Wrong Yeast Starter Method

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brewawan

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I'm about to start my boil for a mini-mash witbier, and I thought I'd make a yeast starter. The problem being I think I did it all wrong. I sanitized a 2L flask then boiled 1800 mL of water and poured in .5 lbs of DME with some yeast nutrient. I didn't really "stir" the DME more than I just swirled it around. After playing with the temperature to get it to boil (which it boiled over once), I let it roll for 15 min.

Now the problems begin...I set the flask, with aluminum cap in place, in the freezer to cool to "near room temperature." Being that it was after midnight and by 130 am it still wasn't cool, I went to bed. I left the flask in the stove top, and when I woke up I pitch a vile of Belgian Ale White Labs. I noticed black floaties in the flask which resembled something like burnt sugar. Was it burnt DME from not thoroughly stirring it? Did I make another mistake by leaving it on the stove top over night (~5 hours)?

The starter looks fine today. A solid krausen growing nicely, but is the strain ruined for when I pitch into my wort? And lastly, should I not boil the DME directly in the flask? Should I cook it in a pot then transfer to the flask once the boil is over? Sorry for poorly written thread; I'm exhausted from the lack of sleep and a 11 hour work day. But on the bright side, I'm going home now to make some more homebrew.
:drunk:
 

MalFet

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If the starter remained covered for the duration of that time, it is probably fine. It's generally not a great idea to leave room temperature wort around, but if it was sterilized and didn't get exposed to anything else, it might be okay. Taste the spent wort before you pitch. Good luck! :mug:
 
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brewawan

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Well, what about this one? My starter appears to be doing fine, but I don't think I'm going to brew after all. Work got me home way later than expected, and I really don't want to stay up that late. Will the starter still be good if I wait another day? I've placed it in the fridge to help suspend the yeast, and I'll warm it up to room temp tomorrow a couple hours before I brew. Will it be still be good, or should I go down to the LHBS and pick up another vial and start over? Cheers!
 

Zen_Brew

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OK a few things.
In the future put your DME in your flask just before the water starts to boil and swirl the flask until all the DME dissolves. It sounds like you may have scorched your DME a bit, likely to it not being mixed in real well and sitting on the bottom. You may want to taste the liquid to see if it has a burnt taste to it before you use it.

As to the boilover. Yeah, we've probably all done that. It sucks. It's like a little volcano on the stove and makes a major mess. If you get a chance pick up a bottle of Fermcap. A small drop of that in the flask goes a long way to help prevent boilovers.

A much better way to cool the starter wort is to place a piece of sanitized foil over the flask, then set it in a bowl or a large pan/boiler of ice water. Gently swirling in the water helps it cool even quicker.

The starter will be fine in the fridge as long as it has finished fermenting and is coverred with a sanitized cap. The yeast will not be suspended by putting it in the fridge, it will actually cause the yeast to drop out of solution, but that is not a bad thing as long as they were done fermenting. Once they have dropped out you can pour off a lot of the liquid and just save some in the bottom to swirl them up in before you use the starter.

As you said just warm it up before you pitch it and it should be good to go.
 
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brewawan

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Is the sanitized cap a deal breaker? I just put the flask in with the foil covering the top.
 

Zen_Brew

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Not a deal breaker. I didn't know what you were using as you mentioned a sanitized cap in your earlier post. I always cover mine just with sanitized aluminum foil.
 

jtejedor

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I would think with the heat in the flask the foil does not have to be sanatized until you take it of to pitch the yeast.
 
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brewawan

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I think I'm going to buy another vial of liquid yeast to pitch in as well. My recipe calls for 237 bil in the yeast count, and I plan on only having 193. Is this a good idea, or am I overpitching which would cause a problem. With the starter been fermenting about 48 hours by the time I pitch, I figured some guys won't make it?
 

MalFet

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brewawan said:
I think I'm going to buy another vial of liquid yeast to pitch in as well. My recipe calls for 237 bil in the yeast count, and I plan on only having 193. Is this a good idea, or am I overpitching which would cause a problem. With the starter been fermenting about 48 hours by the time I pitch, I figured some guys won't make it?
I preach pitching levels as much as anybody else, but realize that (at least without a hemocytometer) these calculators provide very, very approximate numbers. For me, I'm not sure I'd worry about it too much either way. (And I actually have a hemocytometer.) :mug:
 

Homercidal

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My opinion is that you should just RDWHAHB about this. I don't see anything wrong with pitching another vial if you so choose, but honestly, a starter of yeast is probably going to work fine. There will always be small bumps in the road to brewing perfection. It's good to want to do the right thing all the time, but many people simply pour their liquid yeast in right from the vial and everything turns out ok. Is it as good as growing it up? No, but it can and does work, and you've already got a starter going, so..

RDWHAHB!
 
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brewawan

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MalFet, thanks a lot man. Just read another thread about RDWHHB. I'll be taking the flask out this PM and letting it warm up, decanting the beer off, and pitching the slurry left. Feeling more confident I won't need another vial, but its a good reason to get down to the LHBS anyway. Thanks again man.

:mug:
 
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