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Is my starter okay to use?

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steevinhaze

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I made a starter about a day and a half ago, and I just went to go swirl it and all of a sudden thought "Did I even sanitize this container?!" I honestly can't remember if I did or not. I don't know why I wouldn't have, but maybe I just completely spaced it.

I didn't take an OG, and so I'm not sure how I can find out if it'll work for my five gallon batch. I would really hate to waste all that time, money, and beer. Is there any way I can tell if it's dead or if it's okay?! I'm trying to brew tonight, but I don't want to until I know it's okay.

Thanks for your help!
 

JJL

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I doubt the yeast is dead just becasue you may not have sanitized, but if you didn't sanitize there might be something undesirable growing in your starter. If you aren't sure about the quality of the yeast, personally I'd rather dump the starter now and start over than have to dump a whole batch of infected beer later.
 

Calder

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If the container was clean, and the yeast took off fine, you should be OK.

Remember, we sanitize, not sterilize, so there is always some contamination. The way we make sure the beer comes out OK is that we pitch a high number of healthy yeast cells so as to crowd out anything else in the wort.
 

rjwhite41

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I would agree with the comment that I would rather pitch a starter than a full batch of beer. Somehow this reminds of my wife whenever we go out of town- "Did I unplug the hair straightener?" Everytime she says this but to this day she has never left it on. I even turned around once because she was so sure.:p Anyway make a new starter if you really doubt yourself.
 

DrawTap88

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A $7 or $8 starter or a $20-$40 batch of beer + time + effort + test of patience. I'd rather just get a new pack of yeast.
 

samc

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OP - start taking notes when you brew. It's one of the more important brewing steps that is almost always left out of things you need to do to be a great brewer.

Can't tell you what to do about the starter - your call obviously.
 
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steevinhaze

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A little more info:

After I pitched the yeast, there was a cake on the bottom almost immediately. Also, after I swirl it up really good and mix it all up, most of it falls and the cake forms again within just a couple minutes. Is that an indication of anything? When I first made the starter and swirled it, it would really bubble up a ton, up to the top of the jar. But now when I swirl it, there are absolutely no bubbles.

Can I take the gravity to see if it's okay, even though I didn't take an OG? Or will the smell or taste of it tell me anything?

I would just go down to the LHBS and get new yeast, but there's not one closer than an hour and a half away. So if I can get a pretty good idea of whether or not this will work so I won't have to drive all the way out there, or wait for something to arrive in the mail, that would be awesome. There's not really a good way though, is there?
 
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steevinhaze

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I guess some history of the yeast would have been good to include. It was on the top shelf of my refrigerator, and when I pulled it out it was partially frozen, like slushy. So I decided it would be a good idea to make a starter to get the yeast numbers up. I've never made a starter before, so I'm not sure what a normal and healthy starter is supposed to be doing.

And, for the life of me I can't remember if I sanitized the jar.
 

rjwhite41

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Sounds like a pretty standard starter. Take a gravity reading and it will tell you if it worked. The sanitation is the disturbing part.
 

JJL

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You don't so much have to worry about the OG of the starter. It's going to be somewhere between 1.030 and 1.040 if it is a typical starter. If the FG is below 1.020, then your yeast are active. Don't expect a lot of activity when making a starter. They don't always krausen like a full batch of beer. The slurry on the bottom tells you that you have yeast. As far as the yeast falling out of suspension after you swirl it, that's what yeast do. Yeast don't typically die when they are frozen. They just go dormant until they are warmed up and fed. I still think the sanitation question is your biggest issue. You likely do have healthy yeast, but if you didn't sanitize, you may have other bad stuff mixed in. At this point I would follow the rule of thumb "When in doubt, start over."
 

lehighsteve

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Is there a way to "clean" the yeast to ensure that any infection or contamination is eliminated? I just finished aerating my starter (after pitching) and noticed mold in the air line, so I'm curious if there's a way to save the yeast.
 
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steevinhaze

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I don't think you have to worry if your yeast is dirty or not. It's like a bunch of little "creatures" and I think they're either alive or dead. You just have to sanitize the vessel and anything the yeast touches to avoid contamination. I'm a retard cause I don't remember if I sanitized my jar or not.
 

jblizz

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May want to try to keep a few packs of dry yeast on hand in the future incase such a problem arises...
 

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