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How long do YOU let your yeast starters ferment?

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Tried searching out this question via goggle and found a wide variety of answers varying from 18 hours to 72 hours. Thus, I would like to know from HBT members how long do they let their yeast starters go for prior to either pitching or stepping up in volume. I currently use a stir plate for my starters.
 

bbrim

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I do not use a stir plate (yet) so I let them sit 2 days minimum for ale and 3 days minimum for lager. I do not like to exceed 5 days or they start going to sleep on me.
 

paulster2626

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If I'm brewing on Saturday, I like to start them on Tuesday. This usually gives me a good couple of days to put in the fridge to clear it up for decanting.
 

runningweird

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I try to make mine at least 3 days in advance, if I do them before that I ferment them until I no longer see bubbles - then I turn off the stir plate, chill, an wait.
 

Seven

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I've found that some yeast take longer than others to finish the job. Some are really quick, others may take a couple of days. I consider it done when the yeast turns white-ish and falls to the bottom (flocculates) when I turn off the stir plate.
 

Dkmount721

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I stir plate thru high krausen and let it go for another 24 or so. Chill and decant night before or morning of brew day and let it sit at room temperature on brew day.
 

Montanaandy

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I used to let them go for at least 24 hrs. Then I saw a video with the head of Wyeast where he indicated that 16 hrs was plenty and that people often aerated for too long on the SP (some were going 48 hrs +!!!). So no longer than 16 hrs and if using fresh yeast, often shorter.
 

biestie

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18 to 24 hours. Mr malty article says they're pretty much done growing by 24 hours at the latest and a wyeast microbiologist says there are definite issues with going too long. That's what I base my practice on. I make a starter the night before brew day usually.

 
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Flomaster

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I had been starting my starters on thurs night for a sunday afternoon brewday.
I use stirplate and do not decant, I pitch the whole thing.

-=Jason=-
 

aryoung1980

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Like rellot, I also do my starters the day before brewing. Generally it gets a full 24hours but not always. Its worked with both ale and lager strains. If it matters to you, I don't use a stir plate. I just give the flask a swirl every time I walk past it.
 

EarthBound

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I've done a lot of yeast starters in a lot of different ways. Here's the way that I found works best:

1. I leave it on the stir plate for ~24 hours prior to pitching. This gives it plenty of time to eat up all the sugar, IMO.
2. About 1 hour before pitching, I take it off the stir plate. During this hour, practically all of the yeast settles to the bottom.
3. Right before I pitch it, I look at how clear the "beer" is in the starter and see all the yeast on the bottom. This part is cool because the yeast on the bottom act kind of like a lava lamp. It's fun to watch.
4. I decanter all but ~1/4" of the "beer".
5. I swirl the yeast around to get it all off the bottom.
6. Finally I pitch it.
7. It takes off like a rocket.

I find that a 1 quart starter (starting with 1 vial) is plenty for 10-12 gallons.
 

1Mainebrew

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If its a simple starter I start them the day before brew day and I try and pitch at high krausen. If I'm stepping up I do so in 24 hour increments. Sometimes I'll do step starters just for propagation purposes and then toss some yeast in a sanitized container and pitch the rest so I don't have to buy yeast and don't have to worry about washing it. I'll still wash yeast but that's another topic.
 

boss429

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18 hours...the guy from wyeast is wearing a scrub hes definatley reputable and knows what hes talking about ;)

seriously 18 hours i forgot who persuaded me prolly jamil or something
 

OldWorld

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The question is why wait too long? Get some young fresh yeast and let them jump in the wort and have an orgy...The Wyeast guy is right on the money.
 

frankstoneline

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generally 12-24 hours, sometimes when I've used washed yeast cultures they take a bit longer to take off, in which case they get maybe 36 hours. Generally I find a 3 cup starter (3 cups water, 3/4 cup DME) with regular, vigorous shaking works well, however lately the ambient temp in my house is low and they have been a bit sluggish, thinking its time for a ferm chamber build.
 
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Thanks for the great feedback everyone. My starter just hit 24 hrs so I am turning off the stir plate and setting it in the fridge to get the yeast to drop out. Hope to be brewing tomorrow.
 

Schnitzengiggle

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I had been starting my starters on thurs night for a sunday afternoon brewday.
I use stirplate and do not decant, I pitch the whole thing.

-=Jason=-
Same here, Thursday evening my starters go on the stir plate (unless I am going to step it up) They are done by Friday evening (18-24 hours later - and no more bubbles). I chill from Friday night until Sunday when I start my mash.

I decant as soon as I take it out of the fridge, then let the starter come up to fermentation temps before pitching--roughly 2-3 hours.

I have yet to try cold pitching because my technique has served me well.

I made a starter with these two strains Wednesday night
IMAG0141.jpg

IMAG0144.jpg

Put the WLP007 which was on the stir plate the entire time in the fridge Thursday night around 8:30 pm, put the WLP013 which I had been intermittently shaking on the stir plate to finish off since there were still a few bubbles in there, and placed that one in the fridge Friday morning around 8:00am (I pitched the WLP007 around 10pm Wednesday, and the WLP013 about 10:30pm Wednesday) so Roughly 20 hours for the WLP007, and ~33 hours for the WLP013.

I need a second stir plate :)
 

billtzk

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This

and this

offer very different opinions. Both seem well-reasonable, but they reached different conclusions. I'd really like to know who is right.

Meanwhile, I go 1 to 2 days on my starters. I don't have a stir plate yet so I just swirl the flask whenever I pass by.

I've seen people put gallon jugs on stir plates. Jugs don't have bottoms nearly as flat as an Erlenmeyer flask. Do those of you who do that have problems with the stir bar getting thrown?
 

Schnitzengiggle

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This



and this



offer very different opinions. Both seem well-reasonable, but they reached different conclusions. I'd really like to know who is right.

Meanwhile, I go 1 to 2 days on my starters. I don't have a stir plate yet so I just swirl the flask whenever I pass by.

I've seen people put gallon jugs on stir plates. Jugs don't have bottoms nearly as flat as an Erlenmeyer flask. Do those of you who do that have problems with the stir bar getting thrown?
Check out the previous post, I use 1 gallon growlers, it can be a little tricky to get the stir bar to balance, but I have been doing it so long with my growlers that I have gotten really good at it. It takes me about 30 seconds to get the placement right.

I want a 5000mL flask, but the things are so damn big, they wont fit in my fridge, that has been the only reason preventing me from getting one.

I guess one of my future brewery additions will be a yeast starter incubator.
 

bmock79

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i did a one liter starter this morning with wyeast 1968 on my stirplate. Came home tonight to what looks like a vigorous fermentation taking place. It looks like huge chunks flowing all around the flask and lots of foam on top.

is this standard? i have done a few starter before and never saw activity like this before? i have also never used this particular strain. probably being paranoid but i hope i didnt contaminate anything....

cheers
 

beergolf

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i did a one liter starter this morning with wyeast 1968 on my stirplate. Came home tonight to what looks like a vigorous fermentation taking place. It looks like huge chunks flowing all around the flask and lots of foam on top.

is this standard? i have done a few starter before and never saw activity like this before? i have also never used this particular strain. probably being paranoid but i hope i didnt contaminate anything....

cheers

1968 starts to look like cottage cheese. Perfectly normal. First time I saw I was freaked out. Now I embrace the cottage cheese.
 

bmock79

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awesome thanks alo for the quick response..I am now wondering if i chose the right yeast for my sort of brown ale not 100% true to style. if i hit my numbers my og will be 1062, i am hoping this yeast wont leave my final product to sweet. i was going to mash at 154 to get some good body and mouth feel..

any thoughts?
 
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I've seen people put gallon jugs on stir plates. Jugs don't have bottoms nearly as flat as an Erlenmeyer flask. Do those of you who do that have problems with the stir bar getting thrown?
I have several gallon sized glass jars that were used for olives by the food service at a local college. The bottoms are not completely flat but work better than the bottoms of growlers. I got mine by posting an add on Craig's list and trading a six pack for several of these jars. I mainly use them to chill boilled water that I use for yeast washing but also for starters until I can buy a larger 2-3 L flasks.
 

houndsbreath

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I've successfully made several (5+) yeast starters 24-48'hrs before. brewing. I shake vigorously, let it sit a few hours then swirl once and leave it alone until pitching. I typically see strong fermentation beginning in the batch of beer within of 24 hours.
 

tommysauder

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Ok I'm bringing up a dead thread but I have a question that regards to this very information:

I'm making a LAGER starter. Fermented for 24 hours (at 12 hours it overflowed and had to split). Put in fridge so I could decant and pitch more sugar. 12 hours in the fridge (>40F) the lager yeast is still fermenting!! So I took it out to warm it up and hopefully finish the job a bit quicker. I can't believe I still saw bubbles from the bottom of my bottles going to the top in the fridge after 12 hours.

I don't want them to go to sleep but I dont want to decant suspended yeast.

Grrrr lager yeast seems difficult

edit: sorry forgot the question. What would be the best way/method to do this??
 

Knkbrand

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now I am bringing up a dead thread.

I put WLP802 Lager yeast in my starter with 1.5 litters of 1.040 wort 24 hours ago. I see no signs of fermentation yet. Is it possible to have this long of a lag time with a starter on a stir plate? I was hoping to brew tomorrow, but doesn't look like it now.

Edit: I just took a gravity reading and it is1.036. Either it is getting ready to take off, or the change in gravity reading is caused by temperature fluctuation.
 
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monkeymath

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now I am bringing up a dead thread.
... and with an entirely different question.
Schedule the brew day according to the yeast, not your plans.
(I just recently ignored this advice myself and ended up dumping an entire batch and performing a major exorcism on my fermenter. Both of which are not particularly fun.)
 

Knkbrand

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... and with an entirely different question.
Not really, the original question was how long to let a starter go before pitching. There was a post above from white labs that said 18-24 hours. so my question is the same, do i pitch after 24 hours with no signs of visible fermentation like suggested by white labs, or wait until I see activity. Sounds like the same question as the original post....how long to let your starter go?
 

V-Fib

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Hopefully it takes off soon for you. Normally I keep mine on a stir plate over night, turn off the stir plate in the morning, let it sit at room temp till night then put it in the fridge to help everything settle. I can't say I've ever took a gravity reading but in there are color changes that should happen to give you an idea if things have fermented.

You can always start you starter a day or two earlier if you have fridge space to give them plenty of time to do their thing so your not so dependent on their time schedule.
 
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is the yeast you pitched past date? if it sat around for awhile then it may take a little more time to take off, you still have some time for it to do so. if you use a stir plate put it back on, if not try to swirl as often as possible and see what happens in the next couple hours. if your dead set on brewing tomorrow then try to get to your lhbs and grab 2 packs of fresh yeast to pitch instead of 1. thats my 2cents.

cheers
 

Knkbrand

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is the yeast you pitched past date? if it sat around for awhile then it may take a little more time to take off, you still have some time for it to do so. if you use a stir plate put it back on, if not try to swirl as often as possible and see what happens in the next couple hours. if your dead set on brewing tomorrow then try to get to your lhbs and grab 2 packs of fresh yeast to pitch instead of 1. thats my 2cents.

cheers
The date is 01/31/21, so close. it is on the stir plate, I will check it when I get home from work. When I searched looking for answers to such a long lag time on a starter, I saw that video from white Labs, and It made me question my past practices. I don't think I have ever made a starter and pitched in less than 24 hours. Guess I'll wait and see what is going on tonight. Thanks for your suggestion.
 

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I normally start my starter 2 nights before brewing. The night before brewing I chill it in the frig (24 hrs later). The next morning I take it out, decant, and let it warm itself to be pitched later that day.

In all but 1 case it's worked great, tons of yeast activity. The last brew day a few weeks ago, for the first time, I got nothing. I pitched it anyway, figuring it'd eventually go. 24 hours later, still nothing. So I threw some S-05 in instead, and of course it took off as expected. (I highly recommend having some dry yeast on hand at all times as a backup).

And, for the first time, I have sulfur flavored stout. I'm letting it go longer hoping it'll work out, but I think it was the "dead" yeast. I won't do that again. I'd suggest if at all possible hit the LHBS and get more yeast and pop it right away, check if it's working or just pick up some dry yeast. Hope you have that option.
 

Knkbrand

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I do have a packet of s23 as a back up if need be. Hopefully I will come home from work to a bubbly starter. thanks for the suggestion!
 

Knkbrand

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36 hours after starter pitch, and there is good signs of fermentation!!! woohoo! gravity is 1.027, so it is moving. I hope the lag time in the starter doesn't effect the yeast too much. I am going to push my brew date back to Sunday.
 

Reneauj62

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My rule of thumb is... when the yeast has a krausen and it goes back into the slurry, then I add 4-6 hrs. Not all yeast will have a krausen so, it that case, I go 48 hrs and never had a problem. I also overbuild every time so I keep my yeast bank fresh and if I have any issues I just add more yeast as needed.
 
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