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Old 01-31-2011, 09:55 PM   #1
hollywoodbrew
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Default Maibock Starter Strategy

I have a maibock on deck for friday and I wanted to check with the community about my starter strategy. So, here's the rundown:

Batch:
Maibock Lager WLP833 (prod. 01/11)
1.072 OG
6 Gallons

Equipment:
2 Liter Flask
5 Liter Flask
DIY Stirplate

Using Mr Malty, it assumes I'm starting with 76 billion good cells. The calculator claims I'll need 586 billion cells. This would be a 3 liter starter with 4 packs (300 billion cells). To get the initial 300 billion cells from 76 billion, I would first need a primary 3 liter starter.

So does that sound right? A 3 liter starter, decant and pitch into another 3 liter starter? It's tricky working out two-step starter in mr malty, but I think I could do a 2 liter into a 4 liter and be in the same ball park.

Also another variable to consider is my stirplate can whirlpool 2 liters, but that about the limit. I figure with all the chilling and decanting, I'll need to begin the starter today to be ready to pitch friday night.

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Old 01-31-2011, 10:13 PM   #2
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It looks like you should be in the right ballpark. If you are planning on brewing this Friday I assume you will be fermenting your starters at room temp, which is fine, but if you plan to pitch the decanted starter to lager fermentation temperatures it is usually best to let the starter ferment completely so that the yeast can build their energy reserves, making the shift in fermentation temperatures less of an issue for the yeast.

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Old 01-31-2011, 10:31 PM   #3
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That's a good tip, thanks. Do you think 36 hours fermenting, 12 hours chilling will be enough time for each starter?

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Old 02-01-2011, 11:52 PM   #4
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Under Palmer and Zainascheff 36 hours should be fine for reaching max yeast cells, but to be sure about complete fermentation you might want to do a hydrometer test at the end of the 36 hours (of the final starter). If it says it's done then you can take a look at the starter after the 12 hours of chilling, but 12 hours might be a little short. I usually chill my starters for 24 hours minimum, with 36 - 48 being a little better. If you are still going to go ahead with 12 hrs chilling, keep an eye on the yeast when decanting so you don't send 'em down the drain. If it were me I would probably delay brew day a bit just to be on the safe side.

I've got a maibock next on the choppin block too, and for my starter (5 packages worth) I made an oktobrrrfest that I'll harvest the yeast from. For the starter for the oktobrrrfest, I did something similar to you. 1 pack in 3 L, ferment, chill, decant, and then into another 3 L, repeat. I think I let it ferment for ~3 days on the second round and then chilled it down for another 2.5 days before decanting and pitching.

The yeast prep stage is an important one to do right. There's no beer without the yeast.

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Old 02-02-2011, 12:47 AM   #5
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I actually decided to go with a 2L into a 4L. I would really like to brew on Friday, since I'm going out of town Saturday. Perhaps I will decant just 1L out of #1 and add 1L to the 4L in hopes of saving some floaters. I can also pitch the next morning before I leave. This will give another 12 hours for the #2 to chill.

So that's 36/12 for #1, and 36/24 for #2. Sound good? Or should wait till the following weekend to brew?

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On Deck: Wee Heavy, Special Bitter
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Old 02-02-2011, 06:18 PM   #6
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You may be okay; to be sure about complete fermentation with #2 you should do a hydrometer reading. If that says it's done then it is safe to chill it down. If it says it is not yet done then it is possible the yeast will have to go through more of an operating temperature adjustment, which may lead to a bigger lag time and more ester production early on in the fermentation.

Read around a bit more, other brewers may have pitched lager starters prepared at room temp without major ill effects; I just haven't tried it myself.

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Old 02-02-2011, 06:57 PM   #7
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IME, when stepping up starters the second step ferments faster than the first because you've already grown a bunch of yeast. Most of my lager starters are done within a day (all done at room temp). As mentioned, just make sure to give it at least 24 hours in the fridge and then decant before pitching. Doing that and pitching cold it should still take off within 12 hours.

I think if you started yesterday you should be able to brew Sunday and pitch Sunday night.

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Old 02-02-2011, 07:21 PM   #8
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I just did a Maibock starter using the PC yeast from Wyeast. I used two packets in a 2 liter stirred starter. Decanted that into another 2 liter stirred starter. and then decanted that and pitched the yeast into my beer. It was fermenting within 12 hours

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