I did my first beer using honey last night and the beer is not bubbling this morning as it usually does. Is this normal? Should I re-pitch the yeast or not?

  • What was the starting gravity? How much yeast did you pitch? How big is the batch? What percentage of the gravity was provided by the honey? What's the temperature of the wort/beer? – baka Dec 17 '11 at 14:28
  • Everything was normal and i used the wyeast packet liquid yeast and im making a 5 gallon batch. There is no krausen or anything going on. The yeast packet swelled up and everything.. – Jason T.. Dec 17 '11 at 14:31
  • Normal for a barleywine or normal for a british mild? – baka Dec 17 '11 at 14:33
  • For a barleywine. – Jason T.. Dec 17 '11 at 14:33
  • Did you make a starter, or just pitch the pack? – baka Dec 17 '11 at 14:39

According to your recipe you're at 1.052 estimated OG. According to the Mr. Malty calculator that @baka posted, you'd want 2 smack-packs to get to the recommended amount of yeast.

So yes, you probably under-pitched, and that's why you're seeing a lag in yeast activity. However, you don't need to panic. It can take 24-72 hours to see signs of fermentation. I've had side-by-side batches where I pitched the same yeast into both, where one took off within hours and the other took 2 days to get started. They both ended up fine.

Serious under-pitching can lead to stressed yeast and off flavors, but at only 1.052, I don't think you've got much risk of that. If I were you I'd just relax, wait, and let the yeast do their thing.

  • So do you recommend I get amother smack pack or just wait? – Jason T.. Dec 17 '11 at 16:23
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    I'd get another smack pack in there ASAP. And at 1.052 OG, it's not a barleywine. – Denny Conn Dec 17 '11 at 17:20
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    @JasonT.., check out the last line of my answer: "If I were you I'd just relax, wait, and let the yeast do their thing." Getting another smack pack as Denny suggests would certainly be a Good Thing, but your yeast isn't dead and your beer isn't ruined if you don't. – JoeFish Dec 17 '11 at 17:42
  • *your yeast isn't dead, assuming you didn't pitch at 120 degrees, of course :) – JoeFish Dec 17 '11 at 17:42
  • I agree with JoeFish. The gravity is fairly mild actually. While one pack is an underpitch its not worth the stress and potential contamination to toss in another pack. The beer will be fine, it will just take longer to get started and finish. – brewchez Dec 18 '11 at 11:40

1 smack pack in a barleywine, you say? I've found that bigger beers tend to have longer lag times before the yeast get going, and unless you made a sizable starter, the yeast are going to have to work even harder. If you didn't make a starter, it wouldn't hurt to pitch more yeast.

It will probably also help to aerate/oxygenate again. You're generally safe giving high-gravity beers more oxygen every 8-12 hours or so until it gets to bubbling, but you need to stop as soon as it is, so that there's not any left over after the yeast have done their thing.

Mr. Malty's Pitching rate calculator

  • So would I go and get another pack and pitch the whole pack to the primary ? – Jason T.. Dec 17 '11 at 15:07
  • yeah, probably. I'd feel more comfortable telling you to do that if you could give me the actual starting gravity number, though. or barring that, the recipe that you used. – baka Dec 17 '11 at 15:19
  • I did a Honey amber ale. Fermentables- 6lbs gold lme, 2lb clover honey. Grains- 8oz. carmel 80L, 2 oz roasted barley, 2oz special B. hops- 1/2 oz Galena, 1oz fuggles. Then uses the wyeast american ale liquid. – Jason T.. Dec 17 '11 at 15:28
  • Jamil's (amzn.to/vIrY98) barleywine recipe calls for 4 liquid yeast packages, or aa appropriate starter. High gravity beers like barleywine need a large pitch of yeast in order to attenuate fully. I'm not necessarily suggesting 3 more packs, but this should give you an idea of how much yeast is needed. Adding oxygen early in fermentation will help with yeast growth, which is why baka suggested that plus one more package. – Dustin Rasener Dec 17 '11 at 16:44
  • In the future, I'd suggest making a small or normal gravity beer first, the using that yeast cake for your high gravity brews. – Dustin Rasener Dec 17 '11 at 16:46

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