Starter Smells Like Apples

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ToledoBeer

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I made a yeast starter for the Blonde Ale I'm brewing this weekend using White Labs East Coast ale (WLP008). It fermented pretty strong, had a nice thick Krausen which dropped out. Today, it has a strong apple cidery vinegar Smell going on. I had it in my pantry which which I realize now is a little warm, but that's where I usually have my starters and have never had a problem. Should I just decant and pitch or just go buy new yeast?
 
Every starter I have made has been a bit sour. That's what happens to beer with no hops. Sounds perfectly normal to me.

How many brew's have you done?
 
Decant the liquid and taste it. If its sour, I wouldn't use it.

That's just awful, awful advice.

To the OP: You're making a starter without controlling the temperatures. Of course the starter liquid is going to have off-flavors and not smell that great. The point is to make a lot of yeast for the beer you're going to make.

I'd recommend putting your yeast starter in the refridgerator the night before you brew. You'll essentially cold crash the starter and the majority of your yeast will settle to the bottom. You should see a visible difference the next day. Simply decant most of the liquid before you pitch, swirl the yeast into suspension with the remaining liquid, and pitch into your wort.
 
Every starter I have made has been a bit sour. That's what happens to beer with no hops. Sounds perfectly normal to me.

How many brew's have you done?

Me too, but I don't understand it. Boiling the starter should kill off lactic and acetic acid bacteria. While the starter beer could be very oxidized, I don't see why it would be sour. Maybe the yeast make some sort of acid that results from massive pitching rates and exposure to oxygen. Beers always turn out fine however. The sourness I get is subtle (in the starter wort), sort of a 'cider-like' sourness. After a couple of days, if not stepping up or using, I seal the foil tightly around the neck of the flask, put on a rubber band, and stick it in the fridge.
 
Me too, but I don't understand it. Boiling the starter should kill off lactic and acetic acid bacteria. While the starter beer could be very oxidized, I don't see why it would be sour. Maybe the yeast make some sort of acid that results from massive pitching rates and exposure to oxygen. Beers always turn out fine however. The sourness I get is subtle (in the starter wort), sort of a 'cider-like' sourness. After a couple of days, if not stepping up or using, I seal the foil tightly around the neck of the flask, put on a rubber band, and stick it in the fridge.

That cidery, apple-ish off-flvaor is most likely acetaldehyde. It is a off-flavor that pops up with fermentation flaws:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Green_apples

You're not controlling your fermentation temperatures, you're supposed to be swirling your flask to introduce oxygen, and there are no hops in the starter. It's not going to taste or smell very good.

Why are you drinking your starter liquid? The entire point of a starter is to multiply your yeast to pitch in your wort. There is no point in worrying about off-flavors in your starter wort. Simply cold crash it the night before, decant the liquid, and pitch the yeast. Simple.
 
I taste the wort because I like to get an organoleptic sense of all parts of brewing. I also nibble on bits of malt. I control the starters in an incubator, usually at 75 or 80degF. Yeah, maybe it is acetaldehyde that I'm perceiving as sourness.
 
Every starter I have made has been a bit sour. That's what happens to beer with no hops. Sounds perfectly normal to me.

How many brew's have you done?

I've been brewing for five years, never had this happen before which is why I thought I'd post it. I've never had a starter ferment this vigorously before either. I'm thinking I'm just going to decant and pitch.
 
If un-hopped, 75F-fermented 2-day old starter beer tasted good, then we'd be making 7 day out Russian Imperial Stouts and drinking the crap outa them. Starters aren't supposed to taste good and might even have a little lacto in them, which dies off in the 'real' beer if its over about 10 IBU. If i have a starter that smells even similar to beer, I consider it a positive omen from the Brewing Gods, but not required at all.

This is similar to posts on here with guys freaking out and wondering if they should dump their week old lagers because they "taste funny".
 
If you have been making starters for 5 years and this one tastes different then maybe something isn't quite right. But, just to reiterate a sour or cidery flavour is normal.
 
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