White Labs is horrible!!!... maybe.

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JMSetzler

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Well its been 60 hours and still no activity. I took a reading and its pretty much the same. I don't know where I went wrong. I stirred it up and tried to aerate but who knows what will happen. No airlock activity either. I'll take another reading in a day or two and maybe pitch a second vile with a starter.

After reading this entire thread, I don't remember if you posted your recipe or not. Since you have had two possible yeast failures, I'm wondering if you might have put something in the beer that is causing a problem. I use White Labs yeasts myself and have never had a 60 hour lag time.

If you haven't found instructions on making a yeast starter yet, search for yeast starter on YouTube. There are a couple good video tutorials on there...
 

kaiser423

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Yea, I'd say to toss a new pack of the liquid if you can get more. Otherwise Notty or some other yeast works well.

I may be in the same predicament here. My smack pack didn't activate, and my White Labs yeast was just in the vial. I think that they make have gotten nuked during shipment...Only 14 hours in, but I didn't like that the smack pack did nothing. Damn karma!
 

davesrose

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Man this thread was in real de-railment! I had to read the whole thing to figure out where we are in all of this. As someone who prefers White Labs to Wyeast (unless my beer is really low gravity, I always make a real starter....the Wyeast smack packs still aren't approaching a good starter cell count), I'm going to say that if your gravity readings aren't changing after 2 days....maybe you got a dead vial of yeast. I wouldn't blame White Labs though. As you've seen in this thread, most brewers who use these products swear by them (if White Labs produced something that was defective, you wouldn't get so much backlash).

If you aerated the wort and have it in the recommended temperature, yet your gravity reading is staying the same, then I would safely say it's dead if it hasn't started after 72 hours. Once you get more experienced, you'll know to aerate the wort and have a big enough starter so that fermentation will take off in just a few hours. But before I knew about starters, I'd pitch a vial of White Labs from my LHBS and fermentation usually started "fairly" quickly (the longest lag would be a day). Where are you getting your White Labs vial? If it's local, then you might have a store that's not very good about getting fresh vials. If it's mail order, always order several ice packs.

If you get really frustrated, you could always chalk this up as a fail, dump it....and then try again with a new vial of White Labs (and make sure it's fresh). But this time, make a starter before brew day.....and before you pitch the yeast, aerate the heck out of your wort. Those are the main elements that also eliminate lag time. But if you're still concerned about this batch....we should eliminate the obvious. You say there's little difference in gravity reading....how much? Don't go by airlock activity or even if there's a layer of foam/kraeusen. Sometimes you can get a leak somewhere that won't give you much airlock activity or kraeusen.
 

JohnnyO

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I just used my first vial of WL liquid yeast just yesterday. I made a starter on Thursday night. It was a California Ale yeast in an American Pale Ale partial mash kit.

I'm really happy so far. Even happier that I rigged a blowoff tube because right now, it's bubbling away like a kid blowing bubbles into his glass of milk!!
 
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Nickhouse80

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Sorry to hear about your bad karma kaiser. According to "My Name is Earl" you're gonna have to buy somebody a new vile of WL before yours will work again! Err somethin' like that.

Like I said before I've tried White Labs yeast twice now and haven't been able to get either to work. The expiration date was fine on both and the store I bought them from has some serious homebrewers there. I'll concede to operator error but the only thing that I seem to have done wrong is not making a starter. But reading some of these posts a starter is not always needed.

My OG was 1.064 and today it was 1.042. I tasted my sample and it was still very sugary. This is the URL to the recipe I used:

Bavarian Hefeweizen

I added an extra 3.3 lbs of extra light syrup extract which is why my OG is higher than the recipe calls for.

Isn't a hobby supposed to be stress free? haha I love it
 

davesrose

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My OG was 1.064 and today it was 1.042.
OK, so don't go saying your yeast isn't working at all :cross: If you've dumped two vials in, and it's at 1.042....I would rouse whatever trub might have settled and just leave it be for now. Looks like it's something else...temp or O2 that's lacking for the yeast to fully attenuate.
 

Jipper

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Nick, what temp did you pitch your yeast into your wort? From trials we have done with WL, it is really hard to kill 100% of the yeast in transit. We have shipped vials to the east coast in the summer and had them sent right back to us, then on to the lab for viability testing, and after 2 weeks in the summer the vials were still 60-70% viable.
 
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Nickhouse80

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The wort was between 68 and 72 degrees. The yeast had been sitting out for 1.5 to 2 hours and was about room temp. I haven't taken a reading for about 24 hrs but have not seen any airlock activity (which I know I can't go by) but has been present in every other batch I've brewed.
 

tom_m

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It has been about 12 hours and I'm not seeing any activity.
I pitched same yeast (or similar? - WLP300) at same temperature or even a little warmer a few nights ago. It took 15 hours before I started seeing activity.

It has been VERY active after about 24, 25 hours...foam out the airlock and such. Plug popped out plastic carboy a few hours after that.

Expiration: Sept 30, 09
Lot Number: 1300IIHKONH1
 

Jipper

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The wort was between 68 and 72 degrees. The yeast had been sitting out for 1.5 to 2 hours and was about room temp. I haven't taken a reading for about 24 hrs but have not seen any airlock activity (which I know I can't go by) but has been present in every other batch I've brewed.
Yeah sometimes that happens. The main thing is to save your batch via more yeast - dry or liquid - and see if it happens again. order some more WL yeast via Priority Mail to reduce the damage to the cells and see if you get the same results. If so, I'd bet that somewhere along the lines something in the process is messing with your yeast. If not, it could have been a multitude of issues.
 

khiddy

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My OG was 1.064 and today it was 1.042. I tasted my sample and it was still very sugary.
You dropped 22 gravity points already, and you say that your yeast isn't working?

If your yeast wasn't working, you'd still be at 1.064.

The yeast is working fine. Just not as fast as you expected. Relax, man.
 
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Nickhouse80

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Well I'm at 1.030 today. Maybe you're right Dude. Slow but sure. 131 hours to drop 34 gravity points? Is that normal with White Labs?
 

flyangler18

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Is that normal with White Labs?
No, but it's completely normal for underpitched yeast. ;)

Here's a little math to bear out the fact that you most certainly underpitched 1.064 wort.

At the very peak of freshness (like, off the manufacturing line), a vial of White Labs yeast contains 100 billion cells. There's too many variables in handling from WL to your LHBS and viability is never 100% even in the best of circumstances

The standard pitching rate is 1 million cells/ml wort/*Plato

For your wort: 1 million cells X 20,000 ml (approximation for 5 gallons) x 16P = 320 billion cells to properly inoculate.

See? You underpitched by a huge margin.
 

jds

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Just to nit-pick, a vial of WL pitchable yeast contains 75-150 billion cells, not 100 million. Source: White Labs

Nickhouse: Welcome (belatedly) to HBT. To offer a piece of advice: Forget your beer.

No, I don't mean forget about brewing. I mean take your fermenter, put it in a cool, dark, place, and ignore it for the next three weeks. The yeast is working, and rooting around in the fermenter can't help at this point.

So put it away, start thinking about the next batch, and give the yeast some time. They will reward you. Extra time in the fermenter may help clean up any off-flavors produced from a stressed fermentation, and certainly can't hurt.
 

Big10Seaner

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I don't even check the FG readings until I keg it. I leave the fermenter sitting for 3-4 weeks and forget about it. As long as you pitched enough yeast and aerated well, you should be fine. Before kegging, I check the FG . I haven't had any problems yet with the White Labs yeast.
 

ohiobrewtus

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Sorry to hear that you're having problems. I guess it's possible that you got a hold of a vial of mostly dead cells, but FWIW I've used WL yeast in probably 60% of all of my beers and I've never had a single problem. They make a solid product.
 

Evan!

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Maybe it's been asked and answered already, but I'm curious if/how you oxygenated/aerated your wort. Obviously, it's been pointed out ad nauseum that anything above 1.030 or so needs a starter, be it from White Labs or Wyeast...but the health and speed of your growth phase also depends on whether the yeast have enough oxygen.
 

uwjester

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I'm a bit late to the discussion, but I hadn't noticed where anyone asked what the fermentation temperature is. You said you dropped the wort to 76 or so before pitching, but I'd like to know what the temperature is in the room you are fermenting in. You said room temperature, but that is kind of vague. The reason I ask is because I sometimes have to warm my fermentation room up in the summer. It is in the basement and when it gets hot out, we turn on the AC. The dynamics of my house somehow overcool that closet. For some reason, my wife likes to keep the house at 67 or 68 in the summer. If you are around 60F in there, this is pretty much the behavior I would see.

I use the white labs hefeweizen yeast all the time. I like the flavor that the underpitched, stressed yeast brings, so I always underpitch that strain. I have pitched a single vial into a 1.094 SG dunkelweizen and it overwhelmed a blowoff tube. I had to clean up kreusen off the floor that had gone through the tube, filled the growler, and dripped down the shelves. I believe you should be seeing airlock action with your wort. At the very least, there should be a kreusen.
 

Philsc

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Maybe I'm paranoid, but I always make starters (well, six times)... and I still haven't graduated from the school of S-04.

And I have an English grammar and style book open when I post comments.

Yes, I am paranoid.

I'm thinking of using liquid yeasts and wanted to know the difference between Wyeast and White labs; thus, the title of this thread drew me.

Good to hear that the fermentation took off.

To the experienced brewers: does it change the flavour to underpitch, or is it just a matter of lag time?

I don't understand the reasoning behind starters, although I understand that there is reasoning. If you spend 4 days with the yeast in a litre of wort before you pitch into 20 litres of wort, why not pitch into 20 litres right away and just wait the extra 4 days? Is it something to do with the population density? They're not reproducing sexually.
 

uwjester

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Maybe I'm paranoid, but I always make starters (well, six times)... and I still haven't graduated from the school of S-04.

And I have an English grammar and style book open when I post comments.

Yes, I am paranoid.

I'm thinking of using liquid yeasts and wanted to know the difference between Wyeast and White labs; thus, the title of this thread drew me.

Good to hear that the fermentation took off.

To the experienced brewers: does it change the flavour to underpitch, or is it just a matter of lag time?

I don't understand the reasoning behind starters, although I understand that there is reasoning. If you spend 4 days with the yeast in a litre of wort before you pitch into 20 litres of wort, why not pitch into 20 litres right away and just wait the extra 4 days? Is it something to do with the population density? They're not reproducing sexually.
The point of a starter is to have the yeast do the bulk of their reproduction phase outside of your beer. When they are in that phase, they tend to produce flavors that might not be appropriate for your beer. For example, a pilsner should have a fairly clean taste, not a whole lot of spice and flavor from the yeast. When I do a lager, I make at least a 1 liter starter, let it go for 3 days, crash cool it to bring the yeast out of suspension, then pour off the beer and keep the yeast. The beer that I poured off gets all the interesting yeast flavors and the wort that I'm pitching into gets the billions and billions of happy little workers.
 

Schnitzengiggle

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Maybe I'm paranoid, but I always make starters (well, six times)... and I still haven't graduated from the school of S-04.

And I have an English grammar and style book open when I post comments.

Yes, I am paranoid.

I'm thinking of using liquid yeasts and wanted to know the difference between Wyeast and White labs; thus, the title of this thread drew me.

Good to hear that the fermentation took off.

To the experienced brewers: does it change the flavour to underpitch, or is it just a matter of lag time?

I don't understand the reasoning behind starters, although I understand that there is reasoning. If you spend 4 days with the yeast in a litre of wort before you pitch into 20 litres of wort, why not pitch into 20 litres right away and just wait the extra 4 days? Is it something to do with the population density? They're not reproducing sexually.
I usually pitch 18-24 hours after I have made a starter, I just built Anthony's DIY stirplate and brewed a double batch yesterday (lot more work doing two, I would say double the amount :D) having my WLP004 Irish Ale yeast on the plate for about 36 hours (longer than I intended), and also WLP001 Cali Ale for about 18 hours. Both were 1 Liter starters. The WLP004took off in about 3 hours, and I had blow off this morning its going like a madman, great yeast! WLP001 took a little longer, but I may have shocked the yeast a little bit, my pitching temps were a little low, but it was chugging along nicely this morning, Oh and BTW both of these yeasts were 1st gen washed yeast. I generally just pitch the entire starter into my wort. I usually don'tm ake one early enough to refrigerate,crash the yeast and pitch only the slury.

Starters are a no brainer and Mr. Malty has all the info you need at this link: Mr Malty.
 

kaiser423

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To the experienced brewers: does it change the flavour to underpitch, or is it just a matter of lag time?

I don't understand the reasoning behind starters, although I understand that there is reasoning. If you spend 4 days with the yeast in a litre of wort before you pitch into 20 litres of wort, why not pitch into 20 litres right away and just wait the extra 4 days? Is it something to do with the population density? They're not reproducing sexually.
Here's my take as an inexperienced brewer.

If your wort is properly aerated, you have all the right nutrients, the temps are right and your wort is sanitary, then a starter does little.

I also think that pitching 100 billion yeast cells into a wort that needs 300 billion is not severely under-pitching. Each yeast cell reproduces once, then 25% once again. That's nothing for yeast.

But, if you are low on oxygen, nutrients, etc then you will probably get some fusels (it may be so few that you can't taste them, but who knows). The starter lets you get up to proper fermenting amounts in controlled conditions that have enough nutrients, oxygen, etc. Even if you do mess up the starter, you can pour off the fusel's and then pitch the slurry with no ill effects.

Another good point is that it reduces lag time. Once that wort is cool in your fermenter, it's only a matter of time until bacteria start going strong. I think that nearly all wort would have some level of bacteria in it once in the fermenter, and the longer that you let that stuff go strong before the yeast take control, the more likely you are to have off flavors. So, getting a strong fermentation in 3 hours versus 72 hours can make a difference. If you have good sanitary practices, then there's probably few enough bacteria to cause a problem in the 48-72 hours before the yeast takes over.


In the end, a starter is another tool in the tool chest that allows you to ensure that not doing some things 100% correctly won't affect the quality of your beer. Since typically home/craft beer is about trying to get the best beer that you can, a large number of people utilize this simple, easy and effective tool. I currently have nearly all the rest of my process dialed in, and will probably start making starters in the near future. Although, at least initially, I do plan on under-pitching by about 25% with regards to the Mr. Malty calculator. I feel that some reproduction in the fermenter may not a bad thing, and plan on experimenting some. My feeling is that I won't be able to tell the difference though.

Either way, take it or leave it!
 

davesrose

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I feel that some reproduction in the fermenter may not a bad thing, and plan on experimenting some. My feeling is that I won't be able to tell the difference though.
What is to prevent yeast cells from reproducing if they're coming from a starter?? Active fermenation is still about cell reproduction, whether coming from a smaller yeast pitch or not. After trying out aerating with O2 and then including starters, I would never say they're mutually exclusive. Even my Rye IPA, which had an OG of 1.080...properly aerated with a modest starter seems to have gotten most all the active fermentation done within the first 24 hours. Before I knew about starters, but was trying out O2 aeration, I was getting slower ferments and slightly less attenuation.

And because of this attenuation, then, I do find a slight difference with flavor profile.
 

Philsc

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I generally just pitch the entire starter into my wort. I usually don'tm ake one early enough to refrigerate,crash the yeast and pitch only the slury.

Starters are a no brainer and Mr. Malty has all the info you need at this link: Mr Malty.
So, you pitch starter beer and all unlike Uwjester? I had read that during reproduction the yeast give off some flavours, so Uwjester's pouring off the starter beer and pitching just the slurry starts to make sense to me.

I've been using starters just to see if the yeast is actually alive. I understand that drying and packaging has come a long way in 20 years but I like the idea of knowing that the yeast I pitched is alive. I can wait that 72 hours without a problem.

Thanks Kaiser423 for the detailed explanation. I like the analogy of the tool in the brewers chest. I like to take all these safety precautions just in case I forget something or mess something up. I'm also brewing at the cheap end of the spectrum, so aeration for me involves rocking the carboy back and forth in it's milk crate.

I'm going to hit Mr. Malty now. Thanks for the link.
 

Schnitzengiggle

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I have had no detectable off-flavors by pitching the entire starter. There is some debate about the off-flavors that can be produced in a starter, however, I really don't think that pitching a 1 Liter starter into 5 gallons of wort is going to have a big impact on-flavor, if any.

Since beginning to use starters, I would have to say that my beers have definitely had a noticeable improvement. Starters are a very simple and effective way to proof yeast and raise cell counts.
 

kaiser423

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What is to prevent yeast cells from reproducing if they're coming from a starter??
Nothing. You're just technically under-pitching in that case, which a starter is supposed to keep you from doing.

Active fermenation is still about cell reproduction, whether coming from a smaller yeast pitch or not. After trying out aerating with O2 and then including starters, I would never say they're mutually exclusive. Even my Rye IPA, which had an OG of 1.080...properly aerated with a modest starter seems to have gotten most all the active fermentation done within the first 24 hours. Before I knew about starters, but was trying out O2 aeration, I was getting slower ferments and slightly less attenuation.

And because of this attenuation, then, I do find a slight difference with flavor profile.
That's fair enough. I notice different attenuation profiles based upon the temperature of my mash, so I mash at specific temperatures to get the attenuation that I want. If you can accomplish that with your yeast also, then that's awesome.

Now you may be selecting/breeding yeast that have greater attenuation characteristics based upon your starter, but I'm not sure if 1 generation is enough to make that happen. Maybe someone whom knows more about yeast could chime in, because I can't think of a specific mechanism other than possibly you are encouraging the less flocculant yeast to breed more than the other yeast, so they stay in solution a bit longer and hence might ferment out a bit more.... Dunno. Don't claim to be an expert, just spoutin' off what I think that I know!
 

davesrose

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Dunno. Don't claim to be an expert, just spoutin' off what I think that I know!
Well if you haven't experimented with starters yet, I highly recommend it! Go ahead and try pitching one batch at 25% under Mr Malty...heck, try one that's 50% under and one that's the full recommendation of Mr Malty. I take these debates about particular numbers of cell counts of yeast with a grain of salt. Afterall, they're all rough estimates, since there's no way to truely estimate based on how the original yeast's sample viability was. Personally, I don't think there's a way to ever say what's an optimal pitch count. Chances are no matter what size starter you have....there will still be some cell reproduction during active fermentation. And for me, a good fermentation is mantaining a good equilibrium: if you have more yeasties, they are less likely to binge....if you give them plenty of O2, that promotes them doing aerobic metabolism as well as more cell reproduction....then if you supply them with their optimal temperatures, they aren't going to die on you. So yes, I'd say you can't have one without the other.

However, since beer is essentially like liquid bread....it is interesting to see what differences might exist with particular styles that you might want to ferment slowly (like slow rising breads). For me, I think the main advantage of a starter for beer is a faster ferment with maximal aerobic fermentation (and therefore "cleaner" taste). And in the baking community, there is also a debate about what starters are good for :) In the end, it's just whatever techniques you want to subscribe to that yields good results for you.
 

Arkador

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White Labs yeast is great stuff, espically if you make a starter.

If you have a dead vial, I am sure that it is not White Labs fault, but probably something that happened after it left their facility. Making a starter will prove it is viable, as well as improve your fermentation.

I make a starter with any liquid yeast, and rehydrate any dry yeast before pitching to prove it is viable.
 

wildwest450

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I had my first experience with WL300, a hef yeast. I brewed this as a favor to a noobie ag'er so he could watch the process. He did not make a starter, and yes I told him that's a no no. Well, it took 30 hours to start, by far the longest I have seen. Within 10 hours of actual activity, it's blowing off in a 6.5 gallon carboy. Impressive.
 

Philsc

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Nothing. You're just technically under-pitching in that case, which a starter is supposed to keep you from doing.
I have had no detectable off-flavors by pitching the entire starter.
Ah, I completely understand now. So, if I've got this straight, God invented yeast in order to completely confuse me?

The information I've got from all my reading - Mr. Malty and this thread and a few other things - is that a starter makes for a better yeast. Yeast will start from a small population and grow to fill the volume of wort in which they find themselves whether it's graduated (starter - fermenter) or not (straight in the fermenter). If they go straight in the fermenter the beer won't taste as good.

The only possible explanation I can think of is that the yeast like a certain population density.
 

kaiser423

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Ah, I completely understand now. So, if I've got this straight, God invented yeast in order to completely confuse me?

The information I've got from all my reading - Mr. Malty and this thread and a few other things - is that a starter makes for a better yeast. Yeast will start from a small population and grow to fill the volume of wort in which they find themselves whether it's graduated (starter - fermenter) or not (straight in the fermenter). If they go straight in the fermenter the beer won't taste as good.

The only possible explanation I can think of is that the yeast like a certain population density.
Yes, yeasties are confusing, and in many cases even the scientists don't have a 100% grasp of what's going on.

Here's the thing; the yeast will reproduce until they are at the right density with respect to the nutrients in the wort. The population will keep growing until the resources to population ratio is right for the yeast. While reproducing they will utilize some resources like oxygen.

Also, if, for example you don't have enough resources (typically dissolved oxygen), and the yeast run out of oxygen before reproducing enough to reach the proper density, then they start to have to do without....essentially, when your muscles run out of resources to power your body they use a different chemical process to make energy, which results in lactic acid and you being sore the next day. Totally different processes at work, but something similar. When the yeast are out of resources or stressed by temperature, ph, or soemthing else, in their attempt to reproduce/survive/continue feeding they will utilize whatever resources they have, and some of those alternate ways of doing things can produce significant off flavors (esters, phenols, etc).

So, a starter can drastically reduce the potential amount of stress that the yeasties go through while fermenting your beer. They need less total resources to get the job done since they don't need to reproduce so much, so its more likely that they'll be able to finish the fermentation cleanly.

Cliff Notes: Avoid stressing the yeasties and your beer will taste cleaner!
 

Philsc

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I'm glad that scientists don't know what's going on with yeast. That makes me feel better about myself. I mean, they know what happened 6 billionths of a second after the big bang.

So it's an oxygen thing. This is starting to make sense.

I'm contemplating my first purchase of liquid yeast. I'm trying to build up the stuff to be able to harvest the yeast at the end.

Fun with yeast!!!
 

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I usually add yeast nutrients to all my brews, aetrate the H*** out of it and then just pitch the vial, no starter. I have been getting attenuations of 83% - 87% regularly. I am still fairly new, a little over 2 years, and still doing extracgt and partial mashes. Perhaps when I move to AG, I will take on the extra step of a starter. Until then, if you give them all they need, want they will take care of they're job, which is to eat sugar, throw up CO2 and poop alcohol.
 

brewt00l

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Doylestown, PA
I usually add yeast nutrients to all my brews, aetrate the H*** out of it and then just pitch the vial, no starter. I have been getting attenuations of 83% - 87% regularly. I am still fairly new, a little over 2 years, and still doing extracgt and partial mashes. Perhaps when I move to AG, I will take on the extra step of a starter. Until then, if you give them all they need, want they will take care of they're job, which is to eat sugar, throw up CO2 and poop alcohol.
83-87%? Unless you're using some of the especially high attenuating strains, over attenuating isn't any better in the quest for great beer than under attenuating IMHO.
 
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