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Old 11-09-2008, 02:45 AM   #1
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Default When do I pitch my starter?

Hi, all. I've done a search for this question, but can't find the answer. And given the number of starter questions every weekend, I think a starter sticky might be in order (I've seen some disputes over items in the wiki (disputed issues on this site? No way!).

I've made a gallon starter of Wyeast Abbey Ale yeast for the Chimay Red clone I'm planning for tomorrow. I pitched into the starter last night, and today, it is bubbles and foam a-go-go.

Now what?

I'd like to brew tomorrow, but I don't think I should pitch this entire gallon into the fermenter. I also don't think it will stop fermenting by tomorrow. Should I put it in the fridge tonight so the yeast will settle down, decant and pour? Or should I wait for a few more days (I'd rather not, but will if I have to).

Apologies if this has been asked and answered before.



Thanks,

CB

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Old 11-09-2008, 02:51 AM   #2
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Go ahead and pitch the whole thing when your brew is ready. It's a good thing to pitch when the starter is still actively fermenting. The yeast is in reproductive mode and will continue to reproduce when it hits the wort. Don't put it in the fridge, just let it do its thing.

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Old 11-09-2008, 02:55 AM   #3
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The whole thing? Really? Jeebus. I don't have to worry about its effect on the flavor of the wort I made (I did use extra light DME for the starter)? I don't have to worry about diluting the wort either?

Good thing I have a 7 gallon bucket, 'cause if I pitch in that whole gallon, it's going to asplode.

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Old 11-09-2008, 03:03 AM   #4
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Oh, I see. I was thinking of a ten gallon batch. That might be a bit too much liquid for a five gallon batch.

Here's a calculator for you:

Mr Malty Pitching Rate Calculator

Normally you would step up a starter to a full gallon. That takes a few days. In your case you are probably better off waiting as long as possible before pitching. You can decant the top of the starter and pitch the yeast that has already flocculated to the bottom.

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Old 11-09-2008, 03:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fingers View Post
Oh, I see. I was thinking of a ten gallon batch. That might be a bit too much liquid for a five gallon batch.

Here's a calculator for you:

Mr Malty Pitching Rate Calculator

Normally you would step up a starter to a full gallon. That takes a few days. In your case you are probably better off waiting as long as possible before pitching. You can decant the top of the starter and pitch the yeast that has already flocculated to the bottom.
At my OG, Mr. Malty calls for a gallon starter, which is why I made one of that size. Still feels like too much liquid to me.
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Old 11-09-2008, 03:21 AM   #6
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A gallon of starter to provide enough sugars for the yeast, but it doesn't mean you have to pitch the whole volume.
I would toss it in the fridge overnight the night before you brew, decant in before you brew, and let the vessel sit on the counter and slowly come to room temp while you are brewing. Then pitch when wort is cooled to roughly ferment temp.

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Old 11-09-2008, 03:26 AM   #7
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Thanks. Mr. Malty also calls for a gallon starter at a 5.25 batch volume, which confused me.

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Old 11-09-2008, 03:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by climateboy View Post
At my OG, Mr. Malty calls for a gallon starter, which is why I made one of that size. Still feels like too much liquid to me.

Well, it is. The gallon refers to the amount of wort that is fermented to get the yeast. It assumes you decant the spent wort off the top. In my experience you can get away with less than what Mr. Malty says. In fact I rarely pitch that much.

This will be a sort of judgement call for you. Even as it finishes the yeast will be flocculating to the bottom of your starter jar but there will be a fair bit in suspension. You could cool it to clear it up and take a chance that you will have enough or you could just be happy with what's already sitting on the bottom. Without seeing your jar it's hard to say if you have enough. By tomorrow it should be done but it may not be all settled out.

If it were me, I'd let it go and see what it looks like tomorrow. You might get away with pitching only the bottom half.
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Old 11-09-2008, 04:13 AM   #9
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Yeah, I can't post pictures yet. It is really cloudy and swirly, bajillions of particles in there. There's a good little bed on the bottom, but with so much action going on now, my main question is whether or not to throw it in the fridge when I get home from this pub. Enjoying a Wexford's Irish Ale at the moment, lovely and creamy.

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Old 11-09-2008, 04:48 AM   #10
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You probably won't be pitching until sometime tomorrow afternoon. That's a lot of yeast production between now and then. I'd let it go and finish fermenting. If you refrigerate it now you stop production. If there's enough in there to make you happy, go for it but I'd expect the amount of yeast you lose by stopping production will be more than compensated for by letting it ferment.

Do you have the starter with you in the pub? That's kind of weird in a really dedicated kind of way.

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