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Yeast starter for a barleywine

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Adamkav

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So I made a few litres of sweet wort the other day and froze it.. og 1.042 with the intent to boil, cool, and pitch for a starter as needed.
I will be using white labs super high gravity for the starter for a barleywine and was curious of the best approach.
Now my preference is to not pitch all the liquid (at least 1 litre of starter) to my barleywine, partly because the sweet wort turned out super cloudy, also I don't want to dilute, so my question is:
Is top cropping the yeast a viable option? Or would letting it fermented and settle be better?

Also how much wort should I use for the starter?
 

MaxM

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What's the size and OG of your batch? How much to use depends on how much wort you're fermenting. Also, rather than top cropping, I would chill and decant your starter. That way, you're only pitching a yeast slurry basically.

Here's a video on decanting: Video
Here is some reading on an experiment done by Brulosophy on decanted vs full starter pitch: Experiment
 

IslandLizard

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1.037-1.040 is the recommended gravity for a yeast starter made from a (fresh) pack of yeast like the one you have, WLP099.
Cloudy starter wort is not important, it's fine.

If you don't want to pitch the whole starter as is, you need to cold crash the starter in the fridge for a few days before brew day to allow it to flocculate, and settle out as a yeast cake on the bottom of your starter vessel. On brew day you'd decant the starter beer off the top, leaving a little behind enough to swirl up the settled slurry and pitch that.*
Notes:
* It is actually recommended for high gravity beers to make a vitality starter with the crashed slurry on brew day. And pitch that.

The amount of yeast cells (and starter size) you need is determined by the gravity and volume of your main batch of beer you're going to pitch it in.
Use this yeast starter calculator to determine how much starter you need. There are others, but I like that one.
How big (volume) is your batch of Barleywine going to be?
Estimated OG?

Notes:
For Barleywines and other super high gravity beers you'll need either pure oxygen or a way to aerate your batch of wort really, really well right before pitching the yeast, and again 12-18 hours later.
 
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Adamkav

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Wow, great info thanks so much! I guess I'll cold crash and use the yeast cake, my batch size will be 5 gal, og unknown.. probably 1.10 or so. Why would you not top crop? Also what is a vitality starter?
 

IslandLizard

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Wow, great info thanks so much! I guess I'll cold crash and use the yeast cake, my batch size will be 5 gal, og unknown.. probably 1.10 or so. Why would you not top crop? Also what is a vitality starter?
'Cold crashing' yeast starters is the way to separate the yeast from the not so great tasting oxidized starter beer, and to prevent dilution of your stronger beers. It's also recommended when doing step starters and when storing yeast in the fridge. Leaving enough of the 'supernatant' with the slurry makes it pourable and if stored covers the yeast cake as protection against oxidation.

You can't top crop yeast starters, they are continuously stirred or shaken, there is simply no krausen to crop. The yeast is totally suspended in the starter beer. When you stop agitating the yeast settles on the bottom, which is expedited at colder temps. But colder temps also put yeast into dormancy, hence the vitality starter to wake them up and prepare them for the long and difficult road ahead, especially when fermenting super high gravity beers, like Barleywines.
As a matter of fact, most pro pitches use higher inoculation rates (1.00 or 1.25 rather than 0.75 million cells per ml) for high and super high gravity ales, to make sure they finish out.

Please look up vitality starter.
Do you have a stir plate?
Do you have pure oxygen available? Or at least an aerator setup (aquarium pump)? An oxygenation/carbonation 'stone'?

If you want us to double check your yeast calc findings, feel free to post them.

In short, you want to be well prepared when brewing Barleywines and other high gravity beers. Otherwise, you will be posting a thread like: 'My Barleywine has been stuck at 1.052.' Really, at that point there is not much one can do but drink it as is.
 

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If you don't have a stir plate or starter setup, you could brew a 5 gallon batch of a smallish 1.050 beer or so with your WLP099, and pitch your Barleywine on top of that yeast cake. You still need to oxygenate or aerate it like crazy.
 
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Adamkav

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Okay, awesome. I have yet to do a yeast cell calculation but I think a vitality starter is a good plan. I do not have a stir plate or pure oxygon.. but have ordered an airation attachment. (Just simple plastic cone thing) but should be okay
 

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airation attachment. (Just simple plastic cone thing) but should be okay
I don't think you read or understand what I said before. That's NOT sufficient aeration for a 1.100 Barleywine.

Instead of making a starter, brew that smaller batch first that will bring your yeast count up to decent levels for your Barleywine.

The vitality starter is for a different reason. It's made right before pitching.
 
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hottpeper13

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I do this with most beer and adjust the starter size by gravity. I make a 1 qt starter the morning before brew day on stir plate. On brew day I steal 1-2 qts of wort after it boils for 10 min and put it in the freezer. When chilled I take 250 ml of starter and save it for next time and pitch the chilled wort on the rest. put on stir plate and pitch the whole thing at high K either before I go to bed or first thing in the morning. That is basically a vitality starter and they take off in 4 hrs or so. When I have a high gravity beer on deck I always make a small beer ~ 1.040-1.050 (5 gal) and use that yeast cake on my big beer, I rack the small one into a keg on brew day and pitch the cake fresh ,never being cold crashed.
 
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Adamkav

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Is there a good and sufficient way to aerate the wort with what I have? Eg. aeration attachment, lots of splashes. And then use a vitality starter? As I'd rather not wait to Brew a batch for the yeast cake
 

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Is there a good and sufficient way to aerate the wort with what I have? Eg. aeration attachment, lots of splashes. And then use a vitality starter? As I'd rather not wait to Brew a batch for the yeast cake
You'd need at least 500 billion cells to pitch. A fresh WLP pack made today contains only 100 billion cells. That amount is fairly stable for up to 3 months when stored in the fridge, unopened, and not mistreated (frozen or overheated, or so).

Yeast Starter_Barleywine 1.100_2019-03-11.jpg

Here's a possible scenario to pull this off without a stir plate, using the 'shaken-not-stirred' method:

You'd need one large, 7-8 liter sanitizable vessel (e.g., a small 2 gallon carboy) that can be capped liquid-tight, so it can be shaken without leaking.
Otherwise, and this is way easier to handle, split the yeast starter over 2 smaller vessels like 1 gallon (or 4 liter) 'wine' jugs or so. Nothing smaller will do, they need a lot of empty space. They also need tight closing caps for when you shake them.

That way a 3 liter starter can give you 500 billion cells from that one fresh pack of WLP099, using the 'shaken-not-stirred' method. And they really need to be shaken well, as often as possible for a few days to get there. Take 'em to work if need be!
  • Each gallon jug gets filled with the content of exactly half a yeast pack plus 1.5 liter of 1.040 starter wort.
  • The yeast won't come out of that plastic sleeve evenly at all. So you need to 'dissolve' (suspend) it in say a pint of starter wort, then split evenly over the 2 vessels.
  • The illustration above is calculated using 1.037 starter wort. Using 1.040 wort will be better in this case, giving a bit more growth potential than projected.
  • You need to practice excellent sanitation when doing this.
When the starters are ready, at their peak, they need to be pitched into your Barleywine wort. I'd say that could be after 1 day of shaking, more likely after 2 days of shaking. It's even possible to take 3 days of shaking, depending on how well things are progressing. So timing is important, you need to be a bit flexible with time.

You're still with me?

<I need a beer>
 
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Adamkav

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Yes, gotcha. Thanks very much..I have got to mull over my options
 

IslandLizard

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Is there a good and sufficient way to aerate the wort with what I have?
Do you have an aquarium pump to use for aeration? You can pump air for an hour (or longer), then again 12-18 hours later. That should be close to the equivalent of using pure O2.
Do a Google search, look for ways other people are aerating their high gravity worts.
 

hottpeper13

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Shake it baby Shake it......LOL.....think I'll just make a small beer and wait for the yeast. Way less work and I'm not tossing out ~2 gal of beer. Isn't tossing beer considered alcohol abuse? It is in Wisconsin!
 

IslandLizard

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Shake it baby Shake it......LOL.....think I'll just make a small beer and wait for the yeast. Way less work and I'm not tossing out ~2 gal of beer. Isn't tossing beer considered alcohol abuse? It is in Wisconsin!
Where do you get the ~2 gallons from?
The method calls for exactly 3 liters of starter wort, no more no less, divided over 2 one gallon jugs, 1.5 liters each. But if the yeast is older than 3 months, has been mishandled, or the jugs don't get shaken vigorously every hour it's not gonna yield all those cells.
 
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Adamkav

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I may have to just buy an aquarium pump, pretty cheap and effective from what I can see. Then just make a vitality starter
 

IslandLizard

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I may have to just buy an aquarium pump, pretty cheap and effective from what I can see.
Pure O2 > Aquarium pump > shaking, whisking, pouring > nothing.
Then just make a vitality starter
For some reason you keep failing to understand that a 'vitality starter' won't get you anywhere near the huge cell count required to finish that super high gravity batch out.

100 billion cells in WLP pack ==> 500-550 billion cells after 'S-n-S' starter ==> pitch into oxygenated/well aerated HG wort
 
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Adamkav

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Well.. to spicify a vitality starter from a crashed slurry that is.. as you've stated before is recommended
 
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Adamkav

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In other words would it be a good idea to make a starter a few days in advance, then on Brew day add the slurry to some fresh wort then pitch that 10 hours later in a well aerated wort
 

IslandLizard

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In other words would it be a good idea to make a starter a few days in advance, then on Brew day add the slurry to some fresh wort then pitch that 10 hours later in a well aerated wort
I think you should RE-read all the posts in this thread. The answer lies there.

Please try to understand the process in post #12.
There are other methods, sure, but if you don't pitch 500 billion healthy cells in that 5 gallon batch, chances are it won't finish out, and possibly stall at 1.040-1.050 or so.
 
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Adamkav

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You did say to use a vitality starter. And I understand your post.. at any rate is this all still viable using a just "expired"vile of yeast
 

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Barleywines are an advanced style. Without some more advanced equipment and methods, you’ll be hard pressed to make an even relatively decent beer. Pure o2 set ups are like $60 and will last for a long time. You might spend that much on barleywine ingredients - no reason to cheap out at this point (otherwise, probably best to stick to basic ambers and pale ales etc.). If your yeast just expired, you need to get a new one (or three) for this style - otherwise you have a huge uphill battle in terms of propping up 500B cells. Are there any breweries near you? See if you can get a growler of ale yeast off one of their tanks - pitch the whole thing and use the money you saved on a o2 set up
 
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