Shaken Not Stirred Advice

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SourLover

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I’ve been doing a 1L to 2L to 4L starter. Just failed at trying to get the stir bar to catch in the 4L, so it looks like this will be shaken not stirred.
My plan is to shake it when I walk downstairs each time between now and Monday, and then leave it from Monday Wednesday while we are gone, crash it Wednesday night, and use it Thursday afternoon.
I brew at our vacation home, so the only other plan is just to shake it between now and Monday morning when we leave, and put it in the fridge when we leave.
Any advice is appreciated. I guess either way it is going to make beer.
 

McMullan

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A starter culture only needs to be aerated/oxygenated at the beginning, just before adding yeast. If not stirred, a gentle swirl whenever you pass by is a good idea, to get sedimented layers of yeast back in suspension to better access nutrients. I wouldn't shake it once it's actively fermenting, as it's likely to foam over. To be honest, just leaving it to its own devices is fine, it just takes a little longer with a marginal drop in cell number. If your 1L starter is healthy/fresh step up straight to 4L. The 2L step's little more than feeding the yeast, rather than fuelling biomass production. If you want to use a stir plate to get marginally more yeast cells cultured sooner, the stir bar only needs to be spinning at a rate to keep yeast cells in suspension. Even a small stir plate is sufficient for a >4L starter. A maelstrom like vortex looks cool, but it's not necessary.
 

Jag75

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This is my process for a SNS starter. Add the proper starter into a clean sanitized 1 gallon glass jug. Add the yeast , fill the empty proper can with distilled water , pour into the jug , pour some into the empty yeast packet to ensure all the good stuff comes out . After all the water is added I put the cap on the jug and shake the ever living daylights out of it .

It turns into a jug of foam . Leave the cap on for 30 to 45 min . Then I open the cap a little to allow venting. 18 hours later it's ready to pitch. Super easy .
 
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With my 4l starters I have found that getting the magnet to hook up can take a little finagling.. I usually swirl my starter then press go on my stir plate so it starts to spin and the starter is already spinning and set it on the plate as soon as I press go, if that makes sense? It may take a try or 2 but usually works for me.
 
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You can always use the true 'shaken not stirred' Vitality starter method. Start it about 12 hours before you plan on pitching, and pitch the whole thing at peak of High krausen. Since reading about this method from Denny a few years back, and checking his research that backs it up, this is what I've done. Makes it simple. With lager yeasts I will do a standard stirred starter about 4-5 days before and then step it up to a vitality starter the night before I brew.
 

IslandLizard

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This is my process for a SNS starter. Add the proper starter into a clean sanitized 1 gallon glass jug. Add the yeast , fill the empty proper can with distilled water , pour into the jug , pour some into the empty yeast packet to ensure all the good stuff comes out . After all the water is added I put the cap on the jug and shake the ever living daylights out of it .

It turns into a jug of foam . Leave the cap on for 30 to 45 min . Then I open the cap a little to allow venting. 18 hours later it's ready to pitch. Super easy .
That^ is a S-N-S starter! It's the foam phase wherein the yeast thrives, due to the (relatively) large air pockets (containing 21% Oxygen). Keep doing it, every hour or so, for most growth.

Just swirling once a while is, well, a swirled starter. And doesn't give you nearly as much growth or yeast vitality.
 

McMullan

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With my 4l starters I have found that getting the magnet to hook up can take a little finagling.. I usually swirl my starter then press go on my stir plate so it starts to spin and the starter is already spinning and set it on the plate as soon as I press go, if that makes sense? It may take a try or 2 but usually works for me.
It‘a so rewarding to get it going after the umpteenth swirl to centralize the bar. A handy tip, if you’re not already aware, is to store at least two stir bars together, to maintain their magnetic property.
 

McMullan

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That^ is a S-N-S starter! It's the foam phase wherein the yeast thrives, due to the (relatively) large air pockets (containing 21% Oxygen). Keep doing it, every hour or so, for most growth.

Just swirling once a while is, well, a swirled starter. And doesn't give you nearly as much growth or yeast vitality.
That’s according to logic and supported by anecdotal evidence. The reality is it doesn’t make as much difference as claimed. The most important thing to do is simply make a starter. At one end we can use pure O2 and a stir plate, to maximise biomass production, and at the other end just leave it in a cupboard for several days, to get enough fresh yeast to finish fermentation. I use all methods, depending on volume of step; from shaking 10ml to 3L stirred with pure O2 to letting it do its own thing in a 10L brew to reach my desired repitching rate. Repitching fresh being the ‘gold standard’.
 
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Thanks to everyone for their responses. As it turns out this starter was pretty much done last night, and I left it until this morning when I placed it in the fridge. It might not be as much yeast as had I been able to get the stir bar to catch, but it should be more than enough to get this batch done.

This is my process for a SNS starter. Add the proper starter into a clean sanitized 1 gallon glass jug. Add the yeast , fill the empty proper can with distilled water , pour into the jug.......

This is what I do for my 1L and 2L starters, but those cans of Proper Starter get a little pricy if you need four of them, or in the case of this starter 7 cans since I built up from 1L to 2L and then to 4L. I was thinking about it though as I was cooling down this starter in an ice bath.

With my 4l starters I have found that getting the magnet to hook up can take a little finagling.. I usually swirl my starter then press go on my stir plate so it starts to spin and the starter is already spinning and set it on the plate as soon as I press go, if that makes sense? It may take a try or 2 but usually works for me.

I'm using the Maelstrom stir plate from Northern Brewer, and I must have tried 40 times to get the stir bar to hook up. I tried the swirling as you suggested but was unsuccessful. I tried a cross, an 1-1/2" long stir bar, and a 1" stir bar and after about 30 minutes I admitted defeat. I never have this problem on the 1L and 2L starters that I do, and this was the first time using this 5L flask. I'll give it another try next time I'm doing a big beer and need the 4L starter.

You can always use the true 'shaken not stirred' Vitality starter method. Start it about 12 hours before you plan on pitching, and pitch the whole thing at peak of High krausen. Since reading about this method from Denny a few years back, and checking his research that backs it up, this is what I've done. Makes it simple. With lager yeasts I will do a standard stirred starter about 4-5 days before and then step it up to a vitality starter the night before I brew.

Because of where I brew and when I usually brew I really can't do vitality starters, and thus I've always made my starters about 3-4 days in advance and I've always decanted them. In the case of this batch I'd be adding roughly 7% of the volume if I just dumped the whole starter in, and I'm not sure that I want a gallon of light DME in with my other 13 gallons of imperial stout. I'm not sure how I would account for this with brewing software, but I'm pretty sure it would throw off several of the numbers I'm shooting for if I didn't account for it.
 
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I have the same stir plate, the first time I put a 4l starter on it I spent probably the same 30 minutes on it. The key is setting the flask on it after you press start but before it really takes off. Almost like finding the mesh point of a clutch in a manual transmission, once you find the sweet spot the car wont stall.
 
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SourLover

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I have the same stir plate, the first time I put a 4l starter on it I spent probably the same 30 minutes on it. The key is setting the flask on it after you press start but before it really takes off. Almost like finding the mesh point of a clutch in a manual transmission, once you find the sweet spot the car wont stall.
Thanks for the advice. I will definitely give this a try the next time.
 

McMullan

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Locate the stir bar, position bottle/flask so the stir plate magnet catches it then carefully slide vessel into position. Getting a stir bar that’s compatible with the stir plate and vessel isn’t straightforward. It’s best to try a few stir bar designs and sizes. Stir at a low rpm, just enough to keep the yeast in suspension. The higher the rpm the higher the chance of the stir bar flying off.
 

McMullan

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The truth is it doesn't really matter which method is used for a yeast starter. What matters more is the fermentability of the starter wort, including initial O2 levels, nutritional quality, temperature, and the innoculation rate of healthy viable yeast cells. Get these more important aspects nailed and there are only marginal differences between methods, from the slowest (left on a countertop, swirled whenever you pass) to the fastest (left mixing slowly on a stirplate, in suspension with nutrients). The SNS method lies somewhere in between countertop and stirplate. I find my stirplate, fresh homemade wort and pure O2 makes less of a marginal difference therefore difficult to beat.



I probably make 4-5 starters a year, but I usually brew once a week or so. Ultimately, the aim should be to harvest and repitch fresh yeast without requiring a starter at all. Priceless.
 
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