Yeast starters and Yeast cakes

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zaprozdower

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Right now my knowledge about brewing is weakest in the area of yeast. So I was hoping I could get a little knowledge here.

I have yet to use a yeast starter, so I know it isnt necessary but would like to know how to set one up without the normal equipment (if possible). Can you do it in a tupperware with some aluminum foil over it and a tiny hole cut in? Any other way to do it without the beaker or stir plate?

I keep reading about a yeast cake and am not 100% on what were talking about. Are we referring to yeast sediment on the bottom? What distinguishes this from normal trub on the bottom? Or is it something else completely? From what I understand you tend to get yeast cakes from a more average batch and use them for fermenting more intense, high gravity beers...right?
 

gregs765

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I would avoid the Tupperware mostly because it is plastic, and scratches in it could be hard to sanitize. Try an empty gallon or half-gallon glass jug from wine or juice. Or even a quart jar if you are making a small starter. Usually, covering loosely with foil will work fine... enough to let CO2 pressure out, but not air in.

"Yeast cake" usually refers to the sediment left over from a previous batch. You might have some trub in there, too; how much depends on how much you racked over from the kettle. As long as the trub is fairly light, you are okay to just pitch a new batch on top of that yeast cake. The only time I really worry about it is if I brewed a dark style or something with spices, then want to reuse that yeast for a lighter styled beer.

You are right on with using the previous batch's yeast for a new, bigger beer. Just pretend that first batch was a five-gallon starter!

Greg

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Milhouse

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I made my first starter last Friday. I used a brown glass growler as the vessel and my air lock for my 5 gallon carboy fit perfectly. I boiled 4 oz of DME and 1 quart of water for 15 minutes, cooled it to 70 degrees pitched my vial of yeast and the starter took off within 24 hours . Things worked great. I got most of my info from this video [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSrbukazO_Q]YouTube - How to Make a Yeast Starter[/ame]
I would like to use a clear glass carboy next time so I can watch the yeasty reaction.
 

fivehoursfree

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So do you take the couple oz of extract out of the recipe, or is it an additional amount?
 

pkiller001

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I've been curious about re-using yeast cakes as well. Do the people who do this typically use a generic type yeast? What I mean by that is all the recipes I've read in my, admittedly limited, experience seem to call for different yeasts with different flavor profiles. Are the differences overstated, in which case you can keep using the same yeast for several different styles of beer, or do you plan out several brew sessions around a single style of yeast?
 

Yooper

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So do you take the couple oz of extract out of the recipe, or is it an additional amount?
I usually buy a three pound bag of light DME that I use just for starters. But you can "rob" 1/2 cup of DME out of your recipe if that's all you have.

I've been curious about re-using yeast cakes as well. Do the people who do this typically use a generic type yeast? What I mean by that is all the recipes I've read in my, admittedly limited, experience seem to call for different yeasts with different flavor profiles. Are the differences overstated, in which case you can keep using the same yeast for several different styles of beer, or do you plan out several brew sessions around a single style of yeast?
Well, I do yeast washing. (See the thread "yeast washing illustrated). I have about 4-5 different kinds of yeast that I commonly use saved in sanitized grolsch bottles, and then a few packages of dry yeast in the fridge. I use a clean neutral American ale yeast, a Belgian yeast, a bock (lager) yeast, and a hybrid yeast (for California common) most often, so that's what I have in my yeast fridge. Most of my IPAs and APAs use the American ale yeast, so I'm pretty well covered. If I did hefeweizens, I'd be sure to save a strain of the hefe yeast- those really make a difference in the finished beer. I often have an English yeast strain, but don't at the moment.

Unless I'm making something unusual for me, my yeast supply pretty well covers it. I think you could look at the types of brews you typically brew, and then brew them back to back, or try yeast washing, to save $$$$$ on yeast.
 

jldc

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So when your starter is up and going, do you chill it, decant the wort and then pitch the sediment on the bottom (after allowing it to come to room temp)?
 

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So when your starter is up and going, do you chill it, decant the wort and then pitch the sediment on the bottom (after allowing it to come to room temp)?
Well, yes and no. You either pitch the entire thing at high krausen, or wait until it's fermented out completely then chill and decant. You don't want to chill it before it's finished, because then most of your yeast can be "lost" in the liquid. After it's done, though, the chilling encourages the yeast to flocculate, and the clear beer can be poured off. If you don't have enough time to chill and decant (usually at least overnight after the starter is finished), you can pitch the entire thing.
 

jsteurer

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I have a batch going now that has been in the primary for about 10 days and I'm getting ready to brew my next batch this weekend and I was wondering if I could use the yeast cake? What the general consensus on the days in primary and yeast cake use?
 

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I have a batch going now that has been in the primary for about 10 days and I'm getting ready to brew my next batch this weekend and I was wondering if I could use the yeast cake? What the general consensus on the days in primary and yeast cake use?
In my opinion, that doesn't matter at all. As long as the yeast is healthy, it's ok to use. Now, I wouldn't pitch a 1.040 OG beer onto a 1.070 yeast cake- but I would do the reverse. So, you could consider the yeast healthy and if it's been stressed by high/low temperatures, underpitching, etc, but the days in primary won't matter.
 

Jaha35

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Is there any benefit to re-pitching or washing other than saving money? Granted I am just starting out so I probably shouldn't compound things this early but I am just curious. I am moving to bottle this weekend and wonder if I should just toss the yeast cake to my poultry or save it.
 

Nurmey

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The benefit to pitching on a yeast cake is a powerful fermentation. No lag time or wimpy bubbling when you use a good inch of healthy yeast. Blow off tube is mandatory!
 

Jaha35

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The benefit to pitching on a yeast cake is a powerful fermentation. No lag time or wimpy bubbling when you use a good inch of healthy yeast. Blow off tube is mandatory!
Newb alert.

When using a blow off tube, do you submerge the end in water in the receptacle to prevent O2 from heading back up the tube?
 

Nurmey

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Newb alert.

When using a blow off tube, do you submerge the end in water in the receptacle to prevent O2 from heading back up the tube?
Yes, submerge the tube end. I would use mixed Star San instead of water. Blow off tube containers can get pretty foul after a day of heavy blow off. I have a large vase I use but it can be anything that can hold a quart or two of liquid.
 
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