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1st Starter, Low Yeast Viability

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Diesel80

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Hi Guys,


Decided to jump in the deep end and make my first yeast starter.

The yeast i have is london ale 1318 i think (WyYeast, pack smacked 30 mins ago).
I will be making the starter tonight at about 10pm, so call it 11:00pm when the yeast hits the wort.

I don't know how to go about growing the yeast, since the viability is low and i need about 150-170bill for my brew.
According to Mr Malty i am at about 10-13% viable.

I am brewing an ESB ale, about 1.045-1.052 range.

I have the following Equip:

1x 500ml Lab Flask
1x 2000ml Lab Flask
Stir Plate and 2 stir bars (1 fat 1 skinny, about the same length)

My question is, Do i need to step up from a small starter, say 400ml to a bigger one with the state the yeast is in, or do i just jump into a 2L.

I am brewing tomorrow, but no chill so won't be pitching until Tuesday evening, about 8:00pm Perth time.

Do i have enough time to grow 1 batch of yeast?
Should I make a small starter tonight, then make a second starter tomorrow night and pitch actively fermenting yeast and the starter all in on Tuesday night?


Will check back when i come in from dinner, hopefully i have not left it too late!
Cheers,

D80
 

Wolfy

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Firstly you're best waiting for the pack to swell fully before pitching it into a starter - that way any remaining viable yeast will breed and ferment the nutrient in the pack - if your pack is old and has low viability - this might take a few days (3-4 days or even longer - not just a few hours as you have planned).
If you do have about 10% of the initial 100billion yeast left, in theory that's about the same as a 100ml starter, so - to be safe and follow 'best' procedures - it would be recomended that you pitch that into a small starter, say 250-400ml, and then step that up to 2L before pitching into your beer.
However, each step of the starter process will take about 1 day (sometimes longer), then if you don't want to pitch the full starter volume, you need to add another day (or so) to let the yeast settle.
When using liquid yeast - especially if the pack is old and has low viability - you really need to grow the yeast over a period of time (more than just 2 days) before you will have the 'correct' amount of healthy yeast to pitch into your beer ... so IMHO you've left it far too late and you needed to smack your yeast-pack about a week ago.
 

np1962

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With respect to Wolfy, who has done some fantastic work with his yeast guides on here, I would give the following contradictory advice.

1. Don't bother smacking the pack. Already done? Doesn't really matter but will make little difference and just takes more time if you wait for it to swell.
From the Wyeast FAQ.
4. Does the cell count increase when the package is activated?

The cell count does not increase significantly when the package is activated.. The smack-pack is not designed to dramatically increase the cell count, it simply activates the yeast metabolism.


2. Prepare a 400ml starter, pitch the yeast. Place on the stir plate for 12 hours. Just have this spinning with a small vortex, no need to be going madly.
3. Remove from stir plate and refridgerate for 12 hours.
4. Pour off liquid and allow yeast to warm to room temp while preparing a 1.5L starter.
5. Pitch yeast into this starter ensuring both are at or around 22C and place on stir plate for 12 hours.
6. Refridgerate for 12 hours, pour of liquid and warm to same temp as wort.
7. Pitch

This should give you around 175 billion cells and take around 3 days.
Starter should be kept at 22-24C while stirring.
I have used this method successfully using many out of date yeast packs over the last few years. This purely breeds yeast numbers without allowing them to ferment out the starter wort which is what I assume Wolfy's method is doing and is IMHO unneccesary.
Cheers
Nige
 

Nick JD

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I would recommend adding the smackable pouch's contents if you are not smacking the pack.
 

Diesel80

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Thanks for the replies guys.

My plan didn't come together last night, got back in too late so about to start the process this morning.
I will knock up the small starter as recommended and then step up to a larger one.

Looks like i need to have a couple of days up my sleeve so will brew some extra wort today to make sure my no chill cube is absolutely chockers and lasts a couple of days without anything 'bad' happening to it.

Hopefully all goes well!
Kind of excited.

Cheers,
D80
 

Wolfy

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1. Don't bother smacking the pack. Already done? Doesn't really matter but will make little difference and just takes more time if you wait for it to swell.
From the Wyeast FAQ.
4. Does the cell count increase when the package is activated?

The cell count does not increase significantly when the package is activated.. The smack-pack is not designed to dramatically increase the cell count, it simply activates the yeast metabolism.
The reason for suggesting to smack the pack and wait, is that the pack is a sterile environment for the yeast to grow. In the case of fresh/mostly-new packs, there will not be enough food in the sachet (compared to live yeast cells) for there to be much/any growth, however when using older/out-of-date packs (much higher food/live cell ratio) so there will be noticable yeast-growth before it swells.
After reading the 'Yeast' book, I generally try not to subject yeast/starters to quick/extreme temperature changes (such as refrigerating a starter), since it can have a range of negitave effects on the yeast - sometimes it's necessary to speed up the process, but it's 'better' to plan for how long the process will take.
When decanting the spent starter-wort and pitching only the yeast, the reason for suggesting the last step (only) of the starter-process is left to ferment fully, is so that the yeast can build up their 'food' reserves and be in better condition for pitching into the batch of beer.
 

Crusty

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I would recommend smacking the pack. Given the low viability of the yeast, the nutrient supplied is in there for a reason, it will give the yeast a healthy start & something to munch on before pitching them into the starter.
200g of DME to 2lt water in your 2lt flask, mix well & decant 400mls to the 500ml flask, foil on top of both & boil for 10mins or so to steralize.
Let them both cool to room temp & place the 500ml flask on your stir plate, add the yeast & stir for 24hrs. After 24hrs, pitch the whole 500ml starter into the remaining 1600mls in the 2lt flask & stir for another 24hrs. When finished, place in fridge to drop the yeast out then let it come to room temp, decant most of the liquid leaving enough to swirl up the yeast & pitch into your wort.
 

Nick JD

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Wyeast recommend pitching metabolically-active yeast.
 

Diesel80

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My luck ran out today with the brew day. All the menial household chores, errands, landscaping etc conspired against me and i just flat ran out of time and energy. Was Fn hot here in Perth today.
But at the very least I did get my yeast starter going. 400ml starter has fired up nicely. Frothing away on the plate looking a million $. Just like the pics on the internetz.

I have been having a sticky beak throughout the day and it is visibly thicker with respect to amount of yeast in the wort.
Very happy so far. I smacked the pack yesterday as stated and it was puffed right up this morning.

Next brew will probably be on the weekend now, so i will ferment this small starter out and then step it up to a larger one tomorrow night.
By the weekend I should have plenty of yeast raring to go.

Nick, what is meant by Metabolically active yeast? Is this actively fermenting yeast or just not dormant, chilled yeast?

Cheers,
D80
 

Nick JD

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Nick, what is meant by Metabolically active yeast? Is this actively fermenting yeast or just not dormant, chilled yeast?
Not dormant. Currently metabolising - ie. eatin' and rootin' and fartin'.

 
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Diesel80

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OK, thanks.

Will give that link a miss at work BDB. :)

I will fire up another, larger starter on friday evening aiming for a Sunday pitching.

Cheers,
D80
 

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