vial of WLP715 and 2 more packets of EC-1118 (just in case).

Built another starter with 2Q water, 1 can of lemonade and ¼ TSP each nutrient and energizer. Built the must with 9 cans of lemonade, 5 LBS of sugar, and added water to make 5 GAL (incidentally, that was a spot-on 1.080 gravity). Campden in the must for 24 hours before pitching, 4 TSP each nutrient and energizer, and pitched.

At this time, 36 hours later, there is zero activity. I'm giving this batch 5 days -- 120 hours -- to show me some sign of life, either by airlock activity, a krausen, or a gravity drop. After 5 days, there should be little to no chance that any yeasts are still alive, and for the sake of being completely sure there are no survivors, I'm going to nuke the site from orbit with Campden and wait another 24 hours before pitching rehydrated-only EC-1118 to see if I can re-create the magic from the first batch.

If that works, that means the process just got a whole lot simpler, and much more reliable.

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Old 05-24-2010, 07:50 PM   #122
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hmm. I followed the process I wrote about, wished I'd kept better notes on the starter (next time). I just checked and this is at 1.028 and still burping through the airlock. About every 5 secs or so..

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Old 05-26-2010, 02:55 AM   #123
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The best luck I've had has been with EC-1118 (with the exception of a port that just won't ferment out - damn thing) and I detailed what route I went a few pages back in this list but essentially built up a must that was less acidic (2-3 cans of lemonade conc along with about 3g of water and a pound of malt extract) and pitched the EC-1118 normally. Once it got to going on this "starter", I started dumping in another can of lemonade conc on about 12-24 hour intervals. I didn't go too heavy on sugar as I wasn't trying to get a double digit ABV. 4 gallons with 8-10 cans of concentrate, a couple pounds of sugar and a pound of dry LME were fermented out in under 2 weeks.

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Old 05-26-2010, 03:42 AM   #124
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Still no change on batch #2 with the starter made from White Labs yeast, but somehow I was expecting that.

Batch #1 that got kicking with the EC-1118 is fermenting like gangbusters. Dropped to ~1.032 as of today (and the last 20 points were in the last 24 hours), 1-2 bubbles a second through the airlock, and the must is alive with some serious CO2 activity (the material from the prior krausen is constantly circulating from the top to the bottom with all the turbulence and hasn't had the opportunity to re-form). Gave it a boost with a little extra nutrient and energizer, and I swear I could hear it making nummy noises at me. Never underestimate the power of a carboy going "mmmmm" at you to freak you out. *grins*

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Old 05-29-2010, 08:26 PM   #125
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Well, I've yet another hard lemonade on the go. Up till now I've had great success, but this latest batch seems to be stuck at 1.020 after a month and a few days in the secondary. Any advice as to what I maybe should do? Istill can actually see a few bubbles coming up, so there are still some yeast active anyway.

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Old 05-29-2010, 08:37 PM   #126
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mines been going since 4/18, and is at 1.022 and still bubbling...

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Old 05-29-2010, 09:24 PM   #127
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Oh...Ok!

I guess I'll relax then.

My other batches were done by now, so I thought my yeasties were dead or something.

Have you started a limeade yet Larry?

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Old 05-29-2010, 09:35 PM   #128
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Nope, I'm finishing up FrankenBrew 3.0 It is nearly done (as in I might be able to brew this weekend !). Then I'll start a batch of limeade for the 4th. Heck better do that this weekend!!!

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Old 05-31-2010, 04:20 AM   #129
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So this lemonade thing takes as long or longer then the hard cider thing?

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Old 05-31-2010, 06:17 AM   #130
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Well... longer to ferment, but on the other hand it's almost ready to drink right away after that. So...all in all, much quicker actually.

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