This weekend, I brewed an Oktoberfest, and Mr. Malty said I needed a 4.5 liters starter. I was excited to finally get to use my giant 5L Erlenmeyer flask. So Saturday night, I boiled up 4.5 liters of water and 400g of DME. Chilled in an ice bath in the sink, poured into the flask, pitched some White Labs Oktoberfest/Marzen yeast, dropped in the stir bar, and let it ride the stir plate overnight. Sunday morning, had a nice krausen and lots of CO2 bubbles. So I set to work brewing the beer.
I've recently (the last 4 batches) had a problem with my batch size. I brew 5 gallon batches, but ever since switching to a plate chiller and Hop Stopper, I've been having trouble getting a full batch into my fermenters. The Hop Stopper loses suction with several quarts still in my BK, and I was losing wort in the lines and chiller.
Well, this weekend I was proud of myself. I still lost suction with the Hop Stopper and had to dump 2 quarts of wort down my driveway (the horror!), but I meticulously drained all the remaining wort from my tubing and plate chiller to end up with a solid 5 gallons in my fermenter.
I aerated with a Fizz-X on the drill, and worked the frothy foam almost all the way up to the mouth of the carboy. Perfect! Time to pitch the yeast.
I put the sanitized funnel on the mouth of the carboy, picked up my flask of 4.5 L of yeast, and then realized there was no stinkin' way this was all going to fit. Crap.
I poured as much as I could, then waited for the foam to subside, then poured some more. In the end, I got almost all the yeast in, and only had to dump maybe 500 mL down the drain. The beer/yeast now fills the carboy all the way up to where the glass starts to curve inward at the top. I'm a little worried that the krausen will blow through the top, but it's a lager, so I'm hoping maybe the slower fermentation and colder temperatures will keep it in check. Now I wait - nervously. I could have a mess in my fermentation chamber when I get home.
Moral of the story - Make sure to leave room for your starter, especially if it's a big one!