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Old 01-18-2010, 06:40 AM   #1
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Default Is there a reason to make starters in a flask?

Is there anything special about flasks that make them better for starters than other types of glassware - a growler for instance.
This is probably a pointless question since I just proved to myself that a gallon growler works just as well as a 2L flask. There is plenty of room so that there is not worry about the starter blowing out and growlers are much cheaper (4 1g growlers for $17 at LHBS) than the flasks ($18 for on 2L flask). This was for a 5g brew, so I see the cost of a flask for making a 4L starter for a 10g brew getting ridiculous - Is there any reason why I can't just use my 2.5g carboy for that?

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Old 01-18-2010, 07:23 AM   #2
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borosilicate lab glass can be boiled and cooled rapidly. so you can boil the starter with foil or a foam stopper atop the neck for the 15 minutes, then immediatly remove from heat and place in ice water bath. it remains sterile throughout.

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Old 01-18-2010, 11:55 AM   #3
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I was just thinking the same thing this weekend but for a different reason. Since many people use foil, flasks are known to foam-over easily, and we want a free exchange of air; why not just use a beaker? Seems a beaker would foam-over a LOT less easily AND we get a better exchange of air. So...why flasks?

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Old 01-18-2010, 03:09 PM   #4
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No reason not to use a beaker or whatever as long as you can sterilize it and keep it that way.

In the lab we use flasks because they are easy to "seal" and when on a shaker, the faster you rotate them the more the liquid "climbs" up the walls of the container. The tapered walls of the flask help to prevent this and keep the culture from spraying out the top when shaking at higher rpms.

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Old 01-18-2010, 03:17 PM   #5
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I use a 1 gallon growler/jug for my 2L starters. I think those who use flasks may use it for use with a stirbar/stirplate. Not all growlers have flat bottoms and it makes it difficult/impossible for a stirbar to, well stir, without being thrown.

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Old 01-18-2010, 03:53 PM   #6
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Thanks for all of the feedback.

I work in a microbiology lab, so I figured the main reason for flasks was the heat resistance so that you can use them to boil the starter wort and cool it in the same vessel, keeping everything contained. But as far as home brewing goes - nothing is really sterile, just sanitized. So, why would you pay for an expensive flask when you can boil the starter wort in a pan on the stove, cool it, and then transfer it to an inexpensive growler that has been sanitized with Star San. (luckily my growlers have flat bottoms so they don't throw the stir bar and the LHBS sells drilled corks for them)
Having done this myself, I would recommend it to anyone cringing at the price of flasks as I was. I got four 1g growlers for the price of one 2L flask. I'm also making a DIY stir plate this weekend for frugality sake.

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Old 01-18-2010, 04:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeJones View Post
Thanks for all of the feedback.

I work in a microbiology lab, so I figured the main reason for flasks was the heat resistance so that you can use them to boil the starter wort and cool it in the same vessel, keeping everything contained. But as far as home brewing goes - nothing is really sterile, just sanitized. So, why would you pay for an expensive flask when you can boil the starter wort in a pan on the stove, cool it, and then transfer it to an inexpensive growler that has been sanitized with Star San. (luckily my growlers have flat bottoms so they don't throw the stir bar and the LHBS sells drilled corks for them)
Having done this myself, I would recommend it to anyone cringing at the price of flasks as I was. I got four 1g growlers for the price of one 2L flask. I'm also making a DIY stir plate this weekend for frugality sake.
I pretty much agree. I also do work in a lab, so I have about 4 2L "growlers' and 2 4L "growlers" for free.
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeJones View Post
Thanks for all of the feedback.

I work in a microbiology lab, so I figured the main reason for flasks was the heat resistance so that you can use them to boil the starter wort and cool it in the same vessel, keeping everything contained. But as far as home brewing goes - nothing is really sterile, just sanitized. So, why would you pay for an expensive flask when you can boil the starter wort in a pan on the stove, cool it, and then transfer it to an inexpensive growler that has been sanitized with Star San. (luckily my growlers have flat bottoms so they don't throw the stir bar and the LHBS sells drilled corks for them)
Having done this myself, I would recommend it to anyone cringing at the price of flasks as I was. I got four 1g growlers for the price of one 2L flask. I'm also making a DIY stir plate this weekend for frugality sake.
But if you boil in the flask and cool in the flask it should be as close to sterilized as you can get. Sterile is sterile but sanitized is a matter of degree and to many, especially when dealing with yeast, the more sanitized the better. Having said that I boil in a pot and then pour the boiling hot wort into the sanitized flask (the flask is placed under hot tap water for a few seconds to preheat it). I only do that to avoid boilovers.

<--------Another one that works in a lab (but I'm just an engineer and don't do the actual lab work).
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:41 PM   #9
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As mentioned above... nice flat bottom for the stir bar.

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Old 01-18-2010, 04:47 PM   #10
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I agree with both the boiling in-flask and the flat bottom for the stir bar. I have a hell of a time getting my stir right in my growler, but I haven't yet been able to bring myself to get a flask. Maybe once my keezer is done...

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