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Old 09-13-2010, 01:34 PM   #1
carrotmalt
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Default Vial=>Starter=>Multiple Vials?

I'd like to buy a vial of WLP001 for my next batch, but I'd like to stretch it out for 4 or 5 batches. Rather than top cropping or washing yeast from the first batch, can I just:

- Make a large starter with stir-plate and nutrient.
- Then maybe crash cool it for a day and decant a bit.
- Then fill 4 or 5 small mason jars with yeast slurry.
- Store them in the fridge.
- Then use each jar as it's own vial making a starter from each when I need it.

I plan to use them all within 3 or 4 months. Anybody take this approach with success or am I better off washing and reusing to keep it fresh/active from batch to batch?

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Old 09-13-2010, 01:36 PM   #2
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I would think that is a safer and more sanitary way to culture the yeast than using it post-fermentation.

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Old 09-13-2010, 01:37 PM   #3
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yes, this would be a great way to do it. You could even probably stretch out each of your mason jars to 1-3 starters apiece, depending on how big your initial starter was.

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Old 09-13-2010, 01:56 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by broadbill View Post
yes, this would be a great way to do it. You could even probably stretch out each of your mason jars to 1-3 starters apiece, depending on how big your initial starter was.
Great! I'm going to give it a try then. I wonder how long I can safely wait before I re-divide one of the jars into more again. Is a 3 month nap going to weaken the little guys too much? Does anyone have a schedule they abide by for this?
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Old 09-13-2010, 02:09 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by carrotmalt View Post
Anybody take this approach with success or am I better off washing and reusing to keep it fresh/active from batch to batch?
Many people use the method you have outlined with a good deal of success.

However - if you have (or can purchase) some small plastic vials or test tubes - it's easier, quicker and better to split the freshly opened packet directly into sterilized tubes and then store those.
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Old 09-13-2010, 02:30 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by carrotmalt View Post
Is a 3 month nap going to weaken the little guys too much? Does anyone have a schedule they abide by for this?

Yes, the 3 month nap will have some effect on the viability of the yeast. How much? The Mr. Malty calculator has a built-in viability calculator you can play with to get a ballpark. If I were to guess...I'd say you'll have a 10-25% decrease in viability over that time.

The up-side of that is you are planning to make a starter anyway, so decreased viability in your stocks isn 't that big of a deal....you'll still be able to generate a starter from them, even as they get really old (up to a year, maybe longer).

good luck!
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Old 09-13-2010, 02:50 PM   #7
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Yes, the 3 month nap will have some effect on the viability of the yeast. How much? The Mr. Malty calculator has a built-in viability calculator you can play with to get a ballpark. If I were to guess...I'd say you'll have a 10-25% decrease in viability over that time.

The up-side of that is you are planning to make a starter anyway, so decreased viability in your stocks isn 't that big of a deal....you'll still be able to generate a starter from them, even as they get really old (up to a year, maybe longer).

good luck!
Wow, according to Mr. Malty they do take a hit over time. With today's date it uses 97% viability. I changed the production date a month at a time to see what changed:

1 month later: 75%
2 months later: 53%
3 months later: 32%

So after only 2 months, it calls for twice the starter volume. Not a big deal, but I didn't think it would be that significant.
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Old 09-13-2010, 03:23 PM   #8
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Wow, according to Mr. Malty they do take a hit over time.
The MrMalty and viability date is designed for when you pitch pack(s) of yeast directly into the size starter it mentions.

While it has given you a good idea of how much and how quickly yeast viability changes over time, if you are going to split and store your yeast, and then use smaller stepped starters the calculator does not cater for that. After storing your split samples, the first (small) step required to build a starter will have many old/dead cells, but once it is stepped up (even once or twice) the vast majority of the the cells will be new, healthy and viable, the date is really only essential for the first step, or if you are pitching directly into your wort or into a single large starter.
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Old 09-13-2010, 03:56 PM   #9
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The MrMalty and viability date is designed for when you pitch pack(s) of yeast directly into the size starter it mentions.

While it has given you a good idea of how much and how quickly yeast viability changes over time, if you are going to split and store your yeast, and then use smaller stepped starters the calculator does not cater for that. After storing your split samples, the first (small) step required to build a starter will have many old/dead cells, but once it is stepped up (even once or twice) the vast majority of the the cells will be new, healthy and viable, the date is really only essential for the first step, or if you are pitching directly into your wort or into a single large starter.
That makes sense. I was looking at it as if I were doing what I described in my initial post and using one of the jars as a vial pitched into a quart or so of wort for the starter. I believe this is the scenario the calculator is addressing. If I take your advise and divide the initial vial up, I'd need to use multiple steps to achieve my total starter volume, but like you said, each step would be adding healthy yeast to the count. I hadn't thought about it like that before.

So if I had a vial that was 3 months old and the calculator says I now need two Liters vice one with a newer vial, would I be able to use a lesser starter volume if it were stepped up in smaller increments? I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this.
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Old 09-13-2010, 04:16 PM   #10
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So if I had a vial that was 3 months old and the calculator says I now need two Liters vice one with a newer vial, would I be able to use a lesser starter volume if it were stepped up in smaller increments? I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this.
The calculator is assuming that you're pitching 2L of yeast that you grew three months ago and then threw in the refrigerator. If you take your 3-month-old jar of yeast and make a 1L starter, the age of the result is now effectively zero again.

If you split a 1L stirred starter into 5 jars, you'll have about 30B cells per jar. In three months, you'll have the equivalent of 10B cells per jar. Assuming your staters are 1.040 (~10 degrees Plato), 10B cells is a reasonably conservative pitching rate for a 1L starter, so you really shouldn't need multiple steps. Just toss one of those jars into a new 1L starter, stir, and you're ready to go.

Moreover, if you're using a stir plate you can afford to do rather large step sizes---I've pitched from the dregs of a 750mL bottle directly into a 1L starter and ended up with very healthy yeast.
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