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Old 12-22-2008, 08:40 PM   #1
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Default yeast culture technique critique

So I tried to do a yeast wash a couple days ago and the mason jars I put them in were the small half pint ones. I figured one of these will not be enough to start a fermentation so I plan on doing a starter culture a couple days before the next brew day.

I like the idea of building a stir plate for the culture but I was thinking, if the whole point is to aerate the culture and provide some turbulence in the water could I rig up something with my aquarium pump that bubbles into the culture (filtered air of course). Is there any issues with this?

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Old 12-26-2008, 12:17 PM   #2
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I was just about to post a similar question. One issue I can think of is that you are pumping unfiltered, unsanitized air into your sensitive culture. I'm a little afraid of contamination. I also wondered about setting a timer for on 5 minutes, off 5 minutes, or something to that effect. This might control the bubbling over that might (hopefully) occur!

I'm planning on trying this unless I hear otherwise, so I'll let you know!

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Old 12-26-2008, 01:59 PM   #3
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I believe that the purpose is aeration, but also keeping the yeast in contact with the nutrients and in the reproduction phase. I personally wouldn't bubble anything but pure oxygen through a starter for the exact reasons mentioned.

And blue, you should always make a starter with your washed yeast. If you dont' know if your culture is viable and ready to be pitched, it doesn't matter what quanity is there, ya dig?

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Old 12-26-2008, 04:39 PM   #4
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If you are going to re-brew within a few weeks, you can wash the entire cake and store it in one big jar. Then you don't need a starter, since you know you have plenty of viable yeast.

I save my yeast in four half pint jars. There are probably 50-100 million cells per jar, with a 20% per month mortality rate, similar to a Wyeast smack pack. Use the Mr. Malty pitching calc to figure out what size starter you need; input the harvest date as the manufactured on date. A 1L to 1.5L is probably sufficient for most batches. I tend to error on the side of overpitching when I'm not sure... I hit my starters with pure O2 until I get 1" of foam, and I shake them every few hours for a few days to keep the yeast in suspension. I use the "intermittent shaking" setting on the calc. If the calc shows I need over 1.5L I would just use two jars and make a smaller starter, since your yeast is getting old at that point anyway...

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Old 12-28-2008, 07:05 PM   #5
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So I've got a few supplies. Most importantly is a .2um air filter that has hose attachments on either side to pump in filtered air. The problem I have come up with is that I need an air in spot and an air out that can handle a big krausen in the starter. I'm thinking maybe a bung that I could run a hose in and an airlock to fit on a 2 liter pop bottle? or a 1 gallon glass jug? Would a plastic milk jug work?

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Old 12-29-2008, 06:39 PM   #6
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blue, I'm way, way less experienced than most on here (present company included), but you might learn from my mistakes...

I set up a starter w/ aeration 2 days ago. I just used an old (but clean) 2 quart plastic bottle with an aquarium pump and diffuser. I drilled a hole in the plastic screw-on cap to snugly fit the air line, then punched a bunch of tiny holes right in the cap. Sanitized everything with iodine solution.

The bubbler goes on 20 minutes, then off 20 minutes.

The problems (so far) are these: the shape of the bottle is not ideal (flat bottom). Even with the bubbler going, there are yeast cells that settle out. I would rather be using something like an upside down 2-liter bottle. Then I could just stick the end of the airline right at the bottom and that would keep them all suspended.

My other problem is that my increase in volume is way too big -- I'm going from a very small population of yeast to a very large one. From what I've read that's not desireable and stresses out the yeast. But, it doesn't sound like you should have this problem if you have a whole jar of washed yeast.

I'll keep you updated as the experiment progresses!

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Old 12-29-2008, 06:59 PM   #7
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Just my opinion but it would seem that the tinkering and cleaning required for an air bubble aeration system is not going to be worth the result. I could understand if you were talking about constructing something like a bioreactor to grow yeast on a commercial or brewpub scale but even if you were going to do two 10 gallon batches you are really better off just using a shallow flat bottomed glass container and stir plate. As long as your solution dept is fairly shallow you will have excellent oxygen penetration with the stirplate.

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Old 12-30-2008, 03:27 AM   #8
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I think a design based on this would be a good answer to tthose issues

. (Something like this would be much easier than building a stir-plate. Just add a filter on air in, and design a good air out point.)

Esarkipato, I wont need a starter for a month or so, but I think using a 2 liter bottle as a mini conical is a great idea then put a hole in the bottom (top of the device) of the 2 liter and put in an airlock of sort as the air/out point. The added benefit is that you could drain the completed culture (if your not pitching at high krausen) out of the "air in tube."

For yeast numbers, I've got some washed yeast in 10mL tubes and then mini jars in 125ml (half pint) jars, I am expecting to have to do 2 steps on the 10ml tubes. But if you let the first culture complete, then drop all the yeast out by putting them in the fridge, drain off the spent wort and add fresh wort as the second culture?
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Old 12-31-2008, 04:04 PM   #9
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Blue, that's funny....you found my other hobby....fish tanks. Lots of cross-over to this one actually with the chemistry, biology, and sanitation practices! That's where I got the idea to do my current yeast culturing experiment.

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better off just using a shallow flat bottomed glass container and stir plate.
I agree.....but I'm not about to go buy a stir plate, or spend time making one. You have to understand that I'm not in this as a professional, just a hobbyist. As such, I'm not willing to spend lots of time/money doing things just right and being overly careful with sanitation. I know that dealing with yeast cultures is probably not the best realm to explore without having sanitation as the primary focus, but I'm giving it a shot.

My "experiment" is going pretty well so far....the sediment/slurry on the bottom is growing, and fermentation is taking place. Unfortunately, it doesn't smell like 2 hearted yet
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Old 12-31-2008, 04:17 PM   #10
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Cool. That's a DIY Sea Monkies!

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