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Old 12-12-2012, 07:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
Longest I've ever had a 3 step starter schedule take was 6-7 days. That was with older yeast too (over 4-6 months old), with a stirplate. If you don't have a stirplate get or make one ASAP. Not only will your starters finish faster, but you'll be able to make smaller ones too.

I typically use either my 2L or 3L flask (on the stirplate). I have yet to need to use my 5L flask by doing at least two steps.

BTW, I get Wyeast packs from the LHBS (Jasper's) for <$7/pack. Some stores sell them for about $8/pack. Online, you'll spend a lot on shipping charges. You can also wash/harvest yeast after it's been used. OR, get a single pack/vial, make a starter from it, gather that up and freeze it. Then just thaw out the vial you're going to use and make another starter to get the cell count up.. Serious savings to be had that way. I did that part of a starter I reserved. Stepped it up in my 2L flask a couple of times and froze 12 50ml vials of it. I should have enough yeast (of that strain) to easily go until they offer it again (Wyeast 1882-PC). Thinking about getting a couple of other strains and doing the same thing. Especially ones I can't easily get locally.
Brewmasters Warehouse is a flat $6.99 shipping per order, and I usually try to order at least 2 - 3 beers' worth of ingredients per order to minimize the impact of shipping charges. I buy my hops in bulk as much as I can (I have 7 pounds in the freezer). I'd like to get a grain mill at some point and bulk those orders as well. My LHBS is over $8 for liquid yeast and most hops are $3.25/oz, so I rarely shop there unless I absolutely need last minute things.

Got a link or something to read about yeast freezing? I'm not looking to build a lab or anything. I wash yeasts I regularly use like 1056, but I like diversity in my brews, so I end up with a WLP029, WLP036, Wy1056, etc in pint mason jars. Haven't really looked into freezing.

I've had a DIY stir plate for quite some time and love it.

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Originally Posted by zeg View Post
In general, no, it's not linear in either number of yeast packs or starter volume. If you hold these in constant ratio, then yes, it should be linear (so if you double the volume and pitch twice as much yeast, you will end up with twice as many cells).

There's an optimal pitching rate for maximum growth factor, which is one good target. However, since it's generally cheaper to increase the starter size (or do multiple steps), the financially optimal rate might differ. I recommend playing with yeastcalc.com to get a feel for this.

There's also a good discussion of this (with plots!) in the book "Yeast."
Added to the "to read" list.

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Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
I typically make a smaller starter for the first step, then the second (or third) so that it will still fit in the flask.

Also, yeast production date impacts the size of your starter. If the calculation tool doesn't have provisions for that, don't use it. Also be sure to enter that information into the tool. Otherwise, you won't get an accurate assessment.
I use the data calculators on MrMalty and the others. I've been brewing over 2 years now, but the all grain and 10 gallon batches just started a few months ago and they've all been generally smaller beers (Centennial Blonde, Alt, and an IPA). I'd like to do Denny's Bourbon Vanilla Porter and some other bigger beers and lagers to put my side by side fermentation fridge/freezer to work.


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Old 12-12-2012, 07:55 PM   #12
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There's a thread about it... Just get some glycerine first, and some of the tubes to freeze the yeast in. I'd also do a 'test run' with freezing water in one of the vials first. I did that, so I knew I would be safe (didn't want the vials to burst in the freezer). You'll want to be sure your freezer can get cold enough to make storage viable. -20C (-4F) is the start of where it's good. Luckily the freezer in my food fridge (where I live now) goes to -10F to -5F on it's coldest setting. So I'm good there. Just be sure to NOT leave the freezer open for too long while you have yeast in there. While it probably won't be long enough to have them start to thaw, it's better to keep them at a fairly stable temp.

I've had a mill for a while and have been involved in a few group grain buys. Bought some hops while on sale a while ago, so I have over 7# in the freezer now (brew fridge freezer).
Put my MM2-2.0 onto the old microwave cart (routed a hole in it to dump through).


I had to put a few boards under the bucket I catch with since the shelf was either too low, or too high. Also formed up some thin plexiglass to block out the gaps on either side, due to routing too much from the top. It will get used for the first time in this configuration on Saturday.

Oh, and usually it's a good idea to at least use an insulated box for the yeast. Even in winter, since you have no way to know how the box will be stored while in transit. Could be exposed to sub freezing temperature for long enough to do serious harm to the yeast.



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Old 12-12-2012, 08:15 PM   #13
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So the two beers I want to run next both call for 1056. YeastCalc says I need 589 billion cells for the porter and 304 billion for the blonde. Safe to add the two together and do a single starter stepped up to at least the 893 billion I need for the two brews and then split into the four appropriate sized containers (152 billion in two containers and 295 billion in two other containers for the four 6.5 gallon fermentors)?

Playing with the calculator - a pack of yeast made today, 1.040 gravity starter wort, on a stir plate, 2 liters, then 3 liters, then 4 litres, puts me at 1245 billion cells in that 4 liter starter. 1 liter should theoretically have 311.25 billion cells. Split that into two 1/2 liter containers and I have my yeast for each of my 5.5 gallon batches of Centennial Blonde. Another liter for each of my 5.5 gallon batches of the porter. Leaves me with a liter of roughly 300 billion cells to save in the fridge or freezer for the next batch that calls for this recipe.

Seems reasonable and way better than spending over $40 on 5 packs of the same yeast strain for two beers.

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Old 12-12-2012, 08:20 PM   #14
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I wouldn't try to combine the two starters into one set. Chances of you pouring off the correct amount for the first one is rather remote. I'd simply make the starter sized for the first batch, and then make another for the second.

IMO, you can make one starter, get it to finish, cold crash it while the other one is on the stir plate. Cold crash that one while the second step for the first starter is going, etc. With that, you get two yeast packs and just do some decent shuffling and you're done. Probably only need two starter steps for each too. Use the smaller flask for the smaller starter amount (should be easy to get 304 billion cells with two steps in a 2L flask).

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Old 12-12-2012, 08:38 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
I wouldn't try to combine the two starters into one set. Chances of you pouring off the correct amount for the first one is rather remote. I'd simply make the starter sized for the first batch, and then make another for the second.

IMO, you can make one starter, get it to finish, cold crash it while the other one is on the stir plate. Cold crash that one while the second step for the first starter is going, etc. With that, you get two yeast packs and just do some decent shuffling and you're done. Probably only need two starter steps for each too. Use the smaller flask for the smaller starter amount (should be easy to get 304 billion cells with two steps in a 2L flask).
Am I missing something that would complicate the situation when pouring from a 5L flask into smaller containers with graduations on the side and pouring to a desired amount, like 500 ml, or 1 liter?
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:40 PM   #16
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If you're going to brew / ferment them simultaneously, you might be able to do the single big starter.

If you're going to do one then the other, there are another couple options beyond Golddiggle's suggestion. You could brew the small one first (it looks like the bigger is probably > 1.061), then harvest and rinse the yeast from that for the second. Another would be to make your starter for the first brew, plus a bit extra, and store the extra to make a starter for the second. (This might be preferable, since you may not want Centennial hops leaking into your bigger brew..)

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Old 12-12-2012, 08:49 PM   #17
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Am I missing something that would complicate the situation when pouring from a 5L flask into smaller containers with graduations on the side and pouring to a desired amount, like 500 ml, or 1 liter?
Why are you pouring from one flask into another??? I make my starters using stainless pots (which one depends on the starter size). I chill that in the sink, then pour it into my sanitized flask. Pour yeast from pack into flask, drop in sanitize stirbar and it goes onto the stirplate. Done. When it's done, it goes into the fridge to cold crash. 24-48 hours later, I pour off the spent starter wort and pour on some freshly made, chilled, starter wort and put it back onto the stirplate. Zero risk of getting boiling hot starter wort on your hands (or other parts).

Of my three flasks, I can fit the 2L and 3L into my fridge without removing any shelves. To get teh 5L in there, I'd need to remove a shelf (luckily, they're split shelves). Not ready to do that, which is why I'm glad I can do stepped starters to get my volumes, easily.

I am planning on getting a small beaker set, for when I mix up the solutions for freezing yeast (up to 1L size). Since I plan on only freezing a total amount of 500ml (12 of the vials I have) it's better that way. Those graduation marks are MUCH finer/more precise than what you'll see on flasks.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:51 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by zeg View Post
If you're going to brew / ferment them simultaneously, you might be able to do the single big starter.

If you're going to do one then the other, there are another couple options beyond Golddiggle's suggestion. You could brew the small one first (it looks like the bigger is probably > 1.061), then harvest and rinse the yeast from that for the second. Another would be to make your starter for the first brew, plus a bit extra, and store the extra to make a starter for the second. (This might be preferable, since you may not want Centennial hops leaking into your bigger brew..)
This would be easiest and fit my schedule as the CB is up first and the porter is whenever I get a chance after Christmas.

I'm thinking Friday or Sunday after Christmas on the Bourbon Vanilla Porter.

If I go that route, does this work? 1.5 liter starter, stepped to a 3 liter, makes roughly 650 billion cells. Split it in half - 1.5 liters gets split into the two fermenters of CB, the other 1.5 liters gets decanted and 2.5 liters of wort dumped onto it and the calculator puts me at 650 billion again for my 590 needed for the porter.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:53 PM   #19
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Why are you pouring from one flask into another??? I make my starters using stainless pots (which one depends on the starter size). I chill that in the sink, then pour it into my sanitized flask. Pour yeast from pack into flask, drop in sanitize stirbar and it goes onto the stirplate. Done. When it's done, it goes into the fridge to cold crash. 24-48 hours later, I pour off the spent starter wort and pour on some freshly made, chilled, starter wort and put it back onto the stirplate. Zero risk of getting boiling hot starter wort on your hands (or other parts).

Of my three flasks, I can fit the 2L and 3L into my fridge without removing any shelves. To get teh 5L in there, I'd need to remove a shelf (luckily, they're split shelves). Not ready to do that, which is why I'm glad I can do stepped starters to get my volumes, easily.

I am planning on getting a small beaker set, for when I mix up the solutions for freezing yeast (up to 1L size). Since I plan on only freezing a total amount of 500ml (12 of the vials I have) it's better that way. Those graduation marks are MUCH finer/more precise than what you'll see on flasks.
I was talking about making a starter big enough, in a single flask, to have yeast for the two batches of beer at the same time and dividing the contents of the single flask for each of the four fermenters. Had nothing to do with boiling or boiling in the flask. I must not have been clear on what I meant to say.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:04 PM   #20
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I was talking about making a starter big enough, in a single flask, to have yeast for the two batches of beer at the same time and dividing the contents of the single flask for each of the four fermenters. Had nothing to do with boiling or boiling in the flask. I must not have been clear on what I meant to say.
Yeah... IMO/IME, you're better off having one starter per batch. If you have to split it between two fermenting vessels, it's easier to split in half than 4 parts. You'll also want good vessels to split the starters into. I'd get better graduated beakers for this. That way you don't have to use a funnel to get between them. IF you really are set on making one LARGE starter (final step) and splitting it between four fermenters, get enough beakers, sized appropriately, to do this. Then again, you just blew any cost savings you might have had by making the larger starter.


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