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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: toniogarces on August 28, 2011, 06:38:33 PM

Title: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: toniogarces on August 28, 2011, 06:38:33 PM
Last night I made my first yeast starter for a porter that I'm making today. I was pretty excited to get into starters but since I don't have an Erlenmeyer, it turned out to be a pain in the ass. I had to boil the starter wort in a saucepan, and then transfer it to a sanitized, narrow-opening one-gallon growler. For this I used a sanitized funnel. I cooled the wort by putting the sauce pan in an ice bath. I asked my buddy to wipe the outside of the pan so that no dirty water dripped in through the funnel when I poured the wort in. Turns out that didn't even matter because, as I was pouring, some wort dripped down the side of the pan. So I think it's contaminated... being the rookie that I am, I still went ahead and pitched the yeast... I covered it with a sanitized piece of aluminum foil and I stirred the starter every half hour or so for the first 6 hours to give the yeast enough oxygen. The yeast seems to be fermenting the wort, but I'm afraid it might still be contaminated.

Should I discard the starter, or use it for my brew today? I should also mention that the recipe called for a 1800 ml starter, but when I entered the recipe into BeerSmith, it said I needed a bigger starter...

Can anyone help me out?

Thanks!
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: majorvices on August 28, 2011, 07:30:01 PM
I seriously think you are overreacting. The heat on the side of the pan sanitized it, so you have nothing to worry about. Congratulations on making your first starter. Don't ever look back. Pitching the appropriate amount of yeast for every beer is essential!

As far as starter size goes, check the pitching calc. at www.mrmalty.com to get an idea what size starter you need every time. Kepp your starter OG between 1.020 and 1.040.
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: toniogarces on August 28, 2011, 07:41:40 PM
Well, the reason I'm concerned is that the rag with which my buddy wiped the outside of the kettle was probably quite dirty. It was just the kitchen rag... Also, even if I sanitized the outside of the pan with heat from the stove, I then dunked it in iced water...in my dirty sink...

Do you still think I should go ahead and use it?
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: majorvices on August 28, 2011, 07:47:06 PM
Ahh, I see what your concern is now. It may be OK but it also might not be worth the mental torture. Start over again just to be safe and sane.
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: toniogarces on August 28, 2011, 07:57:11 PM
Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Cause there's the possibility that it could ruin the whole batch...

We made this starter at around 9:00 PM last night. So far there has only been a thin layer of bubbles on the surface from fermentation... if I were to pitch this starter, when should it be pitched? JZ suggests pitching the whole thing between the 12th and 18th hour...what do you think?
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: majorvices on August 28, 2011, 08:00:15 PM
You want to either pitch it active or, if you want to actually grow yeast you need to ferment it to completion, decant spent starter beer and pitch only the yeast. Assuming you made the proper size starter.
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: toniogarces on August 28, 2011, 08:09:01 PM
About the decanting option...the yeast cake is usually pretty dense. Do you decant most of the starter beer leaving only about a half inch, shake the yeast into suspension and then pitch it?
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: rightasrain on August 28, 2011, 08:11:49 PM
I use an airlock on my starters, just so I can get a sence of how healthy the fermentation is. If its getting a healthy bubbling out of the airlock I would definetly use it. Even if you got a small infection it would more than likely be ok as the yeast would out compete any infection from a small mix of water.

Ahh, I see what your concern is now. It may be OK but it also might not be worth the mental torture. Start over again just to be safe and sane.

Of course majorvices makes a good point too. It may be worth it to you to play it safe so your not sorry later.
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: denny on August 28, 2011, 08:23:52 PM
About the decanting option...the yeast cake is usually pretty dense. Do you decant most of the starter beer leaving only about a half inch, shake the yeast into suspension and then pitch it?

That's exactly what I do.
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: toniogarces on August 29, 2011, 01:21:58 AM
Thanks to everyone for your advice. Just prepared a new starter and everything went splendid.

Cheers!
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: rightasrain on August 29, 2011, 01:49:09 AM
About the decanting option...the yeast cake is usually pretty dense. Do you decant most of the starter beer leaving only about a half inch, shake the yeast into suspension and then pitch it?

That's exactly what I do.

Does anyone happen to know if you can get healthy yeast from this decanted beer instead of throwing it out?

Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: bluesman on August 29, 2011, 01:55:57 AM
About the decanting option...the yeast cake is usually pretty dense. Do you decant most of the starter beer leaving only about a half inch, shake the yeast into suspension and then pitch it?

That's exactly what I do.

Does anyone happen to know if you can get healthy yeast from this decanted beer instead of throwing it out?



I wouldn't waste the time and effort to try. The amount of yeast in suspension is insignificant in the big picture.
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: tygo on August 29, 2011, 01:58:18 AM
Well, your objective with that technique is to get as much of the healthy yeast to floc out and precipitate to the bottom so you can pitch it into the beer.  There's going to be viable yeast in the wort you toss but who knows how much.  I guess the question is how much work do you want to do to grow that back up?

If you wanted to save some yeast to grow back up you'd be better off shaking up the starter and pouring out a small sample before you crashed it.
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: sparkleberry on August 29, 2011, 03:13:09 AM
my beers got that much better with the addition of starters.  i'm really pleased i started using them.
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: skyler on August 30, 2011, 11:52:58 PM
Once you get used to starters and you start harvesting your slurry from previous batches, you will be SO glad you learned how to make starters because you will be able to store your old slurry and bring it back to life when you want - saving yourself a ton of money and trips to the LHBS. I buy yeast maybe 3-4 times a year now, and I brew about twice a month.
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: euge on August 31, 2011, 05:32:52 AM
my beers got that much better with the addition of starters.  i'm really pleased i started using them.
Once you get used to starters and you start harvesting your slurry from previous batches, you will be SO glad you learned how to make starters because you will be able to store your old slurry and bring it back to life when you want - saving yourself a ton of money and trips to the LHBS. I buy yeast maybe 3-4 times a year now, and I brew about twice a month.

It's important to remember that when repitching slurry any bacteria present will grow along side the yeast even though the batch was awesome. Two or three down the line and it might not be. Of course you'll now want a microscope to look at your yeast. ;D Muahahah

IMO actively fermenting yeast and top-cropping gives awesome results as well. Totally impractical for most homebrewers, though I guess one could crop into a starter wort or even just a plastic container.

As far as first starters go they've never failed to improve my beer even if I didn't like how the batch turned out.
Title: Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
Post by: gmac on August 31, 2011, 04:43:49 PM
I do mine exactly the same as you did and I've yet to have a problem at all. 

One thing I like to do (because I'm cheap) is to add a cup or two of sterilized wort back to the growler after pitching.  I've found the little bit of yeast left in the growler jumps into action.  After a few days, I add another quart or two and in a week I've got another starter ready to go.  Of course you have to plan on brewing something that needs that yeast again in the near future but for WLP001 or something that I use a lot, I find this way I can usually have a starter ready to go when I need it.  No idea about the yeast number etc but based on the volume of settled yeast, it's gotta be more than a tube or a smack pack.  I wouldn't do it for lager where you really want a dense starter but for ales I'm more than happy with the results.