Monday, February 16, 2009

Nervous Expectation

Yesterday was brew day. Today nothing is happening in the fermentors. I am a little worried to be honest.

Everything went well with making the wort, but it took longer than I wanted to get it chilled down to a suitable temperature for pitching the yeast - the smack pack of which didn't swell up as much as I thought it would.

Any way, I somehow managed to end up with two worts, one with an OG of 1.040 and the other of 1.052 - I guess this is because I used slightly more muscovado sugar in one fermentor than in the other.

Having read various forums on the internet, and consulted with Evan, I am going to give it a few days to sit there, and if nothing happens then I will have to ditch the lot of it.

Lessons have been learnt however, so even without beer at the end of it all it has been worthwhile.


  1. 24+ hours before fermentation starts is normal. Which yeast did you use?

  2. I used the Wyeast Scottish Ale. I had read that it is better to use a liquid yeast instead of the dry yeast that comes with these kits. So I made a date and sultana loaf using brewers yeast - was rather delicious!

  3. Yeah, I wouldn't panic yet either. Not sure how you aerated your wort? If you can do that again (eg shaking carboy) now (before any visible signs of fermentation), that should get things kicking...


  4. Did you make a starter from the smack pack? Forgive me if this is a stupid question to you. There isn't enough yeast in a standard smack pack to ferment effectively.

    I find that liquid yeast strains take off very quickly if a decent starter is pitched.

  5. I wouldn't worry too much. If you don't see anything in 24 hours, then pitch some dry yeast in there. I wouldn't pitch it. The worst that could happen is that it gets infected with something and then you can pitch it when you know its bad.

    Let it ferment! :-)

  6. I trust that by now the beer is bubbling away!

    I just finished the knock-off on my 10 gallons of Mild. It should be cooled enough to pitch my two yeast starters in under an hour. I would recommend starters for all beers, though a smack pack should have enough yeast cells for a five gallon batch and then some. I reckon the yeast starters I made have at least four times the yeast cells in a smack pack. And I made one for each five gallon batch.

    This time, I added more crystal and some oats to the recipe and changed the hops to Goldings (US, homegrown)for a more authentic flavor.

    Welcome, brewer!

  7. Perhaps Beerme and I have different smack packs in mind, but the standard propagator Wyeast packs need to be grown up to about a litre to produce enough cells for a decent fermentation. Things usually take off with a bang when liquid yeast is used like this.

  8. Still nothing happening - but I will give it another couple of days before I rend my garments in twain, cover my head with ashes and sit in the corner.

  9. Hey Al, if you remember from my first attempt i tried everything to rescue it and still no joy.

    Whats the temp of the area its in right now? It would not be the case its too cold would it? Do you have a heater on all the time keeping the temp constant?

    Unless you are doing a bottom fermenting beer like a lager, then the temp needs to be between 18 and 26 degrees C. I like 20c myself.

  10. It is around 17 degrees generally. I have a feeling I messed up with starters and the like. Next time I will use dry yeast.

  11. Did you oxygenate/rouse the yeast by rocking your fermenter? While temperature is important for fermentation to take place, there could be a lack of oxygen for it to get going, as Jeff mentioned.

    Also, did you pitch the yeast at too high a temperature? I believe that can have adverse effects on the yeast's ability to stay alive.

    As for liquid yeast, I've had success with White Labs yeast without creating a starter, and I've read that they normally have enough yeast cells to get a five-gallon batch going. Never touched the smack packs/Wyeast stuff, but I keep hearing that starters are the way to go.

    In any event, you may be able to salvage the batch by pitching a neutral champagne yeast or the like. Buona fortuna!

  12. Hmmm...the champagne yeast would really dry it out and likely create some hot alcohol notes. Reguarl ale yeast should be fine.


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