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Logman

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I've read just about every yeast starter thread but still can't get a read on what a reasonable starter should taste like.

What I've been doing for the last month is making starters for learning purposes (50/200/1000 ml) and throwing them out. The last one was from 2 bottles of Coopers and it's the first one that didn't taste like vinegar - slowly but surely I've got the sanitation right.

I've got a cube ready to go but chickened out and didn't use the starter. Whilst there was no vinegar and no odor to speak of, it didn't exactly taste great either.

So what does a useable starter taste like - as good as fermented wort? Or as long as it isn't foul is it good to go?
 

squirt in the turns

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It should taste like beer (if it contained hops). Mine tend to as I usually use a can of hopped goo cos I keep forgetting to buy reasonably priced DME from Craftbrewer and just buy the can from K-mart. When I can be bothered, like many here, I strain the kettle trub and use that. If it's just made from straight malt extract, it'll taste slightly sweeter and have no hop character.

I generally grow yeast at room temp, chill and pour off the beer and just pitch the slurry. On tasting, I do usually get the "twang" which is variously associated with warm fermentation or extract, and possibly oxidation due to being constantly aerated. Especially if growing certain lager yeasts, or maybe something like a hef, the taste can be interesting to say the least, but should never be "foul". If the starter wort is the same as the wort it's being pitched into, and has been fermented in the same conditions as the main batch will be, then you can expect it to taste like the beer you're trying to make, albeit flat and very young and yeasty.
 

tanukibrewer

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Sweetish but not vinegar,good starters to me usually have a bready smell as well.Will taste some next brew for sure and see if any different flavours.
Did you use some saved wort to make the starter or dried malt 100g to 1L water ratio?
I read the book "Brewing Better Beer" by Gordon Strong and I now run with his suggestion,so with ale yeasts I turf most of the liquid and just pitch the yeast slurry.
 

Logman

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Thanks guys,

Did you use some saved wort to make the starter or dried malt 100g to 1L water ratio?
.......

DME from Craftbrewer
That's what I'm using at 100g to 1L water ratio. It's at 18 in the fermenting fridge on a stir plate as I've got a brew going on the other shelf.

There wasn't a twang at all but not the bready taste which I'd read about either. I sipped on it and tried to get a feel for the flavor - wasn't that sweet, no alcohol presence and only a minor unpleasant smell - just didn't taste anywhere near fermented wort (minus the hops) and the taste it did have wasn't at all enjoyable, albeit not an infected type taste (in the same way that VB isn't infected but you cringe when you taste it :D ).
 

seamad

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Should taste like oxidised beer sans hops.Should get pretty good attenuation with stir plate so shouldn't be sweet either. I normally pour a small sample out once the yeast has settled and taste to test for infection/and that it's finished.Should also get some of the yeasts characteristics under the oxidised aroma/taste.
 

Logman

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squirt in the turns said:
and possibly oxidation due to being constantly aerated.
seamad said:
Should taste like oxidised beer
Oh that's encouraging - never really thought of the oxidized part. I need some stuff from CB, could always make another and then head up there and inflict it on Ross or Anthony.

It's a bit of a leap of faith throwing it into a beer when you're not sure.

:icon_offtopic:

How many times have you taken the S bend off the sink - once for me and countless close calls. Have ordered one of those sink gadgets for the next time the missus goes to the shops.
 

CosmicBertie

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It should taste like unhopped, flat, room-temperature beer. Not sweet and with no alcohol taste either.
 

Logman

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Do you always get a krausen ring on the first step? I'm trying to step up some Coopers yeast using 2 stubbies into about 200ml, had it in there for 2 days and there is no ring. There is what looks to be more yeast on the bottom but I'm not so sure it isn't just extract, overall it looks and smells the same as the beginning, not so sure anything is happening....
 

seamad

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I don't often get a krausen with first steps, if you have a refrac pull a couple of drops and see what's happening.
 

tiprya

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The bigger the step, the more likely you are to get krausen - If you look at it after ~24-36 hours, you can usually see little bubbles churning around - that's a good sign that the yeast is getting its groove on.
 

Logman

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Oh, another question....I had LDME from CB originally and the other day accidentally grabbed amber DME from ibrew as I'd run out. This stuff bubbles far more so I can't do a 200ml starter without it over-boiling unless it's barely bubbling. Any tips on this, can I add something to settle the bubbling?
 

TidalPete

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Not sure what you mean by over-bubbling? Is the "boiling" in your last post a typo?
Are you referring to the Co2 bubbles exiting the wort in your starter? If so then it shouldn't matter a bit. Dried malt is dried malt is dried malt & the more Co2 exiting the starter the more yeast is being propagated. If "over-boiling" you may need a bigger starter vessel. Do you have a stir plate or are you just shaking the starter?

Have you ever considered brewing an extra litre or two?
After filling the fermenter you could pour what's left (Trub & all) into another container, let it settle in the fridge overnight, pour the wort off the (settled) trub & there's your next starter ready to be boiled or stored away in a freezer for another day with more $$$'s saved for more hops, etc. :)
Sanitation is pretty straight-forward & you shouldn't be having the hassles your having.
Hope this helps
 

Logman

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Hey Pete, when I'm sanitizing the flask etc I boil the DME in the flask with the stir bar in it for about 15 minutes. This amber DME I bought froths like a MOFO :huh: . The LDME from CB I had could be boiled pretty hard without the froth. We've got one of those glass top stoves and the very lowest setting is too hot - I've got one of SWMBO's biscuit trays above the jet with the flask on that to reduce the heat but the froth still comes out the neck of the flask as soon as it reaches a boil - I've settled for having to just have the edge of the flask over the jet and having to watch it for the 15 minutes.

Probably best to put this amber DME in a brew and get some LDME from CB...
 

TidalPete

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Logman said:
Hey Pete, when I'm sanitizing the flask etc I boil the DME in the flask with the stir bar in it for about 15 minutes. This amber DME I bought froths like a MOFO :huh: . The LDME from CB I had could be boiled pretty hard without the froth. We've got one of those glass top stoves and the very lowest setting is too hot - I've got one of SWMBO's biscuit trays above the jet with the flask on that to reduce the heat but the froth still comes out the neck of the flask as soon as it reaches a boil - I've settled for having to just have the edge of the flask over the jet and having to watch it for the 15 minutes.

Probably best to put this amber DME in a brew and get some LDME from CB...
Logman said:
Hey Pete, when I'm sanitizing the flask etc I boil the DME in the flask with the stir bar in it for about 15 minutes. This amber DME I bought froths like a MOFO :huh: . The LDME from CB I had could be boiled pretty hard without the froth. We've got one of those glass top stoves and the very lowest setting is too hot - I've got one of SWMBO's biscuit trays above the jet with the flask on that to reduce the heat but the froth still comes out the neck of the flask as soon as it reaches a boil - I've settled for having to just have the edge of the flask over the jet and having to watch it for the 15 minutes.

Probably best to put this amber DME in a brew and get some LDME from CB...
I'm with you now mate!
You're a brave man putting your Erlenmeyers on a hotplate. I've always soaked mine in a weakish bleach solution (Saved & re-used) for 30 minutes or so to avoid any potential problems from the electric stove. Rinsed & sanitised later of course.
Wort for the starter is boiled in a saucepan & cooled. My way probably takes a little longer but I don't mind. :)
If I had your problem I would consider spraying the foaming surface with sterilised water from a dedicated, sanitised squirter bottle? Works during the boil to prevent boilovers doesn't it.
 

Logman

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It's one of those induction cooktops and the flasks I've got are fine for those apparently, never thought of spraying a bit of water out of a squirter - might not fix the problem totally but could save me a clean up or two.

:icon_cheers:
 

manticle

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I put my erlenmeyer straight onto gas burner at full bore. They can take heat - just don't brush them against the tap when filling. Heat resistant, brittle as ****.
 

Logman

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While we're talking flasks, can you run cold water straight onto them after boiling or can they crack?
 

manticle

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Pretty certain you can theoretically. Having bought a few (due to breaks from the type of thing mentioned above) and not being rich, I just cover mine with foil and let it cool to ferment temps.
 

Edak

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I take my flask off the stove and immediately put into cold water, no problems there for me at least. I also suffer from the messy boil-overs, I have to watch it the entire time.

Never trust the measurements on the side of your flask, they are so far off the mark! I put 1L in my flask and it reads 800ml !!!!

Just started stirring a Edinburgh Scottish Ale WLP028 :)
 

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