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How do you prepare yeast starters?

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Steve973

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How, and how far in advance of brewing, do you prepare your yeast starter? Specifically, in what kind of container, with what kind of malt, and what quantity?
 

Rhoobarb

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I use a 1/2 gallon growler from a brewpub similar to this one. I fill the growler about 1/2 full of water, then dump that water into a pot. Bring the water to a boil, take it off the heat, add ~1 cup of plain light DME, then boil it, stirring, for about 15 minutes. Cover it and cool in an ice water bath. Once cool, transfer it to the growler, add the yeast, cover with sanitiary foil or plastic wrap, shake vigourously, then put an airlock on it. Just like doing a small brew session. :)

I usually make my starter a day to two before brewing.
 

wild

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Rhoobarb pretty much has it. I've made starters up to a week in advace depending on the size needed, i.e., big beers or lagers will need larger starters than basic ales from 5 - 7% ABV.

Wild
 
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Steve973

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Ok, that sounds pretty easy to me. The only issue that I can think of is that my carboys are sometimes pretty full, so I don't know about fitting all that liquid inside. I plan on having a beer that is about 10% if everything goes well, so I'll plan for a larger starter.
 

Gilbey

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I do just what Rhoobarb does. I shoot for 1/2 a growler full for my ales, and I plan to start my starter 2 days in advance, but in a pinch I have pitched in 24 hours with fine results. Also, I usually use liquid extract because that is what I have laying around.

Gilbey
 
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Steve973

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Interesting... What allows more yeast to create a higher ABV? I always assumed that the yeast would increase in population so that it could complete its job.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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Steve973 said:
How, and how far in advance of brewing, do you prepare your yeast starter? Specifically, in what kind of container, with what kind of malt, and what quantity?
i use a 2000 ml pyrex flask, 1 cup of extra light dried malt extract, and 1300 ml of water. i heat the water in a small enameld kettle, add the dry extract and stir to dissolve. bring to a gentle boil for 15 minutes. pour the wort into the sanitized flask and cover pronto with foil and set into an ice bath in the sink. when cool to the touch (about 15-20 minutes) i add my yeast and put the cleaned/sanitized air lock on it. wrap a towel around it, and let her go to work. i do this the day before i plan to brew. i usually see activity in no more than 1-2 hours. for a lager or high ABV brew, i'd use 2000 ml of water and 1.5 cups of extar light dme.
i got my starter kit from www.northernbrewer.com.
hope this helps.....
 

DeRoux's Broux

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i forgot to mention, that i got to be a "brewer for a day" @ Saint Arnold's Brewing Company in Houston this past Friday, and had a good visit w/ the head brewer about homebrewers and yeast. he told me he did a little experiment on using a starter vs. just pitching a vial of WLP001. i don't have the paper at work but here is the jist of it:
he had two 5 gallon batches of brown ale wort, that came from the same brew. in one he pitched one vial of WLP001 and in the other he made a yeast starter (don't remember how big, but i can get it at lunch if anyone is interested). he took a sample to do a cell count from each carboy after pitching the yeast. the carboy pitched with the vial had a cell count of about 700,000 cells per ml of wort. WAY, WAY UNDER PITCHED. the carboy pitched w/ the starter had a cell count of over 2 million cells per ml or wort. still low, but way better than the vial amount. he took it a step further. once the beer had finished fermenting, conditioning, and carbonating, he did a blind tatse test w/ one of the local homebrew clubs. hands down, the brown ale pitched w/ the starter won the taste test.
we did a yeast count of the porter we brewed friday. he estimated about 14 million cells per ml of wort was needed, and he counted over 11 million. pretty damn close!
learned a lot, but it reasssured me of a lot of the things i already do w/ my brews. it was an AWESOME DAY AND EXPERIENCE!
 

DeRoux's Broux

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also aerate the starter real well after adding the yeast to the wort! just swirl the starter container real good.
 

Toilet Rocker

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DeRoux's: that's a great experiment you guys did. Starters appear to be the way to go. How did you get to be brewer for the day?

In your directions for starters, you say you add the hot wort to the flask? Wouldn't you cool it first to be sure the glass doesn't shatter? I've only ever used a pyrex measuring cup. I recently bought a flask with stopper and don't want to shatter it.
 

andre the giant

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Steve973 said:
Interesting... What allows more yeast to create a higher ABV? I always assumed that the yeast would increase in population so that it could complete its job.
I think that if you pitch a large vigorous population of yeast into a high gravity (potentially high alcohol) brew, you have a much quicker, much more smooth fermentation.

The yeast is going to reproduce, that's true, but its better if your yeast can concentrate on eating sugars/making alcohol rather than making whoopie. I've read that as yeast cells bud, they scar, produce by-products that can affect the beer, and they get less energetic about the fermentation process.
The more active cells you can pitch, the more the yeast can concentrate on achieving that 10% goal you mentioned.

Make a big starter. When you pitch it, your yeast will be like an vast army of ninjas, wiping out sugars with impunity. If you pitch a small or weak yeast, your ninjas will get tired, sore and grumpy. Maybe leading to a stuck fermentation. Nobody likes a grumpy ninja... :D
 

DeRoux's Broux

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gaelone said:
DeRoux's: that's a great experiment you guys did. Starters appear to be the way to go. How did you get to be brewer for the day?

In your directions for starters, you say you add the hot wort to the flask? Wouldn't you cool it first to be sure the glass doesn't shatter? I've only ever used a pyrex measuring cup. I recently bought a flask with stopper and don't want to shatter it.
i got to be a brewer for a day because my wife kicks-ass! she did that for our 1 year anniversary. she love's her beer geek!!!! :p

that's the beauty of using the pyrex flask. it can withstand drastic temperature changes w/out shattering. some people even boil the wort in the pyrex, but its-a-bitch getting the dme into that little opening. plus it'll boil over fast and stick all over the flask. easier to use a little kettle, then pour into the flask using a funnel.
 
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Steve973

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Thanks... awesome info, everybody. I read that I can pour the excess liquid off of the slurry, and pitch the slurry. Does everyone agree that's a good idea?
 

Toilet Rocker

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That wife of yours is an awesome woman! :)

Steve--I've heard that advised to those afraid of disrupting the airlock while fermenting in a 5G carboy. Can't see that it'd hurt a carboy of any other size.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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Steve973 said:
Thanks... awesome info, everybody. I read that I can pour the excess liquid off of the slurry, and pitch the slurry. Does everyone agree that's a good idea?
i use every bit of the starter. i don't want to pour any critters out. i just swirl the whole thing up real good before i pour the entire starter into the wort. there isn't enough to affect the flavor of the brew. that's why i always use the extra light dme. if you did a starter larger than 2 qt (2000 ml) into a light lager, you might want to decant the liquid off the top of the yeast cake.......
 

SwAMi75

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Steve973 said:
Thanks... awesome info, everybody. I read that I can pour the excess liquid off of the slurry, and pitch the slurry. Does everyone agree that's a good idea?
What DeRoux said....there's good yeast suspended in there! If my starter gravity was way out of whack with my wort, or I was afraid it would affect the color of a really light brew, then I'd decant the fluid. I've never done this....I just pitch the whole thing. But, I tend to brew bigger ales, so I have a lot of room for slop. If I did a triple decocted Pilsener or something, then I'd be more worried about it. :)
 

rocketcrab

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Regarding yeast starters - should they be allowed to ferment at the same temp as the wort that they will be pitched in? In other words, should a lager yeast starter be fermented at lager temps?
 

el_kirk

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This is a really old thread.
Try looking here...

http://www.mrmalty.com/starter_faq.htm

Keep in mind that any time you change the temperature on the yeast by a large amount you'll stress them. Large drops in temperature will cause them to start napping.

Hope this helps.
 

PirateBrewer

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Check out billybrew.com. He's a poster on this site and has a really good blog and one of his posts is a video about how to make a starter! It's good stuff!
 
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