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Acasta

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I made up a starter of Wyeast 1469 from half a pack I got a while ago. At the time I split the pack into two, one in a starter for then and one into a sterilised jar.

I've stepped up the one from the jar, into a 500ml then 1L starter and have a good amount of yeast to pitch. However just then I tasted the starter beer and it tasted a bit cidery. I'm not sure weather to pitch it or tip it down the sink due to possible infection.

I recently had an infected batch with the same yeast (slurry from batch 1) and really don't want to pour beer down the sink again. Batch one (where I got the slurry from) was not infected.

I kept a small sample just in case there are any local yeast pros willing to try it for me. But I need to know weather to pitch or not so I can go and get more yeast before the stores close.

Stressful brewing.

EDIT: Also note I shook the starter a bit during growth and its been in the fridge since Sunday (3 days)
 

Wolfy

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Yeast starters can often smell and taste funky and not at all like the end-beer you are trying to produce. If by 'cidery' you mean a bit like vinegar, it could be a fair indication of infection.

However, is it really worth risking your entire batch of beer for what might be suspect yeast?
That's the call you have to make, with growing your own yeast, making starters and the like, its always good to have a some dry yeast in the fridge, so that if something goes wrong you can still pitch the yeast promptly.
 

Acasta

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After doing some googling, and with the flavour and aroma of cider/wine I'm guessing its Acetaldehyde.
http://www.kroc.org/Links/TroubleshootingGuide.htm

Still not really confident in pitching the yeast. Has anyone had experience with starters giving this flavour? I'm used to them being more bread like.
 

argon

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Cidery or acetaldehyde just sounds like green beer to me. But only you would know I guess. If you have time, put some of the starter in a bottle, go get yeast from the LHBS and get someone there to taste/smell it. Best case, you can pitch your starter and have a spare for next time. Worst case, pitch the fresh yeast.
 

manticle

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I made up a starter of Wyeast 1469 from half a pack I got a while ago. At the time I split the pack into two, one in a starter for then and one into a sterilised jar.

I've stepped up the one from the jar, into a 500ml then 1L starter and have a good amount of yeast to pitch. However just then I tasted the starter beer and it tasted a bit cidery. I'm not sure weather to pitch it or tip it down the sink due to possible infection.

I recently had an infected batch with the same yeast (slurry from batch 1) and really don't want to pour beer down the sink again. Batch one (where I got the slurry from) was not infected.

I kept a small sample just in case there are any local yeast pros willing to try it for me. But I need to know weather to pitch or not so I can go and get more yeast before the stores close.

Stressful brewing.

EDIT: Also note I shook the starter a bit during growth and its been in the fridge since Sunday (3 days)
If you oxidised it while it was fermenting by shaking, it could be acetaldehyde due to oxidation (or as argon suggests, the fact it isn't matured and conditioned could also be acetaldehyde). Acetaldehyde can smell/taste like granny smiths although I think it's different from actual cider.

It's really up to you - there's always a risk. If you are no chilling, you have the luxury of time. 1469 should be available now from Grain and Grape (and possibly others).

If you are chilling, you need to decide if it's cider vinegar or apple acetaldehyde or something else and use it/chuck it. What other options have you got?
 

Vanoontour

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So on this note then, is it possible to know when a starter is good vs infected?
 

Wolfy

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So on this note then, is it possible to know when a starter is good vs infected?
I think so, but that might just be luck.
If you are careful with procedures and then the starter smells (and tastes) how you expect it, without any 'off' flavours or odors, then I'd be confident it is 'good'.
It's just that many starters do not small/taste how you expect your beer to, some are quite funky and many are very yeasty of course.
 

felten

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Get a microscope and do some staining :p
 

manticle

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So on this note then, is it possible to know when a starter is good vs infected?
Yes.

Experience of various flavours/aromas will help.

Can't ever be 100% certain but when can you in this hobby?
 

Acasta

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Cidery or acetaldehyde just sounds like green beer to me. But only you would know I guess. If you have time, put some of the starter in a bottle, go get yeast from the LHBS and get someone there to taste/smell it. Best case, you can pitch your starter and have a spare for next time. Worst case, pitch the fresh yeast.

If you oxidised it while it was fermenting by shaking, it could be acetaldehyde due to oxidation (or as argon suggests, the fact it isn't matured and conditioned could also be acetaldehyde). Acetaldehyde can smell/taste like granny smiths although I think it's different from actual cider.

It's really up to you - there's always a risk. If you are no chilling, you have the luxury of time. 1469 should be available now from Grain and Grape (and possibly others).

If you are chilling, you need to decide if it's cider vinegar or apple acetaldehyde or something else and use it/chuck it. What other options have you got?
It's really hard to tell without experience whats going on. In light of a recent infected batch I decided to take the safe road and pitch some dry yeast (S-04). I also added 1L of the beer to the starter jar and will let that ferment out along side the full batch, and see if I taste any off flavours in the end product there.

Thanks for the help guys. Ended up taking a trip to get yeast, coming back and relaxing while enjoying a home brew.
 

the_new_darren

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Its almost impossible to tell if your starter is infected. The combination of no or little hops, extract/can wort and funky odours/flavours thrown by the various yeast strains can make a paranoid brewer hesitant.

Best insurance is to ensure the sanitation in preparation of a starter is extraordinarily clean. After that, its cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Oh, and Felten's comment about using a microscope is absolutely useless because if an infecting organism (if wild yeast) will be indistinguishable from brewers yeast and if a bacteria will be too small to accurately observe, especially if it is in low-numbers in the culture..

tnd
 

manticle

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Its almost impossible to tell if your starter is infected. The combination of no or little hops, extract/can wort and funky odours/flavours thrown by the various yeast strains can make a paranoid brewer hesitant.
I disagree somewhat and I'll explain why. It may sound like I'm splitting hairs but I'm not.

I think it is possible to tell if your starter is infected - for instance, if you are familiar with the characteristics of a particular infection related organism (smell, taste etc) then you can tell (or at least reasonably estimate) that your starter is infected.

It is not possible to tell, without doubt, that your starter is NOT infected. Getting to know some of the various volatiles that fermentation gives is helpful - that's why smelling and tasting hydrometer samples etc during fermentation is really, really useful. Something smells like fermenting dough with a bit of tang, it's probably OK. Something tastes like vinegar or band aids or nappies or the bad grassy horrible flavour that wild yeast/microorganisms that have previously infected my beer have, then it's probably worth discarding.

One caveat - I do make starters from identical wort so hopped, AG wort. One advantage of no -chill but I'm really (really, really, really) not trying to start an NC debate with you.
 

Nick JD

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How often do your 23L "starters" get infected?

Make your starter the same way you make your beer.
 

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