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Old 05-19-2011, 02:34 AM   #1
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Default Stepping up a starter for a lager

I am trying to make a starter for a lager (wlp830). I have made starters before but never made one for a lager (this is my first lager). I made some 1.035 wort and added 1.4L to a 2L flask and put it on the stir plate for 20 hours. I then put it in the fridge to settle so I could pour off the clear beer and add new wort. I planned on doing this three or four times. The starter has been in the kitchen fridge (38*) for 8 hours now and it is still pretty cloudy. Is it possible that the fermentation is continuing due to this being a lager yeast? I thought 38 would be too cold - the yeast says to ferment between 49 - 55.

Should I just let it continue to sit in the fridge? Is it fermenting now and should I just put it back on the stir plate? I was hoping to get about 4 liters of fresh wort pushed though the yeast so I would get up to about 370Billion yeast cells per the mr malty calculator. My largest container that will fit on the stir plate is only 2 liters.

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Old 05-19-2011, 02:37 AM   #2
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38 is kind of cold... try checking the gravity, to see if it's fermented much.

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Old 05-19-2011, 02:38 AM   #3
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It was probably still pretty active Being it was only on the stir plate for 20 hrs it will take a little longer to fall

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Old 05-19-2011, 04:41 PM   #4
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I use a 2 L starter on all my lagers, I am sure you can go bigger but that might be overkill. I sure don't have problems with a fast start and full fermentation.

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Old 05-19-2011, 04:46 PM   #5
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You can do the starter at room temp, it doesnt have to be in the fridge. You're making yeast not beer, so the temp isnt really that important

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Old 05-19-2011, 05:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patirck View Post
. I made some 1.035 wort and added 1.4L to a 2L flask and put it on the stir plate for 20 hours. I then put it in the fridge to settle so I could pour off the clear beer and add new wort... The starter has been in the kitchen fridge (38*) for 8 hours now and it is still pretty cloudy.
How does the bottom of the flask look? the majority of your yeast will still be there on the bottom, so when you pour off the yeast that have not settled out it will only be a small percentage of the total. (~1millon cells/ml is the low level where the suspension will still look cloudy)

you sound like you have a good procedure for building up a good pitch of yeast. Stick with your plan of adding more wort, and returning the flask to the stir plate for 12-20hr, then back to the fridge and decant before you pitch.
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Old 05-19-2011, 11:42 PM   #7
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It's still in the fridge but it has settled out a bit more - there is a cloudy part about 1 inch above the bottom. I"m going to let it settle for a few more hours then decant all but the bottom inch or two and add more wort and put it on the stir plate again for another 24 hours.

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Old 05-20-2011, 02:32 AM   #8
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The White labs yeast book says to make at Lager starter at ale temps. Everything will happen faster and healthier. Remember, you're not trying to make beer. Just reproduce healthy yeast. This goes without saying: the more your step up a starter the more likely you introduce infection.

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Old 05-20-2011, 01:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badhabit View Post
I use a 2 L starter on all my lagers, I am sure you can go bigger but that might be overkill. I sure don't have problems with a fast start and full fermentation.
Definitely encourage people to use the pitching rate calculator at www.mrmalty.com to ensure proper yeast counts. If its 2 litres, great; often it will be considerably more.

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You can do the starter at room temp, it doesnt have to be in the fridge. You're making yeast not beer, so the temp isnt really that important
I have heard different things on this question. Some say you want your yeast "used to" the temperature they will be working at for the main batch. Others say you can ferment your starter at room temp if you plan to decant and pitch. I make my lager starters at fermentation temperatures, let them ferment out then decant and pitch 'cuz I don't like the idea of a 4.5 litre starter in a 19 litre batch.
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Old 05-20-2011, 01:27 PM   #10
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From chapter 10 section 4 of "How to Brew":

Because of the cooler temperatures, the yeast is less active at first. The best way to ensure a strong, healthy lager fermentation is to pitch a much larger yeast starter than you would for an ale. Where you would pitch a one quart starter solution of liquid yeast for an ale, you would use a 2 or 3 quart starter for a lager. This is the equivalent of about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of yeast slurry. In addition, the pitching temperature should be the same as the fermentation temperature to prevent thermally shocking the yeast. In other words, you will need to chill the wort down to 45 - 55 °F before pitching the yeast. The yeast starter should also have been brought down to this temperature range while it was fermenting. A good way to do this is to pitch the yeast packet into a pint of wort at 60 °F, let that ferment for a day, cool it 5 degrees to 55°F and add another pint of aerated, cool wort. Let this also ferment for a day, and cool and pitch a third and even fourth time until you have built up 2 quarts or more of yeast starter that is comfortable at 45 -55 °F. I recommend that you pour off the excess liquid and only pitch the slurry to avoid some off-flavors from that much starter beer.

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