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wlssox524

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I'm trying to brew a kolsch tomorrow..would likely start brewing ~20 hours from now and pitch ~25 hours from now. I have the yeast (Wyeast 2565) but I just realized that I have no stir bars. So I'm looking at doing a 3 liter shaken starter in order to get to the right pitching rate. My question is: if I let the starter ride out for about 18 hours then crash cool it for ~5 hours while I brew...will that be enough time to get the yeast to fall out and decant all that nasty starter wort? I know Wyeast 2565 is pretty powdery/non-flocculant

Any ideas?
 

Grannyknot

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How big (OG) is the beer?
My opinion....no, 5 hours is not enough time to drop the yeast out of suspension.
 
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wlssox524

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I think you're probably right. It's 5.5 gallons of 1.55 beer. I'm going to try to swing by my LHBS and get 3 more smack packs (assuming about 50b cells per since they were made on July 29) and pitch them straight
 

Grannyknot

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My personal opinion is that you really don't need to worry about using more than 2 smack packs, even with a July 29th date. I would probably mention to your LHBS that it would be nice if they carried yeast that was a bit fresher.
 
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wlssox524

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Mr Malty says 47% viability based on that date and I need ~200B cells..shouldn't I be using 4 packs?
 

eltorrente

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Don't bother buying 4 packs - that's just not necessary. 18 hours in a shaken starter is enough to at least have pretty good reproduction going on, and 5 hours is decent to cool and decant - but not optimal. I've cooled and decanted in similar time because I forgot to do it, and was able to do it.

If you had a really high gravity brew that you were doing, then maybe add another smack pack and that would help out, but otherwise you should be alright.

Buying a bunch of extra smack packs is simply not worth it. You should get plenty of yeast to do the trick for your beer over 18 hours of reproduction. Don't get scared looking at Mr Malty.
 
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wlssox524

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Sorry--to clarify: I think I am going to forego the starter since I don't feel too great about giving such a non-flocculant yeast so little time to crash. Instead I'm going to just suck it up and pitch multiple smack packs: thus the 4 smack packs (4x50b cells gets me to the ~200b cells I need for the wort)
 

Grannyknot

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.....18 hours in a shaken starter is enough to at least have pretty good reproduction going on, and 5 hours is decent to cool and decant - but not optimal. I've cooled and decanted in similar time because I forgot to do it, and was able to do it.
I'm sorry. I don't normally do this, but I have to politely disagree.
The yeast he is using is a known low floc yeast. 5 hours is nowhere near enough time to drop the healthy cells out of suspension. If he decants the wort off the starter after 5 hours, he is probably going to be worse off than he would be if he only used 1 smack pack.

Considering the viability of a July 29th date, chances are, after 5 hours the yeast cake at the bottom of the flask is going to be the dead, unhealthy yeast, and he will have decanted all his good yeast cells.

I don't normally post contrarian viewpoints, but I just believe this to be bad information that new brewers might be reading, causing them to waste time, money, and possibly making a sub-par batch of beer.

Good day :mug:

edit: and to add, I do agree that 4 smack packs is excessive, even at that date.
 

ColoHox

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Mr Malty says 47% viability based on that date and I need ~200B cells..shouldn't I be using 4 packs?
I would have to agree. Pitching rate is very important and one of the easiest methods to improve your beer.

Of course, the thing will ferment with 1 package of cells. But the correct pitching rate makes a better beer.
 

stpug

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My simple answer: You're low on time for a starter, but if you had a stirplate and pitched the entire starter then you'd be fine (and this would be what I would do). Since you don't seem to have the stirplate option, I would recommend 2 smack packs to ensure a plentiful pitch.

Edit: The very first time I used a stirplate I didn't have a stirbar so I made one out of a cut piece of nail, slid inside sterile tubing, and torched closed on both ends. I checked the tubing to ensure it didn't leak, and then put it to work on a liquid vial of yeast. It worked out fine - but I didn't like the discomfort of knowing whether or not my homemade stirbar was going to mess things up.

-----------
My complex answer:

Yeast pitching/starting/rates/temperatures is a touchy subject with a lot of opinions. Some folks believe there's very little flexibility with it and others believe there's a fair amount of flexibility with it (<-me). One thing that seems fairly common amongst most folks is that properly handled and pitched yeast coupled with a good fermentation temperature regimen should lead to good beer - assuming a good process, proper sanitation, reasonable recipe, etc.

Recent re-discoveries on lab-grade yeast (i.e. White Labs and Wyeast) seems to indicate that it is indeed superior quality than repitched yeast, and doesn't follow the same guidelines that the pitching rate calculators estimate.

According to Palmer 2008: "Fresh yeast from a well-prepared starter is at the peak of viability and vitality and only 50&#8211;75% as many fresh yeast are needed to do the same job as re-pitched yeast." and "Ales that are considered to have a very clean character, like American pale ale, blonde ale and Northern English brown ale should be pitched at the 0.75&#8211;1.0 billion cells per liter." (source: http://byo.com/stories/item/1717-yeast-pitching-rates-advance-homebrewing)

I extrapolate this to include lab-grade yeast since it's grown in a much more yeast-friendly environment than our "well-prepated starters". It also gives the flexibility of 0.75-1.0 billon cells per liter (i.e. 0.75-1.0 million/ml/°P)

You are looking at needing about 211 billion cells of repitch yeast for a 5.5G batch of 1.055 wort (according to yeastcalc).

One packet of wyeast in the Activator packaging can supply "a minimum of 100 billion cells per package" (direct from Wyeast) during their Product Warranty period. Their Product Warranty period is 6 months from manufacture date.

Summarizing all of the above:
-Yeastcalc says you need 211 billion cells of repitch yeast (1m/ml/°P).
-Palmer says you need 106-158 billion cells of high quality starter (lab-grade) yeast (i.e. 50-75% the standard 1m/ml/°P).
-Palmer also says neutral ales should be pitched at the 0.75-1.0m/ml/°P for repitch yeast, which could mean a reduction by 25% of the high quality yeast cell figure.
-Wyeast is a supplier of lab-grade yeast with a warranty of a minimum of 100 billion cells for 6 months from manufacture date.

My conclusions:
-Using <6 month old Wyeast, should give 100+ billion cells
-Using Palmers upper-end rates on high quality yeast, one Wyeast smack pack should be good for 5G of 1.040 at 1m/ml/°P (5G of 1.053 at 0.75m/ml/°P)

My recommendation:
-Use 2 smack packs and feel very comfortable that you supplied sufficient yeast (needed 158b; supplied 200+b)
-Use 1 smack pack and feel unsure on supplied yeast (needed 158b; supplied 100+b)

Any more than 2 smack packs is unneeded. The figures above basically scrape along the lines of safe rather than sorry. I was working on the premise of Palmers 75%, but he stated you might be able to go as low as 50% which would bring the 'needed' yeast count down to 106b cells thereby making 1 smack pack (100+b) seem like a very viable option.
 
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wlssox524

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My simple answer: You're low on time for a starter, but if you had a stirplate and pitched the entire starter then you'd be fine (and this would be what I would do). Since you don't seem to have the stirplate option, I would recommend 2 smack packs to ensure a plentiful pitch.

Edit: The very first time I used a stirplate I didn't have a stirbar so I made one out of a cut piece of nail, slid inside sterile tubing, and torched closed on both ends. I checked the tubing to ensure it didn't leak, and then put it to work on a liquid vial of yeast. It worked out fine - but I didn't like the discomfort of knowing whether or not my homemade stirbar was going to mess things up.

-----------
My complex answer:

Yeast pitching/starting/rates/temperatures is a touchy subject with a lot of opinions. Some folks believe there's very little flexibility with it and others believe there's a fair amount of flexibility with it (<-me). One thing that seems fairly common amongst most folks is that properly handled and pitched yeast coupled with a good fermentation temperature regimen should lead to good beer - assuming a good process, proper sanitation, reasonable recipe, etc.

Recent re-discoveries on lab-grade yeast (i.e. White Labs and Wyeast) seems to indicate that it is indeed superior quality than repitched yeast, and doesn't follow the same guidelines that the pitching rate calculators estimate.

According to Palmer 2008: "Fresh yeast from a well-prepared starter is at the peak of viability and vitality and only 50–75% as many fresh yeast are needed to do the same job as re-pitched yeast." and "Ales that are considered to have a very clean character, like American pale ale, blonde ale and Northern English brown ale should be pitched at the 0.75–1.0 billion cells per liter." (source: http://byo.com/stories/item/1717-yeast-pitching-rates-advance-homebrewing)

I extrapolate this to include lab-grade yeast since it's grown in a much more yeast-friendly environment than our "well-prepated starters". It also gives the flexibility of 0.75-1.0 billon cells per liter (i.e. 0.75-1.0 million/ml/°P)

You are looking at needing about 211 billion cells of repitch yeast for a 5.5G batch of 1.055 wort (according to yeastcalc).

One packet of wyeast in the Activator packaging can supply "a minimum of 100 billion cells per package" (direct from Wyeast) during their Product Warranty period. Their Product Warranty period is 6 months from manufacture date.

Summarizing all of the above:
-Yeastcalc says you need 211 billion cells of repitch yeast (1m/ml/°P).
-Palmer says you need 106-158 billion cells of high quality starter (lab-grade) yeast (i.e. 50-75% the standard 1m/ml/°P).
-Palmer also says neutral ales should be pitched at the 0.75-1.0m/ml/°P for repitch yeast, which could mean a reduction by 25% of the high quality yeast cell figure.
-Wyeast is a supplier of lab-grade yeast with a warranty of a minimum of 100 billion cells for 6 months from manufacture date.

My conclusions:
-Using <6 month old Wyeast, should give 100+ billion cells
-Using Palmers upper-end rates on high quality yeast, one Wyeast smack pack should be good for 5G of 1.040 at 1m/ml/°P (5G of 1.053 at 0.75m/ml/°P)

My recommendation:
-Use 2 smack packs and feel very comfortable that you supplied sufficient yeast (needed 158b; supplied 200+b)
-Use 1 smack pack and feel unsure on supplied yeast (needed 158b; supplied 100+b)

Any more than 2 smack packs is unneeded. The figures above basically scrape along the lines of safe rather than sorry. I was working on the premise of Palmers 75%, but he stated you might be able to go as low as 50% which would bring the 'needed' yeast count down to 106b cells thereby making 1 smack pack (100+b) seem like a very viable option.
Wow--very helpful response, thanks. My only question is around your assumption that a smack pack will have 100B viable cells for 6 months. Isn't the point of factoring in manufacturing date when building starters that you need to account for the viability drop off (which from my understanding is pretty steep)? Does the 50% viability number after 3 months not apply to a fresh smack pack?
 
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wlssox524

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What's confusing me is that both Mr Malty and Brewers Friend pitching rate calculators seem to want you to account for age/viability with smack packs (or white labs tubes), which suggests to me that there is a viability drop off after all and you may not be starting with 100bn cells after a couple months
 

stpug

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Wow--very helpful response, thanks. My only question is around your assumption that a smack pack will have 100B viable cells for 6 months. Isn't the point of factoring in manufacturing date when building starters that you need to account for the viability drop off (which from my understanding is pretty steep)? Does the 50% viability number after 3 months not apply to a fresh smack pack?
According to wyeast, they state a minimum of 100b cells in their package and have a product warranty period of 6 months from manufacture date. I tend to think that the 100b cell count would be at the end of 6 months. I can choose to believe them or not. I suspect they aren't lying to us but maybe they use some kind of fuzzy logic to keep their asses covered???

Based on one of woodlandbrew's viability counts (using washed and questionable yeast, IIRC) he concluded a much smaller viability percentage loss the cleaner the yeast was over time. I would suspect that lab grade yeast is about as "pure" as you'll ever get and conclude it's viability loss to be minimal during the manufacturers warranty period.

But these are the questions we'd like to get answered from both WY and wl so we, as homebrewers, can better judge our yeast pitching when working with <6 month lab yeast
 

stpug

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Now that you point that out, I remember seeing that not so long ago. Since yeast is a living organism, and microscopic, it's hard to get concrete answers on things, and also probably why 10 different scientists performing test will yield 10 different findings - and probably why it's such a highly debated topic :D

Wording like
"minimum of 100b" and
"guarantee for 6 months" and
"some loss of viability"
are all hard to judge in any kind of definitive way. If a package has 120b cells and has 75% viability leaves you with 90b, but if it has 93% viability then you have ~112b. If a package has 100b cells and 93% viability then it leaves you with 93b. When using these numbers with statements provided by folks like Palmer and Zainasheff it compounds the lack of definition, especially when their knowledge differs on something like pitching rates.

Is it wise to err on the side of too much yeast? Generally speaking, yes. Though there are plenty of instances when it's not nearly as important as in other instances. In your particular case, I firmly believe 2 packages would be plenty for the volume and gravity of your batch; but it's likely not going to hurt your beer if you pitch 4 in there (just your wallet :D)
 

13ONK

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It's never a good idea to rush things because you're short on time. If you can't push off brew day I don't see a big problem with just delaying the pitch. As long as your primary is sanatized and sealed it should be fine to wait a day or so to pitch your yeast.
 
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