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Old 04-08-2011, 04:40 AM   #1
warndogg
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Default First time trying Jamils Yeast Starter.

So I am brewing this weekend and I am going to implore Mr. Maltys yeast starter method. My questions to those that have had success with that are thus

My OG should be around 1.072 ( 5 Gal Ale) so according to Mr. Malty I am going to make a starter of 2.78 (aprox) liters pitch my smack pack (vigours stir) and let the starter go 12-18 hours then dump the entire starter in my wort.

Did I follow that right? Any one had experience with this method of starter pitching?

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Old 04-08-2011, 04:58 AM   #2
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You should be alright. I would shake it up every now and then plus I wouldn't pour the entire thing into the batch. I would let it settle and pour off the liquid and pitch the slurry.

Good Luck

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Old 04-08-2011, 05:06 AM   #3
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Yeah, with a volume that high I would let it run its course, refirigerate it so the yeast will drop, pour off most of the liquid and pitch the slurry.

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Old 04-08-2011, 06:15 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northernlad
Yeah, with a volume that high I would let it run its course, refirigerate it so the yeast will drop, pour off most of the liquid and pitch the slurry.
Yeah that'd kinda what I was afraid of, all that starter (2.87 Liters). How long do you think I need to let the starter go before I can pitch the slurry? Assuming my starter is around 1.045ish I was hoping to brew on Sunday.
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Old 04-08-2011, 07:25 AM   #5
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Yes, that's pretty much the gist of it. If you're going to do it that way, you have to make sure to pitch it at high krausen though, for which 18 hours is often a realistic number. And you didn't mention anything about the gravity of your starter wort, so just in case, I'll remind you that you should be shooting for an OG of about 1.035, +/-0.005.

The other option, which takes somewhat longer, but allows you to not pitch such a large volume of starter "liquid" (I wouldn't even call it beer), is to let it ferment FULLY over the course of a few days, and then crash cool to get all the yeast to drop out of suspension, so that you can pour out most of the liquid on top, before swirling it with the remaining liquid to make sure the slurry isn't too thick to pour into the fermenter (being as sanitary as possible along the way, of course.) The reason you need to let it ferment out completely in this case is so that the yeast build up their glycogen and trehalose reserves for when they come back out of dormancy. This is a particularly good technique if you're using such a large starter that it will noticeably affect your beer, or if you're making a very light beer where even with the starter being only 5-10% the volume of the batch, the off-flavors present will STILL be detectable. And if your starter isn't producing any off-flavors, you're doing it wrong - the main goal of a starter is maximizing yeast health, with cell count actually a somewhat distant second; producing something drinkable shouldn't even be a consideration. And the conditions optimal for yeast vitality are different than the conditions optimal for minimizing off-flavors.

I also just have to recommend a stirplate. They produce somewhat healthier yeast, and much higher cell counts, and higher cell counts means smaller starters need, and also allows you to use smaller vessels with less step-ups, which is particularly beneficial to those of us using flasks. A few hombrewer-targeted websites sell them not TOO expensively - especially compared to the stir plates you might get from a lab equipment supplier, since homebrewer models are stripped down to only what's necessary. I had a lot more fun though building my own stirplate. I spent a bit more on a box and grommets to make it pretty much perfectly waterproof, and completely professional-looking, but you can build a stir plate VERY cheaply, and for almost nothing with a few spare/salvaged parts. There are a ton of tutorials kicking around, including easy to follow schematics, but I was able to simply borrow a few ideas but design my own, with the extent of my electrical experience being some simple computer modifications. If you decide to go this route though, a lot of tutorials recommend salvaging the magnets from a computer hard drive, but I couldn't disagree more. For one thing, even if the hard-drive is old and has virtually no storage compared to today's standards, if it's still working AT ALL, I'd rather just use it (and various other drives) with a hard drive dock. But the main reason is that, even if the hard drive is completely dead, you can buy MUCH stronger rare earth magnets in all sorts of shapes and sizes extremely cheaply. I think I paid about $2 in total for the magnets I ended up using, and they perform a hell of a lot better than the ones that come out of a hard drive, which are far more likely to throw the stir bar.

Sorry if I got slightly off topic there, or if you already knew most or all of that, but I figured it's all good information for a brewer just beginning to make starters like this.

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Old 04-08-2011, 08:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warndogg

Yeah that'd kinda what I was afraid of, all that starter (2.87 Liters). How long do you think I need to let the starter go before I can pitch the slurry? Assuming my starter is around 1.045ish I was hoping to brew on Sunday.
The answers are contained in my post right above, but I'll pick them out for you.

If you choose to do it this way, it's really important to let it ferment COMPLETELY before refrigerating it. Refrigerating is important to make the yeast go dormant and fall out of suspension, so that when you pour most of the liquid out, you're not pouring out significant amounts of yeast as well. Before pitching, swirl the container a bit to mix the yeast back into the remaining liquid so that you can pour it. The reason you need to make sure you let it ferment out COMPLETELY is that it is only when the food starts to run out that the yeast starting building up their glycogen reserves, which will be important for the yeast to have access to when they come out of dormancy and start reproducing.

It will take a few days to ferment completely, and I prefer to give it at least 24 hours in the fridge (it can stay there for up to a week - and if necessary, two - but I try to use it within 3-4 days of refrigerating). So I wouldn't expect to be brewing on Sunday. You could possibly manage it if you made the starter RIGHT NOW, and pitched it very late on Sunday night, but that's far from a guarantee.

However, 2 liters isn't necessarily a big deal unless you're brewing a very light, delicate beer. With most beers, I wouldn't be concerned at all. I would likely just go with your original plan and pitch at high krausen, but it ultimately depends on the recipe you're using (though the style of beer you're brewing is probably the only information really needed).

Also, that's a bit stronger than usually recommended for a yeast starter - believe it or not, alcohol is bad for yeast. I would knock the OG down about 10 points - 1.035 is a great target, with about 5 points of wiggle room in both directions (1.030 to 1.040). It may not seem like a big difference, but since the goal is yeast health, it's big enough, and there's no point in using more DME - or grain/LME if you're using one of those for some reason - than you have to.

In fact, even lower gravity is technically better for yeast health, and an OG of around 1.020 is recommended when you're stepping up a very tiny amount of yeast or if the health of the yeast is likely poor (like when culturing dregs from a bottle), in order to help the yeast survive (and in fact, if the % of glucose is low enough and you can keep the wort oxygenated adequately, the yeast won't produce ANY alcohol). The main reason we use a somewhat higher OG when using a decent amount of healthy yeast is because the alcohol is also bad for bacteria and wild yeasts, and this benefit generally outweighs the cost to yeast health at the recommended gravity.
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Old 04-08-2011, 08:30 AM   #7
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[QUOTE="emjay"]

The answers are contained in my post right above, but I'll pick them out for you.

If you choose to do it this way, it's really important to let it ferment COMPLETELY before refrigerating it. Refrigerating is important to make the yeast go dormant and fall out of suspension, so that when you pour most of the liquid out, you're not pouring out significant amounts of yeast as well. Before pitching, swirl the container a bit to mix the yeast back into the remaining liquid so that you can pour it. The reason you need to make sure you let it ferment out COMPLETELY is that it is only when the food starts to run out that the yeast starting building up their glycogen reserves, which will be important for the yeast to have access to when they come out of dormancy and start reproducing.

It will take a few days to ferment completely, and I prefer to give it at least 24 hours in the fridge (it can stay there for up to a week - and if necessary, two - but I try to use it within 3-4 days of refrigerating). So I wouldn't expect to be brewing on Sunday. You could possibly manage it if you made the starter RIGHT NOW, and pitched it very late on Sunday night, but that's far from a guarantee.

However, 2 liters isn't necessarily a big deal unless you're brewing a very light, delicate beer. With most beers, I wouldn't obe concerned at all. I would likely just go with your original plan and pitch at high krausen, but it ultimately depends on the recipe you're using (though the style of beer you're brewing is probably the only information really needed).[QUOTE]


Wow emjay thanks for the great insight. Brewing an IPA by the way. I think because of time constraints I'm just going to go ahead and pitch at high krousen. I was just originally concerned with such a volume of starter going into my wort. And I will make sure my starter OG is in check.

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Old 04-08-2011, 12:58 PM   #8
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emjay, great information on starters. I like the idea of trying to help brewers grow more yeast with their particular system v.s. "just follow Mr. Malty. " In lieu of stir plate, you can always give your container a swirl every time you walk by. Not the same, but better than nothing.

If you go the stir plate route, you can do the ferment, crash cool, and decant routine up to three times and get pretty good results. It takes a bit of planning to have your yeast ready for a brew day. Just remember not to seal your container to allow for some transfer of oxygen. I use an inverted 250 ml beaker over my flask to keep the nasties from falling in.

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Old 04-08-2011, 02:53 PM   #9
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1 item to note... if you are used to what happens without a starter you may be surprised by how fast and furious your beer's fermentation takes off. Make sure to use a blow off hose or you run a high risk of having a mess. I've had blow off in as few as 6 hours (and bubbling after only 3) when pitching a starter that is at high krausen. your 1.72OG is going to add to that vigorous nature of the fermentation.

Also, keep an eye on the fermentation temp. More vigorous fermentations generate more heat.

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