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Cloud Surfer

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I’m about to do my first yeast starter. It’s going to be 3L using one Wyeast smack pack. I’m not sure how long before brew day I should make it. I do want to leave 12-24 hours at the end to put it in the fridge to settle so I can decant most of the liquid off the yeast cake. Most references indicate 24 hours is enough time, but is a 3L starter slightly bigger than usual, requiring a bit more time.

Initially, I thought I would make the starter 48 hours before brewing the beer, but would I be better off starting 72 hours out to give it enough time to finish and then get some fridge settling time?
 

razz

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If you are not aiming to pitch the starter at high krausen then I would do the 72 hour thing CS. When you have it coming out of the fridge decant the beer and add some fresh wort, it should get going pretty quick. Are you using a stir plate?
 

MHB

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There are going to be hundreds of answers, at least half wont be the best advice you could take.
Starters are a really complicated question, personally I'm not sure how good a job of yeast propagation a lot of home brewers do. Its too easy to end up with a lot of very unhealthy yeast (how do you know?) or an infected starter. For mine I would rather pitch the yeast I have into a suitable sized batch, crop that yeast and use it for a bigger or stronger batch... you end up with enough healthy yeast to do what you want, Know for a certainty that there will be some bugs in that yeast and that at some point it all falls down and you get an infected brew.

Have a read of Braukaiser on yeast propagation, his yeast growth experiment is worth reading to.
Mark
 

Cloud Surfer

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If you are not aiming to pitch the starter at high krausen then I would do the 72 hour thing CS. When you have it coming out of the fridge decant the beer and add some fresh wort, it should get going pretty quick. Are you using a stir plate?
I’m making my yeast starter setup today. Got a 5L flask and bought a stir plate from KL. Just making the stir ‘plate’ bigger to better support the big flask. I’ve added an aerating system into the flask as well to try and optimise the yeast growth.
 

Cloud Surfer

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There are going to be hundreds of answers, at least half wont be the best advice you could take.
Starters are a really complicated question, personally I'm not sure how good a job of yeast propagation a lot of home brewers do. Its too easy to end up with a lot of very unhealthy yeast (how do you know?) or an infected starter. For mine I would rather pitch the yeast I have into a suitable sized batch, crop that yeast and use it for a bigger or stronger batch... you end up with enough healthy yeast to do what you want, Know for a certainty that there will be some bugs in that yeast and that at some point it all falls down and you get an infected brew.

Have a read of Braukaiser on yeast propagation, his yeast growth experiment is worth reading to.
Mark
Thanks Mark. Looks like I’m doing exactly what he describes in his article.
 

kadmium

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Thanks Mark. Looks like I’m doing exactly what he describes in his article.
No need for an aeration exercise in the starter other than stir plate.

2 days before and time to chill so if brew day is Sunday morning I make it Thursday morning gives it till Saturday morning and then a day to chill which helps drop the yeast especially if its not highly flocculant. For most beers a general rule I go by is 3L, with 500ml harvested from the starter and into a sanitised canning jar then the 2.5L into the fridge to crash.

Not sure how this is a huge risk for infection nor how top cropping is more sanitary.

You're harvesting yeast that have not undergone fermentation with hops and in a high gravity wort etc so I believe they are as healthy as you could assume.

The alternative is to pitch a packet of yeast that you have no idea on how they are stored? No thanks.

I measure the dry malt extract at 100g per L, then add water to make the volume. Eg 300g Light DME into the flask and top to 3L. Swirl to get it mixed well. Pop on the stove, add the stir bar. Put the foil over making a slightly tight wrap going down the outside of the neck. On the heat. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Transfer to a sink of cold water. No need for an ice bath. Sit in the sink with enough water till the flask is just about to float.

Swirl every 10m or so till its cool to the touch. Takes an hour or so. Meanwhile yeast is out of fridge. Don't smack it, no need in my view.

Put flask on stir plat and get it spun up. Once a good stir is going, add yeast. Let go for 48 hours. Gravity is always 1.037 using this method. Yeast will ferment out in 24 hours or so, the extended time in my view helps them build glycol reserves.

After 48 hours while all mixed up decant a 500ml mason jar worth. Fridge that. Let 2.5L remaining sit in fridge over night or more till required.

Remove from fridge about 1hr before needed. Decant off the liquid, and always some into a glass. Taste the non hopped "beer" for signs of infection. Be amazed at how much that little bittering addition helps.

Leave the yeast cake and about 100ml of liquid. Right before pitch swirl it all up using the stir bar to help break it all up, then grab the stir bar using a magnet. Pitch the yeast.

I am on 7th generation "Dennys favourite" for porters and stouts and still a great yeast.

I also had a 6 month old Imperial Dry Hop I spun up, tasted great no issues.


Yes, you can do slants and freeze etc but I find 3 or 4 strains that I usually brew with last 6 months or so between spins.
 
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mje1980

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I used to be very precise about starters. Now I do 2L in my flask ( 200g DME and yeast nutrient ) boiled and cooled. Yeast pitched ( room temp ). Then swirl ( don’t use my stir plate much now ) every few hours overnight and pitch. Unless it doesn’t look active but I’ve never had issues, even with 6 month old yeast. Keep 250ml for next time and pitch it all.

Most of my beers are 1.040 or less so if I’m doing a stronger one I’ll use my stir plate.
 

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Playing devils avocado here, why not just chuck in two packs of dried yeast?

Imho the 11gms supplied as standard is a bit light on (it's interesting that Coopers are now selling dried yeast, but in 15gm packets, don't get excited it's all generic stuff)
With the recent advances in dried yeast production, and the ever growing variety I question the value of liquid cultures for every day use, sure they have their place but factor in the cost and time associated with them, and the argument is far less compelling now than it once was.
Find a specialist supplier with high turnover, I've had great results with Cheap Yeast Store no affiliation blah, blah, blah. He's often "sold out" (that's a good thing) and has a decent selection.

Having said that, I do maintain a frozen yeast bank, I pretty much use Kadmiums method but draw off the yeast from the 500ml into 50ml centrifuge tubes with a syringe, and store in a glycol mix.
This is only done with the original smack pack/vial, as MHB points out there are bugs in yeast, the yeast manufacturers include a bacteria count in their data sheets, it may be a tiny amount but it's there, and they do multiply, wont argue that you can't get several generations out of a pack but the risk increases with each one, and genetic drift will ensure that the beer you made with gen1 will be different to the beer you make with gen10, it might still be great beer but the yeast will have mutated to a greater or lesser degree depending on the stresses endured by the multiple fermentations.

just my 2 bobs

fwiw if I'm sterilising an erlenmeyer with wort in it, glycol centrifuge tubes, syringes etc. I use a pressure cooker, just fill with water to about 2/3 the height of the wort and let it whistle for 10 min's, apparently there's bugs that can survive 100c, and 125c at pressure kills them.
 

Grmblz

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I’m making my yeast starter setup today. Got a 5L flask and bought a stir plate from KL. Just making the stir ‘plate’ bigger to better support the big flask. I’ve added an aerating system into the flask as well to try and optimise the yeast growth.
You will probably find that 5L is too big for that stir plate, I would suggest a 3L, you need a vigorous vortex that's going almost to the bottom of the flask for effective aeration, unless you are using an air stone in which case you don't need a stir plate.
You mention an aeration system, is that an aquarium air pump with a hepa filter or pure oxygen?
I only ask because it's very difficult to over oxygenate a wort with air, but remarkably easy to do it with oxygen, and oxygen in high levels is toxic to yeast.
 

MHB

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Its the use of oxygen that really does bother me most.
Once the O2 in the head space is used up, it think unless you are pumping it in, its imposable to get enough into the head space of the flask without drawing in a lot of contaminated air (most bacteria are attached to small dust partials floating in the air).
Without enough O2, you wont get the increase in population we are looking for and the yeast you do get will be stressed, low in glycogen and not really in fit condition to make good beer. Yet most home brewers assume they are getting maximum populations and in the best possible physical condition.
Doubtful
Mark
 

kadmium

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Its the use of oxygen that really does bother me most.
Once the O2 in the head space is used up, it think unless you are pumping it in, its imposable to get enough into the head space of the flask without drawing in a lot of contaminated air (most bacteria are attached to small dust partials floating in the air).
Without enough O2, you wont get the increase in population we are looking for and the yeast you do get will be stressed, low in glycogen and not really in fit condition to make good beer. Yet most home brewers assume they are getting maximum populations and in the best possible physical condition.
Doubtful
Mark
Yeah but I'm not going to pitch 2 or more packets of Liquid and Dry yeast is also $7 a packet and doesn't come in the strains I want so I'd rather do a stir plate than not.

My opinion. Unless we brew in hermetically sealed environments with spectrometers should we assume everything we do is bad?

Yeast starters are bad, water chemistry bad, pressure fermenting bad blah blah blah. On the home brew level I don't think its an issue but hey, I must have a shot palette.
 

MHB

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Dude don't take it personally every time I suggest there might be a other/better way do do something!
Point of fact I have never said starters, water chemistry, pressure fermenting are bad, just that they all have implications for the finished beer and it will help your brewing to understand them.
Haven't tasted your beer so I obviously cant have an informed opinion now, can I!
You are brewing for you, if you're happy with what you are making, that's all that really matters.

Personally I think its pretty cheap and easy to get maximum benefit from making a starter. In this case an extra hole in the bung, a small fish tank air pump, an air stone, a HEPA filter and some extra hose.
In return you should get a bigger (slightly) and most importantly a much healthier population of yeast.
If you are investing a lot of time and money in a beer, like a Rochefort 10, its really important to get the most out of your yeast.
Mark
 

kadmium

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Dude don't take it personally every time I suggest there might be a other/better way do do something!
Point of fact I have never said starters, water chemistry, pressure fermenting are bad, just that they all have implications for the finished beer and it will help your brewing to understand them.
Haven't tasted your beer so I obviously cant have an informed opinion no can I!
You are brewing for you, if your happy with what you are making that's all that really matters.

Personally I think its pretty cheap and easy to get maximum benefit from making a starter. In this case an extra hole in the bung, a small fish tank air pump, an air stone, a HEPA filter and some extra hose.
In return you should get a bigger (slightly) and most importantly a much healthier population of yeast.
If you are investing a lot of time and money in a beer like a Rochefort 10, its really important to get the most out of your yeast.
Mark
I promise I don't take it personally! Just having a joke at my own expense lol. I understand your point of view but sometimes it comes across that unless things are done in a perfect way, people will not achieve good beer.

Yes, perhaps a bung with a pump is a better solution but without microscopes and other laboratory equipment we won't really know what each person achieves.

I get you're giving your opinion and advice from a commercial / formal training aspect but I think it needs to be remembered that 10s of thousands of people make yeast starters using a stir plate, and of all the beers I have made over the years I find them far more advantageous than just pitching yeast and hoping for the best.

Personally to OP, I think if you follow the basic principals of making a starter on a stir plate, don't overfill the flask so there is decent airspace, give it a good shake to get air into it (doesn't need to be hermetically sealed medical grade air) keep the nasties out with foil over the top and pitch the large colony. Keep an eye on the beer and if it develops an off taste in the beer you make in the starter don't pitch it and go with a fresh pitch. You won't really notice and I would be truly incredulous if you were to brew two identical beers from the exact same wort one using a stir plate and one using injected filtered air and be able to tell them apart. My opinion, maybe I'm not a super taster but I'm also a firm believer that there can be a high degree of snobbery that goes along with home brewing.

Not saying your opinion isn't valid, I'm sure scientifically it may be the better way but I don't personally feel it makes an appreciable difference on the home brew scale.
 

wide eyed and legless

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I have posted this article a couple of years ago, some interesting info and points of view.
The Roving Brewer episode 5.
 

Grmblz

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As WEAL says, it's "points of view", my post was merely a reference for how I do it, and hopefully why.
It's not a case of "This is how you do it" just hey guys this is one way of doing it.
I think it's a German saying "ask 5 brewers the same question, and you will receive 6 different answers" ;)
 

Cloud Surfer

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So I finished putting my starter setup together today and I made the starter for my Belgium quad brew day. From what I read here I decided to give myself 3 days to get it ready instead of 2 days.

The stir plate is working really well. I decided rather than use alfoil, to make a stopper with two holes so I could feed the air line through and then use an airlock. I know airlocks aren’t typical in starter flasks, but it seems a better solution in combination with the air pump. I’ve found though I can’t run the air pump constantly as a head of foam builds up that would probably work it’s way up to the top of the flask if I let it go.

I’ve read all the posts and links and appreciate all the info, so thanks for your input.

C2752F19-9D30-499B-BC41-3E062BA95168.jpeg
 

Cloud Surfer

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Playing devils avocado here, why not just chuck in two packs of dried yeast?

Imho the 11gms supplied as standard is a bit light on (it's interesting that Coopers are now selling dried yeast, but in 15gm packets, don't get excited it's all generic stuff)
With the recent advances in dried yeast production, and the ever growing variety I question the value of liquid cultures for every day use, sure they have their place but factor in the cost and time associated with them, and the argument is far less compelling now than it once was.
Find a specialist supplier with high turnover, I've had great results with Cheap Yeast Store no affiliation blah, blah, blah. He's often "sold out" (that's a good thing) and has a decent selection.

Having said that, I do maintain a frozen yeast bank, I pretty much use Kadmiums method but draw off the yeast from the 500ml into 50ml centrifuge tubes with a syringe, and store in a glycol mix.
This is only done with the original smack pack/vial, as MHB points out there are bugs in yeast, the yeast manufacturers include a bacteria count in their data sheets, it may be a tiny amount but it's there, and they do multiply, wont argue that you can't get several generations out of a pack but the risk increases with each one, and genetic drift will ensure that the beer you made with gen1 will be different to the beer you make with gen10, it might still be great beer but the yeast will have mutated to a greater or lesser degree depending on the stresses endured by the multiple fermentations.

just my 2 bobs

fwiw if I'm sterilising an erlenmeyer with wort in it, glycol centrifuge tubes, syringes etc. I use a pressure cooker, just fill with water to about 2/3 the height of the wort and let it whistle for 10 min's, apparently there's bugs that can survive 100c, and 125c at pressure kills them.
I’ve had good experience with dried yeast so far, and would use it for everything if I could. But with the Belgium’s I make the yeast is the star of the show. Considering all the effort I go to I think I would be kidding myself if I didn’t use the authentic liquid yeasts to make the specific beers I’m trying to copy.
 

MHB

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You can throttle the air flow, have used a little G clamp and a couple of 20c pieces at least once.
That was years ago, now just a couple of drops of FermCap keeps it under control. My propagators are 6L and parallel sided so the foam doesn't build up as quickly as it will in a conical.
Mark
 

Cloud Surfer

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A clamp is a good idea. I was thinking of ways to restrict the airflow, as it’s pumping too much air for the small volume of the flask.
 
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