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El Pistolero

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I found myself searching through past threads a couple of days ago, looking for the proper way to make a starter. Thought I'd put what I found together for the next guy. :cool:

Rhoobarb and DeRoux shared their takes in this thread. Here are the hilites:
Rhoobarb said:
I use a 1/2 gallon growler from a brewpub similar to this one. I fill the growler about 1/2 full of water, then dump that water into a pot. Bring the water to a boil, take it off the heat, add ~1 cup of plain light DME, then boil it, stirring, for about 15 minutes. Cover it and cool in an ice water bath. Once cool, transfer it to the growler, add the yeast, cover with sanitiary foil or plastic wrap, shake vigourously, then put an airlock on it. Just like doing a small brew session. :)

I usually make my starter a day to two before brewing.
DeRoux's Broux said:
i use a 2000 ml pyrex flask, 1 cup of extra light dried malt extract, and 1300 ml of water. i heat the water in a small enameld kettle, add the dry extract and stir to dissolve. bring to a gentle boil for 15 minutes. pour the wort into the sanitized flask and cover pronto with foil and set into an ice bath in the sink. when cool to the touch (about 15-20 minutes) i add my yeast and put the cleaned/sanitized air lock on it. wrap a towel around it, and let her go to work. i do this the day before i plan to brew. i usually see activity in no more than 1-2 hours. for a lager or high ABV brew, i'd use 2000 ml of water and 1.5 cups of extar light dme.
i got my starter kit from www.northernbrewer.com.
hope this helps.....
cbotrice did it like this:
cbotrice said:
I took the advice from all the sage brewers here and did a starter for my I did last nite. It worked great, used a 1/2 gallon growler with the 3/4 cup dme and 1 1/2 cup water boiled for 10 minutes cooled and thrown in the growler. Then I added the yeast and covered with tinfoil. Worked great, batch was bubbling away when I checked on it some 5 1/2 hours later. MPW
in this thread.

If you need a second opinion:
Northern Brewer said:
Make sterile wort directly in our heat-tolerant 1000 ml Pyrex flasks. Once cool, pitch yeast into the wort and seal the flask with a stopper and an airlock. Once a frothy head has developed (usually in 1 to 3 days), pitch the active "yeast starter" into your fermenter.
LHBS said:
ONE DAY BEFORE BREWING: MAKE A STARTER
Simmer 2 tablespoons of malt extract & a half dozen hop pellets in two cups of water. Cool briefly and pour into a sterile wine or 22 oz. beer bottle, adding yeast nutrient if desired. Top bottle with an airlock and #2 stopper, allowing starter to cool to room temperature. Shake vigorously to aerate the starter. Use a flame to sterilize the mouth of the bottle and dip the corner of the pouch in sanitizing solution. Snip corner of swollen Wyeast pouch. Pour contents of pouch into bottle and replace the airlock. Store at room temperature. Fermentation should begin within 24 hours.
So there's five variations on the same theme. I like Rhoo and DeRoux's methods myself, but each to his own. Also, here are a couple more links that will tell you way more than you ever wanted to know about yeast growth and yeast culture:
http://www.brewingtechniques.com/library/backissues/issue2.3/kingtable.html
http://www.brewingtechniques.com/library/backissues/issue2.3/king.html#1

Finally, here's how I did it: Dissolve 1 cup wheat DME in 1 qt. (plus a bit) hot water, boiled for 15 minutes, then cooled in an ice bath. After cooling to under 80, poured in a 1/2 gallon jar, shook real good to aerate, then poured in yeast vial, shook good again and covered with aluminum foil and wrapped with a clean towel. The jug, funnel, and foil had all been sanitized in iodophor of course. Here's how it looked next day:
 

FrewBrew

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I read a book before i bought my first (starter) kit, and it never mentioned using a starter, or pitching or anything like that... Is this necessary? Seems to me from what Ive been reading around on here, that it's just to ensure that your yeast is active. Can this step be bypassed?
 
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El Pistolero

El Pistolero

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It's partly to ensure that your yeast is active, but also to increase the cell count, which decreases lag time. A starter can of course be bypassed, but it's easy to do, and provides a lot of benefits.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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FrewBrew, starters are multi-purpose w/ one being to make sure your yeast is active and good. liquide yeast from a vial or smack pack doesn't have the amount of yeast cells that a yeast starter has. the more yeast cells pitched = a healthy ferment. more healthy yeast cells mean they don't have to work as hard and produce extra diacetyl and other off flavors, therefore a better tasting brew. also, more healthy yeast will out compete any bacteria for yummy fermentable sugars, therefore keeping it from getting contaminated. also, the more healthy yeast pitched = short lag time. again, less chance for nasties to move in and take over prior to fermentation taking place.

a brewer at a micro brewery in Houston did a side by side test on 2, 5 gallons of brown ale wort from the same brew. in one he pitched a vial of California Ale yeast, the other a yeast starter made w/ the same yeast strain. they did a taste test w/ a local HBC once bottled and carb'd, and hands down, the one pitched with the starter won.
so, to answer your question, can this step by bypassed? of course. will this step improve your brews? of course. it just depends on what effort your willing to put into your brews, and if you want to make the best brew you possibly can.
hope this helps!
 
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El Pistolero

El Pistolero

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DeRoux's Broux said:
a brewer at a micro brewery in Houston did a side by side test on 2, 5 gallons of brown ale wort from the same brew. in one he pitched a vial of California Ale yeast, the other a yeast starter made w/ the same yeast strain. they did a taste test w/ a local HBC once bottled and carb'd, and hands down, the one pitched with the starter won.
When you were at St. Arnold's, did you get to see how they make their starters?
 
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El P. What's the reason for the alum foil? A bung and air lock fits nicely in the growler with a wee bit of effort (at least my diameter type does).

I read also about adding alum foil around the top of a saved yeast slurry in a bottle after capping it. I did it the 1st time and just wasn't sure the purpose so don't any longer. Bacteria hate to look at themselves? ;)
 

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I did a starter for the first time with my last batch because of all the talk about it here. I wasn't too impressed with the job I did on it. I didn't boil enough wort and only pitched a day before brew day. I have the ingredients for a Belgium Abby Ale coming this week. I'm using a smack pack for the first time. Where is the yeast in one of those? The outside part of the pack or the inner one? :confused: I want to do another starter for this and see if I get get it right this time.
 
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El Pistolero

El Pistolero

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desertBrew said:
El P. What's the reason for the alum foil? A bung and air lock fits nicely in the growler with a wee bit of effort (at least my diameter type does).
I've been reading a lot on yeast culture and growth...the one thing that struck me is the necessity of having plenty of oxygen while the yeast are reproducing. I just figure there ain't no more oxygen getting in if there's an airlock, but a piece of sanitized foil will let the thing breath so that there's oxygen available to get dissolved when you shake the thing. I was planning on airlocking it after twenty four hours, but HB99 said it was ready, so I pitched it. :)

I kink of expect this could generate some discussion, but in one of the links I provided, the chemist that's describing how to culture and grow yeast uses the same technique, so I figured it was worth a try.
 
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Aye - I'm no expert on the subject either and just began starters about 6-8 batches ago. The o2 could make sense but I'm not sure how much o2 would get into the liquid if it's not jostled about. You're right, commentary shall follow :)

I personally am going to get one of those airation stones. Ever since I've gone to all grain with full boils using a carboy I get slow starts even with starters (24-36h). My current means of airating isn't cutting it I believe (electric pump for pool toys).
 
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El Pistolero

El Pistolero

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desertBrew said:
I personally am going to get one of those airation stones. Ever since I've gone to all grain with full boils using a carboy I get slow starts even with starters (24-36h). My current means of airating isn't cutting it I believe (electric pump for pool toys).
Yep, I'm getting an oxygen system tomorrow, and if it's there, why not use it for the starter as well as the primary.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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the starter is half of the equation. more yeast cells need more oxygen, and small bubbles at that. swirling the carboy does introduce oxygen to the cooled wort, but the yeast cells need tiny bubbles to be more effective. the carbonation stone attached to one of the BurnZomatic bottles from Lowe's or Home Depot can produce the small, gentle oxygen bubbles that the yeast will utilize much better.

El Pistolero, Saint Arnold's re-uses yeast from the bottom of the large conical fermenters. they brew we made that day (BJ's PM Porter) was stored in a 15.5 gallon keg. they basically pumped it into the fermenter when the wort was transfered after cooling. they pump it in by CO2 (like drawing a pint from a keg) attached to the bottom valve of the conical. once the yeast slurry in the keg is empty, they then release the pressure allowing the wort to flow back into the keg, then repeated 2 more time to make sure it all got pitched. pretty cool. they don't do the St. Arnold brews that way. this was BJ's Chico yeast strain (or WLP001 Cali ale). they use a new yeast generation every 9-10 batches, if i remeber right??????
 
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El Pistolero

El Pistolero

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Dang, so you didn't get to see how they build a starter for a new generation? That would be some good info to have.
 
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El Pistolero

El Pistolero

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Do they start with a vial and build up gradually to pitching volume, or do they start with a larger amount? Got any idea how long it takes?
 
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El Pistolero said:
Yep, I'm getting an oxygen system tomorrow, and if it's there, why not use it for the starter as well as the primary.
Someone said they get the o2 from Home D. What area do they put this? I suspect I'd get dumb looks from the geniuses there if I ask. Also, the aeration stone. Is this a HBS only purchase? Don't want to run around looking for this if my buds can point me in the right direction :D
 

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desertBrew said:
Someone said they get the o2 from Home D. What area do they put this? I suspect I'd get dumb looks from the geniuses there if I ask. Also, the aeration stone. Is this a HBS only purchase? Don't want to run around looking for this if my buds can point me in the right direction :D
You're right. I was looking in the plumbing section of Lowes, where they have a lot of Bernz o Matic stuff. The guy told me they didn't have O2. So, I went to the welding section, and lo-and-behold.....bottles of O2!

As for the aeration stuff, you can buy the regulator, hose, and stone for about $25. I know www.homebrew.com has them for that price. I think Northern Brewer has them for that price as well.
 

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sorry EP! we didn't talk specifics about how they get their yeast (package, cultures). we talked more about what homebrewers can do to boost yeast cell count and shorten lag times. we talked more about how we pitched the yeast for the beer we brewed. didn't think to ask that one? next time i'm there for a tour or e-mailingthem, i'll ask and get back to you.

it is a WHOLE lot more than we use. they use a slurry too, which is alot more active already than a vial or starter. they are not too happy if they don't see activity within an hour from pitching from what Dave (head brewer)told me.
 
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El Pistolero

El Pistolero

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DeRoux's Broux said:
Saint Arnold's re-uses yeast from the bottom of the large conical fermenters. they brew we made that day (BJ's PM Porter) was stored in a 15.5 gallon keg. they basically pumped it into the fermenter when the wort was transfered after cooling. they pump it in by CO2 (like drawing a pint from a keg) attached to the bottom valve of the conical. once the yeast slurry in the keg is empty, they then release the pressure allowing the wort to flow back into the keg, then repeated 2 more time to make sure it all got pitched.
Do they oxygenate the wort, or are they pitching enough yeast that it doesn't need to grow anymore?
 
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'Saint Arnold's re-uses yeast from the bottom of the large conical fermenters'

On that subject, what precautions would you need to take and what benefits are there for re-using your old yeast?
 

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FWIW, I brewed a couple batches, one on Sunday, and one on Wednesday. For each one I made a starter. The Blueberry Ale took off in less than 10 hours. And it had some serious blowoff. The IPA took off in less than 4 hours. I doubt I'd get that quick turnaround without using a starter.
 

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El Pistolero said:
Dang, so you didn't get to see how they build a starter for a new generation? That would be some good info to have.
FWIW, I was at Two Brother's in Warrenville, IL awhile back for a seminar that happened to be held in the brewery. While there, I spied an empty one-gallon plastic jug (just like the milk jug thats' probably in your fridge right now) of White Labs yeast!
 

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thanks for making this thread...helped me to understand a lot. i pitched my first starter last weekend. oatmeal stout. ran for two and a half days beautifully and then just chilled out this afternoon. i'm expecting good things.
 

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I always make starters, its an easy way to increase count and make sure the yeast is up to the task. I made a brew yesterday with OG of 1.070 and had airlock activity in just under 5 hours.
 

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I've begun using starters and I use a heavy duty growler with a flip lid which seems to work fine. A couple weeks ago I made a starter on a Thursday, thinking I would brew on the weekend, but got too busy. I put it in the refridgerator, and finally used it yesterday (2 weeks late). I was already getting airlock activity before I went to bed.

My question is, how long is a starter good? I know you want an active healthy yeast, but I obviously got a good population and it worked fine after 16 days. So what is the margin of error on keeping it around before you have to start over?
 

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2nd Street Brewery said:
Where is the yeast in one of those? The outside part of the pack or the inner one? :confused: I want to do another starter for this and see if I get get it right this time.
The yeast is in the outer part of the smackpack. The inner sachet contains a bit of nutrient that you break to release into the yeast so that the yeast will react and cause a swelling of the pack. You then know that your yeast is good. This nutrient don't take the place of a starter, it's there for yeast viability purposes only.

You can pitch your smackpack/vial directly to a gallon of wort if you wish.
You'll only get the same amount of yeast growth as if you pitched smaller and stepped up. There is the same amount of fermentables in there.
 

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neuron555 said:
My question is, how long is a starter good? I know you want an active healthy yeast, but I obviously got a good population and it worked fine after 16 days. So what is the margin of error on keeping it around before you have to start over?
I've made a starter and stored it for a week and a half under beer in the fridge. I just decanted the beer, pitched the yeast into fresh starter wort and let it come up to room temperature on the counter while I brewed. After I racked my wort into primary I pitched the starter and had a five hour lag time.:mug:
 
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eddie said:
I've made a starter and stored it for a week and a half under beer in the fridge. I just decanted the beer, pitched the yeast into fresh starter wort and let it come up to room temperature on the counter while I brewed. After I racked my wort into primary I pitched the starter and had a five hour lag time.:mug:

Why in the world would you RACK your wort into primary?? I thought "vigorous" mixing and pouring (to cause aeration) was the thing to do... :confused:
 

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Why in the world would you RACK your wort into primary?? I thought "vigorous" mixing and pouring (to cause aeration) was the thing to do... :confused:
Well, if you're all AG brewer, or do full boils, one reason to rack is just to save your back. 5.5 gallons of wort is HEAVY. I usually rack at least the first half or more. Also, if you're doing AG, you have way more hot break, and usually a ton of cold break. So, you'd whirlpool your wort and let it settle and then rack into your fermenter. Some people don't have spigots on the keggles or brewpots and so they have to rack.
 

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TheBone said:
If one uses a Pound of DME for a starter do you reduce your recipe amount by the same?
It depends on how you pitch your yeast. With a # of DME your starter should be 1 gal or more. So if you pitch your entire starter you should start with a wort volume 1 gal smaller than desired with 1# less DME, to get the expected results. If you allow the starter to finish, decant the beer and pitch the yeast cake then no adjustments need to be made.
I usually make 2 qt starters with 1cup DME. I pitch these in my 5gal wort with out recipe adjustment. It probably makes a small difference but I don't think I would notice.

Also for those following the instructions for making starters on the first page, the instructions are making starters twice a rich as idea. For and ideal starter you should have a wort with an OG of about 1.040. 1 cup in 2 quarts or 1/2cup in 1 quart of water gives you about this gravity. Using 1 cup in 1 quart results in a wort with a gravity of nearly 1.080 which is somewhat stressful on the yeast.

Craig
 

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2nd Street Brewery said:
I did a starter for the first time with my last batch because of all the talk about it here. I wasn't too impressed with the job I did on it. I didn't boil enough wort and only pitched a day before brew day. I have the ingredients for a Belgium Abby Ale coming this week. I'm using a smack pack for the first time. Where is the yeast in one of those? The outside part of the pack or the inner one? :confused: I want to do another starter for this and see if I get get it right this time.
Although this is my first post and I have never brewed my own beer, I did read the 'how to brew' by Palmer. I believe the yeast is in the large pack and the smaller pack is the nutrients you release and allow to balloon the pack up.
 

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I usually take my yeast- Show it a pitcure of Chuck Norris and I have had no problems yet
 

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I'm new to yeast starters and was wondering if a 1 liter flask is large enough for a 1 liter yeast starter or should I use a 2 liter flask to allow for expansion?
 

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Does the type of DME you use (extra light, amber, etc.) for a starter depend on the style of beer you are making? Or should one simply use extra light every time?

I suppose one could simply use whatever is at hand, then pour off all the liquid when the starter is done fermenting and use the yeast only?
 

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Does the type of DME you use (extra light, amber, etc.) for a starter depend on the style of beer you are making? Or should one simply use extra light every time?

I suppose one could simply use whatever is at hand, then pour off all the liquid when the starter is done fermenting and use the yeast only?
I would try to use the same sort of DME that you are going to be brewing with. I don't think you should use extra light malt extract every time.
 

Yankeehillbrewer

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I'm new to yeast starters and was wondering if a 1 liter flask is large enough for a 1 liter yeast starter or should I use a 2 liter flask to allow for expansion?
I'd go with the 2 liter if I were you, or bigger. You want to give it plenty of headroom, and retain all the yeast. My last one krausened like crazy and came spilling out the top. I'll be using a bigger container from now on.
 

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I made a yeast starter about a month ago and got hit with unexpected family coming in town and travel for work after the holidays. The starter has been sitting on my kitchen counter at room temp 68 - 70 degrees for that time. Am I ok to use the starter as is or do i need to get another vial of yeast? I assum i could make another 600 ml of 1.040 wort and decant beer off the original starter and reactivate the yeast? Anyone have any thoughts?
 
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