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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: lazydog79 on September 15, 2010, 04:07:58 AM

Title: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: lazydog79 on September 15, 2010, 04:07:58 AM
I'm planning on brewing Northern Brewer's Winter Warmer this weekend fermented with Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale yeast.  Here's my problem - I just ordered it today (the 14th) - it should be here the 16th.  I meant to put my order in the end of last week, but forgot.  Plus, I didn't think I would be able to brew until the 25th.  Now, an opportunity has presented itself to brew Saturday (18th).  I dare not waste such opportunities - they are a rare commodity 'round these parts!  8)

So the question is - I was planning on making a 2.5 liter starter (per Mr. Malty, needed for the 1.069 OG).  My usually procedure has been to get my starter going 3-4 days to ferment completely, decant the starter liquid and pitch.  If I make my starter as soon as I get the yeast, the starter will only have two days.  Will that be enough time, or am I better off letting the opportunity pass me by this weekend and brew next weekend?  Thanks!
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tygo on September 15, 2010, 04:15:41 AM
Brew it up.  Can't waste those opportunities.  Worst case scenario (and this is what I would probably plan on) is brew up and pitch the starter on Thursday evening.  Let it ferment out until Saturday evening, chill overnight, decant and pitch on Sunday.  That means letting the wort sit overnight but that shouldn't be a problem.

And who knows, maybe it'll be done by Saturday morning and you can chill it then.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: svejk on September 15, 2010, 04:39:08 AM
I agree, I'd go ahead and get the starter going as soon as you are able. If it were me, I would probably make a slightly smaller starter and skip the chilling and decanting.  Then I'd pitch the whole starter into the chilled wort.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tschmidlin on September 15, 2010, 05:18:53 AM
Yeah, if you make a 2.5 liter 1.030-1.040 starter with a smack pack, it should be done fermenting overnight, especially if you are using a stir plate.  So letting it go 36-48 hours is plenty of time, just cool it overnight (or during your brew day) and you should be good to go.  If you're not using a stir plate it will still go quickly, just give the starter a swirl whenever you walk by.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: troy@uk on September 15, 2010, 05:36:00 AM
When my yeast hit the wort, I want a lot of hungry yeasties. From what I've gathered about the life cycle of yeast cells is that they go through a growing/multiplying stage before they get down to the buisness of converting sugars to CO2 and alchohal.  When you use a starter you are trying to wake the yeast up from their sleep/rest and get them to multiply which happens during the first 18-24 hours or so.  I let my starters go on a stir plate (You should get the same result bty swirling every time you walk by) for 24 hrs then chill, decant, and bring back to pitching temp when it's time to send them to the wort feast.  I don't always chill and decant, usually an ale starter is small enough to pitch directly so I start the 24 hrs the day before brewday and pitch them fresh and hungry.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: denny on September 15, 2010, 03:36:52 PM
I'm gonna go the other direction from most of the advice.  For me, letting a starter ferment out takes at least 4-5 days before the yeast drops and I can decant.  Personally, I'd put off brewing until the yeast is ready.  If it's ready in 2 days, fine...if it's not, I'd rather not brew.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tschmidlin on September 15, 2010, 03:51:20 PM
How do you make your starters Denny?  That's a really long time to finish fermenting, do you check the gravity?  It could be done before 4 days but just not flocculated yet.  I'm guessing you don't use a stirplate since you're talking about the yeast dropping?
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: bluesman on September 15, 2010, 03:59:16 PM
I think it depends on the yeast strain, starting gravity, temp, etc... My SOP is to ferment until they appear to be finished then cold crash until brew day which is typically about a week.  Then I'll slowly warm them to just below pitching temp, decant and pitch the slurry.  That being said,  I have also pitched an active starter 48hrs old with no problem.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on September 15, 2010, 05:03:20 PM
I've always thought that pitching a start that is still "active" is the best way to go and that brewers let the starter finish so they don't have the bland starter wort/beer diluting the batch...

This summer, I made a starter on brewday with finished wort. Since I have to put the caroby into the keezer overnight to getdown to pitch temp, I'll put a gallon in my starter jug, cool to ~70-75F in the sink, and pitch. The next day, the starter will be active by the time I get home from work. I'll pitch the whole jug into the carboy and use a blowoff b/c its so full.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tschmidlin on September 15, 2010, 05:08:09 PM
I've always thought that pitching a start that is still "active" is the best way to go and that brewers let the starter finish so they don't have the bland starter wort/beer diluting the batch...
Yes :)

That's why some people will save some of a batch for the next time they brew a similar beer, so they can use it to make a starter and then just add the whole thing to the beer.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: dak0415 on September 15, 2010, 05:30:23 PM
I've always thought that pitching a start that is still "active" is the best way to go and that brewers let the starter finish so they don't have the bland starter wort/beer diluting the batch...
Tom, is this the best method for yeast health and harvesting the yeast from the target batch?  Is the lag time important as the yeast go into growth phase, or will they just jump back to growth phase when they are introduced back into the target wort?
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tschmidlin on September 15, 2010, 05:37:08 PM
I've always thought that pitching a start that is still "active" is the best way to go and that brewers let the starter finish so they don't have the bland starter wort/beer diluting the batch...
Tom, is this the best method for yeast health and harvesting the yeast from the target batch?  Is the lag time important as the yeast go into growth phase, or will they just jump back to growth phase when they are introduced back into the target wort?
It won't happen instantaneously, but they will start to grow as quickly as they can when the conditions are right for growth.

For harvesting, if you're using a top cropping yeast then top crop.  For other yeasts, just get it after it flocculates and the yeast will be plenty healthy.  Even from a high gravity wort when the yeast are a little beat up, you can baby them with low OG wort and nutrients and they'll generally recover pretty well.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: denny on September 15, 2010, 05:42:28 PM
How do you make your starters Denny?  That's a really long time to finish fermenting, do you check the gravity?  It could be done before 4 days but just not flocculated yet.  I'm guessing you don't use a stirplate since you're talking about the yeast dropping?

Nope, no stirplate, usually 3 qt. starters, although sometimes only 2 qt.  Sometimes takes a day or so for it to get going, 2-3 days to ferment, so I plan on a minimum of 4 days before it's ready to go in the fridge to crash the yeast.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tschmidlin on September 15, 2010, 05:49:00 PM
How do you make your starters Denny?  That's a really long time to finish fermenting, do you check the gravity?  It could be done before 4 days but just not flocculated yet.  I'm guessing you don't use a stirplate since you're talking about the yeast dropping?

Nope, no stirplate, usually 3 qt. starters, although sometimes only 2 qt.  Sometimes takes a day or so for it to get going, 2-3 days to ferment, so I plan on a minimum of 4 days before it's ready to go in the fridge to crash the yeast.
How much yeast are you using?  Liquid/dry?

A stirplate would speed things up if you were so inclined.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: denny on September 15, 2010, 05:52:00 PM
How much yeast are you using?  Liquid/dry?

A stirplate would speed things up if you were so inclined.

I use a fully swollen Activator.  I've been given a couple stirplates by kind people, but they were both very old and died soon after I started using them.  I haven't felt like investing in a new one at this point, but I'm considering it.  If my brewery/garage renovation comes in under budget, that's a possible use for the "extra" money.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tschmidlin on September 15, 2010, 05:57:55 PM
How much yeast are you using?  Liquid/dry?

A stirplate would speed things up if you were so inclined.

I use a fully swollen Activator.  I've been given a couple stirplates by kind people, but they were both very old and died soon after I started using them.  I haven't felt like investing in a new one at this point, but I'm considering it.  If my brewery/garage renovation comes in under budget, that's a possible use for the "extra" money.
I'm not trying to mess with your process or anything, but I think if you used the smack pack when it was nearly swollen rather than fully swollen it might go faster.  Might.  By the time you get to the fully swollen pack it might have been fully swollen for a while and the yeast might have started settling again.

But the stirplate is definitely the easier way to go to speed things up, you can build one for relatively little money.  I assume you've seen the hard drive magnet/computer fan (http://www.donosborn.com/homebrew/stir_plate.htm) ones?
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: denny on September 15, 2010, 06:00:35 PM
I'll give your suggestion a try, but to tell ya the truth I'm not usually in a biog hurry and I can schedule around the yeast being ready.  It's just become part of my plan.  OTOH, if there's a method I can use to ensure that my yeast population is larger and healthier, it's worth a try.  And I real familiar with the do it yourself plans, but generally I prefer to buy rather than build.  I'm just lazy that way....:)
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: dak0415 on September 15, 2010, 06:04:01 PM
It won't happen instantaneously, but they will start to grow as quickly as they can when the conditions are right for growth.

So, hit the starter with O2 every 8 hours for a couple of days?
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tschmidlin on September 15, 2010, 06:57:46 PM
I'll give your suggestion a try, but to tell ya the truth I'm not usually in a biog hurry and I can schedule around the yeast being ready.  It's just become part of my plan.  OTOH, if there's a method I can use to ensure that my yeast population is larger and healthier, it's worth a try.
You want to make sure your yeast population is larger and healthier?  Get a stir plate.  Check out this picture from the Falcons website yeast page (http://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/yeast-propagation-and-maintenance-principles-and-practices).

(http://www.maltosefalcons.com/sites/default/files/image002.gif)

And I real familiar with the do it yourself plans, but generally I prefer to buy rather than build.  I'm just lazy that way....:)
I hear that :)

So, hit the starter with O2 every 8 hours for a couple of days?
Sure, although that might not be as good as a stirplate.  It foams up pretty quickly so there's only so much O2 you can bubble through it.  Some foam control and/or a larger vessel would help.  But the stirplate is set and forget, so I like that solution better.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: Slowbrew on September 15, 2010, 07:07:46 PM
I did a Winter Warmer a couple weeks ago on the same schedule as you have.  It worked fine.

Made the starter on Thursday morning, decanted and pitched it into the beer on Saturday around Noon.  Fermentation was going strong by 4:30 to 5:00.  Into the secondary 8 days later and it's ready to keg whenever I have time.  The sample I took on the way into the secondary was down to 1.011 and tasted great!

Paul
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: dak0415 on September 15, 2010, 08:01:45 PM
So, hit the starter with O2 every 8 hours for a couple of days?
Sure, although that might not be as good as a stirplate.  It foams up pretty quickly so there's only so much O2 you can bubble through it.  Some foam control and/or a larger vessel would help.  But the stirplate is set and forget, so I like that solution better.
No, no, you misunderstand.  2 or 4 liter starters in a 6 liter flask on a stirplate, with .5 micron sintered stone!
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tschmidlin on September 15, 2010, 08:26:02 PM
So, hit the starter with O2 every 8 hours for a couple of days?
Sure, although that might not be as good as a stirplate.  It foams up pretty quickly so there's only so much O2 you can bubble through it.  Some foam control and/or a larger vessel would help.  But the stirplate is set and forget, so I like that solution better.
No, no, you misunderstand.  2 or 4 liter starters in a 6 liter flask on a stirplate, with .5 micron sintered stone!
Wow, ok, that's a lot of O2.  There is some small danger of actually hitting them with too much O2, and between the stirplate and the O2 tank you might be getting close.  I would just stick with the stirplate and some kind of cover that will keep stuff from falling in but allow air to flow through.  Like a cotton ball or loose aluminum foil or something.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: dak0415 on September 15, 2010, 08:49:49 PM
OK, back up and regroup.  Hit with O2 for one minute, every 8 hours, for a couple of days.  Just enough flow to see the foam coming up from the stone and swirl with the starter.  I figure the O2 that does not go into solution will stay in the flask.  The foam only persists for a few minutes and doesn't get more than 1" thick.  Is that still to much?
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tschmidlin on September 15, 2010, 09:50:39 PM
Is that still to much?
I can't say for sure, but it would probably be fine.

To some extent it will be strain specific, because there are different genes that protect against oxygen toxicity.  It also will depend on how much O2 is getting dissolved, and I don't have a good answer for that.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: a10t2 on September 15, 2010, 09:56:43 PM
You want to make sure your yeast population is larger and healthier?  Get a stir plate.  Check out this picture from the Falcons website yeast page (http://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/yeast-propagation-and-maintenance-principles-and-practices).

That's a great article overall, but I find it dubious to suggest that a stirplate will result in a four-fold increase in yeast growth over a shaken starter. (FWIW I found (http://seanterrill.com/2010/01/14/aeration-and-yeast-starters/) the increase to be about 13%.) Access to oxygen is the key.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: tschmidlin on September 15, 2010, 10:49:54 PM
You want to make sure your yeast population is larger and healthier?  Get a stir plate.  Check out this picture from the Falcons website yeast page (http://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/yeast-propagation-and-maintenance-principles-and-practices).

That's a great article overall, but I find it dubious to suggest that a stirplate will result in a four-fold increase in yeast growth over a shaken starter. (FWIW I found (http://seanterrill.com/2010/01/14/aeration-and-yeast-starters/) the increase to be about 13%.) Access to oxygen is the key.
I've never met MB personally, but if she says she got 4x as much I believe her.  I don't know how her conditions may have differed from yours though, so that may affect the results.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: chezteth on September 16, 2010, 04:19:00 AM
I realize it may not be ideal but I recently started a scottish ale with a 1L starter.  I used the Wyeast Scottish Ale and I let it fully expand before I made my starter.  I made the starter 2 days in advance and would shake it every time I would walk by it.  The beer was at full krausen within 8 hours of pitching temp.  Hope this helps.

Happy Brewing,
Brandon
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: bluesman on September 16, 2010, 01:30:38 PM
You want to make sure your yeast population is larger and healthier?  Get a stir plate.  Check out this picture from the Falcons website yeast page (http://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/yeast-propagation-and-maintenance-principles-and-practices).

That's a great article overall, but I find it dubious to suggest that a stirplate will result in a four-fold increase in yeast growth over a shaken starter. (FWIW I found (http://seanterrill.com/2010/01/14/aeration-and-yeast-starters/) the increase to be about 13%.) Access to oxygen is the key.

I was quite surprised to see this data.  It's really hard to imagine the magnitude of growth from shaken to stirred.
Title: Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
Post by: cosmo on September 28, 2010, 04:57:03 PM
Take a look at the starting cell count for that study.  Much less than a smack pack.  I think with that much growth, the 02 is limiting.  The stir plate adds continuous 02.  I'm assuming that is the difference.  With an Activator pack, I don't think the percentage increase would be as much.