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Old 04-09-2009, 08:55 PM   #1
Pelikan
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Default 4 days on the stir plate?!

I made up a starter Monday morning, thinking I'd be brewing that evening. Well, life happened...three days in a row. My California Ale starter has been going for the better part of four days now.

So I'm faced with a choice: Brew tonight and pitch as normal, or wait until the weekend, get a new vial, start a new starter, etc. I'd think the starter is fine after this much time. Most of the fermentables are probably gone, and the yeast may be going dormant, but I can't see anything being wrong with it...although I could be mistaken.

What would you do in this situ?

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Old 04-09-2009, 08:57 PM   #2
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turn off the stir plate and put it in the cooler.
when you do brew pore off the liquid in the starter add some new clean water swish and pitch,, it will be great

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Old 04-09-2009, 09:29 PM   #3
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Yup, that's what I'd do, too. When you make a starter you have two choices -- pitch at high krauesen (12-18 hours) or let the starter ferment out all the way. Yours has obviously fermented out. That allows you to chill the starter and decant the starter wort before pitching, reducing the chance of off flavors from the starter wort.

I make 2L starters, so I generally let it go for two to three days and chill. Starter wort, especially starter wort that has been highly oxygenated or put on a stir plate to increase cell growth, isn't the best tasting stuff in the world. If you don't have to put it in your beer, don't.

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Old 04-09-2009, 09:33 PM   #4
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I always wait 40 hours (give or take) to pitch anyhow, as that's the (proven) apex of cell counts. I never decant, out of principle (don't wanna get into it).

I'll be brewing tonight, so use it (direct pitch) or don't, that's the question...

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Old 04-09-2009, 09:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Pelikan View Post
I never decant, out of principle (don't wanna get into it). I'll be brewing tonight, so use it (direct pitch) or don't, that's the question...
I've often wondered why you build 4oz of DME into your recipes, and that explains it. A conversation for another day - but I'd be interested in your reasoning to never decant. Personally, I'd chill and decant. Direct pitching is fine, although I'd not be concerned about any off-flavors from oxidized wort. The volumes are too small to make a dent, in my opinion.

I see no reason not to use the starter you've built up.

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Old 04-09-2009, 09:40 PM   #6
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Great. Time to gear up for a brew sesh.

I don't decant because even in the fridge some of the higher attenuating, more vigorous yeast remain in solution to one extent or other, even if they're floating right above the bottom. I don't want to risk losing my upper 10th percentile, ya dig?

Plus, most of that glop on the bottom of the flask (the stuff most assume is 100% yeast), is break. At least from my experience, with the Breiss DME I've been using.

EDIT: And the fridge is host to all kinds of nasties, which is not where I want my yeast hanging out. That, and direct pitching is just easier, and I don't end up wasting that [expensive] DME.

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Old 04-09-2009, 09:53 PM   #7
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I don't decant because even in the fridge some of the higher attenuating, more vigorous yeast remain in solution to one extent or other, even if they're floating right above the bottom. I don't want to risk losing my upper 10th percentile, ya dig?
I see. By my logic, I've grown my yeast to a large enough volume that even a 5% loss in cells from decanting isn't going to substantially impact my ferment.

As far as break goes, I don't experience any hot/cold break in my starter wort in the flask because I pressure can my wort and decant into the flask. YMMV, of course.

Enjoy the brew session! I'm brewing a BGSA in the morning.
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Old 04-09-2009, 10:57 PM   #8
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I see. By my logic, I've grown my yeast to a large enough volume that even a 5% loss in cells from decanting isn't going to substantially impact my ferment.

As far as break goes, I don't experience any hot/cold break in my starter wort in the flask because I pressure can my wort and decant into the flask. YMMV, of course.

Enjoy the brew session! I'm brewing a BGSA in the morning.
I hear ya. I'm not worrying about losing cells in general, but the best cells. Why lose any in the first place? That's my thinking.
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Old 04-10-2009, 04:44 AM   #9
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"I always wait 40 hours (give or take) to pitch anyhow, as that's the (proven) apex of cell counts."

how is 40hrs the "proven" apex , with out specifying; temp, gravity, yeast strain and volume thats 4 big varables, so it must be 40 hrs for your very specfic senario..
a few times a year i do large batches of 20 to 30 gal and make a starter in a 3 gal carboy
and 40 hrs is not the apex , i sometimes even decant and add more wort to keep build up the cell count if needed.

"I hear ya. I'm not worrying about losing cells in general, but the best cells. Why lose any in the first place?"

the best ones or just the least flocculent .

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Old 04-10-2009, 07:16 AM   #10
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"I always wait 40 hours (give or take) to pitch anyhow, as that's the (proven) apex of cell counts."

how is 40hrs the "proven" apex , with out specifying; temp, gravity, yeast strain and volume thats 4 big varables, so it must be 40 hrs for your very specfic senario..
a few times a year i do large batches of 20 to 30 gal and make a starter in a 3 gal carboy
and 40 hrs is not the apex , i sometimes even decant and add more wort to keep build up the cell count if needed.

"I hear ya. I'm not worrying about losing cells in general, but the best cells. Why lose any in the first place?"

the best ones or just the least flocculent .
Read over this article, written by a Ph D in a relevant field: Guide to Yeast Propagation. It highlights, in far more detail than I could, the 40 hour pitch-point. The following graph illustrates it quite succinctly, should you not be up for the reading. The basic gist is that there will be some slight variation between strains, etc, but not so much that it would surpass a general 24-48 hour ideal pitching time. At 40 hours and beyond, one can be 100% sure that the culture has reached maximum density. At less than that, it's questionable, and at less than 24 hours incomplete reproduction is all but guaranteed.



To the question of relevant variables: the 40 hour average assumes normal room temperatures (on a stir plate); gravity is the widely accepted 1.040 starter OG; and yeast strain is your typical variant of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The volume doesn't so much matter as long as we're talking a standard 1-3 liter starter. Even a full 5 gallon batch will reach 100% reproduction in around 48 hours. Bear in mind that I'm talking about maximum cell density, not full fermentation (which always occurs sometime after 100% reproduction has been reached).

Regarding the "best ones" comment, it's generally accepted that the yeast who flocculate last are also the yeast who remain consuming/active the longest, and thus provide the most attenuation. Fairly simple logical deduction.

Here's a poll I conducted regarding the question of decanting: To Decant or not to Decant? The poll resulted in a 60/40 split in favor of not decanting, with all the responses coming from experienced members who do not decant. Here's the most relevant comment:

Quote:
Originally Posted by menschmaschine
One plus for pitching a full starter is that you get a lot more yeast. Unless you really crash cool it for like a week and force all the yeast to drop out, there are still a lot in suspension. I've noticed a big difference in lag times between pitching a half-assed crash-cooled decanted starter vs. just pitching the whole starter.
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Last edited by Pelikan; 04-10-2009 at 08:26 AM.
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