Improved yeast starter results

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Spivey24

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
262
Reaction score
181
A couple of months ago I adjusted my starter procedure with a few new steps, and have gotten greatly improved results.

Previously I have started with a single pouch of liquid yeast ( or jar from fridge of overbuilt starter) and did a 4 L 1.037 OG starter in a flask topped in foil on a stir plate. Used either DME or extra wort I had made. Pasteurized wort in flask, cooled, aerated by shaking, added yeast, then spun for 1.5 - 2 days, cold crashed, decanted, warmed a little.

I would take this starter, split evenly 3 ways. 2 would go into 5.5 gallon batches, 1 would be reserved in fridge for next time. If at end of line for yeast or felt I was under, I would just split in 2 and pitch both.

According to calculators, it would have been a moderate pitch for ale, maybe a bit under for lager. Never had an issue though - lag was typically 18 hours, and usually it would take around 8 days to nearly finish, then a couple more days for the last few points. All ferments are monitored by Tilts (4 of them) so I am pretty confident in the results. I realize that part of my lack of great performance may have been doing a single pouch into a 4 L starter may be a large step and resulted in tired yeast, but there are no yeast exhaustion calculators. :)

New procedure is similar, but 3 changes:
- Yeast nutrient in all starters (White Labs)
- Take same 4L 1.037 wort and dilute it to 5L. Ends up around 1.028 or so.
- Run an airline from aquarium pump with filter into starter continuously on stir plate.

I have done this 6 times now on ale and lager yeasts, And with these changes, I am seeing lag times lowered to around 6 hours, and ferments finishing out from 4-6 days.

Last one was done in almost 3 days. Wyeast 1056 in a clear IPA. I taste no difference in beers - still great. Below is Tilt graph of latest. You can see the time scale at 3 days with no significant increase in temp. There was a dry hop in the end at that dip. Both batches look identical. This was the 3rd generation of the yeast using this procedure, so it seems to have a cumulative effect with each generation.

Anyway, just thought I’d share. This is in no way any scientific results, and I have yet to do a side by side comparison, but just my anecdotal findings.

9405C2FA-EECA-42A6-98ED-FDDE25220508.png
 
Last edited:
Any insight into the comparative yeast mass between "old" and "new" processes?
My expectation is the "new" process with the constant addition of oxygen significantly increased the yeast mass...

Cheers!
 
Are you putting the airline into the erlenmeyer flask or into the flask and in the liquid as well?

Double the nutrients and warmer temperatures improved my yeast starter growth immensely on the stir plate following the info on Sui Generis website about building starters.
 
Any insight into the comparative yeast mass between "old" and "new" processes?
My expectation is the "new" process with the constant addition of oxygen significantly increased the yeast mass...

Cheers!
It seems to be higher mass. My wort I’ve made for these was not perfectly clear, but even so the mass does seem to be greater with each generation. That was not the case previously.
 
Are you putting the airline into the erlenmeyer flask or into the flask and in the liquid as well?

Double the nutrients and warmer temperatures improved my yeast starter growth immensely on the stir plate following the info on Sui Generis website about building starters.
I run the airline into the flask about an inch above the liquid shooting at the surface. Make sure to rubber band it or it will work it’s way out. I didn’t want to risk it bubbling over if I put it into the liquid. With the whirlpool of the stir plate and the air directed right at the wort surface, it should be getting plenty of O2.

I am doing same temperature as always. Even a little cooler these days in the basement. I have used nutrients before this method with no noticeable difference. Maybe the combination of things.
 
Are you putting the airline into the erlenmeyer flask or into the flask and in the liquid as well?

Double the nutrients and warmer temperatures improved my yeast starter growth immensely on the stir plate following the info on Sui Generis website about building starters.
Interesting that article says continuous aeration will not work, so potentially it is only useful for the first X number of hours. I will try the warmer starter, but I’ve always seemed to think that the starter should be close to the temperature that you would ferment at to produce optimal yeast. Maybe it doesn’t really matter.

How do you maintain the warmer temp? I guess I could pull one of my Inkbird if I don’t have anything active using it.
 
Still going with this method and working well. Just did 2 generations of a kolsch yeast. Fermented a couple of degrees below recommended range and hit 76% attenuation in 3 days, then a couple more days for the last 3 points. These beers are good and I’m drinking them within a couple weeks of pitch. Love it.
 
I will try the warmer starter, but I’ve always seemed to think that the starter should be close to the temperature that you would ferment at to produce optimal yeast.
The point to making a starter is to grow more cells for a faster start to fermentation. Yeast grows faster at warmer temps.
 
Back
Top