Did I lose my yeast?

Did I lose my yeast?

Postby Bigringking » Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:44 pm

I failed to use a blowoff tube on the weekend and ended up with a bit of a mess. Don't flame me - i just forgot. I usually use one on every primary fermentation.

So I ended up with a ton of trub and goo on the carbouy. I mean a LOT. Now that I have the airlock cleaned up, fermentation is seemingly really slow - like bubbles every minute or so and this only two days after pitching. The basement and beer is about 66 *F and the yeast is WLP004 Irish Ale yeast off of a new WL vial and a 1.8L starter. I have not taken a gravity reading yet. I wanted to see if it perks up after wrapping a few heavy towels around it to see if it picked up a little heat to help fermentation along.

Anyway is it possible that I lost enough yeast to adversely impact the beer?

edit: added picture
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Re: Did I lose my yeast?

Postby klandmeier » Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:14 pm

In a normal sized beer - under 1060, a vast majority of your visible fermentation occurs in the first 2-3 days. High Krausen will hang around during that time and begin to drop after that, but that doesn't mean that you arent still kicking. I have stopped counting bubbles in the airlock and watch the side of the carboy for the yeast rising and falling in a circular up and down motion. When it really slows down, you can still see yeast bubble from the bottom not unlike a lava lamp starting up. Not knowing your SG, i would say that it is just settling into its ferm. I don't think that it is any different than putting a blow off tube on top except that this is a hell of a lot messier. People actually harvest yeast when the beer is at high krausen by scraping it from the surface to use in repitching. Let it go the normal amount of time (7 days or so and take a reading. A little heat wouldn't hurt i guess. You just don't want to start hot. If you hit 70 during the last 2 days of the ferm you should avoid fusels. Here is what Sierra Nevada does. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xClXKMhcFr0
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Re: Did I lose my yeast?

Postby klandmeier » Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:29 pm

Here is another great video with some good shots of fermentation from the side of the carboy. Not the greatest sanitation practices, but that's how he does it. Also, you dont want to tighten mason jars with yeast in them. they can explode.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dzjwAuyI6A
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Re: Did I lose my yeast?

Postby Bigringking » Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:40 pm

I have seen the full rolling boil of a nice fermentation. That is what I usually see, and that is why I was worried about this. I am sure this had that very vigorous fermentation while I was gone. Thanks for the videos by the way. I have seen that Sierra Nevada one before. In fact I just read about that open fermentation room. I read they keep it very clean (duh) but that they also can drop the temp in there if needed using a filtered HVAC system.

So with mine, I'll get the temp up a bit, raising it slowly to try to hit just about 70 towards the end of the weekend (one week from brew day). I'll check the gravity then (started at 1.059) and see what is says. I suppose the worst case is that I have to re-pitch some yeast. Do you know if that will impose a negative impact?

Thanks,
Ed
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Re: Did I lose my yeast?

Postby klandmeier » Thu Nov 20, 2014 9:33 am

an additional pitch wont hurt it unless you splash it in, but since it has fermented, i would assume that the head space in the carboy is full of co2. Splashing might not be an issue, but i would still avoid it. It may or may not further attenuate. You would be pouring clean yeast into a alcoholic, harsh environment which could shock, kill, or at the very least stress the yeast. I would say though if you hit the mid teens as an FG, just leave it be and change it next time. One of the things that i have learned over the years is that by trying to fix a beer during fermentation or after fermentation often just causes more problems. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. I hate metaphors, but there you go. I have screwed up a lot of beers over the years by trying to fix something i didn't know for sure was broken, and even if its only a little off, i have learned to make a lot of notes and avoid the same mistakes next time.

I'd be willing to bet your beer is fine shy of possible infection from exposure, but as long as things went out and not back in, you should be fine.

Also, a beer that big will take maybe a week and a half to two weeks to finish. Take a gravity reading this weekend, but leave it and take another one on Wednesday next week. If it is the same, it's done. Drink it and try again next time. If it is still dropping, let it go to Sunday. I have let beer sit for a month in primary without ill effects.
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Re: Did I lose my yeast?

Postby Bigringking » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:06 am

I took a gravity reading and it is dropping appropriately. It's at 1.012 now on its way to an anticipated 1.011. I'll check it when we get back home from our visit to family for thanksgiving. But even if it doesn't drop anymore, I'm satisfied that I didn't lose any yeast like I feared.

Now, as to the question of infection, I doubt that it was exposed too much, but I won't really know till I have a chance to try it.

So my lesson on this ordeal is the age old saying: RDWHAHB.

(Incidentally, I'm typing this on my iPad and when I started typing the RDWHAHB, it prompted me with that after the first 3 letters! )
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Re: Did I lose my yeast?

Postby klandmeier » Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:44 am

GREAT! Im glad it worked out. I don't know how long you have been brewing, but yes, RDWHAHB. Generally, when something goes wrong, the damage has already been done. It can only get worse if you try to fix it. Do what you can to prevent further damage, but accept the problem, learn, and do something different next time. Cant wait to try it.
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