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Learn from my fail (yeast)

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by inchrisin, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (480) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    I tried to kick-start a starter last week. It was w1084 Irish yeast with a production date back in September. I threw it in 1/2 gal of 1.040 wort. I set it down in the basement 65F and gave it a good shake. I came back to it the next day and gave it another shake. No hiss, no fizz, nothing. I shook it a few more times in the next couple of days and no hiss, no fizz, I just wanted to wait it out before taking a gravity reading. The fifth day, I shook it and it hissed and fizzed like crazy. I opened the lid and smelled it. The yeast was infected. I made the starter too big with yeast too old. I also had it in the basement in an adjacent room to sauerkraut that I'm making.

    Step up your starters and try to get them fed within a few months of the production date.
  2. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (930) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    A rule of thumb you might find useful... in the Mr. Malty calculator, if you have to slide the Growth Factor slider to the right in order to reduce the number of packs needed, it's worth at least thinking about stepping up instead.
  3. kjyost

    kjyost Champion (775) Manitoba (Canada) May 4, 2008 Verified

    Or way better: use Yeastcalc.com to figure out smaller steps.
  4. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (930) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    I think we're sort of saying the same thing. Mr. Malty's slider can provide a trigger to know that a stepped starter is appropriate, and yeastcalc can help with sizing the steps. But yeast calc doesn't really have an in-your-face way of telling you that a stepped starter might be in order. So I use them both, in just this complementary fashion.
  5. kjyost

    kjyost Champion (775) Manitoba (Canada) May 4, 2008 Verified

    I guess so. I just start at yeastcalc.com, knowing the general "rules" and the sizes I am comfortable making are work with steps from there...
  6. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Savant (485) Nevada Dec 4, 2008 Verified

    Learn From My Fail...Sours...the Flander's Red is progressing nicely, but my method of topping off my 5 gal oak barrel needs some refinement...carboy on top shelf...barrel waist-high...gravity tubing too big to fit inside bung for barrel...controlling flow with dip in tubing...I thought...turned valve to off...I thought...full open...sour beer everywhere...cussing and cleaning sour beer off everything...including my new grain millparked below...shit!
    inchrisin likes this.
  7. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (480) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    This has happened to me twice when I racked to the bottling bucket. Another reason I'm glad I keg 90% of my beers. If nothing else, it's a good excuse to mop the floor. :)
  8. mattbk

    mattbk Savant (425) New York Dec 12, 2011

    Question. Worse smell: the infected starter or the sauerkraut?
  9. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (895) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member Verified

    I bet you could fart in that basement and never know it.
  10. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Advocate (530) Texas Nov 21, 2008 Verified

    This sounds obvious but, if your started is infected, it's because it was contaminated with unwanted organisms. As you know, many people still pitch a single vial into 5 gallons. Six month old yeast, properly stored, should still have enough viable cells to ferment out a two-quart starter. Even if it lost 3/4 of its viable cells, it should be able to propagate in a sanitary environment. It may not be ideal starter, but it shouldn't result in infection. Starters can smell pretty bad (especially if you have some autolysis - meat smell). Are you sure it is indeed infected? Does it look infected?
    yinzer likes this.
  11. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (480) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    It smelled and tated sour. It didn't smell bready, like 1084 usually does. It was worth 7 bucks to replace it for assurance on the next batch.
  12. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Advocate (530) Texas Nov 21, 2008 Verified

    Yeah, I'm with you on not taking a chance with using the starter. I suppose I'm just trying to get at the actual source of infection. A week starter might be the most vulnerable environment to the infection, but it isn't the cause. You need to find the source. Next time it might infect everything you have fermenting in you brewery.
    inchrisin likes this.