How long can a starter last

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redrocker652002

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My plan was to make a starter tonight for my brew tomorrow. But, as always, I overthink it and am wondering if it would be better to do it now, and have it sitting on the counter for a bit more than 24 hours? My normal brew day timing is that the yeast gets pitched somewhere around 2 to 3PM after all elsse is done. Any input on what is best?
Also, how can I tell if my yeast is alive in the container? Does it make a foam layer like it would in the fementer?

Or am I best to stick with my original plan and make the starter later this afternoon so it has a bit less then 24 hours to sit on the counter?
 

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If it's not on a stir plate, try to manually swirl it every hour or so. That keeps the yeast in suspension and facilitate growth. The clearer wort will turn milky/cloudy as you get growth. 24 hours is usually good enough, depending on the age of the yeast. (My last starter took 48 hours to complete - the smack pack was 5 months old.) Making a starter is always better than not, as long as you're sanitary.

Personally, I make my starters 48 hours before brew day. Usually 24 hours is enough to get the yeast going, then I harvest some and cold crash so I can decant most of the liquid and just pitch the slurry. YMMV.

Starters are to be pitched within 2 weeks. After that, I would decant the liquid and add more boiled/cooled dme to kick it off again.
 

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I have a similar pitch time (early afternoon). I:

2 nights before - prep and start the starter
1 night before - put it in the frig to cold crash
Morning of - decant the oxidized yucky wort off the top and let it sit out to warm up to pitching temp

Thus far it's been working really well to have it go for about 24 hours. That said... there do seem to be competing schools of thought as to the "best" amount of time, and it may even vary depending on the yeast and age and such. I don't think you can reasonably over-do it, we know that we can have beer in a fermenter for several weeks and a starter is not much different. It's more a question of what's "best" and I've yet to see an answer for that.
 

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FWIW, I once decanted a Voss Kveik starter into several small Mason jars for later use. I finally used the last one 16 months later on a 1.050 pale ale. Fermented fine, down to 1.011.
 
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redrocker652002

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Cool thanks guys. I don't have enough DME, so I am going to try the proper starter. I might do it today and then brew Saturday so I am not rushed. Either way, good to know it can sit for a day or two and not be ruined. Rock on!!!!! RR
 

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Cool thanks guys. I don't have enough DME, so I am going to try the proper starter. I might do it today and then brew Saturday so I am not rushed. Either way, good to know it can sit for a day or two and not be ruined. Rock on!!!!! RR
Don't waste the proper starter can. The main starter will be good for 2 weeks.
 

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What yeast strain and brand is it, and how old is that pack?
Hint: The best-by date on liquid yeast packs is typically 6 months after the packaging date.

If you're swirling intermittently, letting it sit on the countertop (no stir plate or shaker), use a large jug, like a gallon or at least a 2 liter flask if you have one of those, to reduce blow offs.
Before I had stir plates, when using smaller containers I've had many overnight blow offs, losing half the yeast to the countertop, which is counter productive.
Frequent swirling is recommended, as it integrates more oxygen, while degassing the starter beer, reducing blow offs.

How much DME do you have on hand?
Are you brewing all grain or extract? If extract, you can borrow some from your batch ingredients.
 
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redrocker652002

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What yeast strain and brand is it, and how old is that pack?
Hint: The best-by date on liquid yeast packs is typically 6 months after the packaging date.

If you're swirling intermittently, letting it sit on the countertop (no stir plate or shaker), use a large jug, like a gallon or at least a 2 liter flask if you have one of those, to reduce blow offs.
Before I had stir plates, when using smaller containers I've had many overnight blow offs, losing half the yeast to the countertop, which is counter productive.
Frequent swirling is recommended, as it integrates more oxygen, while degassing the starter beer, reducing blow offs.

How much DME do you have on hand?
Are you brewing all grain or extract? If extract, you can borrow some from your batch ingredients.
It is White Labs WLP002. It expires in November sometime,, don't remember the exact date. It is an All Grain brew. My intention is to make a Litre starter and put it in a gallon jug and leave it on the counter overnight, stirring occasionally when I walk by. I don't sleep much during the nigh, so it should get it's fair share of stirs. Then, brew tomorrow and use it. My brew days usually go to where the yeast gets pitched mid sfternoon. So it should have at least 24 hours on the counter. Since the yeast has not expired yet, I am wondering if a starter is really needed? But it has been sitting in my fridge for a few months as brew day has been pushed back a few times. Either way, my LBS doesn't open until 10 today. So I cannot do much until after that.
 

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It is White Labs WLP002. It expires in November sometime
Since the yeast has not expired yet, I am wondering if a starter is really needed? But it has been sitting in my fridge for a few months as brew day has been pushed back a few times.
I'm linking you to one of my recent posts regarding liquid yeast and reduced cell count due to age:

I always use a yeast pitch calculator (such as BrewUnited's) to estimate how many cells to pitch.
Most of those calculators are based on industry standard pitching rates and growth models.

In that light, you do need to make a starter.
Instead of intermittent swirling, look up s-n-s (shaken-not-stirred) starters, which may be the best method in your case to revitalize the yeast, rather than counting on sheer growth, which takes more time, 3 days at least using a stir plate.
 
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redrocker652002

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I'm linking you to one of my recent posts regarding liquid yeast and reduced cell count due to age:

I always use a yeast pitch calculator (such as BrewUnited's) to estimate how many cells to pitch.
Most of those calculators are based on industry standard pitching rates and growth models.

In that light, you do need to make a starter.
Instead of intermittent swirling, look up s-n-s (shaken-not-stirred) starters, which may be the best method in your case to revitalize the yeast, rather than counting on sheer growth, which takes more time, 3 days at least using a stir plate.
I have done some reading on the S n S method and that is what I was going for. I don't want to pop out the cash for a stir plate, and to be honest, everything I have read said you really don't need one if I do the SnS method. So that is what I am going with. Thank you for all the info, going to run to my LBS in a bit as they don't open for another couple of hours.
 

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I have done some reading on the S n S method and that is what I was going for.
You really need to shake that jug well, creating as much foam as possible. And let fresh air in before you shake it the next time.

I've loosely crimped a piece of aluminum foil over the jug's opening while it's "resting" so air can get inside. Then replace that with a stopper or screw cap when shaking.
 
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redrocker652002

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Well, it is in the jug. The wort cooled to about 68 or so. I shook the crap outta it and then poured the yeast in. We shall see. I did buy a stopper and using an airlock just so I can see if there is any activity in it. I have some dry S05 just in case. I know it isn't the same, but in a pinch I will use it if the other doesn't show any activity
 

IslandLizard

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The wort cooled to about 68 or so.
It will grow faster when its kept a bit warmer, say around 74F. As long as there's a good amount/supply of oxygen present possibly well past 80F.

I shook the crap outta it and then poured the yeast in.
The idea is to shake it with the yeast in it already. Keep shaking it every few hours, but let new air in it before shaking, yeast needs oxygen to grow/bud.

using an airlock
Don't use an airlock you want air (oxygen) to get it, and CO2 to get out.
Either loosely cap with the screw cap or better, loosely crimp a piece of aluminum foil over the opening, to keep "bugs" out.
 
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redrocker652002

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OK, so it has been about 6 hours and nothing is coming thru the airlock. The yeast seems to have separated and fallen to the bottom. I shook it at least 2 or 3 times today and there is no foam or anything at the top either. I am wondering if it is going to be any good to pitch later on tomorrow, or should I either use my S05 or go buy something dry that is somewhat comparable tomorrow morning?
 

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The yeast seems to have separated and fallen to the bottom.
WLP002 is a very flocculent yeast, it drops out like egg drop soup. Shake it up hard, as often as you can, it should create foam doing that. It's in the foam phase, inside the tiny air bubbles, where the yeast respires, grows, and buds, producing daughter cells.

The airlock is counterproductive, it prevents air (oxygen) getting inside the jug.

Did you make 1 liter starter wort at 1.037?
 
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redrocker652002

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WLP002 is a very flocculent yeast, it drops out like egg drop soup. Shake it up hard, as often as you can, it should create foam doing that. It's in the foam phase, inside the tiny air bubbles, where the yeast respires, grows, and buds, producing daughter cells.

The airlock is counterproductive, it prevents air (oxygen) getting inside the jug.

Did you make 1 liter starter wort at 1.037?
Thanks I will do that. I messed up and did not check the OG, but yes, it was one liter. I am thinking of going to my LBS in the morning and getting some S04 if they have it. I have read that is close to what I have, or just use the S05 that I already have and see what happens. The yeast is in clumps at the bottom of the jug that I used, so I am not sure if that is good or bad.
 
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redrocker652002

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Just thinking out loud here, but what if I take a gravity reading in the morning? If it is in the 1.010 range then that means it was doing what it should, right? Or am a safer to just can it and use something else, either S04 or so5?
 

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This doesn’t answer your immediate question, but +1 to the advice above to not use an airlock. In the future use a loosely crimped piece of foil on the top. This is what I do when using the SNS method. Whenever I walk by I give it a good swirl and the foaming I hear lets me know something is going on. You want to let some oxygen in and swirl as often as you can to keep yeast in suspension.
 

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did not check the OG
How much DME did you use in that 1 liter? You can calculate the OG from that.

Just thinking out loud here, but what if I take a gravity reading in the morning?
If you can measure the gravity in a sanitary way, sure, but it doesn't tell you much about the cell count or yeast's vitality. Amount of settled out slurry can.

Whenever I walk by I give it a good swirl and the foaming
Mere swirling isn't S-n-S. For that, you really need to shake it, as if it owes you money. ;)

getting some S04 if they have it. I have read that is close to what I have
"Close" is very subjective.
It all depends on what flavor profile you're after in your finished beer. Yes, they are both British Ale yeasts, as there are many others, each having their own character. I prefer WY1968 (or WLP002) or some others, such as WY1469 (West Yorkshire), over S-04 in my Bitters and Milds. Are you brewing something in that style? If you're brewing an Arrogant Bastard clone or something in that realm, then S-04 is a great choice, and save your WLP002 for something more subtle.

Whatever you decide, don't flush away your WLP002 culture...
Chances are you can pitch it by day's end, just keep shaking it and letting air inside while it rests.

The best thing going for your WLP002 is that White Labs' PurePitch sleeves keep yeast better in (cold) storage than any other packaging. Even after 4 months it's still 80% viable, and around 65% after 6 months (like your yeast is, currently). Their (early) research publications on PurePitch packaging vitality studies sadly have disappeared from their site. :(
 

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Something has been on my mind about all the sanitary talk with yeast but then mixing unsanitary air into it. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Like boiling isn’t enough it has to be in a pressure cooker etc. but then we put on a stir plate or shake it to get air into it. So what gives?
 
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redrocker652002

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How much DME did you use in that 1 liter? You can calculate the OG from that.

If you can measure the gravity in a sanitary way, sure, but it doesn't tell you much about the cell count or yeast's vitality. Amount of settled out slurry can.

Mere swirling isn't S-n-S. For that, you really need to shake it, as if it owes you money. ;)

"Close" is very subjective.
It all depends on what flavor profile you're after in your finished beer. Yes, they are both British Ale yeasts, as there are many others, each having their own character. I prefer WY1968 (or WLP002) or some others, such as WY1469 (West Yorkshire), over S-04 in my Bitters and Milds. Are you brewing something in that style? If you're brewing an Arrogant Bastard clone or something in that realm, then S-04 is a great choice, and save your WLP002 for something more subtle.

Whatever you decide, don't flush away your WLP002 culture...
Chances are you can pitch it by day's end, just keep shaking it and letting air inside while it rests.

The best thing going for your WLP002 is that White Labs' PurePitch sleeves keep yeast better in (cold) storage than any other packaging. Even after 4 months it's still 80% viable, and around 65% after 6 months (like your yeast is, currently). Their (early) research publications on PurePitch packaging vitality studies sadly have disappeared from their site. :(
I used 100g of DME with a litre of water.

I have now been shaking the crap outta it, the yeast I noticed is settles at the bottom but not in a solid layer, but more clumpy, if that makes sense.

My beer is said to be a Firestone Walker 805 style beer. I am going back and forth with just using the WLP002 and seeing what happens, but I hate to waste a whole brew day and have it not work out. But, on the other hand, the yeast was in my fridge at somewhere in the mid 30's for about 2 to 3 months, so maybe it is just me being a newbie and overthinking it. When I shake it, it foams up ok and the yeast distributes itself, so maybe I will get the s04 and keep it and make it a game time decision. I have an package of s05 that could also be used, but I have read that is not the right yeast for this style. I am so confused right now LOL
 

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the yeast I noticed is settles at the bottom but not in a solid layer, but more clumpy, if that makes sense.
That's a telltale of the 002/1968 yeast, it reminisces egg drop soup. It makes your beer clarification easy when it's done. It will settle out as a solid layer given some time.
Best is to pitch the whole starter, no cold crashing or decanting, so all the yeast cells end up in your batch.

maybe I will get the s04 and keep it and make it a game time decision.
Keep the S-04 or US-05 as your backup.*
After chilling, aerate your wort well, and pitch your whole WLP002 starter. If you don't see any activity after 2 days (krausen, foam, turbulence, airlock), you can always pitch your S-04.

* Unopened, they'll keep for years in the freezer, ready to be used that one day when things become desperate.

My beer is said to be a Firestone Walker 805 style beer.
Good tasting, easy drinking beer!
Are you brewing extract or all grain?
 
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redrocker652002

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That's a telltale of the 002/1968 yeast, it reminisces egg drop soup. It makes your beer clarification easy when it's done. It will settle out as a solid layer given some time.
Best is to pitch the whole starter, no cold crashing or decanting, so all the yeast cells end up in your batch.


Keep the S-04 or US-05 as your backup.*
After chilling, aerate your wort well, and pitch your whole WLP002 starter. If you don't see any activity after 2 days (krausen, foam, turbulence, airlock), you can always pitch your S-04.

* Unopened, they'll keep for years in the freezer, ready to be used that one day when things become desperate.


Good tasting, easy drinking beer!
Are you brewing extract or all grain?
All grain. It will be my last BIAB I think. I found a used 10 gallon igloo cooler that will be turned into a mash tun as soon as my wife orders the stuff from Amazon. I think that is going to make a huge difference as I will be able to sparge an keep my mash temp a little more stable. Right now, I am using a 10 gallon Gas One kettle and while it is a great pot, I am having issues with the mash temp dropping. I am going to try and use a blanket today a it is foggy and a bit cooler in San Francisco today. Either way, I think I am going to give the yeast a try. If it doesn't work out, then I will do a you say and throw the So5 in it and see what happens

Thanks for being patient. I am a newbie and while I am learning, patience has not been my strong suit. LOL
 

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I am having issues with the mash temp dropping. I am going to try and use a blanket today a it is foggy and a bit cooler in San Francisco today.
You definitely need to insulate a brew kettle that's used as a mash/BIAB tun, even if you brewed in Death Valley in mid Summer. ;)
Put some insulation, such as folded up towels or a sleeping bag on the lid too. That only leaves the bottom exposed to ambient temps and any breeze.

Just don't fire the burner while there's any flammable insulation around the kettle. ;)

I found a used 10 gallon igloo cooler that will be turned into a mash tun as soon as my wife orders the stuff from Amazon. I think that is going to make a huge difference as I will be able to sparge an keep my mash temp a little more stable.
It should help keeping the mash warmer. If outdoors, you may still want to wrap a sleeping bag around it, especially when it's cold or breezy. And put something on top too, the lid has no insulation in it.

Make a mental note, in a cooler mash tun, it's easier to drop the mash 3-5 degrees (by longer stirring or simply adding a small amount of cold water) than it is to raise it by the same amount, even when adding boiling water. ;)

Batch sparging is easy, and awesome!
Good stirring is key for all mashes and (batch) sparges.
 

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Something has been on my mind about all the sanitary talk with yeast but then mixing unsanitary air into it. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Like boiling isn’t enough it has to be in a pressure cooker etc. but then we put on a stir plate or shake it to get air into it. So what gives?
Yeast are pretty tough microbes and outcompete most things microbial that get dispersed in air. One of their secret weapons is ethanol. When we culture them up at high density and pitch at such high rates there's a kind of safety in numbers, too. Good sanitary practices - including personal hygiene - aren't necessarily about minimising airborne microbes. Most infections - beer spoilage microbes - probably result from 'biofilms' establishing on surfaces, nooks and crannies containing organic residues. Cleaning said surfaces, nooks and crannies is probably >99% of good sanitary technique.
 
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redrocker652002

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You definitely need to insulate a brew kettle that's used as a mash/BIAB tun, even if you brewed in Death Valley in mid Summer. ;)
Put some insulation, such as folded up towels or a sleeping bag on the lid too. That only leaves the bottom exposed to ambient temps and any breeze.

Just don't fire the burner while there's any flammable insulation around the kettle. ;)


It should help keeping the mash warmer. If outdoors, you may still want to wrap a sleeping bag around it, especially when it's cold or breezy. And put something on top too, the lid has no insulation in it.

Make a mental note, in a cooler mash tun, it's easier to drop the mash 3-5 degrees (by longer stirring or simply adding a small amount of cold water) than it is to raise it by the same amount, even when adding boiling water. ;)

Batch sparging is easy, and awesome!
Good stirring is key for all mashes and (batch) sparges.

Yep,, I am going to wrap it up as best as I can to try and keep the temp in check for the hour mash. I have a 5 gallon pot that I put on the stove for my sparge water. Last time I dipped the grain back into it, but it made a bit of a mess, so I am not sure what my plan is this time. LOL

I brew in the garage and crack open the door just to keep the flame exhaust to a minimum. It has worked out pretty well so far but I think the cooler will be a big addition and all i I think it will cost me less then 50 bucks to get it going. Good info on the water temp, I will make a note of it. It will be a learning process, but it has been so far.
 

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I have a 5 gallon pot that I put on the stove for my sparge water. Last time I dipped the grain back into it, but it made a bit of a mess, so I am not sure what my plan is this time. LOL
You'd need a bigger vessel to sparge...
"Dunk sparging" is probably the most common procedure for sparging BIAB bags. I'm not sure what kind of vessels brewers use. A larger sparge kettle? Larger, 8-10 gallon bucket, if they exist? A large tub?

Once you start using your new mash tun, (batch) sparging becomes so easy, and virtually mess free.

A few hints:
For 5 gallon, 1.060-1.066 OG batches I mash 12-13 pounds of grist at a thickness of around 1.5 quarts per pound. That mash thickness has been working best for me, any thicker and I get mixing/conversion/temp drop issues. That comes out at around 5 gallons of strike water for the mash, for that target OG.

I then split the remainder of the water into 2 equal volumes, around 2.2 gallons per sparge, doing 2 consecutive sparges. The exact volume used for each batch sparge cycle is not super critical, but you want them to be close for best efficiency.
I do regular vorlaufing to get reasonably clear wort without grain bits. Then fully drain the tun each time, before adding the next volume of water. Good stirring after adding each water addition is needed to "knock" the sugars out of the grain bits, and into solution.

My mash tun is a converted rectangular 54 quart (13.5 gallon) Coleman Extreme cooler, which drains completely due to the drain opening being recessed in the bottom. I chose for making a manifold (shown upside down in the pictures, for illustration). But a bazooka tube or stainless braid would work just as fine too.

CPVC Manifold_1200.jpg

CPVC Manifold_Detail_1200.jpg


Although it's not all that critical, as long as it's not a huge volume, you may need to tilt your round tun toward the exit valve at the end of the lauter to more completely drain it. It depends on how the high the spigot hole is on the inside and how well you can keep the siphon going while draining.

Instead of pouring the grist into the preheated strike water, I fill the (dry) mash tun with (milled) grist. Then underlet it with preheated (and mineral treated) strike water from the boil kettle.*
Underletting the grist is an effort to reduce O2 take-up.
I'm working on building a better "mash cover." Aside from reducing heat loss to the head space, it also helps to reduce the grist's oxygen take-up.

* You'll need to calculate the temp of your strike water, taking the weight and temp of your grist into account, as well as temp losses to the mash tun and air/environment while mashing in. Most programs like BeerSmith, Brewfather, Brewers Friend, etc. can do most of the calcs for you.

For reference , since I'm underletting, and thus can't effectively preheat my mash tun, for ~13 pounds of 68F grist, I end up heating 5 gallons of strike water to a temp of 178F to hit a mash temp of 154F pretty much on the nose. This is after completely stirring/mixing, putting the mash cover and lid on, and letting the mash settle for about 5 minutes. Then the mash proceeds for a total of 60'.
 
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redrocker652002

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You'd need a bigger vessel to sparge...
"Dunk sparging" is probably the most common procedure for sparging BIAB bags. I'm not sure what kind of vessels brewers use. A larger sparge kettle? Larger, 8-10 gallon bucket, if they exist? A large tub?

Once you start using your new mash tun, (batch) sparging becomes so easy, and virtually mess free.

A few hints:
For 5 gallon, 1.060-1.066 OG batches I mash 12-13 pounds of grist at a thickness of around 1.5 quarts per pound. That mash thickness has been working best for me, any thicker and I get mixing/conversion/temp drop issues. That comes out at around 5 gallons of strike water for the mash, for that target OG.

I then split the remainder of the water into 2 equal volumes, around 2.2 gallons per sparge, doing 2 consecutive sparges. The exact volume used for each batch sparge cycle is not super critical, but you want them to be close for best efficiency.
I do regular vorlaufing to get reasonably clear wort without grain bits. Then fully drain the tun each time, before adding the next volume of water. Good stirring after adding each water addition is needed to "knock" the sugars out of the grain bits, and into solution.

My mash tun is a converted rectangular 54 quart (13.5 gallon) Coleman Extreme cooler, which drains completely due to the drain opening being recessed in the bottom. I chose for making a manifold (shown upside down in the pictures, for illustration). But a bazooka tube or stainless braid would work just as fine too.

View attachment 784468
View attachment 784469

Although it's not all that critical, as long as it's not a huge volume, you may need to tilt your round tun toward the exit valve at the end of the lauter to more completely drain it. It depends on how the high the spigot hole is on the inside and how well you can keep the siphon going while draining.

Instead of pouring the grist into the preheated strike water, I fill the (dry) mash tun with (milled) grist. Then underlet it with preheated (and mineral treated) strike water from the boil kettle.*
Underletting the grist is an effort to reduce O2 take-up.
I'm working on building a better "mash cover." Aside from reducing heat loss to the head space, it also helps to reduce the grist's oxygen take-up.

* You'll need to calculate the temp of your strike water, taking the weight and temp of your grist into account, as well as temp losses to the mash tun and air/environment while mashing in. Most programs like BeerSmith, Brewfather, Brewers Friend, etc. can do most of the calcs for you.

For reference , since I'm underletting, and thus can't effectively preheat my mash tun, for ~13 pounds of 68F grist, I end up heating 5 gallons of strike water to a temp of 178F to hit a mash temp of 154F pretty much on the nose. This is after completely stirring/mixing, putting the mash cover and lid on, and letting the mash settle for about 5 minutes. Then the mash proceeds for a total of 60'.
Wow, a lot of info. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this up I am going to print it and put it with my notebook for the next brew. My thought is, with a dedicated Mash tun, my hope is my efficiency gets better, my sparging gets better and in the end, my beer get better. LOL
 
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redrocker652002

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Just a quick note, the starter showed some signs of bubbling on the surface of it when I looked at it this morning. The yeast, or whatever, was caked at the bottom, kinda in clumps. I poured it into my wort, cooled to about 66 degrees shook it a bit to get it mixed in and let it go. I will check it in the morning to see what might be going on. I am not holding much hope, but what the heck, I have some S05 I can add to try and salvage it if the WLP002 is not working. Either way, this was a good brew, a few lessons learned on this one RR
 

bobtheUKbrewer2

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I am with Hawkwing. Air contains bacteria. I use Vit C and nutrient with dried SO4 yeast. Jar covered with clingfilm. Pitch in 1 to 2 hours.
 
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redrocker652002

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After day 2, and nothing. Sanitizer has evenly distributed itself in the airlock and no activity. I am going to dump my packet of S05 in it to try and salvage it. I am not sure if the yeast died in my fridge or during the starter process. Either way, I think I am going to use dry yeast from now on. This is my second attempt at liquid and neither worked out well. Thanks to all who gave me input. I appreciate it.
 
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redrocker652002

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Are you sure it's the yeast? Maybe your hydrometer needs more patience.
I am just making an assumption, but who knows. You recommend waiting a bit longer? I am off Thursday morning and was thinking of going by my LBS and see what yeast I can use that might be better than S05. I just read dry Lutra is a good one for blonde but my closet in my house only gets in the upper 60's low 70's, so that might now be right.
 
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