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Old 01-07-2013, 04:35 PM   #1
SudsyPaul
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Default Newb Yeast Starter

Alright... I'm posting to confirm that I understand how to make my yeast starter, and that none of my assumptions are wacky and horribly wrong.

I'm making a ghetto stir-plate out of a HDD magnet, CPU fan (Amazon USB one) and a shoe-box (fancy thick cardboard).
I have a 2L Pyrex brand Erlenmeyer flask and will be using Wyeast 3068 for my Sunday brew.

Here's how I'm planning to do it:

1. Sanitize everything with Star San
2. Make 1.25L wort in a saucepan
3. Place saucepan with sterilized lid outside in the snow (several feet of snow outside, why not use it? I could also fill the sink with snow)
- I've seen people put hot wort into the flask and dunk it in ice, but that freaks me out to no end - i've had 1 glass explode on me before, so I'm paranoid about it.
4. Put wort into flask, start stir plate and peace out for 24hrs

So my questions are:

1. Do I smack the 3068 the day before and let it expand before pitching it into the flask? (I've seen both scenarios in "how to" videos)
2. Can I dump 90% of it into my wort and then use the remaining 10% to propagate and make enough yeast to store? (or can I store 100ml of starter and decant? I'm expecting 255b cell, and only need 210b for my beer, is 45b too little to store?)

I have a couple yeast books on order, but timing is not my friend and I won't receive my Amazon orders until Thursday and need to make my stir plate and calibrate everything before Sunday... so not enough time to read through my books before brew-day.

Thanks!

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Old 01-07-2013, 05:19 PM   #2
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I'm sure you have the details down, but you did say this was your first, so;

1. Be sure the starter wort cools to fermentation temps before pitching. Otherwise you will cook your yeast.
2. Good choice on making a stir plate. I assume you have tried it with water in the flask and verified it will run for hours without throwing the stir bar
3. I usually make up 1 L wort in my 2L flask so the starter has space to krausen without overflowing.
4. Be sure to spray a peice of aluminum foil with sanitizer and cover the flast to ensure nothing floats into your starter
5. Be sure you keep the starter at a spot which will maintain fermentation temps. I usually place it on my countertop with under counter lights on.
6. You can save a bit of the smack pack if you wish, but I would do it the other way. Pitch the entire sample into your starter and reserve some slurrey after you pitch to your final beer. You can either save that to a vial or add more boiled and cooled wort to do another propogation starter.

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Old 01-07-2013, 05:27 PM   #3
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Agree with everything above...

However, not sure when you are going to pitch your yeast into the starter - after letting the wort sit for 24 hrs? Or after the snow chilling of the wort?

I would recommend transferring the hot wort from the kettle to the flask, and then cooling the wort in the flask w/ a sanitized foil cover. Less risk of infection, and a pyrex flask can handle the temperature. I would just set the flask outside to cool - at least initially - before or instead of sticking it into the snow. Less of a temperature shock initially. Key thing is to get the wort at proper temp before pitching the yeast, and then keep it a nice temp while its doing its thing. Starter temps are usually a little higher than you will ferment your beer - ideally in the lower 70's for most yeasts, I believe...

Regardless, your basic ideas above are on track - have fun!

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Old 01-07-2013, 05:58 PM   #4
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Cool. I've read up a bit more on pyrex, and I think I'm ok with putting the flask into the snow. I'll cover it porperly, of course I'm only using the snow to chill the wort from boiling to pitching temp. I figure it'll take about 3-4 minutes submerged in snow. The ambient air is supposed to be warm (like 33-34F) on Sunday, so snow will do most of the work

I haven't built my stir-plate, yet... All my parts arrive on Thursday, so I'll build it on Thursday and calibrate it (incl. stirring water in the flask for several hours). I only need to do 1 step to get to 250b cells, so I wasn't planning on decanting or anything... was just gonna dump the 1.1L slurry into my chilled wort and put the rest of the slurry into a mason jar and refrigerate it (and decant when it's settled)

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Old 01-07-2013, 06:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SudsyPaul View Post
1. Do I smack the 3068 the day before and let it expand before pitching it into the flask? (I've seen both scenarios in "how to" videos)
I like to smack it 2-3 days (depending on the age of the pack) before putting it in the flask. The reason? I want to make sure that the yeast is viable before I go to the trouble of putting it in the flask and on the stir-plate!

Have a quick look at my yeast harvesting method.

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Old 01-14-2013, 06:10 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the info, guys. I smacked the Wyeast 2 days before I pitched it into the starter. I also put the hot wort into the flask and put snow in the kitchen sink and dropped the flask into the snow... took a few minutes and it was cool to the touch and ready to go.

I ended up just pitching all the yeast into my wort, on Sunday. I'll harvest and wash after the dunkelweizen is complete, and go from there

I'm reading through the Yeast book by Chris White and Jamil Z... so I'll hopefully finish reading it before I need to harvest.

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Old 01-14-2013, 06:29 PM   #7
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I for one would not put hot wort into a cold flask or stick a hot flask into ice or snow. I cool in the pan then transfer the cooled wort into the sanitized flask. Or I let the flask with boiled wort cool some in warm tap water before continuing to chill. I think the thermal shock might weaken the glass, maybe or maybe not, but why risk it.

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Old 01-14-2013, 07:00 PM   #8
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According to my father-in-law, I'm more likely to get all his money and his golf clubs than a Pyrex-brand flask is to shattering from temp-shock. Apparently, they're designed to be subjected to all sorts of abuse, and going from 190F to 70F is an absolute joke compared to what they're designed for. He offered to buy me a new set of flasks if mine every broke from temp shock...

He taught high school science class for 35yrs, so I'm taking his word on it.

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Old 01-14-2013, 07:48 PM   #9
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If you use snow in your sink to cool your flask, make sure to add some water so it's more like ice water. I used all snow once when trying to cool my wort, and my temps barely dropped... then realized that snow is a good insulator... that's why Eskimos can stay all nice and toasty in their igloos, I guess!

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Old 01-14-2013, 07:54 PM   #10
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Indeed. I had the snow in there for a few minutes until it melted a bit and I remembered about insulation, then I filled up the sink with water

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