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I usually see activity in my yeast starters in the first twelve hours after pitching the yeast. This time, however, I haven't seen anything for 48 hours. No bubbling, no signs of floating yeast and it still smells like unfermented wort.

I made the starter as I always do. 3 liters of 1.040 (10 °P) wort with a quarter teaspoon yeast nutrient, cooled to ~22°C (71.6°F) and oxygenated using an air pump with a filter before pitching the yeast.

This is White Labs WLP500 Monastery Ale Yeast. The best-before date is December 31, 2015.

Should I be worried or is a delay this long normal?

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Have you taken a gravity reading? I've had starters that have very little apparent activity that are fermenting right along. It can be tricky to take a gravity sample for a low-volume starter, but with 3L you should have enough to work with to solve this problem w/o overly reducing your cell count. Also, is the starter on a stir-plate, shaken periodically or just sitting?

  • Actually, I leave the air pump in the starter. The air bubbles stir it enough to keep the yeast suspended and continously oxygenates the wort. This has worked very well in the past, so I never bothered with getting a stir plate. My refractometer tells me that it's currently at 1,036. That means it has changed a little at least. Still, it worries me that it doesn't smell "yeasty". This is a belgian yeast, should it have a noticeable aroma? – arnefm Oct 8 '15 at 22:10
  • Okay, it seems the starter is fine now. It took over 60 hours, but now it has started foaming and it has that nice yeasty smell. Also, I've never seen this much yeast in a starter before. I stopped the pump for 30 minutes and theres ~3-4 dl of sediment at the bottom! It looks like this yeast simply had an unusually long lag time. – arnefm Oct 9 '15 at 10:54

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