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Old 04-08-2014, 12:29 AM   #1
dermotstratton
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Default Brew a small beer or step up starters?

If you want to build up a lot of yeast for a large batch of high gravity beer, I can see two potential options:

1. Brew a small beer and pitch on yeast cake.

2. Do controlled starters and step up continuously until you hit your desired number.

I have been doing a lot of step up starters recently and it is always disappointing to decant off the starter wort (which does not smell/taste good). I would much rather have a small batch of good tasting beer and then use it's leftover yeast to make a bigger beer.

So my real question is:

Is yeast from a starter healthier than yeast from a brewed beer? Or in other words does highly over pitched/non hopped beers (I.e. Starters) produce a higher quality yeast with easier to predict growth rates.

I'm considering changing my brewing rotation to make a small batch session beer followed by a full batch of higher gravity. For example, I would make 3 gallons of ordinary bitter, save the yeast and pitch it into a 10 gallon batch of ESB. Do you think the quality of my ESB will be lesser than if I just built up that yeast with starters.

FWIW, I don't think yeast washing is a good idea, so I would only pitch yeast that was very recently harvested (I.e. Fresh yeast cake, not stored for more than 5 days).


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Old 04-08-2014, 12:49 AM   #2
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a yeast starter is no better or worse than the small beer method.


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Old 04-08-2014, 01:00 AM   #3
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"The size ratio of one step to the next can affect the health of the yeast and the amount of cell growth. A very large step can result in a change in yeast metabolism, where the sugars that are fermented last can fall out of favor with the yeast. The yeast become lazy and subsequent generations can become lower attenuating."


I copied this from Mr Malty. I infer from it that the ratio of wort to yeast impacts yeast health, but I do not understand why and/or how critical.


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Old 04-08-2014, 01:39 AM   #4
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As long as you start with an appropriate pitch rate and have a healthy fermentation., I don't believe that there is any reason to think an immediate repitch from a small beer would be in any way inferior to a fresh starter. Oxygenating well and a nutrient addition at flameout can't hurt either
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:01 AM   #5
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Agreed, starting with an appropriate pitch rate is very important. Chris White and Jamil Z's book, 'Yeast,' has a nice table documenting yeast growth in different sized starters going all the way up to 20L (just over 5 gallons!) using 100g DME per L water - which I think achieves a gravity of around 1.040 so if you were brewing a pretty low gravity beer, like you say you are thinking, pitching a vial/smack pack of yeast would be like making a great big starter.
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Old 04-08-2014, 04:35 AM   #6
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So after further reading, I think if you properly rinse yeast cake, and get rid of dead yeast cells, trub and any other unwanted material, then you can have equivalent yeast to a starter. You'll definitely have more dead yeast in a small beer, but I'm still not sure if that should be a concern. I wonder if a rinsing step can cause more harm then leaving that dead yeast in there.

I realize you can make good beer either way, but trying to understand how post fermentation yeast behaves at different pitching rates and why.


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Old 04-08-2014, 11:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dermotstratton View Post
So after further reading, I think if you properly rinse yeast cake, and get rid of dead yeast cells, trub and any other unwanted material, then you can have equivalent yeast to a starter. You'll definitely have more dead yeast in a small beer, but I'm still not sure if that should be a concern. I wonder if a rinsing step can cause more harm then leaving that dead yeast in there.

I realize you can make good beer either way, but trying to understand how post fermentation yeast behaves at different pitching rates and why.


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why do you think the yeast would be dead as opposed to just going dormant after fermentation is complete? rinsing yeast is a hotly debated issue here but i see it as an added complication with zero benefit over just repitching the yeast slurry.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:48 PM   #8
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When I do my Barleywine with WLP007, I'm going to make a 4 gallon 1.050 SMaSH PA as the yeast starter.


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