First time using a starter: pitch cold or warm?

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MagicSmoker

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I made a 1L starter with a fresh vial of WLP051 for the first time two days ago. Everything seemed to progress as expected so I put the flask in the fridge this morning to crash the yeast out, which they have done very nicely. I intend to use this starter today - I am mashing in my grain right now - but the one thing I haven't decided on yet is whether to let the starter warm up to room temperature before pitching it, or just pitch it straight from the fridge? I've read that the latter is perfectly acceptable, but I wanted to make sure.
 

forstmeister

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Usually if you crash it, you are going to decant most of the liquid. Then allow it to warm to room temp, swirl it to get the yeast back in suspension, and pitch it into your wort. I started mine yesterday afternoon and left it on the counter all night. When I was done chilling my wort today, I simply poured the whole thing into the fermentor after swirling it.
 

Yooper

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I decant mine and let it warm up during the boil. Ideally, the wort and yeast would be within 5 degrees of each other at pitching. I typically pitch slighter cooler yeast into slightly warmer wort- normally 58-60 degree yeast into 62 degree-ish wort.
 
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MagicSmoker

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Thanks for the replies! Yep, I put the starter in the fridge to make it easier to separate the yeast from the (undoubtedly nasty tasting) beer before pitching. I note that both of you say to decant first, then let the yeast warm up. So that's what I will do. Thanks again!
 
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MagicSmoker

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Ugh... I just decanted about half the beer off the starter and it smells - even cold from the fridge - exactly like a warm/flat BMC. I was going to taste it out of a sense of adventure, but I find I'm not quite that adventurous. :D
 

forstmeister

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MagicSmoker said:
Ugh... I just decanted about half the beer off the starter and it smells - even cold from the fridge - exactly like a warm/flat BMC. I was going to taste it out of a sense of adventure, but I find I'm not quite that adventurous. :D
Was it just light extract and yeast? That isn't going to smell good anyway.
 
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MagicSmoker

MagicSmoker

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Was it just light extract and yeast? That isn't going to smell good anyway.
Yep, I didn't add any hops to the starter, though I wondered if I should have after smelling it this morning! I can definitely see why you want to decant off as much of the "beer" from your starters as possible. I want as little of that flavor carrying into the final product as possible!

Anyway, I just pitched the starter after getting the wort down to 68F and the starter up to about 65F. So it meets the Yooper spec :rockin:

Oh, crapola! I forgot to oxygenate the wort! Should I do so now, or will bubbling pure O2 after the yeast have been pitched kill them?!?
 
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I pull out of the fridge, decant, then immediately pitch. Letting it warm to room temp is fine, but I've found shorter lag times and (seemingly) cleaner profiles pitching cold.

Try it both ways IMO and decide for yourself.
 
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Oh, crapola! I forgot to oxygenate the wort! Should I do so now, or will bubbling pure O2 after the yeast have been pitched kill them?!?
Should be fine. A lot of big beer brewers add oxygen 12-24 hours after the initial pitch, so I would assume it shouldn't cause any problems.
 
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MagicSmoker

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Should be fine. A lot of big beer brewers add oxygen 12-24 hours after pitching, so I would assume it shouldn't cause any problems.
Huh, that's good to know. And so I just hit the wort with 60s of pure O2. HBT to the rescue again!
 

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For a 5 gallon batch, my rule of thumb is: decant if more than 1L, pitch everything if less than 1L. As nasty as you think that starter beer tastes, it has negligible impact on the finished beer.
 
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MagicSmoker

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For a 5 gallon batch, my rule of thumb is: decant if more than 1L, pitch everything if less than 1L. As nasty as you think that starter beer tastes, it has negligible impact on the finished beer.
I'm using WLP051 which is supposed to flocculate well (it sure did after a couple hours in the fridge) so it didn't hurt to decant off a little more than half the beer, but the next time I use WLP001 - which doesn't flocculate well - I suspect I will have to pitch everything, so this is good to know.

That said... how do you apply your rule to starters over 1L in volume of poorly flocculating yeast? Or is it that all yeasts tend to flocculate well when the temperature drops well below their active range? This is an honest question, btw - I'm only on my 9th batch of beer and realize all too well (thanks to HBT) how little I know!
 

Brulosopher

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MagicSmoker said:
That said... how do you apply your rule to starters over 1L in volume of poorly flocculating yeast? Or is it that all yeasts tend to flocculate well when the temperature drops well below their active range? This is an honest question, btw - I'm only on my 9th batch of beer and realize all too well (thanks to HBT) how little I know!
Cold crash for 48 hours, decant, allow to warm up while brewing.
 

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I liked to throw it back on the stir plate after I decant while I'm brewing. In my mind, it is waking the yeast up even more after being in the fridge. That being said, I have no idea if it helps or even if it's a good practice. Just a suggestion.
 
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Thanks again for the help yesterday, everyone! The airlock was bubbling away when I got up at 6am, so either my starter worked or I have a helluva infection! :fro:

All in all this was a fairly painless process, with the exception of the wort boiling over when I sprayed it with water to keep it from doing just that!?! I don't know why what works so well with a propane-fired kettle failed so miserably with a 2L flask on a stove, but it sure did... Next time I think I'll just stir with a spoon and maybe wear an oven mitt so I can yank the flask off the burner if it gets a little too froggy.

EDIT: I cold-crashed this starter for ~6-8 hours and the yeast settled out nicely in that short amount of time. Next time I will make the starter more than 2 days in advance and keep it in the fridge until needed.
 
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It isn't a 100% cure-all, but get some anti-foam drops. :)

Even if you only use them for starters, they're well worth it for the one time you prevent a boil over in your kitchen. The flask will still take a little watching, but it's still a huge improvement over a spray bottle.

Also, another thing I do is heat the flask on full blast for a few minutes, then as it looks like it's getting even closeish to boiling, back it off a lot and take my time bringing it to a gentle boil. If you got up to 180+ w/ the first dose of heat, it's still in micro-organism killing territory anyways, so I've always just figured there's no huge rush.
 
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