Worrying start to latest brew

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Meatymc
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Worrying start to latest brew

Post by Meatymc » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:57 pm

During another IPA with recovered yeast from St Austells Proper Job. The starter wasn't as active as the previous one I did but seemed OK. Pitched late Monday afternoon and dark krasuen by the morning. Came to remove 2 storage samples last night - as per IPA's yeast removal method, and the krausen was only a few millimeters thick - much thinner than anything I've ever had before.

Checked this evening and only the same thin krausen has returned (dispersed a lot to get the samples out) although there is a good layer of ysediment (yeast hopefully) in both sample bottles. But there is no apparent activity in either of them and nothing on the surface whatsoever.

We're only 3 days in after pitching but just doesn't seem to be 'gettting on with it' - done a similar recovered yeast starter (Proper Job again) before and much more activity.

Is it best left or should I get more yeast in there on the assumption the starter wasn't 'big/healthy' enough? Would have to be a bought s05 probably - rehydrated.

Don't want to lose this brew as I've a ton of hops in there and it will be the last one I can do before the New Year.

Thoughts?

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Re: Worrying start to latest brew

Post by MTW » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:14 pm

Doesn't sound right to me as it's a big top cropper. Has the temperature possibly dropped at all, and what's happening with the gravity?
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Meatymc
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Re: Worrying start to latest brew

Post by Meatymc » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:04 am

Defo no teperature drop. Didn't think to check the gravity being only 3 days in but as suggested, just taken a reading and it's down to only 1 point off target FG - after only 3 days - bloody amazing!!!

I cut the grain bill by 1KG on this one targetting only 4% rather than the 5% target last time (and hit 5.25%). Used the same amount of recovered yeast (2 bottles) so the yeast to wort ratio was therefore higher - just don't get the 'apparent' lack of activity. Closed up the sample bottles to see if still active.

Looks like I've been worrying about nothing - again! :=P

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Re: Worrying start to latest brew

Post by MTW » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:22 am

Great news!

When I used PJ yeast it was fantastic, frothy and very active stuff, but went a bit too 'English' for the hoppy pale I was trying to make. I since learned that they hold it much cooler for 24 hours in the brewery, which is what I will do of I use it again. If you like the end result, then that's fantastic.

You must have had a cracking starter if it's ripped through like that, assuming a normal temperature range. I wonder if there was anything in your starter routine that selected yeast that was more happy at the bottom; what did you do? That possibility aside, maybe it was just a very healthy and quick ferment and the head dropped promptly. I would let it sit quite a while to make sure it doesn't chop slowly away at a few more points than expected.

EDIT: Just another possibility would be if St Austell have started using a bottling strain. It's a couple of years since I used their bottle yeast, though I've discussed more recent uses with others where it still sounds like the top-cropping primary strain.
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Meatymc
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Re: Worrying start to latest brew

Post by Meatymc » Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:04 pm

Still at same reading - 3 days now - and only 1 point above target so am assuming that's it. Quite a few floaters in both the fermenter and the 2 sample bottles. Slight hiss from the bottles when opened but no visual activity at all.

I'm dry-hopping this one which I'd normally do in the primary but, given this has been a bit of an odd brew, I'm going to transfer to secondary so it's off the cake.

Just to answer your question MTW, didn't do anything different (on the yeast starter) to the previous one I did with Proper Job and that was only in early August. The first was very active in the flask and the fermenter with a thick krausen which remained for well over a week - bottled after 2 weeks as usual. This one was less active in both by far and seems to have ripped through in only 3 days.

The differences between the 2 brews was I used 5kg Maris Otter and shop bought Cascade on brew 1 (to be close to PJ ingredients) - this brew was 4kg Optic (aiming at a lower % and with my preferred base malt) and my own home-grown Northdown for bittering.

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Kev888
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Re: Worrying start to latest brew

Post by Kev888 » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:41 am

It sounds like the yeast really went for it, and so were through the most vigorous/visible stage before you realised. 3 days is maybe a little quicker than ideal, but certainly not unheard of for normal OGs.

If other things were the same as your previous brew, then I'd guess your starter achieved either more viable cells or healthier cells than before. Often the extra rate and heat generated then causes an internal rise in temperature that people don't realise, even if the FV is temperature controlled, which speeds things along as well.
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Re: Worrying start to latest brew

Post by Meatymc » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:40 pm

I've read, can't remember where, that the temp increase you mention can be quite significant but that would be affecting every brew I make.

Of course the only reason I looked in the fermenter was to take the 2 yeast samples otherwise it would have been at least a week before I'd have taken a look and therefore wouldn't have thought anything was unusual.

Will be keeping a close eye when using the PJ yeast samples I took to see how things develop on the next brew

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Re: Worrying start to latest brew

Post by Kev888 » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:20 pm

The temperature increase can be significant, yes. Before arranging better regulation, I had the the wort become several degrees above the surrounding ambient temperature in the past.

Isn't a fixed amount, though - it depends partly on how fast the yeast work. So if you get a rapid fermentation then the temperature rises more... which causes the yeast to work faster... which generates more heat - in a sort of spiral until the temperature control (or natural heat losses) can cap its excesses. The transfer of heat out of the wort can take time (wort isn't a perfect conductor) so even controlled FVs can get a little warmer internally.
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Re: Worrying start to latest brew

Post by Meatymc » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:32 pm

See what you mean - the faster 'it' runs the hotter it may get, as with most things I guess!

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Re: Worrying start to latest brew

Post by bigchris » Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:08 pm

So Meatymc, how did it work out. Did you hit your expected FG?

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Re: Worrying start to latest brew

Post by Meatymc » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:30 pm

The numbers slightly dissapointed - 2 points off adjusted FG, but much lower grain bill compared to my original 'go' at something akin to PJ. I also use bottled gas which my calculations had running out on a full 90 minute boil so limited to 75 minutes.

I dry hopped this with my own cascade. When I bottled yesterday was fearing the worse as there was a definite vinegar smell but it tasted good. No, it tasted very good.

Overall this brew has had 8 ounces of my home-grown hops so here's hoping it meets expectations so I can up the grain bill to get closer to the 5.5% I think PJ comes in at.

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