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Old 01-18-2011, 04:27 PM   #1
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Default Starters - Don't allow to ferment completely?

I've read that when making a starter, the reproductive phase usually is complete within 12 hours. So I assume, the idea with making a starter is to pitch once the reproductive phase is complete, not when the fermentation is complete. If I don't pitch within, say 24 hours, then I assume the yeast will continue to ferment for several days. Is it bad to allow the fermentation to continue for too long? Is it better to either pitch or cold crash your starter after 24-48 hours with the idea being that you want the yeast to save their fermenting efforts for the brew rather than working on the starter wort?

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Old 01-18-2011, 05:30 PM   #2
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There's some debate about this. Some argue for pitching at high krausen, allowing the yeast to hit the wort when it is at its peak of activity. Others argue for pitching after the yeast has gone dormant for a few days, giving the yeast time to build up its glucose and trealose reserves.

Personally, I like to cold crash my starters so I can decant off the starter wort, which puts me more in the second camp. But, I'll typically add about a half cup of wort to my starter when I'm setting up to brew, just to get the sleepy yeast moving a little bit.

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Old 01-18-2011, 06:44 PM   #3
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I just pour my entire one litre starter into my 5 gallon extract from 18-24 hours after starting it up....
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Old 01-18-2011, 08:09 PM   #4
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Most activity I've had, after using a starter, was one that had yeast pitched in about 24 hours before it was used. I used about 1/2 cup DME to ~1 quart water in that one. I didn't even boil it up for long (a few minutes at most) then just let it cool down enough to be safe for the yeast.

Yeast was post-lag in <2 hours and blowing foam through the airlock in about 6 hours. Luckily I had tubing to use for a blow-off...

I did swirl the starter every time I walked past it (for 5-10 seconds)... I'll probably try to replicate the results with a future brewing.

That being said, I've had very strong fermentation going after letting the yeast sit in the starter for ~2 days (sometimes a little longer). Letting it build up a nice size colony. Generally speaking, I plan a brew day for the start of the weekend, making a starter for the yeast so that it should be good for that day. So if I'm planning on brewing on Saturday, then Thursday evening, or early Friday, I put the yeast into the starter. That way, if the yeast needs more time to get fully ready for what it will be pitched into, I can move the brew day to Sunday without issue.

Once I make/get a stir plate, I'll probably have more consistent results with the starters and yeast.
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:58 AM   #5
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I like to cold-crash and decant my starters. Not for any real scientific reason, only because then I can make the starter like 1-2 weeks in advance (whenever I have time) and then throw it in the fridge when fermentation is over. Just simpler than trying to time when brewday will actually be.
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Old 01-19-2011, 02:11 AM   #6
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I prefer the crash and decant method no matter how large the starter is. I will allow 18-24 hours on my stir-plate before stepping up or crashing. I've always had great success with this method.

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