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Old 04-22-2014, 03:07 AM   #1
brianpablo
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Default Aquarium aerator instead of stir plate for yeast starter?

OK, I'll admit it - I don't have a stir plate, I'm probably not going to get one. Living overseas means I usually work with dry yeast so I've chalked it up to one piece of shwag I don't want.

It happens that I've managed to smuggle back some liquid yeast from a recent trip back home (stuffed in luggage with cold packs) and am now facing my first yeast starter.

Since the purpose of a stir plate is in part to aerate, couldn't I simply use the same aquarium-style aerator that I use to add oxygen to wort before pitching?

If not I'll probably just shake the sucker whenever I get a chance.

Suggestions appreciated.

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Old 04-22-2014, 03:29 AM   #2
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It'll work. I don't think it will be quite as good but who knows. The stir bar really helps to keep the yeast is suspension.

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Old 04-22-2014, 04:52 AM   #3
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It could work, but as sandyeggoxj mentioned, yeast would not be that evenly suspended. Another problem is an excessive foaming, this is where a stir plate makes magic a lot but few people are conscious of it.

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Old 04-22-2014, 12:24 PM   #4
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I believe the stir plate oxygenates the starter media by keeping the yeast cells in suspension and moving along the surface of the vessel, where the oxygen is. An aquarium filter will act differently, by moving the ozygen across a (smaller) sample of wort. If I recall correctly, one of the brewing pod casts did a test where they did 5 minutes shaking and continuous injection of oxygen from a cylinder for post pitch aeration (for an full batch, not a starter). Shaking did better than continuous oxygen. If you choose to use the aquarium filter,I'd recommend you rig up a filter on the air intake to keep dirt and oil from the motor out of the starter media.

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Old 04-22-2014, 01:00 PM   #5
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This was talked about on a Basic Brewing radio podcast and the results are shared here.

The page is kind of a mess because he originally used table sugar for the starters and didn't use a stirplate, but if you read the updates where he started using DME and added a stir plate, here are the main results as I see them:

Manually stirred starter - 318 b cells
Stirplate starter - 361 b cells
Aerated starter - 419 b cells

So an aerated starter will work just fine. For me, it was easy enough to build a stirplate for <$20, so I build two and use those, but aeration with a pump will work too.

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Old 04-23-2014, 01:12 PM   #6
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You don't need a stir plate. You could just make some wort and toss in yeast. You will have to make a larger starter to yield the same cell count as a smaller stirred starter. Use this to calculate http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

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