Munich Dunkel not fermenting

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I almost exclusively brew ales but decided to try a Munich Dunkel. Brew day went fine and I pitched yeast starter at 55F on Sunday but still no activity 3 days later (I have a tilt in the fermenter). I used Wyeast #2206 in 2L wort as starter. I didnt notice any activity over 24 hours at 70F but I put in fridge anyway and chilled it so I could decant the next day when I brewed. I did measure the liquid I decanted and it was same S.G. as when I made it so I am thinking I essentially pitched a single pack of yeast. I pitched the yeast at same temp as wort (55F) and I did oxygenate the wort before pitching. Should I keep waiting or just go buy a few more packs of yeast and pitch it?
 

Miraculix

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You understand that the purpose of the starter is to first validate that the yeast is healthy and second to multiply the cell count?

As your starter did not not take off, you should have stopped there, because the yeast was dead, as it didn't manage to ferment the starter. How should this be able to ferment the wort?

This means you pitched dead yeast.

I would pitch whatever yeast I got on hand now asap to try to rescue the beer.
 
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Yes I understand. I just didn't think about it since I never see much activity in any of my starters. I put them in fridge at 70F then pull them out the next day to see a layer of yeast on the bottom, then pitch. Never had a failed fermentation start or a bad pack of yeast in over 20 years. Date on the yeast pack was Nov 2021 but I guess it was bad.
 

IslandLizard

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I'm with @Miraculix, on the purpose of starters.

A starter being slow doesn't necessarily mean it's mostly dead. Some yeast just take longer than 24 hours to fully grow. I've had "fresh" packs of yeast take as long as 3-4 days to show any sign of viability in a starter. Once I see telltale signs, such as the starter usually becoming lighter in color, creamy, foamy, etc., I let it go for at least another 24 hours to get appreciable growth. I had an Oktoberfest yeast take a week to get there. And it paid off, got a good healthy yeast cake, from which I made a 2nd starter to pitch, and left some behind for keeps.

Did you smack the pack and did it swell before adding to the starter wort? That's a first sign of being viable.

What other yeast do you have on hand?
 
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I figured I didn't wait long enough for the starter but was a tight schedule to brew. Just not used to brewing lagers but now I know. I thought worst case it would just take longer to start fermenting. I smacked the pack but didn't wait for it to swell. I quit doing that since I had never had a bad pack. I have another pack of Bavarian lager yeast so Ill pitch that if fermentation hasn't started when I get home from work. Maybe raise temp to 65F before pitching?
 

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How old was the yeast? What was date on the package? It's really odd for even old yeast not to take off even a little. I have made starters with 6 month year old yeast and it builds yeast. Was the starter on stir plate? At first I was going to say that lagers take longer than ales, have less krausen, give it time, yada yada...but if your gravity on starter did not drop at all, then all you pitched in your beer was sugar water. I like to do my starters 2-3 days ahead of brewing and then crash them the night before brew day.
 

IslandLizard

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I like to do my starters 2-3 days ahead of brewing and then crash them the night before brew day.
Exactly, let the yeast drive your brewing schedule, not the other way around.

Unless I have enough recently saved out yeast in the fridge begging to be used, I usually make yeast starters a week before I brew. That also gives me ample time to crash it. If the resulting yeast cake is a little small or I want extra-speedy lift-off, I make a vitality starter on brew day using some boiled, then chilled, 2nd runnings on the side. Then pitch that whole flask.
 
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Should have known to relax and don't worry. When I got home yesterday fermentation had started and its moving along fine. I will allow more time for my lager starters to propagate in the future though.
 

jdauria

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Should have known to relax and don't worry. When I got home yesterday fermentation had started and its moving along fine. I will allow more time for my lager starters to propagate in the future though.

Good to hear! Use a good yeast calculator like the one at Brewers Friend Yeast Pitch Rate and Starter Calculator - Brewer's Friend, select the target pitch rate of pro brewer, 1.5 (lager)...and if you pitch the recommended cell count in the future, you should have fermentation signs within 12 hours, and should be fully fermented in 6-7 days. Pretty much what I see with every lager I brew, and I do a lot. Btw, this works for ales too, proper cell count, faster start to fermentation and quicker to FG.
 
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