Quantcast

Vitality Starters

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Craiginthecorn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
109
Reaction score
59
The idea behind vitality starters is to move your yeast through the lag phase in optimum condition by creating a starter and placing it on a stir plate for about 4 hours. This provides an ideal environment for synthesis of sterols and unsaturated fatty acids that are necessary growth factors needed in the log phase where the yeast cells multiply. After the lag phase, yeast grow anaerobically, so no further oxygenation of the wort will be required.

I tried this yesterday for the first time for a 1.082 og stout. I decanted a starter with Denny's Favorite 1450 which I had made earlier in the week using the conventional stir plate method. This was added to 1 liter of 1.040 wort and spun on a stir plate for 4 hours prior to pitching.

My airlock was bubbling away in literally a couple hours. That part was great. I also love the idea of not having to oxygenate my wort. A minor negative was that I failed to plan for the few gravity points I'd lose adding 1 liter of 1.040 wort to 13 liters of 1.082 wort. This experience has prompted a few questions...

1- How large does a vitality starter need to be?

Since the idea of a vitality starter is to simply get the yeast cells pumped with sterols and unsaturated fatty acids prior to pitching, it seems to me that a small quantity of wort with a dab of yeast nutrient would do the trick. There's plenty of unfermented sugars left at the end of this process and unlimited oxygen, so can't this starter be much smaller? Say half the normal size? One quarter? This is significant, since you cannot really decant vitality starters and thus pitch the entire vitality starter into your wort.

2 - Can the gravity of the vitality starter be something significantly higher than 1.040?

Typically, starters are made in 1.030-1.040 wort to avoid stressing the yeast. In this case, I had 2x the gravity in my wort, so using a 1.040 vitality starter diluted it. As long as I'm not planning to reuse yeast from this starter for future brews, does that matter of my starter is higher gravity, as long as I'm pitching a sufficient quantity of yeast? I would think so.

3 - Wouldn't it make the most sense to pull off a liter of finished and cooled wort for my vitality starter, regardless of the SG?

This avoids the added step of making and chilling another batch of starter wort as well as dilution of your carefully crafted wort with a simple, unflavored DME wort. Yes, it would mean four hours during which some opportunistic microbe might try to infect my beer, but this seems to me to strike a good balance between simplicity, effectiveness, and risk. In this case, my beer would still have shown airlock activity within 6 or 7 hours.
 

Miraculix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
3,933
Reaction score
2,320
Location
Bremen
Good questions, I don't know but am looking forward for somebody answering them.
 

cyberbackpacker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2008
Messages
2,056
Reaction score
344
Location
Holland, MI
I’ve always done #3.... I pull a sample after transfer to BK, microwave sample for 3-5 minutes to reach a boil, then chill and pitch the yeast to the starter.

This gives the vitality starter a solid 2-2.5 hours to get going (remainder of boil, chilling time, and settling time).

I then proceed to pitch to the main batch and have active fermentation within ~3 hours of pitching (maybe closer to 4 hours for lagers).
 
OP
C

Craiginthecorn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
109
Reaction score
59
I’ve always done #3.... I pull a sample after transfer to BK, microwave sample for 3-5 minutes to reach a boil, then chill and pitch the yeast to the starter.

This gives the vitality starter a solid 2-2.5 hours to get going (remainder of boil, chilling time, and settling time).

I then proceed to pitch to the main batch and have active fermentation within ~3 hours of pitching (maybe closer to 4 hours for lagers).
I like the idea of using pre-boil wort. I wonder about the need for boiling, particularly if you mash out. A typical 30-60 minute mash at 150F should be sterile already and boiling would lengthen the time to chill to pitching temp.

Your success with only 2-2.5 hours of spinning time, which is about half of what most say is needed, prompts a 4th question: What is the optimum length of time needed for a vitality starter?
 
Last edited:

Miraculix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
3,933
Reaction score
2,320
Location
Bremen
I like the idea of using pre-boil wort. I wonder about the need for boiling, particularly if you mash out. A typical 30-60 minute mash at 150F should be sterile already and boiling would lengthen the time to chill to pitching temp.

Your success with only 2-2.5 hours of spinning time, which is about half of what most say is needed, prompts a 4th question: What is the optimum length of time needed for a vitality starter?
I did no boil all grain beers that worked out and some got infected. I would at least heat the starter wort up to 70 degrees for a few minutes, just to be on the safe side.
 
OP
C

Craiginthecorn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
109
Reaction score
59
I did no boil all grain beers that worked out and some got infected. I would at least heat the starter wort up to 70 degrees for a few minutes, just to be on the safe side.
Here’s what the Int’l Dairy Association says about pasteurization:

TemperatureTimePasteurization Type
63ºC (145ºF)*30 minutesVat Pasteurization
72ºC (161ºF)*15 secondsHigh temperature short time Pasteurization (HTST)
89ºC (191ºF)1.0 secondHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
90ºC (194ºF)0.5 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
94ºC (201ºF)0.1 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
96ºC (204ºF)0.05 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
100ºC (212ºF)0.01secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
138ºC (280ºF)2.0 secondsUltra Pasteurization (UP)
 

Miraculix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
3,933
Reaction score
2,320
Location
Bremen
Here’s what the Int’l Dairy Association says about pasteurization:

TemperatureTimePasteurization Type
63ºC (145ºF)*30 minutesVat Pasteurization
72ºC (161ºF)*15 secondsHigh temperature short time Pasteurization (HTST)
89ºC (191ºF)1.0 secondHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
90ºC (194ºF)0.5 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
94ºC (201ºF)0.1 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
96ºC (204ºF)0.05 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
100ºC (212ºF)0.01secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
138ºC (280ºF)2.0 secondsUltra Pasteurization (UP)
Yes,i know. But are you 100% sure that from extracting the wort up until pitching the yeast, there was nothing touched that contained microorganisms?

We're talking hot side equipment here, there might be hoses and or taps/valves involved, I would just want to be sure and heat the whole thing in the starter flask to 70c for a few minutes, instead of cooling it down directly.

I learned that the hard way, btw :D
 
OP
C

Craiginthecorn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
109
Reaction score
59
Yes,i know. But are you 100% sure that from extracting the wort up until pitching the yeast, there was nothing touched that contained microorganisms?

We're talking hot side equipment here, there might be hoses and or taps/valves involved, I would just want to be sure and heat the whole thing in the starter flask to 70c for a few minutes, instead of cooling it down directly.
Excellent point and suggestion.
 

Vale71

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
3,398
Reaction score
1,770
Here’s what the Int’l Dairy Association says about pasteurization:

TemperatureTimePasteurization Type
63ºC (145ºF)*30 minutesVat Pasteurization
72ºC (161ºF)*15 secondsHigh temperature short time Pasteurization (HTST)
89ºC (191ºF)1.0 secondHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
90ºC (194ºF)0.5 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
94ºC (201ºF)0.1 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
96ºC (204ºF)0.05 secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
100ºC (212ºF)0.01secondsHigher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
138ºC (280ºF)2.0 secondsUltra Pasteurization (UP)
Wort is not milk. Pasteurization is always dependent on the substrate which determines what type of bacteria can grow and how fast. For example pasteurizatin requirements for beer are different than those for orange juice.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
16,717
Reaction score
6,855
Location
Pasadena, MD
Your success with only 2-2.5 hours of spinning time, which is about half of what most say is needed, prompts a 4th question: What is the optimum length of time needed for a vitality starter?
I don't know what the optimum stir time is for vitality starters. IIRC, the vitality starter idea came from Brulosophy, at least that's where I read it first.
Now I also oxygenate my starters, which I think really helps optimizing their health at pitching time.

Here's my process for making a yeast vitality starter:
  • Before or right after starting the mash, remove yeast slurry from fridge. Decant if not done so. Let acclimate on the counter (for over an hour).
  • Lauter enough wort from the mash tun to make 1 liter, normalized to 1.040.
  • Add a drop of Fermcap-S, boil for 5-10'. <== I don't time it, long enough to sanitize the headspace in the pot and lid. Chill in sink, ~20'
  • Add to the awaiting yeast slurry.
  • Oxygenate for 8 minutes at 1/16 l/m <== That may be overkill and way too much O2, but it doesn't seem to harm anything from what I've noticed. It generates much of foam.
  • Let stand for 1 hour.
  • Then place on the orbital shaker, until ready to pitch <== typically 1-1.5 hours.
I typically have liftoff within 3 hours at 66-68F.
 

chipmunk

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2019
Messages
57
Reaction score
32
IIRC, the vitality starter idea came from Brulosophy, at least that's where I read it first.
The book “yeast” by white/jamil included a paragraph on “revitalizing” where they recommend adding 0.5ml of a 1.080 wort for every 10ml of yeast slurry. They recommend leaving it at room temp for 4-12 hours without agitation or stirring. Has anyone tried this?
 
OP
C

Craiginthecorn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
109
Reaction score
59
Wort is not milk. Pasteurization is always dependent on the substrate which determines what type of bacteria can grow and how fast. For example pasteurizatin requirements for beer are different than those for orange juice.
True, but as luck would have it, it seems the time and temperature requirements for beer are nearly identical to milk, perhaps due to their similar pH.

 

seatazzz

Well-Known Bloviator & Pontificator
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 4, 2016
Messages
2,502
Reaction score
3,022
Location
Seattle
What I call a "vitality" starter is what I do with dry yeast; my saved yeast slurries (which are always stored with enough beer to keep them happy) don't need a starter, just to warm to room temperature. For fresh dry yeast, I pull off two cups of wort after boil has started, and fast chill it in the freezer down to 68-70; then add that and the yeast to a sanitized tupperware container, shake the heck out of it, and leave it in the kitchen (not the brewery, too cold out here) until pitching time. Yes, even with lager yeast, which is notorious for lag time. I do "burp" the container at least once to avoid having the lid fly off. Works every time. Since I usually do a 90-minute boil it's plenty of time for the yeast to get a good head start. Wort temperature is key, just like making bread; don't want it too cold, or it wont' start; nor too hot, or too many yeast cells die. I've found that 70-72 degrees is pretty much the sweet spot.
 
Top