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Old 11-23-2012, 05:10 PM   #1
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Default yeast starter without a stir plate

i have been looking to make a starter for the first time, relatively new brewer here.

all the info i have seen is regarding using a stir plate and i have some questions regarding not using one.

i will be using a 1 g glass carboy. So basically i understand ill be making 1.5-2 l starter wort, cooling it down, aerating, pitching yeast a day or so prior.

However, should i be using an airlock or foil on top?

Also, the yest will settle at the bottom, should i continually swirl it up to keep it suspended? Should I do this prior to pitching? I see people stating they put it in fridge prior to pitching? These details were hazy and any help with my questions would be greatly appreciated.

thanks!

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Old 11-23-2012, 05:16 PM   #2
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You don't need an airlock, foil is fine. 2 liters is about max for a 1 gallon container, so you're good there. Swirling some will help, but probably not enough to make it worth the extra effort IMO. For a 2L starter I would decant most of the spent wort off before pitching. An easy way to do this is to put the starter in the frige the night before brewday to cold crash. The cold temp will make the yeast go dormant and settle out. Pull it out on brewday a couple hours before you're ready to pitch and pour off most of the spent wort. Leave enough behind so that you can swirl and make a yeast slurry. If you don't, you won't be able to get the yeast out.

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Old 11-23-2012, 05:39 PM   #3
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thanks! makes perfect sense to me now. How long before brewday would you make the starter? for instance if I was going to brew on a sunday morning, when is a good time to make the starter?

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Old 11-23-2012, 05:42 PM   #4
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thanks! makes perfect sense to me now. How long before brewday would you make the starter? for instance if I was going to brew on a sunday morning, when is a good time to make the starter?
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Old 11-23-2012, 05:45 PM   #5
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excellent! will be brewing next sunday so i'll whip one up next thursday after i get home from work.

thank you

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Old 11-23-2012, 05:59 PM   #6
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Swirling some will help, but probably not enough to make it worth the extra effort IMO.
Have to say I disagree here. I've made starters all three ways--stir plate, swirl-every-time-you-walk-by, and none of the above. The difference between just pitching and letting it sit and the other two methods is huge. If anything, I think there's little additional benefit to the stir plate in terms of yeast production. The main benefit as far as I can tell is convenience, since you don't have to swirl your starter as often. But both methods produce a lot of yeast.

To put some numbers to this, if you're making a 1.065 OG ale, Mr. Malty's calculator suggests the following quantities based on how you prepare your starter:

Simple starter (no swirling, no stirplate): 2.9 liters
Starter with intermittent shaking: 1.7 liters
Starter with stirplate: 1.1 liters

So according to Mr. Malty, the efficiency gap between no-swirling and swirling is about 42%, and it's a further 34% more efficient to move from swirling to a stir plate. Bottom line, stir plate might be the best alternative, but given a choice between swirling and letting your starter just sit there on the counter, SWIRL.
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:01 PM   #7
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Like Revvy said 3 days is usually enough for even a decanted starter. But the timing isn't as critical on a decanted starter and there's no need to rush it since you're not brewing till next week. If you have a yeast that's slower and stubborn to flocculate it can take at least 5 days to do it right. For a crash chilled and decanted starter it's best to let it fully ferment before chilling so that the yeast can build up their reserves (2-3 days). Then if the yeast is a slow flocculator another 2-3 days in the fridge. So it would not hurt to start it earlier in the week.

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Old 11-23-2012, 06:05 PM   #8
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Starters on stirplates are also done significantly faster/sooner than with the other methods. I can get a starter (with fairly fresh yeast) to be 100% done in under 24 hours (more like 12-18 hours). With the other methods, you're looking at longer time frames for them to be finished.

I use the yeastcalc.com tool now, instead of mr.malty, due to being setup for stepped starters. That way, you can get the yeast cell count needed with a pair of small (or even three) starters (easily made in a 2L-3L flask) that would otherwise take a HUGE starter (over 20L). I'm talking about on a stirplate (for all of them) too.

I also cold crash my starters between steps, and before brew day so that I can decant the spent starter wort (don't want that crud in my all grain brew) and pitch JUST the yeast slurry.

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Old 11-23-2012, 06:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBL_Brewer View Post
You don't need an airlock, foil is fine.
This. But I would go further, and say DO NOT use an airlock. Airlock keeps air out. You want a little air to get in. Foil does the trick perfectly, keeping dirt out but letting in some oxygen. Without letting in oxygen, you're not getting the growth you need.

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Originally Posted by thedevanzoshift View Post
thanks! makes perfect sense to me now. How long before brewday would you make the starter? for instance if I was going to brew on a sunday morning, when is a good time to make the starter?
It depends on what I'm brewing, and the starter than I need. With massive starters, I'm going as far as 2 weeks ahead if I need to step it up, if I don't need to step up then several days to a week so I have time to cold crash and decant. With smaller starters (1 liter or under) I have no shame just pitching the whole thing, I'll do it maybe 2 days ahead.

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Originally Posted by jerrodm View Post
Have to say I disagree here. I've made starters all three ways--stir plate, swirl-every-time-you-walk-by, and none of the above. The difference between just pitching and letting it sit and the other two methods is huge. If anything, I think there's little additional benefit to the stir plate in terms of yeast production. The main benefit as far as I can tell is convenience, since you don't have to swirl your starter as often. But both methods produce a lot of yeast.

To put some numbers to this, if you're making a 1.065 OG ale, Mr. Malty's calculator suggests the following quantities based on how you prepare your starter:

Simple starter (no swirling, no stirplate): 2.9 liters
Starter with intermittent shaking: 1.7 liters
Starter with stirplate: 1.1 liters

So according to Mr. Malty, the efficiency gap between no-swirling and swirling is about 42%, and it's a further 34% more efficient to move from swirling to a stir plate. Bottom line, stir plate might be the best alternative, but given a choice between swirling and letting your starter just sit there on the counter, SWIRL.
Agree entirely. If you don't have a stirplate, then swirl swirl swirl.
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:12 PM   #10
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Agree entirely. If you don't have a stirplate, then swirl swirl swirl.
Would that mean you're giving your yeast a 'swirly'???
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