Author Topic: Yeast starter time question  (Read 7856 times)

Offline jmitchell3

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Yeast starter time question
« on: October 04, 2014, 05:52:33 PM »
hello!  I began doing yeast starters and givjng them 24 hours on a sturplate, and removing them to let things settle at the beginning of my brew session.  For the last few batches ive taken to 24 hours on the stirplate, then another 24 or so sitting out at room temp, then cooling, decanting, and pitching, 

Is there a right amount of time for starters?  I find that wlp002 especially seems to floc into clumps making my starter resemble eggdrop soup after about 14 hours....does this mean the starter fermentation is done at this point and ready for pitching?  For other yeasts, especially abbey yeasts, the dont floc or clump like that and it does take some time for the yeast to settle out before decanting and pitching...

Thank you!

Offline Stevie

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Yeast starter time question
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2014, 07:13:58 PM »
I let my starters spin until bubbles stop coming to the top. This can be as little as 18 hours or as much as 48.

I then crash allowing it to drop clear. This can be as fast as 12 hours (wlp002 and wy1968 ) or 4+ days (wy2565). Others fall somewhere in the middle.

Not sure if leaving it at room temp off of the stirplate is doing any good. Can't hurt.

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2014, 07:22:37 PM »
Usually 24-36 hrs is a good time on the stir plate to allow fermentation to finish up.  After that I take it off the stir plate and cold crash it at least overnight before pulling it out of the fridge towards the end of the brew day and allowing it to slightly warm up before pitching into warmer wort. 

I do think that the above time on the stir plate will vary depending on the freshness of your yeast, the strain, and its vitality (health).  The more you use a stir plate, the more accustomed you will get to necessary times needed for the starter to complete. 

Offline Henielma

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2014, 06:03:49 PM »
My stir plate starters are stirred at room temperature between the 12 and 24 hours. I understood that it is better to stop stirring when the CO2 production is almost done. This to prevent exhaustion of the yeast. Then I put it direct into the fridge to cool the starter to made to rest so it can be decanted.
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Offline quattlebaum

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2014, 02:51:31 AM »
There is no right time for starters because there are so many variables in the process such as viability of yeast, starter volume, o2, type of yeast and temp. in general if you follow an online pitching calculator it will get you in the range within 24hrs to 36 hrs. I agree with Brewinhard  the more you use your stir plate the more you will become accustomed to the "signs" that it is finished.  I just did one using the same yeast at it was done in 14 hrs also (1000ml) and i placed it in the fridge and crashed for 1 day decanted and pitched within 10 degrees of wort temp.

Offline jmitchell3

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2014, 05:52:06 PM »
My most recent practice (last 4 batches) has been:

-Starter on the stir-plate for about 20-24 hours,
-Removed and let sit at room temp for an hour or two
-Put it in the fridge to crash overnight for 12-18 hours. 
-Remove from fridge and let sit at room temp at beginning of brew session
-Decant and pitch after wort is cool. 

I've noticed that this process seems to yield the quickest fermentation starts and the most vigorous fermentation--as opposed to a straight 24 hour stir-plate run with a pitch directly into the wort from the stir-plate.  Based on feedback here (thank you!) i think i'm on the right track!

Offline benamcg

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2014, 07:48:11 PM »

I've noticed that this process seems to yield the quickest fermentation starts and the most vigorous fermentation--as opposed to a straight 24 hour stir-plate run with a pitch directly into the wort from the stir-plate.  Based on feedback here (thank you!) i think i'm on the right track!

Why do you suppose that this yields a faster fermentation than the straight pitch?  (Honest question/mere curiosity, not being an ass) I would think think that warm it up and activating the yeast, crashing it, re-activating would be stressful, whereas a straight pitch would be a ramp up in activity under similar conditions.   

Offline duboman

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2014, 10:08:50 PM »
I think you are on the right track but as for certain processes resulting in the fastest start of fermentation it could just be a quirk. Some of this will be determined by the temp you are pitching into, a warmer pitch will typically get started faster than a colder one.

IMO, there is also no need to warm up the starter from the fridge prior to pitch, in fact, it is easier to decant off the cake when the starter is cold as the yeast stays in a cake.

I simply remove my starter from the fridge once I'm ready to pitch, decant and pitch the cold yeast into the chilled wort. I like to pitch cold and allow to self rise to the desired fermentation temperature. This allows for a good steady growth/lag phase as the yeast slowly warms.
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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2014, 02:19:19 AM »
I know that it sounds counterintuitive, but one should not allow a starter to ferment to completion before pitching.  One's goal when making a starter is different than one's goal when making a batch of beer.  There's nothing to be gained by allowing a starter to continue to ferment after maximum cell density has been reached.  At that point, it's all downhill with respect to yeast health.  Maximum cell density for a 1L starter (~200 billion cells) is usually hit 12 to 18 hours after pitching a White Labs vial. If one is pitching a relatively fresh tube, many yeast strains reach maximum cell density within six hours of pitching because the cells only need to divide (cellular mitosis) two or three times at most.   

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.



Ideally, one wants to pitch just as the curve starts to flatten out during the deceleration phase. While it may look like one is growing more cells beyond that point, all reproduction is for replacement only.  The only cell count that matters when propagating yeast is the viable cell count. 

Additionally, the ergosterol and unsaturated fatty acid (UFA) reserves that are synthesized at the beginning of fermentation are shared by the mother cells with all of their daughter cells after the dissolved oxygen has been consumed.  Allowing a starter to ferment to completion results in one pitching yeast cells with depleted ergosterol and UFA reserves, resulting in higher dissolved oxygen demand upon pitching.    Ergosterol and UFAs make yeast cell membranes more pliable, which, in turn, allows for the passage of nutrients and waste products.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2014, 06:19:11 AM by S. cerevisiae »

Offline erockrph

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2014, 03:04:04 AM »
S Cerv - that makes a lot of sense to me for ale starters where the starter volume is relatively small compared to the batch size and you're pitching the whole thing. But what about lagers? My lager starters are maybe 25% (or more) of my total batch size. I don't want to pitch the whole thing; I just want to pitch a thick slurry.

Is there any alternative to letting it ferment out and cold crashing it? I'd love to hit the best of both worlds and be able to pitch a thick slurry of healthy yeast. Plus, I'd love to be able to make a starter on short notice the night before.
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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2014, 06:51:51 AM »
There's nothing wrong with cold crashing the culture after 12 to 18 hours if you want to decant most or all of the supernatant.  The difference in propagation time between a 1L starter and a 2L starter is roughly 90 minutes.


Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2014, 10:18:03 AM »
So how would this plan be for a generic ale brew? Start the starter 24 hrs before pitching time, at 18 hrs pop it in the fridge, decant and pitch 6 hrs later (24 hrs total)

Offline jmitchell3

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2014, 03:57:51 PM »

I've noticed that this process seems to yield the quickest fermentation starts and the most vigorous fermentation--as opposed to a straight 24 hour stir-plate run with a pitch directly into the wort from the stir-plate.  Based on feedback here (thank you!) i think i'm on the right track!

Why do you suppose that this yields a faster fermentation than the straight pitch?  (Honest question/mere curiosity, not being an ass) I would think think that warm it up and activating the yeast, crashing it, re-activating would be stressful, whereas a straight pitch would be a ramp up in activity under similar conditions.

Commensurate with this practice I've also begun using a small amount of yeast nutrient in the starter as well as in the wort, which may be a bigger factor (makes more sense as well I suppose).  Healthier, happier yeast with increased reserves and better cell walls in spite of the increased stress of cooling/warming perhaps?

Offline jmitchell3

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2014, 04:01:26 PM »
I think you are on the right track but as for certain processes resulting in the fastest start of fermentation it could just be a quirk. Some of this will be determined by the temp you are pitching into, a warmer pitch will typically get started faster than a colder one.

IMO, there is also no need to warm up the starter from the fridge prior to pitch, in fact, it is easier to decant off the cake when the starter is cold as the yeast stays in a cake.

I simply remove my starter from the fridge once I'm ready to pitch, decant and pitch the cold yeast into the chilled wort. I like to pitch cold and allow to self rise to the desired fermentation temperature. This allows for a good steady growth/lag phase as the yeast slowly warms.

Sure, I understand that.  I'm a relatively new brewer, so much of what I'm doing in practice comes from others' recommendations.  Big fan of jamil's show on the BN and most of what I've done regarding a focus on fermentation has come from the zainasheff/palmer line of thinking, and it has demonstrably improved the quality of my beer.  From what z/p indicate, the issue isn't so much the pitching temp of the yeast, but in avoiding the shock of introducing yeast at temp x to wort at temp y...the idea being to have the yeast and the wort in a similar temp range, irrespective of where that range is on an absolute basis.  I concur on the pitching cooler and ramping up.  makes sense.

Offline jmitchell3

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Re: Yeast starter time question
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2014, 04:06:00 PM »
I know that it sounds counterintuitive, but one should not allow a starter to ferment to completion before pitching.  One's goal when making a starter is different than one's goal when making a batch of beer.  There's nothing to be gained by allowing a starter to continue to ferment after maximum cell density has been reached.  At that point, it's all downhill with respect to yeast health.  Maximum cell density for a 1L starter (~200 billion cells) is usually hit 12 to 18 hours after pitching a White Labs vial. If one is pitching a relatively fresh tube, many yeast strains reach maximum cell density within six hours of pitching because the cells only need to divide (cellular mitosis) two or three times at most.   

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.



Ideally, one wants to pitch just as the curve starts to flatten out during the deceleration phase. While it may look like one is growing more cells beyond that point, all reproduction is for replacement only.  The only cell count that matters when propagating yeast is the viable cell count. 

Additionally, the ergosterol and unsaturated fatty acid (UFA) reserves that are synthesized at the beginning of fermentation are shared by the mother cells with all of their daughter cells after the dissolved oxygen has been consumed.  Allowing a starter to ferment to completion results in one pitching yeast cells with depleted ergosterol and UFA reserves, resulting in higher dissolved oxygen demand upon pitching.    Ergosterol and UFAs make yeast cell membranes more pliable, which, in turn, allows for the passage of nutrients and waste products.

Interesting...so you're saying that pitching a starter earlier (before fermentation is complete) would reduce the oxygen requirement (i.e. oxygenation of wort)?  So for someone who does not oxygenate, they would be better off pitching earlier rather than later?