Up to this point, I have pretty much stuck to starter-less pitching of liquid yeast (mostly WL, single vial). I have rarely enjoyed any of those two-day über-active primary ferments. Making a starter has always struck as a bit more work than it is worth, so I hunted around for options (besides buying and pitching more yeast).
After reading an article (BYO, I think) about repitching yeast, I made up a short series of English brews to give it a try. The article suggested brewing a series of beer with increasing alcohol contents. My series is:
1 - Mild Ale (1.040)
2 - Brown Ale (1.050)
3 - Oatmeal Stout (1.065)
4 - Barleywine (1.100)
I will be bottling the Mild this afternoon. I moved the Brown to secondary yesterday and brewed the Stout.
I am happy to report that all seems to be going famously so far.
Week 1: I started with a starter (naturally!) with the Mild. I was a bit disappointed with the fermentation rate - so much so that I gave it an extra week on the yeast bed. Used the "shake-the-crap-out-of-it" method to aerate, btw.
Week 2: Went to the beach...
Week 3: Brewed the Brown. On the same day, transferred the Mild to secondary. I pulled all of the yeast sediment out of the fermenter into a sanitized container and covered. I had about 200 ml of yeast slurry with no observable trub. I pitched all of this into 70 deg wort after aerating with the "stir-the-crap-out-of-it" method. Again, did not see a very aggressive ferment. Ferment hung up at 1.020 and no amount of rousing would budge it. Another two-week primary...
Week 4: golf... And ordered a oxygenation setup from the folks at Midwest.
Week 5 (this week, actually): Brewed the Stout an ended with something more like an Imperial at 1.070. Same process with the Brown - transferred to secondary, pulled 300 ml of yeast slurry and set aside. Pitched all into 75 deg wort that had been given 4 minutes of oxygenation from the new rig... Finally! Crazy fermentation action on this third gen yeast slurry. Without the blow-off tube, I am sure those happy little yeasties would have sent the fermenter lid for a ride.
Looking forward to seeing what kind of attenuation was achieved and pretty confident that the high-grav Barleywine has a happy ferment in its future.