Fermentation slow to start, gotta leave town

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by riptorn, Apr 29, 2018.

  1. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (98) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Brewed my fifth batch last night. It was my second time doing a partial mash. OG = 1.054

    Far as I know all went well through transfer of 5 gal wort to the 7.5 gal plastic fermenting bucket. It was well aerated, OG = 1.054 (in range). Re-hydrated, proofed and pitched 11.5g Safale US-05 (date-stamped 09/2018).
    Moved the fermentor to its resting place where the ambient temp is 68° - 70°, installed a blow-off tube and submerged the out end in a jug of StarSan. The fermometer and an infrared thermometer both indicate 68°.
    The surface of the wort in the bucket is smooth as glass; no evidence of krausen.

    One reason for my concern:
    Each of my previous four batches had noticeable and sometimes raucous activity within 24 hours, usually within 12 and once within 7. I understand that a lack of visible activity through a blow-off tube or airlock is not necessarily an indication that fermentation isn’t taking place, but my prior limited experience has caused me to question why it’s different for me this time.

    Main reason for concern:
    I’ll be leaving town this coming Tuesday (day 3 in the bucket) and won’t be back until next Sunday (day 8); the fermentor will be completely unattended. For me, day 3 is typically when the first rush of visible activity has subsided enough that I feel comfortable about replacing the blow-off with an airlock. During my absence I’ll be dwelling on a multitude of possibilities, both good and not so good.

    Here are some options that come to mind:
    Repitch now
    Take another gravity reading before leaving town and let that dictate whether to re pitch
    Leave the blow-off installed, see what’s going on when I get back and proceed as appropriate (that’s my gut feeling)

    It's early in the game and I might be overthinking this, but does one of those options seem hold more promise than the others?
    If not, what might I have missed? Is there any additional info I can provide to help you help me?

    Thanks in advance
  2. birdonthewire

    birdonthewire Initiate (82) Jul 28, 2017 New Jersey

    It'll most likely be fine. If you're overly concerned, throwing in another pouch of US05 will definitely do the trick and is inexpensive piece of mind
    GormBrewhouse likes this.
  3. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (98) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    I have another pack of the same yeast, purchased at the same time as the first and has the same 'best by' date. I didn't check but it seems likely it's from the same lot.
    I'm hoping it's not bad yeast and that pitching again from the same lot will make things worse, or irrecoverable. I'll be getting new of the US05 but wouldn't be able to pitch it for another 8 days.
    ....definitely have a case of the jitters.

    GormBrewhouse likes this.
  4. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,756) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    RDWHAHB. If your yeast is a problem, nothing to do about it for another 8 days. If you feel you need to pitch more yeast at that time, fine. Otherwise, sounds like it is out of your hands. It's just beer, good or bad. Calm down.
  5. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (98) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    I can probably RDW and HA-B, but if this doesn't pan out it'll postpone my ability to HAHB by at least another month....unless you ship.
  6. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,261) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I'll take door #3, Monty. Leave it alone until you get back.
  7. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (98) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    That’s pretty much what I’d decided to do, in addition to calming down. Then, add'l looking around returned references to giving the bucket a good shake to rouse the yeast. Did that about an hour ago and shortly after my last post there’s positive pressure in the fermentor.
    Coincidence? Don’t know, don’t care at this point....will file it for future use.

    For those who remember SNL’s Roseanne Rosannadanna, “nevermind”, but I do appreciate the feedback.
    GormBrewhouse and Mothergoose03 like this.
  8. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (98) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Thanks again for the input and reassurances.

    Everything seemed copacetic when I returned on day 8....no spillovers, no wort on the ceiling and no reason to suspect a stalled fermentation.
    Gravity reading was near my target on day 9. I bottled 588 oz. on day 15 (yesterday) into 24 16oz PET bottles and 17 regular 12oz glass bottles, for the equivalent of 49 12oz beers,
    Yield in the past has been 52-53 12 ouncers, but this time I had filled the fermentor to 5 gallons instead my usual 5.25. Plus, it looked like the yeast cake was bigger than I remember in the past.

    Some questions:
    I’ve not used the PET bottles before. Any thoughts on positives/negatives? Cap integrity? Reusable?
    (as a side-note, when I bought the "tamper-evident" caps the LHBS said folks buy them and empty water bottles, refill with clear [vodka, rum, shine, etc.] and use them to sneak the contraband into sporting events and other venues).

    Straining the cooled wort into the fermentor was effective in removing the 3 oz hops (2/pellet and 1/leaf).
    After bottling I thinned out the yeast cake with boiled, cooled water and poured it into a sterilized quart mason jar. It now sits in the fridge.
    I’ve read comments on rinsing/washing, pouring off to smaller containers, even putting into capped test tube vials with glycerin and freezing. A recurring theme for the various processes was "How long before you use it?"
    Another comment that popped up more than a couple times was advice against saving yeast that originated from dry. The yeast pitched was (1) US05 sachet
    Any thoughts on saving yeast that originated from a sachet?
    For those of you who have successfully saved from a dry pitch....any recommendations for proceeding from where I’m at now?

    The yeast questions are asked mainly for input on saving yeast (any yeast) from a dry pitch and not specifically US05, as I know there are conflicting views regarding it.
  9. brchapman

    brchapman Initiate (67) Nov 18, 2014 Georgia

    I re-pitch yeast and wouldn't expect how the yeast started out, (wet or dry), would make much of a difference when saving it off. For me, it is mostly economics when I decide to save. Since US05 is so cheap it isn't worth my time saving if I am not doing another US05 worthy beer right away.
  10. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (98) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Thanks for the feedback.
    It's my first time saving yeast and I'm doing it not only to reuse, but also to begin a knowledge base of procedure.
  11. brchapman

    brchapman Initiate (67) Nov 18, 2014 Georgia

    If it provides any value to you, when I save off my yeast, I keg my beer and take the remaining slurry and place it in a clean, starsan'd mason jar that gets placed in the fridge. After a bit, the yeast and other debris settles to the bottom of the mason jar. When I am ready to pitch into a new batch of wort, sometimes I decant some beer off the yeast and sometimes I just swish the whole mason jar around to get the yeast slurry re-incorporated and pitch at the appropriate temp.

    If I am making back to back batches of beer, I have also left the yeast in the fermenter and placed the wort on top. I haven't done this very often as I usually don't make beers that call for the same yeast back to back.

    Hope this helps
    riptorn likes this.
  12. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (98) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    That's where I'm at now

    I'll probably try that method (and new wort on the cake) in the not too distant future.
    For my first time I plan to make a starter, which should help me know if my processes need tweaking.

    It did.

    BTW, what part of GA are you from? I spend about 20% of my time just north of Atlanta.
  13. brchapman

    brchapman Initiate (67) Nov 18, 2014 Georgia

    I live on the southside of Atlanta in a town called Tyrone, but I work on the northside in Smyrna. Happy Brewing!