Author Topic: Is my starter dead?  (Read 1020 times)

Offline klickitat jim

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Is my starter dead?
« on: December 02, 2015, 08:53:13 AM »
Lately, especially with Mark's shaken not stired groupies, there have been a lot of questions about how to tell if your starter is doing its thing. So I tried something tonight on my brew day, and here ya go. It involves some tape and a pen.

Marked starter wort level


Marked the level after pitching my smack packs


And here's 1056 after 7 1/2 hrs. It has a pretty obvious krausen going


The 1728 on the other hand has no sign of high krausen. One might think it was dead if there wasn't that line showing where the top of the liquid was just after pitching. Notice anything different? Its grown,  right? And growth equals good.


If you own tape and a pen you can get yourself a little peace of mind

Offline 69franx

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2015, 12:27:59 PM »
Great stuff, thanx Jim
Frank L.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2015, 12:34:42 PM »
It may be better with a sharper tipped pen.

Online dmtaylor

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2015, 12:55:38 PM »
I would not expect a volume increase from yeast growth... unless maybe there's CO2 bubbles displacing some of the liquid?  Did you stir the starter to get bubbles out, or could there be bubbles in there?  Need more data for this scientific mind.

Now make sure you do everything by the book, and be sure to run some manner of a triangle test, or else your experiences are worthless.  ;)
Dave

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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2015, 01:05:30 PM »
If you manually added 50ml of yeast cells would it increase the volume? Why not if they grow on their own?

Same wort same temp. I think it's more probable that it's yeast cells displacing the wort and making it deeper rather than heavy CO2 bubbles. Plus, just after taking the pictures I swirled and pitched. The 1056 foamed up the 1728 did not. Its cell mass. Sorry Dave, if you think it's wrong the onus is on you to prove it. Right?
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 01:10:05 PM by klickitat jim »

Online dmtaylor

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2015, 01:09:42 PM »
The onus is never on me to provide proof of anything.  My job is to point out everything that is wrong with your beliefs, thus inferring that in some nondescript way my beliefs, whatever they might be, are far superior to yours.  ;)

New theory:  Perhaps the density of live yeast cells is less than that of wort.  In this case I could accept a slight volume increase.  However.... I doubt it, based on my superior intellect -- no, I mean, based on science.  It would probably be very difficult if not impossible to visually detect this volumetric increase.  Most likely your tape was marked at a different incline plane.  Or you introduced some other unspecified or unknown user error.

In all seriousness..... the yeast might be alive.  You could try a gravity reading to find out for certain.  :)
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 01:18:17 PM by dmtaylor »
Dave

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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2015, 01:12:28 PM »
The onus is never on me to provide proof of anything.  My job is to point out everything that is wrong with your beliefs, thus inferring that in some nondescript way my beliefs, whatever they might be, are far superior to yours.
Crap, what's my job then?

Besides, im curious how dormant yeast in a smack pack, pitched into 1200ml of 1.035 wort, produce enough gas to expand the wort that much without any cell growth...
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 01:17:05 PM by klickitat jim »

Online dmtaylor

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2015, 01:21:11 PM »
With enough yeast, bottles explode.  They kick out METRIC BUTTLOADS of CO2.
Dave

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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2015, 01:27:13 PM »
My starter vessels weren't sealed. How does enough gas to expand the volume that much, somehow not escape to surface at all, even when agitated?

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2015, 01:29:53 PM »
Read your edit...

I could take a gravity reading, and will in about 5 days when the beer I pitched them to is done.
Well... maybe 7 days

Fun banter though. You're enjoying tge devil's advocate role. And id much rather argue with you than most others.

Anywho, I thought it might be a better method than just posting "is my starter dead" and beleiving what anonymous people post who have not seen your starter.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 01:35:50 PM by klickitat jim »

Offline pete b

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2015, 03:02:39 PM »
If you threw me in a vat of beer and then noted the level, then I drank 3 liters of the beer then checked the level, wouldn't it be the same? My mass would grow by the equivalent of 3 liters of beer but the level would stay the same. After a while though, I would start releasing gas, liquid, and perhaps solid waste. The level might change but its hard to say by how much. The liquid and solid waste shouldn't effect the level but the gaseous excretions would. The gas that is trapped in the liquid would make it less dense so it would expand (I think) but some gas should also escape, increasing density and decreasing volume. Judging from all the gas I release when I degass my mead, quite a bit of the gas stays in solution, which should increase volume. So I think maybe Jim is onto something, but its the increase in gas, not increase in the volume or mass of yeast, which comes at the expense of it ingesting and using other matter. Nonetheless, that still means fermentation is happening.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2015, 03:13:27 PM »
What's interesting is that at least in a full batch of beer, fermentation will reduce the volume of the liquid slightly as CO2 escapes. Unless there was a relatively large increase in temperature, I'd tend toward Dave's dissolved CO2 hypothesis.

Yeast cells have an SG of 1.0-1.1, i.e. the same as starter wort give or take a few percent.
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Offline narvin

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2015, 03:22:43 PM »
If you manually added 50ml of yeast cells would it increase the volume? Why not if they grow on their own?


They grow by consuming sugars.  Conservation of mass.  The real question is what the final density of the yeast is versus the drop in density of the consumed sugars.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 03:25:18 PM by narvin »
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2015, 06:00:41 PM »
Well, crap. I even saw it with my own eyes. I guess my stsrters were dead.

Offline pete b

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Re: Is my starter dead?
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2015, 07:58:46 PM »
No matter the reason I think the volume expanded due to fermentation and is a valid test. I bet if you put a vessel of wort with no yeast as a control it wouldn't expand.
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