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Yeast behaving badly

06/12/2013

yeast_layer

A curious thing happened a while back during the brewing of the Citra-Simcoe IPA. Having racked the wort in to the better bottle I proceeded to aerate it by shaking for a couple of minutes. After that I pitched the re-hydrated yeast (re-hydrating is a topic that is debated endlessly on the forums. I haven’t found any difference on whether or not you re-hydrate or just sprinkle the yeast on top of the wort but up until this brew I have thought that there can’t be any harm in going “by the book”) and moved the bottle to my “fermentation chamber”. The next morning I noticed that there was a lighter coloured layer on top of the wort with some bubbles forming in it (the picture is taken with my phone, hence the bad quality). The wort below was very clear. I tried to shake the bottle a bit but the layer refused to mingle with the rest of the wort. I thought that a bit of time would solve the issue but that same evening the situation remained the same. In the end I sanitized my wort-thief and used it to mix the whole thing vigorously. After a few hours the fermentation took of in the proper fashion.

This was the first time that this happened and I have no idea why it occurred. I can only speculate that perhaps pitching the re-hydrated yeast created a lighter layer of wort on top of a denser bottom layer and the yeast “floated” on top due to this. Why this occurred now and not during the 20 or so times before  when I have used the same method, I can’t tell. Had I used a bucket where you can’t see what is going on, the fermentation would likely have ended up stuck so from now on I’ll pitch the yeast before aerating to avoid this.

If you have experienced this yourself or have some knowledge in the matter please leave a comment below.

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