Brewed an ESB yesterday, pitching Wyeast 1028 @ 70 degrees F. Stirred and shook carboy for oxygen, then airlocked and moved moved to the basement. This morning, carboy is @ 71 degrees F with NO activity in the carboy or airlock. OG yesterday was 1.060 and it's the same this morning.

I was slightly concerned about the yeast before I pitched it. I had popped the activator and left the pouch at room temperature for 5 hours, but the pouch had not expanded much at all.

Though I'm a newbie, right now I'm thinking there was a problem with my yeast. If so, what next? Can I just pitch new yeast?

UPDATE: Racked to secondary on 8/1, gravity at 1.013. Bottled on 8/6 with gravity at 1.012, which is a little lower than expected (1.014 was my calculated target.) I'll update again in a couple of weeks after start sampling it.

UPDATE#2: This is good stuff. I'm quite happy with it.

  • When did you buy the yeast? Did you leave it in a warm car for too long? How old is it? What's the OG of your wort? How long has it been since you pitched the yeast (in hours)?
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 12:33
  • Bought it yesterday morning and drove straight home. OG was 1.060 and I'm getting the same reading this morning. Pitched it just under 17 hours ago.
    – NDthunder
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 12:41
  • How did this turn out? What was the FG?
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 23:27
  • 1.012. I like this one more than any other I've brewed.
    – NDthunder
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 1:10
  • Good to hear it!
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 4:08

4 Answers 4


While it may just be taking its time to start up, I would say you should pitch another batch (or two, depending) of yeast. The amount will depend on whether or not you used a starter for your yeast. I'm guessing you did not, and if you are brewing a 1.060 gravity 5 gallon ESB, Mr. Malty's yeast pitching calculator tells me you needed 2.1 batches without a starter.

In my personal opinion, overpitching yeast carries significantly fewer negative consequences than under-pitching, especially for beginning brewers. It may be best to just assume that pack was a waste, count it as the 0.1 in 2.1 packs from above, and go pick up two more to pitch as soon as possible.

Also, during this time, limit the batch's exposure to open air. A delayed primary fermentation is the most risky time for infection. Finally, purchase yourself a cheap starter plate (or make your own). Slap the pack, make your starter, and pitch it the night before you brew, letting it get built up and ready to go, to pitch the day of brewing. An advantage of using a stir plate is you will more likely see a small krausen building up while stirring, telling you it's healthy. Plus you get to save on buying multiple packs of yeast since the stirring will help tremendously with increasing the cell count.

If you really want to get technical in understanding not only how under and over-pitching yeast can effect your fermentation, and how to ensure you are pitching the proper amount, there is a post on HBT that is very informative.

Hope it works out for you!

  • It did have a starter. Once my local supply shop is open, I'll go get another and pitch it this evening. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks!
    – NDthunder
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 13:40
  • Did you see any fermentation in the starter? How long did you let the starter sit for? Was it with a stir plate or without?
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 13:45
  • I misunderstood what you meant by starter. I used Wyeast with an activator pack inside the pouch. Against some advice (including expert at my local supply shop) I did add more yeast yesterday afternoon. By this morning, there was activity. I'll never know if it was the new yeast packet or if it was the first. And of course, only time will tell if there were any lasting affects.
    – NDthunder
    Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 20:48
  • Ah, yes, you definitely needed that second pouch then. The activator doesn't count as a starter, it adds various nutrients and goodies for the yeast to warm up a bit, but that's about all it does. While that is necessary, you should still make a starter (see the video in my answer above). One of the biggest problems beginning brewers have is under-pitching yeast. Once you cross over the "sessionable gravity" line, you really do need starters or more yeast than just one pack/vial, or else your FG will be higher than you want. One pouch/vial does not often equal one carboy.
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 21:00
  • This is a good answer, but it should also be added that there's a huge difference in the amount of cells in liquid yeasts vs dry. If you want to see the yeast getting started more quickly and don't want to use a starter, you should use dry yeast. It has 2-4 times the amount of cells as liquid. For the price of one liquid you can buy 2 dry yeast packets, which would give you a ton to start with. Unless you want the flavor of a specialty strain, most ales turn out great with the standard American or English dry yeast.
    – paul
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 18:50

You're simply being impatient. It's not at all uncommon for it to take that long for yeast to start. Be patient for another 24 hours and you should see fermentation. Although you say you made a starter, your timeline is so short that your starter wouldn't have had time to do much.

  • I went with my gut instinct, which of course is based on only four other home brew batches. Probably should have waited, if for no other reason, then to know if it was the yeast or not.
    – NDthunder
    Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 20:51
  • I understand your impatience, but after a few hundred more batches you'll be more patient!
    – Denny Conn
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 15:19

The bag should puff up a little, but as it says on the back, it does not have to puff up all the way to be working. As Denny said, patience grasshopper.

If you want super fast starts then re-pitch some of the yeast cake from the primary of the last batch. That takes off like a rocket. And if you're buying the nice, but expensive, wyeasts, then it makes sense to get a few brews from it.

  • You have to be careful doing this. Sure, it takes off like an ADHD parakeet with a crank addiction, but it is almost certainly way too much yeast, classifying as over-pitching. As I stated in my answer, over-pitching carries less consequences than under-pitching, but it should be known regardless.
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 23:20
  • He did say use some of the yeast cake, not all of it. Around 1/3-1/2 is right depending upon the gravity of the beer.
    – mdma
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 12:14

Yeast activity will lag longer than a day if the cell count is low. For a 5gal batch, one pouch is generally considered a medium-to-low cell count. Some people just buy 2 pouches, other people make their own starter...

You are shooting for the pitch yeast to reproduce about 3 generations before reaching the population levels where fermentation really gets going - you can mess with pitch calculators, but you can also do it by feel as well via making a starter. A starter has the added benefit of being able to verify the yeast is active & healthy, and free of contaminants. Pitching rate this isn't a huge deal: you still get beer. But the lag time affects yeast metabolism, and thus the flavour biochemistry of the beer.

One other tip: in any case you really want have your yeast population healthy and ready to go a day BEFORE brew day. So either make the starter about 3 days before you brew, or pop those yeast pouches ~24 hours or more ahead of time.

Using the yeast cake from a previous batch will work if done quickly & cleanly, but it's better to understand yeast washing, nutrition, and viability if you're planning to do this repetitively.

Your final gravity could be low due to high yeast attenuation, but it's also possible that this is related to the mash, grain or extract used, fermentation temperature, etc.

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