Yeast Starter question

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uniconfis

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On Saturday I made my first yeast starter. In a 1000 ml flask, I boiled 16 oz water and 1/2 cup LDME for 20 min. Throughout the boil the wort bubbled out the top a bit. I didn't think much of it until It was done and I had less than 400 ml in the flask when I started with over 600 ml. Oh well. I cooled the wort down in a ice bath and pitched the yeast (Wyeast activator pack 1056). Within a hour the airlock was bubbling away. I think I shook the flask about 3 time that night as instructed. The next day, about 14 hours later, the yeast starter was done bubbling and has settled. I continued to shake the starter in hopes of seeing activity but I get nothing. I was initially planning on brewing tonight but those plans got pushed till tomorrow due to FF draft. So tomorrow when I brew, can I trust this starter or should I just go out and get another pack of yeast and try another starter tonight? Thanks guys!
 

bradsul

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Your starter did what it was supposed to, just pop it in the fridge and take it out a few hours before you brew to allow it to come up to pitching temperature.

Starters ferment very quickly because of the small size and amount of sugars present. If you want to keep the starter active you can pour some of the beer off the top, boil some more DME and water (in another container obviously) and add that onto the yeast and do it all over again. This has the added benefit of growing even more yeast (it's called stepping up the starter).
 

cheezydemon

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I now do starters in my primary. I find that it makes less mess, and pitching the cooled wort onto my yeast through the top of the carboy aerates it really well.
 

Bugeaterbrewing

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I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that your yeast did just what it was supposed to and that it will be fine to save it in the fridge for a day or two.

The bad news is that this starter is so small you will get virtually no yeast growth in the starter. All you have done is bring it out of dormancy. You will get only slightly more yeast than if you skipped the starter altogether.

The purpose of the starter is to grow a sufficient volume of yeast for proper fermentation. The White Lab and Wyeast packages only contain about 100 billion cells, about half the optimal amount for proper fermentation of 5 gallons of ale. If you are doing a lager this is less than a quarter of the needed amount of yeast.

You can brew beer with less yeast and get reasonable results much of the time, but to get a really high quality result you do need more yeast. Underpitching will result in excessive yeast growth and ester production early in the process. During this stage, actual fermentation will be slow and slow to start. If you start fermentation in the mid 70's, the lag time will be less, but the ester production will be increased, leading to "fruity" flavors in the final product. Increased lag times will also increase the possibility of infections taking hold before the yeast cell population can get large enough.

For proper fermentation of an ale, you will need the yeast slurry from 1.5-2 liters of starter wort. In my opinion, the marketing of 1 liter flasks to beginning homebrewers is a disservice as it seems to tell them that these are large enough for a starter.

For a great discussion of yeast and starters as well as a calculator for determining how much yeast to pitch, check out www.mrmalty.com.

Wayne
Bugeater Brewing Company
 
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uniconfis

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Bugeaterbrewing said:
For proper fermentation of an ale, you will need the yeast slurry from 1.5-2 liters of starter wort. In my opinion, the marketing of 1 liter flasks to beginning homebrewers is a disservice as it seems to tell them that these are large enough for a starter.
Thanks for the info. I bought the 1 liter flask in Midwest's "yeast starter kit". Thought that would be enough. Oh well. Guess I'll be under pitching for a bit.
 

bradsul

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uniconfis said:
Thanks for the info. I bought the 1 liter flask in Midwest's "yeast starter kit". Thought that would be enough. Oh well. Guess I'll be under pitching for a bit.
You'll still be pitching more than the vial or smackpack so you're better off nonetheless. You can step it up a couple times as well don't forget.
 
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uniconfis

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bradsul said:
You'll still be pitching more than the vial or smackpack so you're better off nonetheless. You can step it up a couple times as well don't forget.
That's what I'll be doing tonight. Thanks for the help.:tank:
 

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cheezydemon said:
I now do starters in my primary. I find that it makes less mess, and pitching the cooled wort onto my yeast through the top of the carboy aerates it really well.
I like this idea. I wonder why I havn't seen this suggestion before. A 2l starter should work fine in a 6.5gal primary and saves the hassle of sanitizing the primary on brew day. I may try this next time around.
Craig
 

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cheesydemon said:
I now do starters in my primary. I find that it makes less mess, and pitching the cooled wort onto my yeast through the top of the carboy aerates it really well.
CBBaron said:
I like this idea. I wonder why I havn't seen this suggestion before. A 2l starter should work fine in a 6.5gal primary and saves the hassle of sanitizing the primary on brew day. I may try this next time around.
Craig
This sounds like a good idea to me too. I may try it this weekend.
 

cheezydemon

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Yeah. and you don't need a flask.

I have been really fascinated lately by the options that you can take with brewing that most people in here would never think of doing.

My last brew's ABV was coming out lower than I wanted, so I made another gallon of very concentrated wort. I put that in the secondary and racked onto it. It then became sort of a "second primary" since there was a small krausen and more sediment developed on the bottom, but I then just racked to tertiary after that.

It was then impossible to determine the exact ABV, but I know that it was closer to what I wanted, and the beer turned out great.

Sorry to rant! I just love to try new things and many people on this site think that there is just 1 way to do things. I respect their sense of tradition, but if no one ever tried anything new, beer would never have been invented.
 
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uniconfis

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cheezydemon said:
Sorry to rant! I just love to try new things and many people on this site think that there is just 1 way to do things. I respect their sense of tradition, but if no one ever tried anything new, beer would never have been invented.
That's what makes this site so great. People here share their experiences and other's learn. In just the last month I've learned more from this site than all the reading I've done in the past year.
 

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cheezydemon said:
I now do starters in my primary. I find that it makes less mess, and pitching the cooled wort onto my yeast through the top of the carboy aerates it really well.
Isn't it risky to have so much headspace though? How long could this starter be left for?
 

Brewing Clamper

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Richard said:
Isn't it risky to have so much headspace though? How long could this starter be left for?
[My 2¢]

With my limited experience and my sometimes questionable common sense, I get the feeling head space is one of those things us brewers like to worry about unecessarily. CO2 is significantly heavier than atmosphere air. At 1 ATM pressure, even a small starter creates quite a volume of CO2. What this basically means to me is that as soon as fermentation starts, a nice blanked of CO2 forms above the wort/beer and pushes the O2+ above, protecting your precious liquid.

[/My 2¢]
 

Richard

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Brewing Clamper said:
[My 2¢]

With my limited experience and my sometimes questionable common sense, I get the feeling head space is one of those things us brewers like to worry about unecessarily. CO2 is significantly heavier than atmosphere air. At 1 ATM pressure, even a small starter creates quite a volume of CO2. What this basically means to me is that as soon as fermentation starts, a nice blanked of CO2 forms above the wort/beer and pushes the O2+ above, protecting your precious liquid.

[/My 2¢]

So a starter in primary could potentially be ok for several weeks...I'm warming to the idea of making starters now that I've read about this easy method.:rockin:
 

Brewing Clamper

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Richard said:
So a starter in primary could potentially be ok for several weeks...I'm warming to the idea of making starters now that I've read about this easy method.:rockin:
It would be better off in the fridge if you're gonna keep it for "weeks" but I've kept a yeast cake in a primary for over 2 weeks before I poured fresh wort in it and it took right off.
 

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My starter vessels are always either a sanitized 1-gallon water jug (same shape as a milk jug), or the 1-gallon bottles that apple juice comes in (plenty of them laying around after 2 batches of apfelwein). I just drill a 5/8" hole in the screw-on cap, put a small drilled stopper in that, and add the airlock. Works like a charm. Yeah, you don't get to actually boil the liquid in the same vessel, meaning there's a little bit of transferring that has to occur, but so what? Aside from the ease of adding a stirplate, I don't see any need to spend all that money on a big ol 4000mL flask.
 
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uniconfis

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This is all great info. I'll be making 2L starters in my primary bucket or empty 1g apple juice for now on. The 1L flask will be collecting dust until I figure out some use for it. When I made my starter, I used the activator pack. Is this necessary? Should I be using dry yeast or another kind?
 

bradsul

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uniconfis said:
This is all great info. I'll be making 2L starters in my primary bucket or empty 1g apple juice for now on. The 1L flask will be collecting dust until I figure out some use for it. When I made my starter, I used the activator pack. Is this necessary? Should I be using dry yeast or another kind?
Dry yeast doesn't need a starter so if that is what you use don't worry about it. The WYeast packs and Whitelabs vials seriously benefit from a starter however.
 

killian

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I made a mini mash tun, how should I make a starter with this?
Im thinking about 3lbs of 2row .5lbs caravienna.
mr.malty is giving me about 200ml to pitch, Im going to use yeast washed from my 1st yeast wash. how much yeast should I pitch to end up with a 200ml slurry?
 

CBBaron

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Richard said:
Isn't it risky to have so much headspace though? How long could this starter be left for?
Headspace is not a problem for starters, especially if you intend to add the wort within 48 hours. Starters need all the O2 they can get to encourage population increase. Once you add your wort any extra O2 will be consumed and then the yeast will go to work making alcohol.
As for how long you can leave your starter. For best results you should use it 12-36 hours after pitching the yeast. This is enough time for cell growth and ensures most of the yeast are very active. After that time the yeasts start to go inactive and settle out of the solution. However there still should be a good supply of viable yeast cells for a month or more. If you leave it for more than a week I would siphon off the liquid and add another "starter" to the bucket to reactivate the yeast and get them ready for the wort.
Craig
 

Richard

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CBBaron said:
Headspace is not a problem for starters, especially if you intend to add the wort within 48 hours. Starters need all the O2 they can get to encourage population increase. Once you add your wort any extra O2 will be consumed and then the yeast will go to work making alcohol.
As for how long you can leave your starter. For best results you should use it 12-36 hours after pitching the yeast. This is enough time for cell growth and ensures most of the yeast are very active. After that time the yeasts start to go inactive and settle out of the solution. However there still should be a good supply of viable yeast cells for a month or more. If you leave it for more than a week I would siphon off the liquid and add another "starter" to the bucket to reactivate the yeast and get them ready for the wort.
Craig

Thanks for the advice. I have another question...does it matter if I use light DME for the starter when the beer I am brewing is made with darker malts?
 

casper0074

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I always like to test the theory that "there is no such thing as a dumb question". Is there a reason you shouldn't use a microwave to boil the water/dme for a yeast starter (in pyrex of course)?
 

Richard

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casper0074 said:
I always like to test the theory that "there is no such thing as a dumb question". Is there a reason you shouldn't use a microwave to boil the water/dme for a yeast starter (in pyrex of course)?
My guess would be that you'll end up with superheated dme/water that will explode all over the inside of your microwave if you try to boil the mixture for long enough.
 

gruffudd

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casper0074 said:
I always like to test the theory that "there is no such thing as a dumb question". Is there a reason you shouldn't use a microwave to boil the water/dme for a yeast starter (in pyrex of course)?

While it's not common there is the possiblilty that the water/dme mixture can "explode" when moved, Just make sure make sure you provide a nucleation site for bubbles to form. When making my daily cuppa at work I use a straw stuck into the water, just to be on the safe side.
 

CBBaron

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Richard said:
Thanks for the advice. I have another question...does it matter if I use light DME for the starter when the beer I am brewing is made with darker malts?
I don't believe it matters but I wouldn't use dark DME if you want to pitch it in a Blonde or similarly colored beer. I usually just buy light DME for all my beers and use specialty grains to produce the desired colors and flavors.
As for boiling in the microwave, I find that it is so easy to do on the stove I havn't tried in the microwave. I think the chance of making a mess increases when using the micro :)
Craig
 
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uniconfis

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casper0074 said:
I always like to test the theory that "there is no such thing as a dumb question". Is there a reason you shouldn't use a microwave to boil the water/dme for a yeast starter (in pyrex of course)?
Would it become a TV beer then:confused: Would be interesting to see the results.
 
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uniconfis

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Well, if the results are similar to food I'll keep away. Nothing in the microwave tastes better than the stove/oven/grill. I also can't let myself get lazy with brewing either. I'd get way to bored. I am intrigued though.
 

Philip1993

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Richard said:
My guess would be that you'll end up with superheated dme/water that will explode all over the inside of your microwave if you try to boil the mixture for long enough.
Superheating tends only to occur in low mineral content water boiled in nearly new plastic. In order for it to happen, no nucleation sites can form. Add a few scratches, a little soap residue, anything to start the process and it just boils. I've tried unsuccessfully to repeat the superheated water explosion without success. :( And, I have been boiling my water, tea, baby formula, etc in the microwave for years without incident. Oddly, though, I never thought about starters/beer (why?!?) and will be doing that going forward.

That said, my advice is be aware of the hazard and look at your water to see that it did boil before sticking your face over the vessel an inserting a spoon. :)
 

mthogan1997

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I always boiled my starter in a microwave and have had no problems. However, last week I boiled water in the microwave and when I opend the microwave door, the water exploded and scared the poop out of me. I am now leary of boiling anything in a microwave.
 

DSean

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mthogan1997 said:
I always boiled my starter in a microwave and have had no problems. However, last week I boiled water in the microwave and when I opend the microwave door, the water exploded and scared the poop out of me. I am now leary of boiling anything in a microwave.
If you stick a toothpick in the container (floating on the top of the water), you won't get any more explosions because the water won't be able to super-heat, as pldoolittle described above. I've done this before and never had a problem. [I removed the toothpick before doing anything with the water].
 

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This will be my first batch using liquid yeast, and the idea of making a starter right in the primary fermenter sounds really appealing. A couple of rookie questions:

1. Two quarts of water and 2 cups of DME would do the job for the starter's wort?

2. I'll be fermenting in a bucket fermenter. To aerate the wort would it be ok to just stir it vigorously in the fermenter. (The fermenter and spoon would be sanitized, of course)? If not, how? I'd be boiling my wort in a stove pot.
 

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1. Some yeast nutrient is good too. I use 1/8 tsp fermax. I used to use airlocks on my starters but I saw on here someone said use sanitized aluminum foil to let oxygen get in. It's close but I think the aluminum foil is a little better.

2. Running the wort thru a sanitized strainer works good. A good skake works god too. I'm considering buying an airating system for my fermenter.
 
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