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How Long Does A Starter Take To Start?

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TBird

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Hi All

I started a starter on Sunday around midday using the following:

Starter made up of 100 grams of DME to 1 litre of water

Boiled for 15 mins with 2 teaspoons of yeast nutrient.

Pitched yeast at room temperature (both yeast and starter) - Belgian Ale Yeast WLP 550 (Best before February 2010 hence starter to check viability)

Yeast has been kept in fridge at around 4 degrees since purchasing from HBS (probably for the last 2 years)

Starter has been kept at room temperature since Sunday (19 - 28 degrees)

As far as I can see, it hasn't fired up with no seemingly activity in the glass bottle I'm using (after some 3 and a half days)

I've had yeasts much older than this still fire up. But from memory not taking this long.

Last night I sloshed the bottle around to try to keep the yeast in suspension and this morning it was cloudy. I don't now whether this was purely because of the rousing or some activity. Note I'm just using alfoil seal on the bottle to keep nasties out. The starter is now starting to clear again.

I'd appreciate any advice on whether I should keep going with the starter (Nearly 4 days seems long enough), or throw it.

What's the longest time you have had a yeast take to fire up?

Cheers and thanks
 

Guysmiley54

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Doesn't sound good mate.... I've never had this happen to me but I'd be pretty hesitant to use it :(

Hi All

I started a starter on Sunday around midday using the following:

Starter made up of 100 grams of DME to 1 litre of water

Boiled for 15 mins with 2 teaspoons of yeast nutrient.

Pitched yeast at room temperature (both yeast and starter) - Belgian Ale Yeast WLP 550 (Best before February 2010 hence starter to check viability)

Yeast has been kept in fridge at around 4 degrees since purchasing from HBS (probably for the last 2 years)

Starter has been kept at room temperature since Sunday (19 - 28 degrees)

As far as I can see, it hasn't fired up with no seemingly activity in the glass bottle I'm using (after some 3 and a half days)

I've had yeasts much older than this still fire up. But from memory not taking this long.

Last night I sloshed the bottle around to try to keep the yeast in suspension and this morning it was cloudy. I don't now whether this was purely because of the rousing or some activity. Note I'm just using alfoil seal on the bottle to keep nasties out. The starter is now starting to clear again.

I'd appreciate any advice on whether I should keep going with the starter (Nearly 4 days seems long enough), or throw it.

What's the longest time you have had a yeast take to fire up?

Cheers and thanks
 

Wolfy

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Are you sure it's done nothing - have you checked the gravity?
Sometimes a starter can easily do its thing without you even noticing it.

If the yeast was several years old, it may have been a better idea to start with a small (1-200ml) starter before stepping it to the 1L volume.
That way if there is only a small volume of viable yeast it can more easily reproduce and out-compete anything unwanted in the smaller volume.

Give it another day or two, and see how it goes, also make sure you smell/taste the starter before you make any final decisions on if it is good or not.

As a side-note, sounds like your starters could use more constant rousing for better aeration and to distribute the yeast.
 

TidalPete

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Longest I've gone is 5 days or so (2+year-old yeast) but perhaps your starter's not responding because of over-feeding the yeast with the nutrient?
Two teaspoons of nutrient seems excessive when one tsp is all that's needed for a 23 litre batch? All a 100g of DME needs is a pinch.
Just saying.

TP

Edit --- Wolfy is correct re starting with 100ml or so then stepping up.
 

white.grant

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You have to agitate a starter a lot or they can be slow, that's why stirplates are the bomb! But even with a 1 liter starter, most activity will be a blip that you can easily miss.

Otherwise, can you see any yeast on the bottom of the bottle? there should be a whitish layer of stuff, perhaps quite sparse in this case? Is there any condensation forming on the glass that would indicate CO2 creation?

You could always try to step it up to 2 liters, assuming your making a belgian ale you'd probably want to do that anyway, and you may see a higher level of activity and more easily discernible yeast forming on the bottom of your bottle.
 

TBird

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Thanks guys for the feedback.

A couple of things: Sorry should have said 1/2 teaspoon of nutrient (as per Wyeast instructions)

I did aerate the starter before pitching the yeast by swirling it in the bottle for about a minute or so (not great I know but all I could do and as I've always done in the past)

I've smelled the starter and it seemed ok to me (with a bit of funkiness) BUT, I've never smelled a belgian yeast before so not sure what I'm picking up.

I'm not in any real hurry to pitch as I've got a cube of Fly Blown Belgian (as per Recipe DB) that can wait a little longer so I could give it a day or two longer maybe.

Cheers
 

TBird

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You have to agitate a starter a lot or they can be slow, that's why stirplates are the bomb! But even with a 1 liter starter, most activity will be a blip that you can easily miss.

Otherwise, can you see any yeast on the bottom of the bottle? there should be a whitish layer of stuff, perhaps quite sparse in this case? Is there any condensation forming on the glass that would indicate CO2 creation?

You could always try to step it up to 2 liters, assuming your making a belgian ale you'd probably want to do that anyway, and you may see a higher level of activity and more easily discernible yeast forming on the bottom of your bottle.
Thanks Grantw

There is a fair bit of yeast on the bottom of the bottle as well as some condensation forming on the inside. I'm thinking that stepping up to a 2 litre starter might be at least a try.

Cheers
 

Wolfy

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I did aerate the starter before pitching the yeast by swirling it in the bottle for about a minute or so (not great I know but all I could do and as I've always done in the past)
The more you aerate and agitate it, the better for the yeast/growth. Since you don't have a stir-plate, try to shake it for at least 15mins when you first start and then again (for a couple of mins) every time you remember or walk past it.
 

TBird

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The more you aerate and agitate it, the better for the yeast/growth. Since you don't have a stir-plate, try to shake it for at least 15mins when you first start and then again (for a couple of mins) every time you remember or walk past it.

Thanks Wolfy

Just a question: By agitating it at this point in time (nearly four days after pitching the yeast), am I trying to get more oxygen into the starter or, trying to get the yeast into suspension? (or maybe both?).

Cheers and thanks
 

Wolfy

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... am I trying to get more oxygen into the starter or, trying to get the yeast into suspension? (or maybe both?).
Both, but at 4-days, it's probably a bit late to start doing it now. ;)
 

TBird

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Well as per Wolfys advice I just took a SG reading this morning and it's 1012. So obviously the yeast did fire up behind my back. It still smells OK but I'm not sure about the taste given it's a Belgian Ale yeast which I would expect to have some funky flavour.

Thanks all
 

TBird

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Hi All

Just went back and taste tested the starter again and it does have a sour taste to it (not mouth puckering sour, just sour notes to it). It's the first time I've tasted a belgian yeast. Should they have a sour taste?

Cheers and thanks again
 

Nick JD

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Hi All

Just went back and taste tested the starter again and it does have a sour taste to it (not mouth puckering sour, just sour notes to it). It's the first time I've tasted a belgian yeast. Should they have a sour taste?

Cheers and thanks again
Does it taste like a phenolic beer? Or just sour?
 

sim

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If the yeast was several years old, it may have been a better idea to start with a small (1-200ml) starter before stepping it to the 1L volume.
That way if there is only a small volume of viable yeast it can more easily reproduce and out-compete anything unwanted in the smaller volume.
in that case i think the above might be your issue. Possibly contaminated by other more vigorous bacteria.
 

Wolfy

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So do I ditch it?
Do you want your entire batch of beer to taste similar to the starter?

But I'd step it up again (like you were planning to) and then evaluate it once more and make a final decision.
 

marksy

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stick your nose in and have a sniff!!! That will tell you something. I had a starter the other day that seemed to be doing nothing. After the second day I had a smell to check and Wholla, then added some more malt. It ended with a very bubbling airlock once pitched.
 

TBird

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Hi All

Well this morning I boiled up another wort to step up the starter. I used about 900 grams of DME (all I had left) with 1 litre of water boiled for 15 mins (no yeast nutrient added this time)

I decanted the wort into 2 coopers plastic bottles and shook the hell out of them for about 12 minutes.

I drained off what I could of the liquid from the original starter and poured the cooled boiled wort onto the remaining yeast in the original starter.

Within an hour I had unbelievable krausen happening in the bottle (a white dense head about 4 mm thick).

A couple of hours latter the thick foam has collapsed and there is still some suds on top of the surface. There was also some large bubbles (about 20mm across the base) on the surface.

Just checked again and the suds on top appear normal and there seems to be fermentation activity going on.

When I drained the liquid off the initial starter, I tasted it again to confirm my observations. It definitely has a sour taste.

Now, going on what Wolfy said about the taste of the starter going through to the entire batch of beer, I would say that this "taste" would be more at home in a Belgian Wit (it's a similar taste), but I'm not sure it would go with a Leffe Blonde.

So I'm thinking that I don't want this yeast to stuff up my Leffe Blonde clone so I might ditch it and use a Safbrew s-33 instead.

Any comments welcome and appreciated

Cheers
 

Nick JD

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Does it taste like cloves with a little bit of tartness? WLP530 is what you want for Leffe Blonde.

I've never has a belgian wit that tasted sour ... are you confident in using that term to describe the taste? Sour to me is biting into a lemon - never had that from a beer, nor would I want to.
 
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