Step starter

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Jag75

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So I've never done a step starter before since I always brew 5 to 5.5 gallons . I'm going to be brewing 1 to 2bbl soon. I'm using Brewersfriend yeast calculator. It tells me I need a 3 step starter. I really like that it shows how much DME for each step as well .

I'm guessing I cold crash and decant in between steps to eventually get me 5L. Does that time of cold crashing to decant have a negative affect on the amount of cells? It could be 4 to 5 day old starter.
 

VikeMan

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I'm guessing I cold crash and decant in between steps to eventually get me 5L. Does that time of cold crashing to decant have a negative affect on the amount of cells? It could be 4 to 5 day old starter.
Yes, but it's not much. Like, easily within the margin of error of the cell count estimates. Also, when you pitch a little more or a little less cells into a starter step than you thought you were pitching, the change in the resulting growth is not linear, i.e. you'll be closer to your expected count than a linear growth change would have made. I think of it as the magic of partially self correcting inoculation rate errors.
 

jack13

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You could also brew a regular 5 gallon batch of beer that you'll drink and use the whole yeast cake for your large batch. Looks like a fresh 200B yeast would get you at least most of the way there for a 1bbl batch...of course it depends on its OG, etc.

On the other hand for such a large batch you may want to reduce the variables as much as humanly possible. But just a thought.
 

IslandLizard

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Also take a look at this yeast calculator, it's been my favorite for many years:
BrewUnited's Yeast Calculator

Some cells change automatically, based on other cell content, so keep an eye on things. Most calculated cells are user editable too.

For larger pitches, especially in your 1-2 bbl range, I'd use at least 2 or 3 stir plates (or shakers) concurrently. After growing the first step on one stirrer, split the resulting slurry into 2 or 3 for the 2nd step. If needed, propagate those again in a 3rd step.
 
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Jag75

Jag75

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You could also brew a regular 5 gallon batch of beer that you'll drink and use the whole yeast cake for your large batch. Looks like a fresh 200B yeast would get you at least most of the way there for a 1bbl batch...of course it depends on its OG, etc.

On the other hand for such a large batch you may want to reduce the variables as much as humanly possible. But just a thought.
Good idea Jack I didn't think about that . Kind of 2 birds 1 stone . I guess it would have to be something simple like a basic blonde ale not hoppy .
 
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Jag75

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Also take a look at this yeast calculator, it's been my favorite for many years:
BrewUnited's Yeast Calculator

Some cells change automatically, based on other cell content, so keep an eye on things. Most calculated cells are user editable too.

For larger pitches, especially in your 1-2 bbl range, I'd use at least 2 or 3 stir plates (or shakers) concurrently. After growing the first step on one stirrer, split the resulting slurry into 2 or 3 for the 2nd step. If needed, propagate those again in a 3rd step.
So your saying do a starter then split the slurry into 2 flasks and add wort to each ?
 

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Good idea Jack I didn't think about that . Kind of 2 birds 1 stone . I guess it would have to be something simple like a basic blonde ale not hoppy .
This would be really suboptimal as yeast that went through a complete fermentation will be very stressed and have reduced vitality. Remember that large commercial operations use conicals that let them dump yeast from the very first day. Only the yeast from the early dumps gets used for subsequent batches, old and tired yeast then gets thrown away.
 

Vale71

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I'm guessing I cold crash and decant in between steps to eventually get me 5L. Does that time of cold crashing to decant have a negative affect on the amount of cells? It could be 4 to 5 day old starter.
Are you saying that you're going to let the last step decant for 5 days or that it will take you five days in all to complete the steps?
If it's the former you don't need to way that long to decant. You also don't need to cold crash which will stress the yeast needlessly. Just add 200 mg/l of calcium (I use calcium chloride in liquid form as it's easier to dissolve) to the starter wort and your yeast will floc like a rock at ambient temp.
If 5 days is the cumulative time it will take you to complete the starter steps then that's not an issue at all as you'll be periodically feeding the yeast fresh wort and also aerating even if only intermittently.
 
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Jag75

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Are you saying that you're going to let the last step decant for 5 days or that it will take you five days in all to complete the steps?
If it's the former you don't need to way that long to decant. You also don't need to cold crash which will stress the yeast needlessly. Just add 200 mg/l of calcium (I use calcium chloride in liquid form as it's easier to dissolve) to the starter wort and your yeast will floc like a rock at ambient temp.
If 5 days is the cumulative time it will take you to complete the starter steps then that's not an issue at all as you'll be periodically feeding the yeast fresh wort and also aerating even if only intermittently.
It will take about 5 days total .
Day 1 make a 1 L starter
Day 2 cold crash
Day 3 decant , make a 3 L starter
Day 4 cold crash
Day 5 decant , make a 5 L starter
Day 6 brew and pitch .

I'm guessing from your posts that stepping up a starter produces more cells then doing a 5 gallon batch then using yeast cake . It also keeps yeast healthier.
 

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It's not the yeast mass but the vitality that will be affected. Unless it's so bad that a lot of the yeast actually dies before you harvest it then it's yeast mass as well.
I was going to ask what equipment you were going to use to manage the considerable starter size but now I don't need to. Frankly I'm perplexed at your plan to pitch a 5L starter into a 2 bbl batch. I do continuously aerated 4L starters for my 10g batches (for lagers, that is) and I feel they're just barely enough you plan to do almost the same for up to 8 times the batch size. Even if ales are more forgiving than lagers IMHO you'll still end up underpitching and by quite a lot.
 

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So your saying do a starter then split the slurry into 2 flasks and add wort to each ?
Yup! Something like this:

Split Starter for 1 bbl.png


Using 1 pack of WLP or WYeast, ~6 weeks old (est. 70% viability, maybe better, maybe worse).
For the 1st step you can use a 3 or 5 liter flask.
The 2nd step is split over 2 5-liter flasks with 3.25 liter of 1.037 starter wort in each.

You can even stretch that 2nd step all the way to 15 liter (using 3 5-liter flasks) for a 2 bbl pitch, or 2 1-bbl batches:

Split Starter for 1 bbl extended.png


Notes:
  1. The red [Starter Volume] cell in the 2nd step represents the total starter amount. You're going to split that over 3 or 4 5-liter flasks and as many stir plates.
  2. Stirring a full 5 liter flask can be tricky, that's why you may want to add the 4th flask there.
  3. If you have time you can do the 2nd step in 2 separate batches using 2 5-liter flasks in each.
  4. Inoculation rate should be targeted above 25 million cells/ml, and kept under 100 million cells/ml for optimal growth.
  5. You can eek quite a few more billion cells out by pushing the lower inoculation limit a bit. For example, by using 17 or 18 liters for the 2nd step.
  6. Using 1.040 starter wort instead or 1.037 will give you 8% more yeast.
 

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I've had the chance to brew a couple batches on a system that produces about 45 gallons of finished beer, so maybe a 1.5bbl system. I've used Brewer's Friend Yeast calculators and I have found that starting with 2 packs of yeast and doing two parallel starters of 2 steps produces more yeast than starting with a single pack and then doing 3 steps most of the time.

Pay attention to your yeast strain, English yeasts like to turn into Starter Volcanos even if you think you have a big enough flask!
 

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This would be really suboptimal as yeast that went through a complete fermentation will be very stressed and have reduced vitality. Remember that large commercial operations use conicals that let them dump yeast from the very first day. Only the yeast from the early dumps gets used for subsequent batches, old and tired yeast then gets thrown away.
Yeah I think with a batch size that large I'd want to be as careful as possible. ...spare no expense, so to speak.
 
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Jag75

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It's not the yeast mass but the vitality that will be affected. Unless it's so bad that a lot of the yeast actually dies before you harvest it then it's yeast mass as well.
I was going to ask what equipment you were going to use to manage the considerable starter size but now I don't need to. Frankly I'm perplexed at your plan to pitch a 5L starter into a 2 bbl batch. I do continuously aerated 4L starters for my 10g batches (for lagers, that is) and I feel they're just barely enough you plan to do almost the same for up to 8 times the batch size. Even if ales are more forgiving than lagers IMHO you'll still end up underpitching and by quite a lot.
Atm its a 1bbl batch. Hes talking about maybe a 2bbl . I'm trying to stay at 1bbl. Hes always used dry yeast which I think is a good idea for him because he's not brewing that much . He has a 3bbl 3v erims Stout set up . Getting a starter built up for 1bbl is tough enough so 2 I think I'd lean for dry yeast.
 

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If you are using a medium to high flocculating type yeast, you don't have to cold crash, just take it off the stirplate and it will drop most of the yeast in few hours. The resulting steps move along faster too.
 
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Jag75

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If you are using a medium to high flocculating type yeast, you don't have to cold crash, just take it off the stirplate and it will drop most of the yeast in few hours. The resulting steps move along faster too.
Cool, thanks for the advice 👍
 

VikeMan

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Thank you ! Looking forward to it . I'm just hoping it comes out like it supposed to.
My advice would be to have lengthy discussions with the pro, going over the details of your recipe and process. You won't be able to duplicate everything, and there will probably be compromises, but you can minimize brew day surprises. "eMail me your recipe and come brew it next Tuesday" is a recipe for disaster, IMO.
 
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Jag75

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My advice would be to have lengthy discussions with the pro, going over the details of your recipe and process. You won't be able to duplicate everything, and there will probably be compromises, but you can minimize brew day surprises. "eMail me your recipe and come brew it next Tuesday" is a recipe for disaster, IMO.
Yeah we've had a few sit downs already. Your absolutely right . I sent you a pm Vike
 

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I'm rather wary of starter calculators that give such high replication rates. Personally I would begin with at least two packs of very fresh yeast and not exceed 1 bbl batch size. If all goes well you could still brew a 2 bbl batch as a double batch. You'd just oxygenate and pitch the first batch from your starter, brew a second batch and pitch that on top with a second oxigenation. It'd just be a longer brew day but should be doable.
 
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