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I just brewed my first hef, using a honey wheat kit. I am used to brewing with dry yeast, but this was vial of WLP320. I bought it Sunday Morning, and used it the same day so I didnt refridgerate when I got home. It sat on a shaded picnic table in about 70F weather.

Before I realized it, I'd gotten the temp of the wort down to about 65 (colder than I had anticipated). I pulled the bucket from the ice and pitched the yeast (I dont have a hydrometer yet, So I dont know the OG, I just usually go for at least 3 weeks in primary then bottle or keg). Then lugged it into the house. That was Sunday evening just after dark.

Monday night I came home from work and there was no activity yet. This is about 27 hours after pitching. With the dry yeasts, I usually see activity as soon as 12-20 hours.

Is this normal for this type of yeast?

thanks and cheers

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What is the temp of the wort currently? While I don't have any experience with this particular strain, I'd say 27 hours of no activity is abnormal. White Labs lists the range at 65 - 69 degrees. –  Chris Dargis Feb 18 at 21:44
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Do you aerate your wort before pitching your yeast? Any idea how old the kit was? Did you buy the yeast separate from the kit? –  Scott Feb 18 at 21:48
    
I havent taken the temp of the wort itself since I put the airlock on. I have a room thermometer sitting on the bucket. The room may get about 72 during the day for a couple hours, but when I got home it was 68F and when I got up it was 65F As for aerating, I dont know how and never have. I poured from the boil pot into the fermenter pretty fast about 2 hrs before pitching. I bought the yeast separately, because the original expired. I went back and bought the same exact tube that it came with. the LME and grains were about 9-10 months old and had been sitting in my kitchen cupboard. –  Ugly Dude Feb 18 at 22:58
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What was the date on the yeast tube? You would be much better off making a starter with liquid yeast. IMHO, White Labs and Wyeast both to a disservice by promoting their yeast as "pitchable". Unless they are extremely fresh, you are underpitching. A starter is a bit more work, but will guarantee better beer. –  jalynn2 Feb 19 at 16:23

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Typically when there's a significant lag-time, it can be attributed to any of the following:

  • Poor yeast health
  • Insufficient yeast pitching rates
  • Lack of aeration

I'm going to guess that the 3rd error above is likely the cause of your issue, but it could very well be a mix of all three. You may see it start either tonight or tomorrow. If it does, that indicates that your yeast are struggling. I'd recommend aerating it and possibly pitching another vial/packet of yeast to be doubly certain. To aerate, you can either pour the wort between your boil kettle and the bucket several times (once is not nearly enough), you can stir it using a stir rod attached to a drill, or you could use pure O2 and an aeration stone that you'd submerge into the wort and aerate for a minute or two. The higher the OG of the recipe, the more oxygen it needs. If you get into high gravity brewing, pure O2 is almost a must, unless you want to use the stir-rod, and give it a good second and possibly third aeration 24-36 hours after you've pitched your yeast to re-introduce more oxygen right as the lag phase ends.

The longer it sits without fermenting, the more likely it is to become infected. A short lag time is key to a good, solid fermentation, which is doubly important for German/European style ales where a good chunk of the flavor is attributed to the yeast and it's fermentation byproducts.

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Thanks! I have a paint mixer that I use for food prep, I will sanitize it and give it a whirl, in addition to buying more yeast just to be sure. It did start bubbling a little bit last night, but it was not the usual heavy activity I am used to. –  Ugly Dude Feb 19 at 19:12
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Definitely use the mixer, and make sure you give it a real good blast, without making a mess. For future batches, you may wish to consider making a yeast starter as well as aerating the wort. You'd be amazed at how quickly you can get a beer to start fermenting. –  Scott Feb 19 at 20:11
    
Thanks! I didnt get home in time last night before LHBS closed so I didnt get to try. I am making a concerted effort today though! it is becoming serious, there is no foam, no cake, no action :( –  Ugly Dude Feb 20 at 17:08
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Make sure you get a hydrometer next time you go to the LHBS. There's always the chance that it did ferment, but wasn't very visual in the process. It's unlikely, but that may be the case. –  Scott Feb 20 at 17:13
    
I guess I will have to get one...I guess I can always check the FG to see if it is in the ball park for what was expected based on the recipe :) thanks! –  Ugly Dude Feb 20 at 20:43

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