making yeast starters

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beerisyummy

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So I'm using a stir plate with my yeast starter just for the second time now. I was wondering how long to let it stir, so I searched through some threads on HBT. I saw a lot of comments like this one:

"I do 48 hours. 24hrs on the plate then 12hrs resting and then 12hrs cold crash. I then pour off the wort before I start my brew, and shoot for a 50/50 mix then swirl (or put back on the stir plate) until ready to pitch. Most yeast start action within 4-5 hours."

Please tell me, what is the reason for the rest, and for the cold crash? Why can't I just pour my slurry into the fermenter when I've got the yeastie beasties chuggin away?

Expiring minds want to know...
 

Gnomebrewer

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Some brewers don't want the starter wort in there. I make a starter that is something like the beer I want (minus the hops - add a bit of extra hop in the beer when I brew it to account for the lack of hop in the starter) then pitch the entire starter at full krausen - ferments start much faster this way.
 

Dog House Brew

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So I'm using a stir plate with my yeast starter just for the second time now. I was wondering how long to let it stir, so I searched through some threads on HBT. I saw a lot of comments like this one:

"I do 48 hours. 24hrs on the plate then 12hrs resting and then 12hrs cold crash. I then pour off the wort before I start my brew, and shoot for a 50/50 mix then swirl (or put back on the stir plate) until ready to pitch. Most yeast start action within 4-5 hours."

Please tell me, what is the reason for the rest, and for the cold crash? Why can't I just pour my slurry into the fermenter when I've got the yeastie beasties chuggin away?

Expiring minds want to know...
The reason for not dumping the entire starter has to do with oxidation. The stirplate introduces the O2 to the yeast. If you dump all of that you are dumping horribly oxidized wort to your beer. The cold crash is to drop your yeast out of suspension. You can then decant the oxidized wort down the drain. Watch and don’t dump any yeast, swirl the remainder, then pitch into your fresh wort.
As far as how long, it differs. I just started yeast that was a year old. It took 3 days to start, and 2 days to finish. I crashed it in the fridge over night. I then built up another step into 3 liters. It started almost immediately, and finished in 24 hrs. If you have fresh yeast, it will be finished the next day. When yeast is fresh I like to make my starter on Thurs. Take it off the plate on Friday and crash overnight in the fridge. Remove morning of brew day, decant and pitch.
 

balrog

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There's also overbuild. I make 1.5L (ales) starter and save 1/3. If I did not let it settle I would have to save ~18oz which is too big for pint Mason jar and I'd have quart Mason jars, barely over half full, taking up unnecessary fridge space (the horror).

That's why I let it settle first.
 
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beerisyummy

beerisyummy

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Some brewers don't want the starter wort in there. I make a starter that is something like the beer I want (minus the hops - add a bit of extra hop in the beer when I brew it to account for the lack of hop in the starter) then pitch the entire starter at full krausen - ferments start much faster this way.
See, this is what I kinda thought. I used to hombrew a long time ago and recently re-started, and I seem to remember conventional wisdom back in the day was to pitch at full krausen.

I can't speak from experience too much, BUT: it seems to me a 2-3L starter made from a light DME shouldn't impact the flavor profile of a 5 gallon batch all that much.
 
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beerisyummy

beerisyummy

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The reason for not dumping the entire starter has to do with oxidation. The stirplate introduces the O2 to the yeast. If you dump all of that you are dumping horribly oxidized wort to your beer. The cold crash is to drop your yeast out of suspension. You can then decant the oxidized wort down the drain. Watch and don’t dump any yeast, swirl the remainder, then pitch into your fresh wort.
As far as how long, it differs. I just started yeast that was a year old. It took 3 days to start, and 2 days to finish. I crashed it in the fridge over night. I then built up another step into 3 liters. It started almost immediately, and finished in 24 hrs. If you have fresh yeast, it will be finished the next day. When yeast is fresh I like to make my starter on Thurs. Take it off the plate on Friday and crash overnight in the fridge. Remove morning of brew day, decant and pitch.
Understood. But what if I DIDN'T let the stir plate go for 24 hrs.? Wouldn't I have less horribly oxidized wort then? Granted it's a different method of aeration, but the instructions that came with the pump-and-stone system I just got from MoreBeer.com say 30-120 minutes of aeration for the whole batch in the fermenter. That's what got me thinking about this, truth be told...
 

IslandLizard

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The time on the stir plate depends on the age and condition of the yeast you're growing from. A fairly fresh pack (say <3 months old) will grow the maximum possible in 24-48 hours on a stir plate at room temps (~68F).

Older yeast, say 6 months or older may need a week to grow enough cells for a 5 gallon batch. Most of us will do a step starter to grow older yeast or yeast that was stored in the freezer (and had 10% glycerine added).

Once the starter beer (wort becomes beer upon pitching yeast) turns lighter and milky you know it's growing. Use an educated guess to when it's done. Sometimes the yeast starts to floc out like crazy, a thick layer settles, or the stir bean is dragging in the slurry. Those are done!

I prefer to cold crash and decant so not to pitch the starter beer. But... I'm also known to drink starter beer, it gives me some feedback on what the yeast contributes. Some actually taste pretty OK especially when it has self-carbonated a bit. 1.5-2 quarts of Ultra Light Session beer!
 

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Oxidized wort into a 5G batch -- two thoughts; (1) Remember that you want O2 when you start a batch fermenting; (2) Flavor is more of a thing, but unless you have some truly skanky starter something going on, or bacteriologically infected and soured, then it won't make that big an impact unless it's a very light 5G recipe -- and if it is skanky you likely don't want to be using it anyway.
 

jpakstis

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Once the starter beer (wort becomes beer upon pitching yeast) turns lighter and milky you know it's growing. Use an educated guess to when it's done. Sometimes the yeast starts to floc out like crazy, a thick layer settles, or the stir bean is dragging in the slurry. Those are done!
Yeah, I don't use any hard-and-fast time rules. Once you see it turn light, opaque, and milky, you are all set. Once I see that, I'll let it continue for another day just to be sure. It usually takes me about 3-4 days. I like to make a(n overbuilt) starter the Sunday or even Monday before a typical Saturday brew day, harvest on Thursday (if you are doing that, and I recommend it - its not that hard and it saves decent money per brew) then cold crash, and it'll be good to go on Saturday.
 

Kee

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I've pitched a lot of 2 liter starters (at high krausen) into 5 gallons batches, usually after 24 hours on a stir plate. It works great. It kind of makes me nostalgic to say that, since all I can get here is dry yeast.
 

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I've never heard the oxidized beer in the starter thing. That doesn't make sense to me.

My understanding is this (correct me if I'm wrong...I am fairly new at this). The first phase for the yeast is the growth phase. This is the main driver for a starter. Then the yeast start their work on the wort in earnest. If you're pitching at high krausen and throwing the whole thing in, the yeast are still consuming the oxygen left/introduced to the wort, so oxidation shouldn't be a concern. Also, you're purposely introducing oxygen into the 5 gallon wort to help the yeasts grow and do their work. Even more oxygen consumed by the yeast. I'd be really surprised if oxidation is an issue at that point.

That being said, I do my starter earlier and decant, but only because I want to make sure I have healthy yeast before I start my brew day. By doing my starter on Wednesday for a Saturday brew day, I can let it do it's stuff and know I'm good to go with time to go to the LHBS if I need to get more/different yeast. The side effect is that it's done by Friday morning, so I usually throw it into the fridge then and cold crash.

If I knew unequivocally that I had viable yeast that will take right off in the starter, I'd pitch my starter on Friday for a Saturday brew and dump the whole thing while it's really cooking.
 

IslandLizard

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I've never heard the oxidized beer in the starter thing. That doesn't make sense to me.

My understanding is this (correct me if I'm wrong...I am fairly new at this). The first phase for the yeast is the growth phase. This is the main driver for a starter. Then the yeast start their work on the wort in earnest. If you're pitching at high krausen and throwing the whole thing in, the yeast are still consuming the oxygen left/introduced to the wort, so oxidation shouldn't be a concern. Also, you're purposely introducing oxygen into the 5 gallon wort to help the yeasts grow and do their work. Even more oxygen consumed by the yeast. I'd be really surprised if oxidation is an issue at that point.

That being said, I do my starter earlier and decant, but only because I want to make sure I have healthy yeast before I start my brew day. By doing my starter on Wednesday for a Saturday brew day, I can let it do it's stuff and know I'm good to go with time to go to the LHBS if I need to get more/different yeast. The side effect is that it's done by Friday morning, so I usually throw it into the fridge then and cold crash.

If I knew unequivocally that I had viable yeast that will take right off in the starter, I'd pitch my starter on Friday for a Saturday brew and dump the whole thing while it's really cooking.
To effectively grow yeast the wort needs to be rich in oxygen. The more oxygen we can feed the starter the fastest the yeast will grow. We achieve this by perpetual (or intermittent) agitation (stirring, shaking, etc.). This will oxidize the (starter) beer that's also being formed at the same time, unless you're under certain lab conditions we cannot replicate at home. Basically, the starter beer that's being formed is a byproduct of (imperfect) yeast growth, and oxidizes in the process.

So you'll end up with a yeast slurry and oxidized (starter) beer on top. Many of us prefer not to pitch the 2 liters of low gravity, low alcohol, but oxidized beer into our batch, although testimony claims it is hard or impossible to detect unless you brew the lightest of beers, especially (light) lagers.

Fermentation in a starter vessel (foaming, krausen forming) is an unwanted side effect, an indication that wort aeration/oxygenation has not been optimal. But in some cases, when pitched to resuscitate a stalled fermentation, such a high krausen "starter" can save the day, and the batch.
Vitality starters are similar to this, they don't get crashed and decanted. The yeast is at its peak and the pitched (starter) volume is typically smaller (like 0.5-1 liter) which has not been severely oxidized either (only 4-6 hours on stir plate).
 
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To effectively grow yeast the wort needs to be rich in oxygen. The more oxygen we can feed the starter the fastest the yeast will grow. We achieve this by perpetual (or intermittent) agitation (stirring, shaking, etc.). This will oxidize the (starter) beer that's also being formed at the same time, unless you're under certain lab conditions we cannot replicate at home. Basically, the starter beer that's being formed is a byproduct of (imperfect) yeast growth, and oxidizes in the process. So you'll end up with a yeast slurry and oxidized (starter) beer on top. Many of us prefer not to pitch the 2 liters of low gravity, low alcohol, but oxidized beer into our batch, although testimony claims it is hard or impossible to detect unless you brew the lightest of beers, especially (light) lagers. Fermentation in a starter vessel (foaming, krausen forming) is an unwanted side effect, an indication that wort aeration/oxygenation has not been optimal. But in some cases, when pitched to resuscitate a stalled fermentation, such a high krausen "starter" can save the day, and the batch. Vitality starters are similar to this, they don't get crashed and decanted. The yeast is at its peak and the pitched (starter) volume is typically smaller (like 0.5-1 liter) which has not been severely oxidized either (only 4-6 hours on stir plate).
 

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You asked, "why the rest?" From Palmer's "How to Brew" -- "...the stir plate should only be used for the first half of the propagation.... The reason is the yeast needs an active period of low oxygen to build up its glycogen and trehalose reserves prior to cooling, decanting and pitching to the main wort. These reserves help the yeast adapt to its new environment."
 

balrog

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Fermentation in a starter vessel (foaming, krausen forming) is an unwanted side effect, an indication that wort aeration/oxygenation has not been optimal.
Really? This I did not know. I want replication/growth to be sure, but fermentation once final growth for the given starter SG & O2 conditions mean starter yeast will now switch to fermenting instead of growth.
Maybe I've always expected this because I want to settle(crash/whatever), decant, save 1/3rd, pitch the rest, and so I always so this a few days (4-5) in advance of wanting to use it.
 

Hwk-I-St8

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To effectively grow yeast the wort needs to be rich in oxygen. The more oxygen we can feed the starter the fastest the yeast will grow. We achieve this by perpetual (or intermittent) agitation (stirring, shaking, etc.). This will oxidize the (starter) beer that's also being formed at the same time, unless you're under certain lab conditions we cannot replicate at home. Basically, the starter beer that's being formed is a byproduct of (imperfect) yeast growth, and oxidizes in the process.

So you'll end up with a yeast slurry and oxidized (starter) beer on top. Many of us prefer not to pitch the 2 liters of low gravity, low alcohol, but oxidized beer into our batch, although testimony claims it is hard or impossible to detect unless you brew the lightest of beers, especially (light) lagers.

Fermentation in a starter vessel (foaming, krausen forming) is an unwanted side effect, an indication that wort aeration/oxygenation has not been optimal. But in some cases, when pitched to resuscitate a stalled fermentation, such a high krausen "starter" can save the day, and the batch.
Vitality starters are similar to this, they don't get crashed and decanted. The yeast is at its peak and the pitched (starter) volume is typically smaller (like 0.5-1 liter) which has not been severely oxidized either (only 4-6 hours on stir plate).
Interesting. I've been reading about brewing incessantly (at least an hour a day) since last February and this is the first time I've heard about oxidation of the starter wort as a potential issue and the first time I've heard that fermentation of the starter wort is undesirable.

I guess I've been doing the right thing for the wrong reasons....
 

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Say I’m brewing Sunday. Friday night I’ll make 1 liter of starter wort. Leave on counter with yeast packet somewhere close. Not right next to the hot wort, but close. Saturday am, wort is at room temp along with yeast. Pitch yeast, leave on stir plate. Saturday night, I make another 1 liter batch of wort. Btw, I use 3/4 cup DME, 1000 ml h2o. Leave on counter overnight to cool, Sunday am I add that to the starter that is already going. By the time I’m done brewing and have wort at proper temp, my starter can’t wait to make some beer. I pitch the whole thing. Beers always take off. I don’t worry about oxidation too much. Frankly I think that’s the latest thing brewers are obsessing about. Minimize opening fermenter, and don’t transfer to secondary, and you’ll make some good beer. Just my humble opinion.
 

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Interesting. I've been reading about brewing incessantly (at least an hour a day) since last February and this is the first time I've heard about oxidation of the starter wort as a potential issue and the first time I've heard that fermentation of the starter wort is undesirable.

I guess I've been doing the right thing for the wrong reasons....
Oxidation of the starter beer is unavoidable, but adding the whole starter volume to a batch, without first cold crashing and decanting, may be a potential issue. As I said before, (home)brewers who pitched the whole shebang have claimed they didn't notice it, while others avoid it just in case it does make a difference. Adding 2 liters to a 5 gallon (19 liter) batch is about 10%. Some may have run a valid test already to prove the point one way or the other. I say the lighter and more subtle the beer the easier it would be to spot. More so when adding 4 liters of a Lager yeast starter to a 5 gallon batch, since Lagers require double the yeast cell pitch compared to Ales.

I don't think some fermentation of the starter wort is avoidable, it is likely a necessary part of the yeast cells' growth and propagation process. But excessive fermentation (lots of foaming, blow offs) would be a sign that a lot of the yeast cells aren't budding anymore, but instead started to metabolize the sugars into alcohol and CO2.
 

IslandLizard

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Say I’m brewing Sunday. Friday night I’ll make 1 liter of starter wort. Leave on counter with yeast packet somewhere close. Not right next to the hot wort, but close. Saturday am, wort is at room temp along with yeast. Pitch yeast, leave on stir plate. Saturday night, I make another 1 liter batch of wort. Btw, I use 3/4 cup DME, 1000 ml h2o. Leave on counter overnight to cool, Sunday am I add that to the starter that is already going. By the time I’m done brewing and have wort at proper temp, my starter can’t wait to make some beer. I pitch the whole thing. Beers always take off. I don’t worry about oxidation too much. Frankly I think that’s the latest thing brewers are obsessing about. Minimize opening fermenter, and don’t transfer to secondary, and you’ll make some good beer. Just my humble opinion.
Take a look at one of the yeast calculators, select "manually shaken" in "Method of Aeration" and see what growth you're getting with that split procedure.

So why not make 2 liters of starter wort Friday evening and pitch the yeast pack into that? Is it to avoid blow off and losing half the yeast to the countertop overnight (been there myself many times before using a stir plate)?
You could use a gallon size glass jug instead of a 2 liter flask to give you more headspace. Cap and shake thoroughly (20-40 seconds) until very foamy. Then either release the cap (so the jug doesn't blow up) or replace it with a foil cover. Repeat whenever you get a chance.

2 liters of wort can be chilled rather quickly by placing the vessel (for that I prefer a stainless pot with a lid) in a plastic dishwash tub or small bucket with some cold water, refresh that once or twice once it heats up. You can add some ice or an ice pack after the first or 2nd round of water to bring it down the last 20-40 degrees or so.

Ideally you should weigh your DME. Use a DME to water ratio of 1:10 (by weight) to make 1.037 wort. 100 grams of DME per 1 liter of water (1000 grams). 3/4 cup may weigh about 120 grams (not sure).

I was referring to the oxidized starter beer itself, which is still a relatively small volume. Since you don't use constant agitation (stir plate) your wort will be less aerated and likely less oxidized. But it also potentially suffers from less growth than ideal, due to lower dissolved O2 levels in the starter.
I'm not saying your method is wrong your beer speaks for itself.

You're spot on by letting the fermentor be and avoid secondaries in general. Avoiding oxidation of beer wherever you can makes a (big) difference.
 

Hwk-I-St8

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Oxidation of the starter beer is unavoidable, but adding the whole starter volume to a batch, without first cold crashing and decanting, may be a potential issue. As I said before, (home)brewers who pitched the whole shebang have claimed they didn't notice it, while others avoid it just in case it does make a difference. Adding 2 liters to a 5 gallon (19 liter) batch is about 10%. Some may have run a valid test already to prove the point one way or the other. I say the lighter and more subtle the beer the easier it would be to spot. More so when adding 4 liters of a Lager yeast starter to a 5 gallon batch, since Lagers require double the yeast cell pitch compared to Ales.

I don't think some fermentation of the starter wort is avoidable, it is likely a necessary part of the yeast cells' growth and propagation process. But excessive fermentation (lots of foaming, blow offs) would be a sign that a lot of the yeast cells aren't budding anymore, but instead started to metabolize the sugars into alcohol and CO2.
I brew mostly NEIPAs, which are notoriously susceptible to oxidation issues. I CC and decant and have not seen any issues. A friend of mine commented that my 8 week old NEIPA that I sent to him was remarkably oxidation free where he'd been having issues. I don't know how he handles his starters, but I'll ping him since he's trying to figure out the source. Pretty much our other processes are the same as far as I know (pressure xfer to a keg, backpressure fill bottles into a purged bottle, cap on foam, etc.).

BTW - my starters go hog wild and I've had many blow over. I guess I don't really understand when to shut it down...I always thought it was supposed to go through the cycle.
 

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So I'm using a stir plate with my yeast starter just for the second time now. I was wondering how long to let it stir, so I searched through some threads on HBT. I saw a lot of comments like this one:

"I do 48 hours. 24hrs on the plate then 12hrs resting and then 12hrs cold crash. I then pour off the wort before I start my brew, and shoot for a 50/50 mix then swirl (or put back on the stir plate) until ready to pitch. Most yeast start action within 4-5 hours."

Please tell me, what is the reason for the rest, and for the cold crash? Why can't I just pour my slurry into the fermenter when I've got the yeastie beasties chuggin away?

Expiring minds want to know...
Well, you can. In fact, that's exactly what I do.

There's a theory out there that you want to decant off the beer from the yeast because it contains off flavors or something that you don't want in your beer. I can't understand why the yeast won't clean those up as well as anything produced in the fermenter.

Anyway, I brewed Sunday. Had a starter going great guns--I do the 100grams of DME with enough water to produce a liter of "wort," I add a little yeast nutrient and then hit that wort (after boiling) with a 30-second shot of oxygen. Then on the stir plate it goes w/ a loose foil cap.

What I've found is that it's very active yet at about 14 hours, so that's when I want to pitch it. I drop the wort in the fermenter to the same temp as the starter, and in it goes. There's no temperature shock to the yeast (maybe a little sugar shock), and my experience indicates it takes right off.

I even do that for lagers. I know conventional wisdom says you need a double-starter for lagers, but my theory is to let the fermenter provide that--so I only produce a single-liter starter. Typically I pitch at about 67-70 degrees. Then I'll let it sit for maybe 4-5 hours at that temp, then start the ferm chamber dropping to 50 degrees.

When I did that Sunday, brewing a lager, I had bubbling at 5 hours, and a krausen formed at 9 hours. There is virtually no lag with this approach, and I've brewed a number of lagers this way and they've tasted great.

Now, maybe there are off flavors I'm not detecting, but others have drunk those beers and been very complimentary of it.
 

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I brew mostly NEIPAs, which are notoriously susceptible to oxidation issues. I CC and decant and have not seen any issues. A friend of mine commented that my 8 week old NEIPA that I sent to him was remarkably oxidation free where he'd been having issues. I don't know how he handles his starters, but I'll ping him since he's trying to figure out the source. Pretty much our other processes are the same as far as I know (pressure xfer to a keg, backpressure fill bottles into a purged bottle, cap on foam, etc.).

BTW - my starters go hog wild and I've had many blow over. I guess I don't really understand when to shut it down...I always thought it was supposed to go through the cycle.
I'm not sure if (oxidized) starter beer could further oxidize the batch it was pitched in. There are 100s of components in wort/beer and many of those can get oxidized (giving off that traditional oxidized flavor and aroma). Later in the process they may cause stability issues or further oxidation as well. The LoDO proponents avoid possible oxidation of components in every step as much as possible for that reason.

NEIPAs are a really good example of an oxidation prone beer. 8 weeks bottled and still A-OK is pretty good. You're doing a lot of things right to get it that way.

The quickest and easiest way to try to fix his process is to observe him brew and see where he does thing differently, and point them out at the time. Like he may be "whisking" his mash, beating air into it, or splashing during lautering, etc.

Are you using a stir plate for starters or just intermittent shaking/swirling?

Before I used a stir plate, or now, an orbital shaker, I had terrible blow offs like that too. Adding one drop of Fermcap-S to my starter wort, greatly reduced boil overs during starter wort preparation and the forming of thick, heavy foam during yeast propagation. But occasionally I would still end up mopping yeast. Same happened sometimes when the stir bar got thrown. So the constant agitation/aeration must change something, while it makes more yeast quicker.
 

Hwk-I-St8

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I'm not sure if (oxidized) starter beer could further oxidize the batch it was pitched in. There are 100s of components in wort/beer and many of those can get oxidized (giving off that traditional oxidized flavor and aroma). Later in the process they may cause stability issues or further oxidation as well. The LoDO proponents avoid possible oxidation of components in every step as much as possible for that reason.

NEIPAs are a really good example of an oxidation prone beer. 8 weeks bottled and still A-OK is pretty good. You're doing a lot of things right to get it that way.

The quickest and easiest way to try to fix his process is to observe him brew and see where he does thing differently, and point them out at the time. Like he may be "whisking" his mash, beating air into it, or splashing during lautering, etc.

Are you using a stir plate for starters or just intermittent shaking/swirling?

Before I used a stir plate, or now, an orbital shaker, I had terrible blow offs like that too. Adding one drop of Fermcap-S to my starter wort, greatly reduced boil overs during starter wort preparation and the forming of thick, heavy foam during yeast propagation. But occasionally I would still end up mopping yeast. Same happened sometimes when the stir bar got thrown. So the constant agitation/aeration must change something, while it makes more yeast quicker.
I use a stir plate. I usually shake the crap out of the starter wort after chilled but prior to pitching the yeast. I usually do the starter in the evening. The next morning it's got a nice layer of...oh about 1/2" foam on top of the wort (even with the stirring). Go to work and come home to a mess where it's blown by the foil and pooled under the stir plate (which I keep in a ziplock just in case). I've tried a different brand of anti-foaming that our LHBS carries (they don't carry fermcap) but it didn't make any difference at all.
 
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Thanks everyone for the lively discussion. As usual, the varieties of technique and philosophy from numerous people making good beer are an inspiration to not worry, relax, and have a homebrew. Actually my favorite take-away so far is this: "Friday night I’ll make 1 liter of starter wort. Leave on counter with yeast packet somewhere close. Not right next to the hot wort, but close. Saturday am, wort is at room temp along with yeast." An elegant, low-tech solution to avoid temp. shock pitching yeast into the starter!

Just to yeastify the waters a little more, check out this article. Apparently yeast don't actually need oxygen but then again they do.
https://www.morebeer.com/articles/oxygen_in_fermentation
 

IslandLizard

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I use a stir plate. I usually shake the crap out of the starter wort after chilled but prior to pitching the yeast. I usually do the starter in the evening. The next morning it's got a nice layer of...oh about 1/2" foam on top of the wort (even with the stirring). Go to work and come home to a mess where it's blown by the foil and pooled under the stir plate (which I keep in a ziplock just in case). I've tried a different brand of anti-foaming that our LHBS carries (they don't carry fermcap) but it didn't make any difference at all.
You could shake the wort well with the yeast in it too. The "shaken, not stirred" yeast propagation method relies on that. A larger vessel is recommended to increase the air space to create and allow lots of foam. The foam being air bubbles (21% O2) suspended in the yeast slurry/wort mixture, an ideal growing medium. They only use 1 liter of wort in a 5 liter vessel. I guess a gallon jug could work in a pinch.

Not sure why your anti-foaming agent won't work, maybe it has a different purpose. Whenever you place an order elsewhere, add a bottle of Fermcap-S. Store in fridge between uses, and shake well before dispensing. It takes only one drop per (partial) gallon. On some vials, the little flip-up dispenser tube can get clogged, use a toothpick to open it up.
 

glugglug

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So why not make 2 liters of starter wort Friday evening and pitch the yeast pack into that? Is it to avoid blow off and losing half the yeast to the countertop overnight (been there myself many times before using a stir plate)?
I step it up after 24 hours to kind of keep things a steady growth. I have no evidence to back this up, just kind of what I thought. When I first started making starters, I was making them too small. I was listening to podcasts, I thought the stepping up method was how they were describing to do it. Just been doing it that way ever since, probably for 7 or 8 years now. I’m very happy with the results. Tried decanting once and it didn’t go well for me. Also, I was always just a little short in the fermenter. Figured extra wort meant more beer. Hasn’t messed with my numbers too much.
 
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