Maybe the Thing's wife's vagina...
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The only other thing I have been doing different other than using a grant is taking better care of the mash bed, which has also brought my efficiency up to near 80%.
Steven Deeds and I have already proven that stir plates add little to no value when preparing a starter. Stir plates were designed to prevent clumping in suspension cell culturing. They crept into home brewing via people involved in cancer research, which is an area of science that is a big time user of suspension cell culturing. Add in the fact that most home brewers propagate yeast incorrectly, and most stirred starters end up underperforming a simple shaken starter that is pitched at high krausen.
KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is the best approach when propagating yeast. Avoid introducing anything into the starter media that absolutely does not need to be there, including a stir bar. Everything that comes into contact with the culture when it is small is an infection threat due to the fact that bacteria multiply eight-fold every time yeast cells double. Boiling only kills vegetative cells, which is why I autoclave (pressure cook) the media that I use for my really small starters.
Dissolved O2 level matters, but one doesn't need to use pure O2. The shaken, not stirred method (a.k.a. "James Bond Method") that I outlined in a couple of threads produces a very healthy starter. It's a low-cost, low-tech, easy to perform method that produces excellent results.
....also WLP 001 is a very easy to use yeast, not at all temperamental. Great beginners yeast and again very forgiving of mistakes.
For us, federal and state excise taxes make up about 19% of our cost on an average beer. As you get larger and you take advantage of economies of scale AND you pay the larger tax rate, I could easily see the cost being 40% of the costs.
Taxes really become crazy when you start looking at labor costs...