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Old 05-26-2013, 02:32 PM   #1
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Default Splitting a starter

Is it possible to split a starter so that both halves are equally potent? I'm about to start a small experiment with four one-gallon test batches and two different yeasts. I thought I ordered four packs of yeast for the starters, but I only ordered two. Can I whip up an oversize starter of each yeast and then cut them in half accurately? Could I split the contents of the packets while dry? Or am I better off finding an LHBS that carries the same yeast so I can buy a couple more packets?

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Old 05-26-2013, 02:42 PM   #2
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If you're really dealing with dry yeast you probably have plenty enough to not need to build a starter. A single pack of 11.5 g yeast can handle a typical 5-gallon batch unless you're talking very high gravity. You've got less wort than that. So if you want to pitch normal quantities, you can split the packet(s) while dry. You'll need a decent scale to measure accurately, or just eyeball it if you're going to split into 2 or 4 equal pitches. Since it's an experiment you might want to go to the extra effort of getting the pitching rates accurately equal. You could also overpitch, but it might take away from the intended character of the beer.

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Old 05-26-2013, 03:52 PM   #3
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The experiment is comparing lager vs warm fermentation with the same yeast and recipe. I'm using two different yeasts just to provide more data. The plan is to make up four gallons of brew, split it into four gallon jugs, add each yeast to two jugs, put one jug of each yeast in an SOF chiller, and leave the others at room temperature. Then keep track of each individual fermentation to see the differences in how they ferment. And then to compare the final products of each to see just exactly what difference lagering makes. I haven't found any research on this subject. Would half a pack of dry yeast be sufficient to run a lager? I've always read that lagers require a good starter. And for consistency I want all every batch to have the same starting conditions. So if I do need a starter for the lagers I also want one for the warm batches. But if I can simply split the packets in half and rehydrate them then I'll go that route.

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Old 05-26-2013, 04:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernGorilla View Post
The experiment is comparing lager vs warm fermentation with the same yeast and recipe. I'm using two different yeasts just to provide more data. The plan is to make up four gallons of brew, split it into four gallon jugs, add each yeast to two jugs, put one jug of each yeast in an SOF chiller, and leave the others at room temperature. Then keep track of each individual fermentation to see the differences in how they ferment. And then to compare the final products of each to see just exactly what difference lagering makes. I haven't found any research on this subject. Would half a pack of dry yeast be sufficient to run a lager? I've always read that lagers require a good starter. And for consistency I want all every batch to have the same starting conditions. So if I do need a starter for the lagers I also want one for the warm batches. But if I can simply split the packets in half and rehydrate them then I'll go that route.
I love experimenting. I've got a 5-way lager experiment going now myself. 6 gallons split into 5 different lager strains: WLP820, 833, 838, 860 and Wy2633.

The yeast pitching rate calculator on MrMalty.com says that you'd need about 5g of dry yeast for 1 gal of 1.050 wort (75% viability). You can plug in your conditions there (http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html). If you're packs are 11.5g, the you've likely got enough.

As for your experiment, consider this: If you want to compare methods that would show even more difference you could compare pitching cold (e.g. Narziss-like ~44F) and fermenting cold vs pitching warm and fermenting warm. The current experiment you're planning is pitching warm and fermenting cold vs pitching warm and fermenting warm. Since the main flavor components are set early in fermentation and you're pitching warm in both cases, you might not see much difference. A classic debate is on whether it's OK to warm pitch lagers. Also consider whether you'll be doing a d-rest. Usually cold pitching (Narziss-like) will avoid the need.
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hex23 View Post
I love experimenting. I've got a 5-way lager experiment going now myself. 6 gallons split into 5 different lager strains: WLP820, 833, 838, 860 and Wy2633.

The yeast pitching rate calculator on MrMalty.com says that you'd need about 5g of dry yeast for 1 gal of 1.050 wort (75% viability). You can plug in your conditions there (http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html). If you're packs are 11.5g, the you've likely got enough.

As for your experiment, consider this: If you want to compare methods that would show even more difference you could compare pitching cold (e.g. Narziss-like ~44F) and fermenting cold vs pitching warm and fermenting warm. The current experiment you're planning is pitching warm and fermenting cold vs pitching warm and fermenting warm. Since the main flavor components are set early in fermentation and you're pitching warm in both cases, you might not see much difference. A classic debate is on whether it's OK to warm pitch lagers. Also consider whether you'll be doing a d-rest. Usually cold pitching (Narziss-like) will avoid the need.
I plan to chill the lager before pitching because I do want to create as much difference as possible. I should have mentioned that in the outline I gave above. I like the warm vs cold pitch idea. I might test that at a later date.

Turns out I have the 5g yeast packs. Simply splitting them would have me underpitching by half. Maybe run a starter, let the yeast settle out, then split the cake in half?

I'm a huge fan of firsthand experimentation. Like most hobbies, brewing is full of myth and hearsay. Future experiments I plan include; tap water vs distilled vs "spring", thin vs thick decoction vs infusion, and then (maybe) more detailed experiments on lager temperature and duration. I just like having a good side-by-side comparison of things to really show how different aspects of the process affect the final product.
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:06 PM   #6
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Why not make one big starter then split it up as you want?

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Old 05-26-2013, 07:44 PM   #7
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That's what I'm asking, whether there's any technique for accurately splitting a starter. That's the title of the thread.

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Old 05-26-2013, 08:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernGorilla
That's what I'm asking, whether there's any technique for accurately splitting a starter. That's the title of the thread.
Yes, when everything is completely in suspension simply pour into graduated vessels equal amounts
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Old 05-26-2013, 08:33 PM   #9
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Yes, when everything is completely in suspension simply pour into graduated vessels equal amounts
So about 48 hours after pitching the starter? I've never used a starter so I have no idea how long it might take to peak.
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernGorilla
So about 48 hours after pitching the starter? I've never used a starter so I have no idea how long it might take to peak.
Yes, should be done by then, you should see a slight krausen ring.
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