Quick yeast starter question...

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Gizmo

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Hey. I made a yeast starter friday, and was planning on making beer tonight (sunday) but my schedule changed and I can't brew for another day or two. I had already put it in the fridge to let the yeast sink to the bottom and pour off the beer before pitching.

My question is: since I'm not brewing until mon or tues, and the yeast hasn't finished propogating anyway, would it hurt anything to bring it from the fridge back up to room temp to propogate for another day, then re-refrigerate it again mon or tues, to let the yeast sink back down, or would the temperature swings freak the yeast out too much?
Thanks (p.s. or should I just leave it in the fridge @ 34-38 degrees and it propagate slowly for another 24-48 hrs that way; there is still propogation going on in the fridge right now, yeast moving around, etc) and I'm using WLP001 (white labs) if that matters :)
 
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Gizmo

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Ok, so you don't think I risk underpitching because it hasn't propogated fully? Well, I'm not sure actually, normally I go at least 48 hrs before refrigeration but this one was at 74-78 degrees for about 42 hrs before I stuck it in the fridge. How long does it take anyway? I've heard different numbers from different people...
 

beerthirty

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And I'll give you different #s too.:) Usually about 24 hours at room temp, but I've gone as little as 12 and pitched at hi krasuen, and as long as letting the yeast consume all the sugars and going dormant in the fridge then warming up to room temp 2 weeks later and pitching. Pitching at hi krasuen allows the yeast to be at their most active so the propagate faster in the wort. warming up a fully fermented starter gives more cells to work with but they have to be waken up. I havent decided which works best, but both work and make great beer.
 

JuanKenobi

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+1 to pitching at high krausen. I get great results both ways too tho. I think that in the case of old/expired yeast it might be better to let the starter ferment out to ensure maximum population.
 
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Gizmo

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Ok, so, um a few more questions if that's ok...

1. What is "high krausen"? When the yeast is most active, meaning 'before' it has consumed all the sugars and dropped out of suspension at room temp?

2. Can I still refrigerate, dump beer from top of starter, warm to room temp (6-8 hrs), and pitch slurry when it's at high krausen, or will that risk dumping yeast?

3. And... how do you tell when a starter is at "high krausen"

4. Starters will last two weeks in the fridge? (if so then, Yippee!) (I thought it was only 2-4 days)

(sorry, trying to learn everything I can, I'm on my 3rd batch, and so far so good, my 1st brew tasted great) :)

(starter is back in the fridge, still propogating, yeast "plooping up" from the bottom every so often like a lava lamp)
 

JuanKenobi

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Krausen is the head that forms during the most active part of fermentation. You probably saw this on you're other batches if you fermented in a carboy. Some starters might not ever even form one, but I've found that when I use fresh yeast it usually does. As Beerthirty said, pitching at high krausen lets you know that the yeast is at it's most active. You'll find differing opinions about when to pitch starters. You've got it though. Just leave that starter in the fridge until you need it then pull it out (6-8 hours ahead of time like you say), decant the beer and pitch the slurry. No worries.
 
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Gizmo

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Cool deal. Yeah, I've definately seen krausen on full batches, some yeasts more than others. With a yeast starter the only thing close to krausen would I guess be around 18-24 hrs into it. When I "swirl" it, and theres an immediate huge head that forms, releasing a lot of Co2, then subsides for the most part after sitting for a few minutes. I use a plastic jug and "intermittent shaking" (as per mr malty) now, but will eventually work up to a stir plate :)
Thanks a lot, I haven't quite gotten past the "making beer without racking my nerves" phase yet, but each brew is getting progressively easier, and less messy, which makes the wife happy (1st brew looked like a bomb went off in the kitchen) :)

Oh btw, how long do you usually cool your starter before decanting the beer from the top, I usually wait around 24-48 hrs, is that enough or am I loosing too much yeast that way? (should I wait until the liquid is clear above the yeast?)
 

JuanKenobi

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I also use the intermittent shake method right now. 24 hours in the fridge should be fine. I have decanted starters that I chilled for only 12 hours for one reason or another and they have always been fine. As long as you're not grossly underpitching everything will be okay.
 
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Gizmo

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Cool ok, I was just asking cause I don't think I've ever decanted perfectly "clear" beer off the top of a yeast starter, but my batches have turned out fine so far, and every batch gets closer to my predicted final gravity so I'm obviously doing something right (last FG was 1 point over target).

Thanks a lot man, I'll be brewing yet again probably tomorrow (yay!). I need more carboys though, this is quickly turning into a serious (and tasty) hobby :)
 

JuanKenobi

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It sounds like you did your research with the starter. Don't worry about decanting "clear beer" off you're starter. If you've chilled it for 24 hours or more, most of the yeast will have settled out. It's pretty much impossible to get ALL the yeast out of suspension. If you're using mrmalty to determine starter size and all you'll be fine. One suggestion I would make is to search the forums for discussions about fermentation temperature. A lot of beginners ferment their beer too warm because of the recommendation on the yeast packaging. I've found that fermenting cooler has vastly improved my brews.
 
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Gizmo

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Really? Well, my first beer I overshot the fermentation temp for the first 12-24 hrs which produced some esters, but the beer ended up tasting pretty good anyway. You mean, ferment colder than the yeast companies recommend? Ex: WLP001 (from white labs) Optimum (68-73 degrees) so ferment at say 65? I haven't tried that yet, but I'm assuming it'll produce a "cleaner" beer with a smoother yeast profile, but may take longer to fement, or am I wrong? I just haven't tried it yet cause I am worried about pitching the yeast and it not doing it's "thang" because the temp is too low.

Yeah, I do as much research as I can, lol. I have a few books, and about a dozen homebrew sites on my favorites. I'm getting the procedure down fairly well, now I just have to work on recipes. I'm making my own recipes up, based on other recipes I find, just to see what ingredients do what. My first beer was supposed to be an old ale, but because of various things it ended up tasting more like a Belgian dubbel, lol. Tastes really good though, I just gotta learn which ingredients produce which flavors. I also noticed fermentation temp and yeast affects the flavor a TON! Still trying to learn all I can though :)
 

JuanKenobi

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Don't get me wrong, I've never made a beer that was un-drinkable. Not what I intended maybe, but never bad. One batch I thought was no good, but I waited it out and it got good after an extra 6 weeks or so in the keg. One thing to remember is that your fermenting beer will be warmer than the ambient temperature, especially during the most active fermentation. My brew closet is consistently about 62-63 and I've been loving my results. From everything I've read on here, it seems like fermenting above 70 is really never a good idea, even with brews that should be estery, like hefes. The temp ranges that the yeast companies recommend are 'optimum' temps for the yeast, but not necessarily for the beer you're brewing. You might find that the fermentation takes a little longer at lower temps, but you're probably going to be doing a long primary or a secondary to clear the beer anyway. Once you're drinking a couple different home brews, you'll find it's not that hard to be patient, although you don't seem to have a problem with that based on the care you put into your start :) Just keep on brewing and reading. It gets better and better as you go. Pretty soon your 'serious hobby' will develop into a healthy obsession/mental illness. It's great.
 
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Gizmo

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Lol, yeah, some would say I already have a "beer illness". Before I started homebrewing I had a few hundred beer reviews, had been to a few festivals, crossed state lines to buy beer, you know, the normal stuff :) I learned the whole "fermenting yeast produces heat" thing the first time. The closet was at 70-72, but the beer thermometer said something closer to 75-76, still tasted good.

Yeah, I do 7-10 days primary, 10-28 days secondary, depending on how quickly it ferments. I might try the lower temp thing though, my last beer (in secondary right now) never got above 70 and it's almost crystal clear after only 11 days in secondary, and tastes pretty clean. I figure with so many opinions I'll probably end up just experimenting and seeing what works best. I mean, i've heard that some professional breweries only ferment in primary for 3 or 4 days, then crash cool, which sounds silly to me, other people leave it in 4-6 weeks in primary, also silly to me, but I brew a little different every time, just to see what happens.
 

beerthirty

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Its your beer, and it only has to please you. Unless I'm doing an exotic like a hi grav Belgian, I primary for 3 weeks at 65-68*, cold crash then rack to the keg where its carbed and aged for 3-5 weeks. I have never competed but have been told by several people I should. Then again its my beer and it only has to please me. At this point I don't really care what three strangers think of my beer.
You said you secondary for 10-28 depending on how quickly it ferments. You are waiting untill the FG stops dropping before transfer to the secondary aren't you. The secondary fermenter is a misnomer, fermentation should be complete before transfer. Secondary is more of a clearing tank then fermentation vessel.
 
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Gizmo

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Oh yeah, I know. When I said "depending on how quickly it ferments" I meant in 'primary'. I just said that cause my first beer fermented out completely in 4 days, I still waited 10 to transfer I think. What I should have said was:

Primary = 7 days minimum, regardless of O.G., and until grav reading has stayed the same for 4 days. (Ex: 6th day, take grav, 8th day, another grav, if 10th day, still no change, rack to secondary) But I've learned not to take my 1st grav reading for about 5-7 days, so my last 2 beers I transferred at 9 and 10 days.

Secondary = As long as I can stand it, which so far has been around 2-3weeks :)

And yes, I know that a lot of people on here recommend a long primary and no secondary, or a long primary, even longer secondary, and I'll try that eventually, but I only have 1 primary carboy and 1 secondary, and I'm not waiting 6 months inbetween batches of beer no matter what anyone says :p
Once I get 20 or 30 carboys, and I'm making a batch every 3 days, sure I'll try it, but not until then.

Yeah, I do all the stuff I'm supposed to do as a beginner, at least as far as I can tell, and some things I'm sure some beginners aren't aware of. Essentially, anything I read that I interpret as a "strong suggestion" I do if I can.

Like: Sanitize sanitize sanitize, cool wort quickly, rack beer according to your hydrometer, don't squeeze the grain bag while steeping (it'll release bitter tannins), watch (and control) your temperature during the entire brewing process, aerate wort before pitching, strong flourescent light and sunlight is bad for beer in general, including fermenting beer, etc etc etc.

If anything I overstudy, which I don't think is possible, but I want to make tasty beer, so anything I can learn or do that helps me accomplish that, I try to do it. And the more I brew the more patient I get, cause I'm aware that age and time helps beer. I don't really care if 3 strangers like my beer either, only if I do, but my wife has liked all my beers so far, and she's not a huge beer drinker, so that's pretty cool :) She might not like the next one though, an IPA with 65-70 ibu's, and she's not a hophead like me :D
 
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