Author Topic: Starter yeast question - are they still alive?  (Read 5648 times)

Offline TooHoppy?!

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Starter yeast question - are they still alive?
« on: March 04, 2014, 08:57:53 AM »
Yesterday I prepared my first batch of starter yeast for an american amber ale extract brew (my first attempt at brewing). It was a Lallemand dry yeast.

I boiled 2 cups water w 1/2 cup DME for about 10 min. then cooled the liquid to about 70deg, and pitched the yeast. The starter was stored in a glass jar with a foil lid and didn't look at it again until the next morning. At that time, there seemed to be alot of life in the liquid. The liquid was cloudy and seemed to have a thin head of foam, so I judged that the yeast were alive and active. When I got home from work the yeast looked like it was all settled at the bottom of the liquid. This was after about 18 hrs after I originally pitched it. I'm wondering if the yeast are dead, or just not active.

Can someone give me some insight into what I should expect to see during a yeast starter?

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Starter yeast question - are they still alive?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2014, 09:43:56 AM »
they finished with the snack you fed them and dropped out. they are fine it's just what yeast do.

That being said, for dry yeast it's not recomended to make a starter as they are loaded with reserves before the drying process and the starter step just causes them to wake up and use those reserves without giving them enough food to rebuild them.

also, your starter was much too small to do any growth.

Next time, if you are using liquid yeast try a 2 liter starter. mix slightly < 2 liters of water and 200 grams of DME. boil chill to ~70 and pitch yeast. this will net you close to double the cell count you start with.

mrmalty.com and yeastcalculator.com are good resources for figuring out starter volumes and pitching rates.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"

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Offline TooHoppy?!

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Re: Starter yeast question - are they still alive?
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2014, 07:50:36 PM »
Thanks alot

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Starter yeast question - are they still alive?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2014, 08:52:51 PM »
no problem. rereading my post I hope I did not come off too dismissively. I applaud your decision to use a starter for sure. good yeast health is one of the most important factors in making great beer. Keep asking questions and you will make amazing beers that stun your friends (and not just in the drunk way)
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"

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Offline TooHoppy?!

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Re: Starter yeast question - are they still alive?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2014, 10:19:34 AM »
Thanks again. I have alot to learn about yeast. In fact, I did not know that dry yeast was any different from liquid yeast regarding how they survive in their foodless/airless packaging and the amount or type of reserves that they have to survive following the opening of that packaging, and how they become active once pitched. I have my research to do.

I am curious about basic visual cues we can get from watching primary fermentation process...Like for example, can I estimate the performance of my yeast by measuring the amount of foam above the wort during during the fermentation process, or by how quickly the yeast falls out.

What techniques do some people use to monitor the fermentation process other than temperature of the liquid? Thanks again

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Starter yeast question - are they still alive?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2014, 11:02:07 AM »
I guess you can sniff the airlock but you get some nasty smells off even a healthy fermentation.

If you are careful about temps, pitch enough healthy happy yeast you don't really have to monitor them. They have been turning sugar into alcohol for millions of years and at this point have a pretty good handle on how that works.

We just try to guide them through control of environment (temp, pH, nutrient availability, etc), starting population, and basic external genetic phenotype. Pick the right yeast, pitch the correct amount at a reasonable temp into an environment stocked with a good balance of macro and micro nutrients and you should be golden.

you can monitor gravity as it changes and flavor to get an idea of what beer at various points tastes like. some of those points are pretty gross so don't get discouraged by rotten egg, overly bitter, fake butter, green apple or the variety of other things you might smell and taste in the early stages. be patient and have faith in our little unicellular friends. They want to make beer for you.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"

- A. Einstein