I’ve got some good news about my latest batch of homebrew – it’s alive!  I posted the other day about how the boil went well, but my yeast didn’t start.  That’s what I get for using a smack pack with an expiration date from the Eisenhower administration.

I got a ton of helpful responses as how to deal with the situation, and wound up doing what I typically do – the easiest thing possible.  In this case, it was dumping in a vial of White Labs California Ale Yeast.  Lots of folks suggested making a starter first to get the yeast revved up, but I didn’t have the time to spare, as my wort had been sitting there doing nothing for two days.

Nothing really happened for the first 12 hours or so after I pitched the rescue yeast, so I moved the carboy from our master bedroom shower, which is slightly chilly into the bedroom, which is snuggly warm.  Eight hours later, I heard the first burble and saw a thin yeast cake forming on top of the wort.

Knowing my wife would complain if the carboy remained in the boudoir, I moved it back to the shower stall and covered it with a specially designed UV shield.  Okay, it’s the nursery blanket from my son’s first bedding set, but it does a good job of keeping the light out.

I heard gurgles in the night, and this morning I pulled the blanket back to find a yeast orgy was taking place.  There was eating, reproduction, and all the bodily functions that those little guys do to turn sweet malt water into beer.  The yeast cake is looking good and the airlock is bubbling like nuts.  Mission Accomplished!!

Well, I hope so at least.  Just like GW’s visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln, it might be too early to say everything fine, but I’m happy that things seem headed in the right direction.

Now that's what I call a party!!

Thanks to everyone who chimed in.  The thing I love about brewing is making mistakes and learning from them.  At least that’s the part I do best (the mistakes).  The think I love even more than that is all the help and support you folks provide along the way.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to help a noob brewer out, but right now I’m taking it one batch at a time.

Speaking of which, I’ve ordered an Imperial Stout (ahem, extract) Kit from Northern Brewer which will be my next batch.  I have some American Oak staves that I’ll be soaking in Four Roses Small Batch whiskey in the hopes of making something special when it’s all done.

I’ll make sure to let you know when I screw that one up. 🙂

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Categories: Beer, Home Brew, Home Brewing


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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19 Comments on “Homebrew Rescue: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!”

  1. Evan
    January 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    pshhht… airlocks? real men use foil!

    if you’re ever wanting any recipes, i’ve got scads. one of these days i’ll get around to sending you more of my creations.

    • January 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

      Your beer is always welcome in my fridge, Evan! I’m not to the point of getting into recipes yet (I can barely make yeast work!) but my visit to the homebrew store got the gears turning in my head. I’m going to do a couple of more extract brews and then go all grain and then start messing around.

      Or I might just watch TV.

  2. Evan
    January 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    also, see if any of your local breweries (if such a thing exists in NJ) will fill a jar of yeast for you if you don’t have time to do starters. Underpitching yeast is the #1 cause of bad homebrew next to infections.

    • January 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

      I’ve got friends in town that are starting up a brewery, so I’m sure I could beg some yeast off of them in a pinch. I ordered an extra pack of yeast in my latest Northern Brewer order, just in case. I’ll be sure to toss it out if it gets too old – lesson learned!

  3. January 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    Glad to see you brewing again Jim!

    • January 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      Thanks, Peter. Hopefully this batch will survive despite my “mad skillz.”

  4. John Soto - Amarillo Brew Society
    January 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Don’t worry so much if you do not activity within the first 12-24 hours. Depending on your yeast strain it may take up to 72 hours to have “visible” activity. Relax, be patient and have some beer while you wait. I am no pro by any means but I have never had to dump a batch of homebrew. Good to see you brewing! Keep up the good work with the blog.

    • January 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

      Thanks for the reassurance John. I haven’t used this strain before, and usually the carboy is rocking within a few hours of pitching. I’m glad I repitched though, because the first batch of yeast seemed dead as a doornail. Hopefully the beer won’t taste like a yeast beast!

  5. January 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    if you don’t want to smell up a blanket, you can also throw an old t-shirt over the carboy. not only does it make the carboy look adorable, but it allows the airlock to stick out. and it’s easy to wash afterwards.

    • January 19, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

      Great tip Mindy! Maybe I can find a tee that says “Baby on Board.”

      • Stephen
        January 21, 2011 at 10:51 am #

        HA HA! Baby on board! Is it going to be an ale? A lager? Perhaps a Stout? Or are you going to wait the 6-8 weeks and have it be a surprise for you and your wife?

        • January 21, 2011 at 11:52 am #

          The way I brew, we’ll be surprised if it’s any good!

  6. Brandon
    January 20, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    I’ve noticed a big difference in my beer since I started doing starters with the yeast.

    • January 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

      I’m going to have wrap my head around it for next time. I just didn’t want to wait for the start to start while my wort was just sitting there.

      • Evan
        January 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

        If you need any advice regarding starters, shoot me an email or something. I can definitely help in getting your head wrapped around it.

        • January 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

          Thanks, Evan. I’ll see if my wife can get it going (she’s a scientist). We’re supposed to be brew partners, but I do all the work and she just drinks the beer!

        • Don
          January 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

          I’m guessing if she helped the beer would be a lot better, so she has that as an incentive! 😉

  7. January 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Destination: Fermentation.

    • January 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm #


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