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Old 02-12-2007, 03:41 PM   #1
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Default Fermentatiousless Ale

Sorry about the novel, but I know how you guys like as much info as possible.

We brewed our second batch on Saturday morning and everything went well up until adding the yeast to the primary. Here’s what we’ve got:

We used an ingredient kit that our LHBS is calling an English style Pale Ale. It’s all LME with steeping grains. The boil went great. We cooled the wort by using a combination of dropping in about 6 cups of pre-sterilized ice and using an ice bath and were able to drop the temp from boiling to about 90 degrees in probably under 15 minutes and at that time the temperature drop had really slowed down. So we decided to add the wort to about 3-1/2 gallons of very cool water (approx. 50 degrees) in the primary. We have a little thermometer sticker on the side of our primary and after a good shake-up it registered at about 64 degrees.

We thought we were good to go until we read the yeast packet and it suggested pitching at 70-75 degrees (we had pitched or first batch with dry yeast at about 65 degrees and had no problems). But we figured we wouldn’t have too much of a problem because we could let the yeast sit on the counter for a few hours at room temp. and continue to “activate” and assumed the wort would actually warm up a little bit as it sat since we had it so cold.

This was our first time using liquid yeast and it was a Wyeast Activator smack-pack, I’m not sure about the size, but I think it was 125 mL. I’m not 100% sure, but for the purposes of this discussion, I am going to assume that the packet inside the package is the yeast and the outer liquid was the starter sugar or extract.

First, I opened that packet and spilled a little, not a lot, couple drops. The packet had sort of a “tear here” notch in it, but that heavy duty packet didn’t tear very well and a few drops splashed out as I was tearing it open. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a big deal but I’m just letting you know all the details……..In the future, I will definitely be using a sterilized scissors.

Second, I didn’t want to reach into the packet to take out the little yeast packet and risk contaminating the yeast, plus it was too big to fall into the primary when I was pouring anyway, so I wasn’t concerned about it…….so I poured the “Activator” in and when I pulled the yeast packet out to look at it I noticed that it appeared to be folded over and it was still half full of a fairly clear amber liquid (yeast?). The liquid that was dumped into the primary was thicker and looked more like light chocolate milk. I unfolded it and it appeared that there was sort of a seal right through the middle of it that didn’t even look broken. Half the packet was empty with the end wide open while the other half of the packet was still full. Did only half the yeast packet “smack” open? We couldn’t tell after our initial smack and it did swell a little bit, so we though we were good.

And finally, to complicate things, the wort never did really warm up, I pitched it at about 64 or 65 degrees and crossed my fingers. I was still hoping it would warm up a little bit and we had noticed with or first batch that during the early fermentation process that it appeared to be a exothermic and caused the temperature to rise. So I thought if it at least started, then it would warm itself up enough to propagate fermentation.

So, I’ve got a brew sitting in the dark, with a blow-off tube (end submerged in water), at 64 degrees, and absolutely no activity……..no bubbling, no foam, no nuttin’, and all the while we’ve had plenty of relaxation and home brews from our first batch. I am no longer relaxed.

So, what say ye??


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Old 02-12-2007, 04:32 PM   #2
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Get the wort up to 70-75 degrees. 64 is too cold.


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Old 02-12-2007, 04:58 PM   #3
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Do you think I need to add more yeast since it appears that not all of it ended up in the wort? If so, should I use the same stuff or is there another option that is recommended?

I am planning on putting a heating pad (wrapped in a towel) underneath the carboy and watching the temps carefully for an immediate solution. Anyone see any problems with that? I will probably buy one of those "brew-belts" for the future.
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Old 02-12-2007, 05:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bones
Do you think I need to add more yeast since it appears that not all of it ended up in the wort? If so, should I use the same stuff or is there another option that is recommended?

I am planning on putting a heating pad (wrapped in a towel) underneath the carboy and watching the temps carefully for an immediate solution. Anyone see any problems with that? I will probably buy one of those "brew-belts" for the future.
When you use the 125ml smack packs startes are almost a neccesity. You you are using the larger smack packs then they arent needed but always help.

The heating pad idea is a good one just keep an eye on that temp, ya dont want it getting too warm. Once ya get fermemntation get the heating pad outa there and just use the towel, your yeasties should generate enuff heat on their own

BTW I always use scissor to open them smack packs, just soak them in sanatizer and snip . . . I hear trying to tear that thing open
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Old 02-12-2007, 07:41 PM   #5
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I'm not sure (even with all the info!) that I understand what you pitched in your beer. The entire contents should be pitched, but I've had it happen to me too where the little packet inside doesn't break completely. I think that the substance that you say "looks like chocolate milk" is yeast, the clear stuff is nutrient. Yeast is tannish- white colored, not a clear liquid.

Maybe I just misunderstand what you are saying- that's entirely possible!
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:12 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Yooper Chick
I'm not sure (even with all the info!) that I understand what you pitched in your beer....
Well, like I said, as I had never used the stuff before and the package doesn't explain which is which, I had to make an assumption in order to explain the issue. So I assumed that the yeast was in the packet inside the package of nutrient. What you are telling me is that the nutrient is actually inside the little packet.

If that's the case, then our yeast was probably exposed to only about half the nutrient inside the package for about 4 hours at room temperature. The package started to swell, but not nearly what I am seeing posted on the internet after looking into this matter.

So, I guess I added all but a few drops of the yeast, however, it may not have been fully activated prior to pitching. Which should be O.K., right? Isn't that what they mean when they say it's "pitchable"?

I think this is just a matter of temperature. I will be applying some warmth via heating pad this evening. But it has been 2 days since putting it into the primary, will the wort still have enough oxygen in it for fermentation? or should I stir or shake it up again?
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:26 PM   #7
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Yes, the nutrient is the clear stuff!

You might not be seeing fermentation activity, but it may be happening. Go ahead and try to get it and keep it at 70 degrees- that should help. In my first batch, I never did see airlock activity, because the lid wasn't sealed as tightly as I thought it was. But fermentation did happen!

Next time you use liquid yeast, definitely make a starter. It will decrease the lag time, and your anxiety! It should be ok, especially since the package did start to swell. Don't worry about oxygenating it at this point- just let it be. The yeast know what to do.
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Old 02-12-2007, 11:34 PM   #8
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What is the general concensus in these situations as to whether or not to shake the wort to introduce oxygen? Can it help/hurt? Why?

Also, what advantage does a starter give above and beyond a smack pack? My understanding is that the sugar released in the pack is the starter and therefore any other processes would be reduntant.

Last, what factor will time play in this scenario? Will the brew turn out differently and how?
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Old 02-13-2007, 12:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rottnme
What is the general concensus in these situations as to whether or not to shake the wort to introduce oxygen? Can it help/hurt? Why?

Also, what advantage does a starter give above and beyond a smack pack? My understanding is that the sugar released in the pack is the starter and therefore any other processes would be reduntant.

Last, what factor will time play in this scenario? Will the brew turn out differently and how?

Introducing oxygen at this point, assuming fermentation has not yet begun and the yeast are still multiplying, would not hinder you. In fact, it would probably help.

Creating a starter allows the yeast to multiply in greater number by giving them an external food source (usually DME boiled and cooled in water in a 1.040-1.050 solution) and more room to grow. This will result in a large population being pitched, and less lag time.

Time mainly plays a factor because of risk of infection. It gives foreign bacteria or yeast a chance to take hold, though, in this case they will be fighting the same conditions that your yeast are.

Try and get your tempurature up to 68-70, maybe move it to a warmer room if you can and then let the yeast do their work. When I use starters or slurries then I often pitch at 64 and while the lag time is a little longer, I do get clean tasting beer with no ester or fusel alcohol tastes. RDWHAHB.
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Old 02-13-2007, 02:12 PM   #10
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Well, I got home last night and the temperature was still around 65 degrees, but to my surprise, there was a little head on the brew and an occasional "burp" of air out the blowoff tube.

I put the heating pad underneath the carboy with a towel in between so there wasn't direct heat on the brew. I did not stir/shake/agitate the brew at all.

A few hours later it was up to about 68 degrees and the head had grown about 2 inches and the frequency of the air burps had increased. The heating pad was set on medium. I turned it up to high and went to bed.

This morning it was at 73 degrees, the head was a little bigger and the frequency of the air burps was pretty regular (one big one every couple seconds).

So, it seems to be going pretty good. I turned the heating pad back down to medium and left the house for the day expecting (hoping) it will maintain temps in the low 70's.

Thanks for all the help and input, it's greatly appreciated.


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