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Old 11-09-2010, 07:37 PM   #1
Ben_Persitz
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Default To decant your yeast starter, or just pour it all in?

I've never made a yeast starter--I always just use the 150 ML Wyeast Smack Packs.

I figure for my next brew I'll probably try one (since I've been making bigger beers lately).

My next beer is going to be a pilsner, so not a huge beer and probably not necessary to make a starter, but I want to get used to making them.

So my question to you all is--do you pour off the starter beer and just pitch the slurry or do you pour in the whole volume of your starter?

I've read a lot about both and I want some first hand experience with doing both. Convince me!

My understanding is if you let the starter ferment for about 24 hours, you can let it sit at room temp for about 3-4 hours, pour off the liquid on top, then stir up the yeast cake/sediment and pitch that to your wort. Correct?

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Old 11-09-2010, 07:41 PM   #2
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It's really up to you, some decant, or some just swirl it all in. One factor to consider is whether or not the "starter beer," the liguid on top smells sour or not. Often, especially in the summer it may sour in only a few hours. Some folks add a hop pellet as a preservative/preventative measure. The couple of ounces of sour beer wont really affect the taste of your finished product (unless maybe you were brewing an extremely light tasting beer.) It's really up to you.

Another factor is whether or not the yeast is a low flocculating yeast and there may be a lot still in suspension. The "beer" will be cloudy rather than clear-ish. If it's a witbier or hefe yeast for example it might be better just to swirl and pour it all in, you'll get the max number of yeast cells that way.

My starter flask is huge and often I will build up a starter over a few days and end up with 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of "beer" in it. If the yeast has pretty much flocculated I will, if I have time cold crash it like the web pic above, but even if I don't I will carefully pour off all but about 2 cups of the liquid, then swirl the remainder to re-suspend the yeast and dump it in my fermenter.

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Old 11-09-2010, 08:23 PM   #3
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if you are making a lager, the starter which should be about 1 gallon, I would decant

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Old 11-09-2010, 09:08 PM   #4
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A few things:

-for a pilsner a large starter is even MORE necessary than a big ale because you'll be fermenting much cooler (hopefully) and lagering.

-I second what Revvy said - If it's a yeast that flocculates (falls out of suspension and collects at the bottom) I will always decant the liquid off before pitching. If the yeast doesn't flocculate (Hefe yeast for example) I dump the whole thing. In general I'd rather not pollute my wort I worked so hard to create with the starter beer that's not the same grain bill.

-if you're to get the yeast to settle out of suspension you'll have much better results putting it in the fridge overnight rather than letting is sit at room temp for a few hours.

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Old 11-09-2010, 09:42 PM   #5
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Assuming you are providing a lot of oxygen to your starter throughout, I strongly believe in decanting as the starter wort will be oxidized.

I tend to make a 2L lager starter with a stir plate and two white labs vials. If you have no stir plate and prefer to buy one vial you are probably looking at nearly a gallon starter. That's a lot of oxidized beer to through in 5 gallons.

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Old 11-09-2010, 10:00 PM   #6
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My plan is just to follow the howtobrew.com instructions for making a starter. It seems as though decanting would be best though, especially in a delicate beer like a Pilsner.

I'm going to serve my Dead Guy Clone at about 45 degrees, and I'm thinking I might start brewing the Pilsner soon and just ferment and serve in the same fridge. I should be done drinking the Dead Guy by the time fermentation is over and it's time to lager.

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Old 11-10-2010, 12:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben_Persitz View Post
My understanding is if you let the starter ferment for about 24 hours, you can let it sit at room temp for about 3-4 hours, pour off the liquid on top, then stir up the yeast cake/sediment and pitch that to your wort. Correct?
Start your starter 1 week prior to your brew day, then put it in the fridge 3-4 days prior to brew day to crash out as much of the yeast as you can before you decant off the spent wort. If you don't give it time in the fridge you'll be decanting off most of the good yeast cells still in suspension. If you start the starter 24 hours prior to brew day you'll need to pitch the entire thing.

My experience, your results may vary.
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Old 11-10-2010, 02:19 AM   #8
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My personal rules for a 5G finished batch is to decant if I use the stirplate or if the starter is greater than 1L (which is 5% of the volume of my batch). I think that is a pretty conservative position though.

I will bend my rule and pitch starters bigger than 1L or with a stirplate if it is a more intensely flavored recipe and I'm pressed for time (e.g., hoppy, roasty, etc.)

YMMV. Good luck.

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Old 08-21-2011, 09:24 PM   #9
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i've been making mine about 1.5L for starters on a stirplate for about 24-36 hours, then in the fridge for as long as my brewday takes.. usually by then its out of suspension nicely so i decant easily.. no sense adding that "beer" if its not necessary

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Old 08-21-2011, 09:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krenshaw View Post
i've been making mine about 1.5L for starters on a stirplate for about 24-36 hours, then in the fridge for as long as my brewday takes.. usually by then its out of suspension nicely so i decant easily.. no sense adding that "beer" if its not necessary
My method exactly..I make the starter on Wed, then brew on Sat...crash-cool in fridge Friday AM
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