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Old 07-26-2012, 03:57 PM   #1
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Default Necessary time for a yeast starter

I've been seeing a bunch of people that say you need to make a .5 gal-1 gal starter 5-7 days before brewing. Then put it in the fridge to cold crash and finally decant off the weak starter beer and pitching the now larger but mostly dormant colony into their wort. What's the advantage to this versus just making making a smaller starter volume wise and pitching an active starter? My typical lag time is less than 8 hours with the latter method. For the sake of argument I use 250g DME in a quart of water, aerated very well, and then pitch two smack packs, let ferment over night, and then pitch the whole thing into a ten gallon batch.



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Old 07-26-2012, 04:24 PM   #2
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If your getting good results then thats all that matters. Its all about pitching the proper amount of healthy cells. Alot of us use a calc like the one @ mrmalty.com to find out the right size starter. As far as decanting vs pitching the full thing, it's a personal preference sort of thing. I prefer to crash and decant but there are plenty of brewers that pour the whole thing in.



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Old 07-26-2012, 06:25 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Double_D View Post
I've been seeing a bunch of people that say you need to make a .5 gal-1 gal starter 5-7 days before brewing. Then put it in the fridge to cold crash and finally decant off the weak starter beer and pitching the now larger but mostly dormant colony into their wort. What's the advantage to this versus just making making a smaller starter volume wise and pitching an active starter? My typical lag time is less than 8 hours with the latter method. For the sake of argument I use 250g DME in a quart of water, aerated very well, and then pitch two smack packs, let ferment over night, and then pitch the whole thing into a ten gallon batch.
your starter gravity seems pretty high - the standard recommendation is 100g DME/1000ml of water

for high gravity beers or for lagers you need larger volume starters - when you are dealing with 2.5+Liter starters most people don't want all that fermented, non hopped, non temperature controlled beer added when they pitch, esp if it's a lighter beer

this requires making you starter further in advance so it can ferment out and have time to chill to settle all the yeast out before decanting.

for a 1L starter then it may make more sense to pitch at high krausen
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Double_D View Post
I've been seeing a bunch of people that say you need to make a .5 gal-1 gal starter 5-7 days before brewing. Then put it in the fridge to cold crash and finally decant off the weak starter beer and pitching the now larger but mostly dormant colony into their wort. What's the advantage to this versus just making making a smaller starter volume wise and pitching an active starter? My typical lag time is less than 8 hours with the latter method. For the sake of argument I use 250g DME in a quart of water, aerated very well, and then pitch two smack packs, let ferment over night, and then pitch the whole thing into a ten gallon batch.
First, starter size depends on your beer and its original gravity. It's not always .5 to 1 gal.

Second, 5 to 7 days before brewing seems like a stretch unless you're doing a stepped up starter. 3-4 days total prior to brewing seems like the norm.

Third, cold crashing the night prior to brewing helps to drop the yeast out of suspension. You normally don't want to pitch the entire volume of bad flavored starter wort, though some don't mind doing so.

Lastly, you are not pitching dormant yeast. The starter should be removed the refrigerator while you're boiling your wort. Gently set the flask on the counter, and when it's time to pitch into the cool, oxygenated wort, decant 90% of the starter wort and use the remaining liquid to make a slurry. Pitch this slurry and wait.

1 level cup DME per 1 Liter water is my ratio
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:49 PM   #5
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The size of a starter needed is not quite that simple. There are a lot of variables that change things.

Ale or Lager
What the OG of the recipe calls for.
Aeration method.

Most of my starters are 1 to 1.5 liters.

When using a vial for an average beer I ferment it on my stirplate for 12-18 hours. I saw this timing recommended in a Wyeast video.

If the starter is 1L or under I often pitch the whole thing. I don't think that is enough "off flavor" liquid to make much difference in a 5 gallon batch.

If I have time I chill the starter, decant the liquid then let it warm to pitching temperature while brewing.

Mrmalty.com and Yeastcalc.com have information on starters and calculators to determine the proper starter size.

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Old 07-26-2012, 10:14 PM   #6
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I have done starters anywhere from 3 days with the decanting method to less than 24 hours where I pitched the whole starter straight into my fermenter. Both methods have worked fine.





This is directly from White Labs:
http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/homebrew_FAQ.html



Quote:
How do I make a "starter"?

White Labs Pitchable yeast is packaged with 70 to 140 billion yeast cells, which corresponds approximately to a 1-2 liter size starter. Lag times are typically between 12-24 hours for a normal strength brew.

A yeast starter is a small volume of wort that you add to your yeast to initiate cell activity or to increase the cell count before using it to make your beer. The yeast will grow in this smaller volume, usually for 1-2 days, which then can be added to 5 gallons of wort.

While a starter is not always necessary, White Labs recommends making a starter if the Original Gravity is over 1.060, if the yeast is past its "Best Before" date, if you are pitching lager yeast at temperatures below 65F, or if a faster start is desired.

Procedure:

In a medium sauce pan, add 2 pints of water and 1/2 cup Dried Malt Extract (DME). Mix well and boil the solution for about 10 minutes to sterilize. Cover and cool the pan to room temperature in an ice bath. This will give you a wort of approximately 1.040 OG. Keeping the Original Gravity low is important because you want to keep the yeast in its growth phase, rather than its fermentation phase. The fermentation phase will create alcohol which can be toxic to yeast in high concentrations.

Pour the wort into a sanitized glass container (flask, growler, etc.) and pitch the vial of yeast. Cover the top of the container with a sanitized piece of aluminum foil so that it is flush with the container, but will still allow CO2 to escape. Vigorously shake or swirl the container to get as much oxygen dissolved in the solution as possible. Allow the starter to sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours, occasionally shaking it to keep the solution aerated.

You probably won’t see any visible activity, but the yeast is busy taking up the oxygen and sugars in the solution and growing new cells. After the yeast has consumed all of the nutrients and oxygen, it will form a milky white layer on the bottom of the container. If you are not planning on pitching the yeast right away, you can store it in the refrigerator with the foil still in place. When you are ready to brew, decant off most of the clear liquid from the top, being careful not to disturb the yeast layer below. Once the yeast and your wort are at approximately the same (room) temperature, rouse the starter yeast into suspension and pitch the entire quantity into your fermenter.

Typical Starter Volumes for 5 gallons:
To activate the yeast: 1 pint (with 1/4 cup DME)
To revitalize yeast past its Best Before Date: 2 pints (with 1/2 cup DME)
To brew a high gravity beer: 2 pints (with 1/2 cup DME)
To brew a lager beer, starting fermentation 50-55F: 4 pints (with 1 cup DME)
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Old 07-26-2012, 10:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terrapinj View Post
...
for a 1L starter then it may make more sense to pitch at high krausen...
I make 1L starters and this works great for me.


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