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Old 01-11-2012, 03:08 PM   #1
gkeusch
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Default Pitching a yeast starter - the whole thing or just the slurry?

I want to try using a liquid yeast (instead of the dried yeast I have used so far), and I want to utilize a yeast starter. Most of my literature talks about using either a 1 quart or a half gallon starter (weak malt solution with some yeast nutrients) 3 to 5 days ahead of brew day. Here's my question - when I pitch the starter into my wort, do I dump the whole thing in, or decant much of the liquid then pitch the slurry?

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Old 01-11-2012, 03:26 PM   #2
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Both work, typically people like to either time their starters to be at high krausen if they are pitching the whole thing or fridge decant and pitch the slurry. When I pitch at high krausen I don't use my stir plate for the last step (I make my yeast from slants so I step them up several times) and just shake a little to avoid pouring a whole heap of heavily oxidized wort into my main wort. Other wise a fridge and decant just the slurry.

Note if you are using yeast from a vial it is very hard to approximate when the starter will be at high krausen. Also if you fridge your yeast to help it drop from suspension to allow you to decant you have to allow different time for different yeast based of how keen it is to flock, ie if you use a hefe yeast you want to allow several days but WLP001 drops out so well 24hrs is enough time.

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Old 01-11-2012, 03:28 PM   #3
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It's really up to you, some decant, or some just swirl it all in. It like so many things is really a matter of choice, more than anything else.

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, 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 01-11-2012, 03:30 PM   #4
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First off, you should go to M. Malty yeast calculator and input all of the info needed for the beer you are making. Make sure you input the production date of the yeast pack. Click on the "liquid yeast" tab to determine how many yeast cells you need and how big of a starter to do.
I always give myself 18-24 hours from the time the starter finishes to the time of pitching to chill the starter and decant. It sounds like you are also giving yourself adequate time so I would never pitch any of the starter wort. My reason is that 1 liter of crappy 1.040 starter wort mixed in with 20 liters of a carefully designed recipe is a 5% dilution which can change the beer you are making IMO. It might seem anal, but I try to make the best beer by implementing the best methods without cutting corners.
I currently have a starter on the stir plate that I started last night. I plan on turning it off today at 5:00, chilling overnight, decanting and pitching about 1:00 tomorrow.

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