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So 24 hours ago I made my first yeast starter, ever. I built a homemade stir plate.

Today I was feeling like a boss because of this and simply dumped the 2L flask into the 5gallon wort I spent all morning making.

PLOP

OH NO MY STIR BAR IS NOW INSIDE OF MY WORT

I probably should have jumped on stackexchange to see whether or not I could just leave it in there for the primary fermentation, but I jumped in the shower again and scrubbed my right arm with tons of soap with very hot water, jumped out of the shower and plunged my arm into the bucket in search of the stir bar.

I found it, like a boss.

1) So did I just destroy my batch?

2) If I am noob enough to drop the stir bar into the 5-gallon container again, should I just let it sit for a week and recover it after primary fermentation, or should I get it out?

3) How big of a noob am I for a) losing the stir bar in the wort and b) reaching in their with my hand after pitching yeast ?

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If you built the stir plate yourself, and don't have any magnets that will easily stick to the bar on the outside of the flask without requiring you to hold onto the magnet, I'd advise buying one of these, they're dirt cheap. Heck, buy a couple in case you lose one: magnet4less.com/product_info.php?cPath=3&products_id=251 –  Scott Jun 11 '13 at 13:53

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted
  1. Most likely not. But only time will tell. Obviously not sticking your arm in you beer is preferable to not doing that. But relax and have a homebrew.

  2. You can absolutely leave it in there because it is covered with the same yeast that you are brewing with and therefore is not going to add anything beyond the yeasties you want in there. However, say you want to use it to make a new starter:
    How do I get a stir bar out of a fermenter? - This is so easy you are going to smack your palm to your forehead so watch out. Get a magnet from your fridge or another handy magnet (in the lab I use other stirbars). Then use the magnetic force to attach the two magnets and slide it out of the bucket or carboy. Importantly, you don't have to stick anything into the fermenter.

  3. Every time you brew you will find a new way to call yourself a noob. If you don't then you aren't having any fun. Part of the brewing experience is learning and I always enjoy the challenges that come along. That is why I love answering and posting questions on this site. ;-)

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Good answer. The only thing I'd add is that whilst you can leave the stir bar in the fermenter, it's a good idea to retrieve it (using the magnet method) while you're thinking about it. Otherwise, you risk forgetting about it and dumping the magnet with your trub/yeast. –  tallie Jun 11 '13 at 0:32
    
+1 for #3. Some of my best beers come from the inevitable profanity-riddled mistakes made. If this is the biggest mistake you've made to think you've earned the title of brew noob, you truly are the boss compared to many of us when we were at your stage in homebrewing. –  Scott Jun 13 '13 at 13:43
    
@Chris You are right! Can't believe I didn't think of that. –  Matthew Moisen Jun 13 '13 at 15:53

If you're using a conical flask, practice with a flask of water and a stir bar. You'll find the right pouring technique (moderate flow) that keeps the stirbar in the conical.

I've plunged my arm in to loosen hops in a kettle full of cooled wort, and I didn't shower first. :) The beer was fine. You're pitching a healthy starter so any contaminants will have to work hard to get a foothold.

Leaving the stir bar in wouldn't have done any harm - it was after all sterile. Next time, just leave it in there.

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I use another magnet to hold the stir bar in the flask as I pour. –  Henry Jackson Jun 11 '13 at 2:06
    
I've done that sometimes too, but it requires either two hands, or a lot of dexterity! The flat sides of the conical allow almost all the liquid to be poured out while retaining the stirbar. –  mdma Jun 11 '13 at 3:20
    
I mean I use a second stir bar underneath the flask to hold the one inside. No extra hands required. –  Henry Jackson Jun 11 '13 at 20:47

This is actually fairly common, and doesn't confer any n00b points whatsoever. Your response was solid, but I've heard from more than a couple people that they just stuck their arm or a long spoon in immediately (no sanitization) to retrieve the sunglasses/pen/whatever and their brew turned out just fine. I'm with you, I would have at least stuck my arm in my sanitizing bucket before I reached in, but it's nice to know that you aren't automatically condemned to dump if you react before you think.

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