Liquid starter major lag

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Edan Z, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. Edan Z

    Edan Z Member

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    #1 Edan Z, Aug 12, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
    So I decided to make a starter ahead of brew day. The vial was expiring in a week. I decided to make a 1.6 liter starter on a stir plate. 36 hours later and the starter had not done anything, a gravity reading still read 1.040.

    I figured the yeast must have been dead from shipping so close to expiration date and in the hot summer heat. I was about to dump the whole thing. Took it off the stir plate and forgot about it over night (still covered).

    Next morning (44 hours later), all of a sudden it took off! Now, 68 hours later, it's finished. Only thing is, I'm afraid to use it. Why did it take so long to take off? When it finally began fermenting, how do I know it wasn't wild yeast contamination, or bacteria at that point?

    I heard that a starter was ready in anywhere from 18-36 hours to be ready for pitching. Has anyone had a starter take over 44 hours to begin fermenting? Did the beer from that starter turn out Ok?

    Should I toss the starter?
     
  2. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Mmm a tricky one yes. My 2c is either not a lot of viable cells at pitch and they took a while ti show noticeable signs if fermentation or as you think a wild bug has got in there and youve git an alien yeast on your hands.

    Give it the sniff test then taste test if its real acidic or smells wrong pitch it down the sink.
     
  3. Edan Z

    Edan Z Member

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    #3 Edan Z, Aug 14, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
    It doesn't smell bad or anything. It is definitely acidic, but I do recall the first starter I made with this yeast (WLP530) was acidic (tart) too. It's too bad I may have to dump possibly good yeast, but the doubt is killing me.
     
  4. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    An acidic aroma isn't unusual with some yeasts. I have had some lager yeast do the same thing and the beer was fine. If the acidic aroma is super strong, I would hesitate to use it. It's a judgement call. If nothing else, it's a learning experience. I never seem to learn anything without some failure.
     
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  5. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Hey you made a starter crash it decant the beer give that a taste it should give you a better idea of yeast quality?
     
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  6. Edan Z

    Edan Z Member

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    Well, I bit the bullet and pitched it yesterday into a Belgian blond:

    Pilsner 42%
    Pale Ale 21%
    Carapils 21%
    Buscuit 10.5%
    Sugar 5.5%

    I tasted the decanted starter and decided that it didn't smell or taste any different than the first starter I made with this yeast, so in it went!

    Fermentation took off within 4 hours of pitching this, so I'll know for sure in a week!
     
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  7. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I'm putting my money on You mate she'll be right it'll turn out ok.;)
     
  8. Edan Z

    Edan Z Member

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    Update: Batch attenuated very well and tastes perfectly fine. Nothing weird at all going on. It's now bottled and carbing away.

    I guess the extra long starter lag means there was very little viable yeast in that WLP pack. To think how close I came to throwing that starter away.

    I suppose the lesson for me here is to not get in the habit of making my starters just one day before brew day, in case something like this happens.
     
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  9. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    yeast are finicky creatures you know they weren't invented just for beer or wine or bread, they are mother natures clean up crew so you get fired up yeast or you get average or even lazy yeast its hard to tell sometimes but a good indication is how fast a starter foams, they will act the same way in the beer in most cases
     
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  10. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    I like to do a starter about 3 days before I brew. Very rarely does the starter not take off, but if something like this happens, your covered. If the starter takes off and finishes (usually 24 hours), just put it in the refrigerator until brew day. I wouldn't do a starter more than 5 days before brewing, the fresher the yeast the better.
     
  11. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I've gotten into the habit of making small batches of drinkable beer rather than decanting and disposing of plain wort. Last time I did a starter was a 3 quart batch of an .040 session version of an Amber Ale using some leftover wort saved from the tail end of the sparge from several batches and some old partial packets of Bravo and Eldorado hops that had been in the freezer for quite a while. I let that ferment out at room temp and crashed it for a couple of days before siphoning off into a 2-liter bottle and carbing with a carb-cap. It was a 7 or 8 day process when it was all said and done and I had a few pints of killer beer to drink and an extremely vigorous yeast colony with big krausening within 12 hours of pitch.
     
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  12. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    I always save trub or blow off yeast from a wild fermentation and keep it in the 33F fridge, that way in my spare time i can create a starter out of it I usually take the entire day before brew day to create the starter but even if I don't brew I just put the flask back in the keezer sealed in 2 gallon plastic baggies
     
  13. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Most times i pitch the whole starter. I havnt tasted any crazy phenolic nasties from the high starter ferm temp and i get double use out of tyat DME.:)

    My tastebuds are bias and not BJCP educated though:rolleyes:.
     
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  14. Edan Z

    Edan Z Member

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    Well, the verdict is in. After 10 days carbing up @ 70 this latest batch totally surprised me.

    If you followed the "identifying off flavor" thread, you know that I decided to make a few changes to brew this latest batch. I switched from a chlorine-based cleaner to PBW, I used distilled water for my StarSan rinse, I closely monitored the rise of fermentation temperature and kept it to a maximum of 73ºF (it went from 68ºF to 72ºF during active fermentation, then I raised it to 73 for a couple of days before crashing), I also decided to cold "crash" to 41ºF for 24 hours before bottling, and finally bottled the beer 3 days after final gravity was reached (11 days after pitching yeast).

    The profile of the beer is completely different than before. Hop aroma is very forward, head retention is amazing for having been only 10 days carbing up in the bottle (it is fully carbonated), and despite the lack of hardly any cold conditioning at all (I only chilled it for 40 minutes in the freezer before tasting), this young beer tastes extremely clean (like a lager), but with subtle hints of fruit and spice, and a mildly citrusy tart finish. I'm blown away by the difference between this and my past brews which where all quite heavy on the yeast funk and took a while to condition out the green butterscotch/rancid butter notes. I'm definitely going to need some help determining which of the above variables is responsible for this minor miracle.

    Here she is, after 1 week at 70ºF and 40 minutes in the freezer:

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    excellent, glad it worked out for you and glad we could help, ;)
     
  16. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Yeah top stuff mate what ever you did different stick with them changes.
     
  17. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    Beer is made or broken in fermentation. Watch that like a hawk, you could even drop your temp a bit, keep your yeast pitch counts up and get anal about sanitizing.

    That sunbeam in the photo puts your beer in a whole new category. Were there angels singing when you poured it?
     
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  18. Edan Z

    Edan Z Member

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    Definitely! The feed back I've gotten here has been invaluable.

    Haha... I thought that was just my crappy phone camera, but now that you mention it... maybe there is more to Trappist ales than we are led to believe!

    So, if I hear you correctly, the most significant change I made was the fermentation temperature control? Will definitely keep fermenting in my wine cabinet. I'm going to brew this again in 2 weeks and see if I can replicate the results. I think this could be a good "base" to experiment with and fine tune... but first I've got be able to do it consistently.
     
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  19. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    My first ferment chamber was a wine fridge still got it its got my lager sitting at D rest 18c atm in it. It ranges from 7c to 18c perfect for fermentation eh? And got it for free as well so even better:)
     
  20. Edan Z

    Edan Z Member

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    I got another brew day coming up and thought I would post a final update on this last batch. A few weeks in cold storage and the beer has completely cleared. I must admit, I was expecting it to remain hazy, so the clarity threw me off. Either way, the profile has not changed. The hop aroma is a little more subdued which is to be expected, but the bitterness is still there and there are no signs of oxidation - fingers crossed!

    For my next batch (saturday), I'll be repeating this same recipe, but I'll be adjusting the hop schedule so the bulk of the hops (hallertau mittelfrüh) are added at 20 mn before the end of the boil.

    Thanks again, everyone, for the great input!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

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