When to go with plan B?

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HuggerOrange

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So here's the story - I got a Midwest Belgian Triple kit for Christmas from my brother that I have been dying to make. I figure it will be next year's Cristmas beer. Anyway, he got me a vile of White Labs 550 Belgian Ale yeast with it that I have kept in the frig from the moment I got it home. I also know that he kept it refrigerated while he had it. Now what happened in transport I don't know, but it was December in NJ and pretty cool out. Friday night I made a starter at about 9 pm while I did some other stuff. When I went to bed at around midnight there was no action. Yesterday morning I got up and there was still nothing. I finished the brew about 3 pm yesterday afternoon, and still nothing. I pitched it anyway in hopes that it's just laging or I hadn't given the starter enough time. Unfortunately, It's now 7am on Sunday and no action whatsoever. Now I'm hoping that I'm being impatient and that at some point today I'll see that magic bubble in the airlock and my worries will go away, but when do I go with plan B? I have a pack of SafAle 33, which says it's good for Belgians but I don't want to pitch it unless I know that the Wyeast is dead. I also have my LHBS less than a five minute drive away so I could go get more liquid yeast. Any thoughts on my delema are appreciated.
 

Alabama Brewer

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Can you explain how you made a starter? I have never done anything with my Whitelabs yeast except pitch the vial into the wort and go from there.
 
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HuggerOrange

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I actually bought a kit from Austin HB. It came with a 1000ml flask, DME and Yeast nutrient. I took the vile out of the frig about 3 hours before puting it in the starter and followed all the directions that came with the kit, which is basically to make wort from the DME and add the yeast when cooled. By doing this you quadruple the amount of yeast from the vile. This was actually the first time I've ever used liquid yeast so I wonder if I'm being impatient. I know that a dried yeast packet has far more yeast than a vile of liquid, therefore it starts fermenting a lot quicker.
 

Catfish

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I've found 550 to be a REALLY slow starter. How confident are you with your sanitation? If I were in your position I would go and get more liquid yeast and pitch that. But first I would make sure that fermentation had not started (check for a bad seal on the fermenter and look for bubbles on top of the wort/beer if it's in a bucket).
 

Bobby_M

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I would have suggested that you fully verify that the starter took off before commiting to the brew. In fact, I probably would have built that starter up twice when pitching into such a big beer. Did you aerate the starter really well and swirl the flask around every once in a while?

Did you aerate the trippel well?

I'd wait until later tonight or even tomorrow morning before doing anything. There's a chance the starter fermented out overnight. You're not going to see immediate fermentation when you only propagated in a single starter. There's likely still less cells than a dry yeast packet. If it doesn't start by tommorrow morning, rehydrate that S33 and pitch it.
 
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HuggerOrange

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Very confident with the sanitation. I'm very anal and took my time yesterday. Also very confident there is a good seal on the fermenter. I did go on White Labs website to see what they had to say and they say a starter can be done in a couple of hours since there isn't a lot of wort, so could it have fermented out while I was asleep? There was about 1/2 to 1 inch of yeast on the bottom of the flask. I just thought it would smell like beer, although unhopped, and it really didn't.
 
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HuggerOrange

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Bobby_M said:
I would have suggested that you fully verify that the starter took off before commiting to the brew. In fact, I probably would have built that starter up twice when pitching into such a big beer. Did you aerate the starter really well and swirl the flask around every once in a while?

Did you aerate the trippel well?

I'd wait until later tonight or even tomorrow morning before doing anything. There's a chance the starter fermented out overnight. You're not going to see immediate fermentation when you only propagated in a single starter. There's likely still less cells than a dry yeast packet. If it doesn't start by tommorrow morning, rehydrate that S33 and pitch it.
That's my thought about the starter fermenting out overnight. I don't have an air stone (yet) but I did shake the fermenter quite a bit and swirl the flask with the starter about half a dozen times.

BTW where in Piscataway are you? I work right across the river from you in Somerset. Saw your All Grain session post, but was too late. Let me know the next time you're doing it, I would love to sit in.
 
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HuggerOrange

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Ok, just an update but we're off and going. Thanks for the advise and thoughts. Like I said, I'm used to dry yeast which I usually rehydrate and give a little sugar and it's good to go within 6 hours. I noticed the first bubbles around 10 am at about 1 per minute, it's now 3 pm and they're up to 1 every 2 seconds so I'm wondering how violent the fermentation is going to be. Lots of sugar in there - the OG was 1.078 @ 74*F. I've got my fingers crossed this is a good one - it's also my first try at a big beer.
 

Ooompa Loompa

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I'd get yourself a blowoff tube if I were you. An OG that high that is gonna be a violent fermentation.
 
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