Author Topic: What About the Starter?  (Read 281 times)

Offline KellerBrauer

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What About the Starter?
« on: December 03, 2019, 03:31:41 PM »
Something I've thought about for some time now:  I know we all strive to cool our boiled wort as fast as possible to a temperature that's safe to pitch the yeast (or starter).  But what about when making the starter itself?

For many years, I've boiled my starter wort, poured it into a sanitized flask, covered it with a piece of sanitized foil, then placed the flask into an ice bath while monitoring the temperature.  When the temp drops, I pitch the yeast.

The past year or so, however, I've bypassed the ice bath and simply sat my flask on the counter and waited.  A few hours later, I pitched the yeast.  I have had no ill effects with this natural cooling method.  So, I'm wondering what other brewers do.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 03:33:58 PM by KellerBrauer »
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Offline denny

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2019, 04:02:54 PM »
I cool in an ice bath, but you've shown that's not necessary.
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Offline Visor

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2019, 04:12:10 PM »
   I probably break every rule of sanitation and good sense with some of my procedures, but I filter my BK and chiller bucket dregs first through a mash filter then through a coffee filter, which leaves me very clear wort with little or no sediment or break material. I then boil it and put it in sanitized 1/2 gallon juice jugs, put the lid on and leave it inverted until it cools down close to room temp, label it a put it in the fridge for later use. When I need wort for a starter I just grab the jug which is most similar to the planned brew, although anymore I frequently have a jug of the planned recipe on hand. Over the years and several hundred jugs of unfermented wort I've had 2 with a tiny patch of mold on the inside of the lid and 2 jugs that after several months in  fridge had swelled to near bursting, so my system works adequately over 99% of the time. I can imagine dozens of the forum regulars cringing and wringing their hands as they read this, but what the hey. Interestingly the 2 jugs that started spontaneously fermenting were both from the same batch of Schwartzbier, I took them out of the fridge and stuck airlocks in them to see what would happen. What happened was two half gallons jugs of Schwartzbier that tasted almost the same as the original.
   Most batches I get ~ 1 gallon of wort from dregs which works out well with 1 jug for a future starter and 1 jug for priming, but over time I've built up a backlog or stockpile of unused wort, most of which have gravities of 1.060 to 1.1. Lately I've been toying with the idea of doing a "suicide"  beer - you know, like when we were kids and you'd mix some of every soda pop on tap, very fun and appealing to a 10 year old, not so much so  now. Don't know what to call it, but it should be interesting.
   I can't wait to read the responses to this post. 
« Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 04:13:48 PM by Visor »
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Offline Robert

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2019, 05:03:29 PM »
I've cooled my flask in an ice bath, but I'm a little scared of repeatedly stressing the student grade glassware, so if I boil in flask I just cool it on the counter with foil on top.  But I usually just boil in a pot, chill in an ice bath, and get it into the flask and pitched quickly.  I think we've seem here that any of the methods we use can work equally well, so whatever is convenient for you!
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Offline kramerog

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2019, 06:21:00 PM »
I just do what is convenient whether slow cooling on the counter or quick cooling with cold water baths.  Slow cooling could give rise to DMS with pils malt (but that is somewhat of a remote possibility).  Since my starters are made with malt extract I am not concerned about DMS, plus I decant anyway.

Offline Robert

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2019, 06:52:01 PM »
And of course besides DMS, another reason we want to quickly chill our main batch is to get a good cold break for clarity.   Not a big worry with a starter, especially made with DME and decanted.
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Offline denny

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2019, 06:55:15 PM »
And of course besides DMS, another reason we want to quickly chill our main batch is to get a good cold break for clarity.   Not a big worry with a starter, especially made with DME and decanted.

Have you ever tried no chill?  Puts lie to both of those reasons.
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Offline Robert

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2019, 07:07:50 PM »
And of course besides DMS, another reason we want to quickly chill our main batch is to get a good cold break for clarity.   Not a big worry with a starter, especially made with DME and decanted.

Have you ever tried no chill?  Puts lie to both of those reasons.
Yes, once, long ago, and never will again.  Might be fine with some styles but not the sorts of beers I want to make.  Doesn't put the lie to it.  The issues of DMS, haze, accelerated staling, etc., are very real, they just don't matter to some people in some situations, and if that's the case, cool for them. 
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Offline denny

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2019, 02:33:27 PM »
And of course besides DMS, another reason we want to quickly chill our main batch is to get a good cold break for clarity.   Not a big worry with a starter, especially made with DME and decanted.

Have you ever tried no chill?  Puts lie to both of those reasons.
Yes, once, long ago, and never will again.  Might be fine with some styles but not the sorts of beers I want to make.  Doesn't put the lie to it.  The issues of DMS, haze, accelerated staling, etc., are very real, they just don't matter to some people in some situations, and if that's the case, cool for them.

Maybe you should re examine it.  I've had fantastic beers made with no chill, from delicate styles to IPA.  It works.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline goose

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2019, 03:49:18 PM »
I've cooled my flask in an ice bath, but I'm a little scared of repeatedly stressing the student grade glassware, so if I boil in flask I just cool it on the counter with foil on top.  But I usually just boil in a pot, chill in an ice bath, and get it into the flask and pitched quickly.  I think we've seem here that any of the methods we use can work equally well, so whatever is convenient for you!

I tend to worry about this as well, Rob.  But after many hours in the College of Wooster Chem lab, I have come to accept the fact that borosilicate glass can handle the stress. To put my mind further at ease, I set the flask on the counter with a sponge stopper in it (the sponge is kept in the neck of the flask during the boil of the starter wort to sterilize it) for about 5 minutes or so before immersing it into the water bath (which is usually about 60 degrees F) then add ice to it after a few minutes to minimize the possibility of stressing the glass a bit.

That said, I am intrigued about the "no chill" method mentioned here.  I am a bit anal to get things cooled down rather quickly so that I can pitch the yeast and giver it the advantage to win the race with any potential bacteria that might try to crawl its way into the wort, but it an interesting concept.
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Offline denny

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2019, 04:02:46 PM »
I've cooled my flask in an ice bath, but I'm a little scared of repeatedly stressing the student grade glassware, so if I boil in flask I just cool it on the counter with foil on top.  But I usually just boil in a pot, chill in an ice bath, and get it into the flask and pitched quickly.  I think we've seem here that any of the methods we use can work equally well, so whatever is convenient for you!

I tend to worry about this as well, Rob.  But after many hours in the College of Wooster Chem lab, I have come to accept the fact that borosilicate glass can handle the stress. To put my mind further at ease, I set the flask on the counter with a sponge stopper in it (the sponge is kept in the neck of the flask during the boil of the starter wort to sterilize it) for about 5 minutes or so before immersing it into the water bath (which is usually about 60 degrees F) then add ice to it after a few minutes to minimize the possibility of stressing the glass a bit.

That said, I am intrigued about the "no chill" method mentioned here.  I am a bit anal to get things cooled down rather quickly so that I can pitch the yeast and giver it the advantage to win the race with any potential bacteria that might try to crawl its way into the wort, but it an interesting concept.

When I was in Australia, almost every beer I had was no chill.  Due to the acute water shortage almost all homebrewers there do no chill.  We were skeptical at first, but every beer we had was great and exhibited none of the flaws associated with slow chilling.  We were so impressed that Drew has been doing it.  He sent me a Saison he made no chill that was stunning.  Bottom line is that it works.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2019, 06:44:37 PM »
I've cooled my flask in an ice bath, but I'm a little scared of repeatedly stressing the student grade glassware, so if I boil in flask I just cool it on the counter with foil on top.  But I usually just boil in a pot, chill in an ice bath, and get it into the flask and pitched quickly.  I think we've seem here that any of the methods we use can work equally well, so whatever is convenient for you!

I tend to worry about this as well, Rob.  But after many hours in the College of Wooster Chem lab, I have come to accept the fact that borosilicate glass can handle the stress. To put my mind further at ease, I set the flask on the counter with a sponge stopper in it (the sponge is kept in the neck of the flask during the boil of the starter wort to sterilize it) for about 5 minutes or so before immersing it into the water bath (which is usually about 60 degrees F) then add ice to it after a few minutes to minimize the possibility of stressing the glass a bit.

That said, I am intrigued about the "no chill" method mentioned here.  I am a bit anal to get things cooled down rather quickly so that I can pitch the yeast and giver it the advantage to win the race with any potential bacteria that might try to crawl its way into the wort, but it an interesting concept.

When I was in Australia, almost every beer I had was no chill.  Due to the acute water shortage almost all homebrewers there do no chill.  We were skeptical at first, but every beer we had was great and exhibited none of the flaws associated with slow chilling.  We were so impressed that Drew has been doing it.  He sent me a Saison he made no chill that was stunning.  Bottom line is that it works.

Derailing the OP a bit, but does no chill cause any DMS issues with a Pilsner wort?  I have heard and then simply assumed, that despite a reasonable boil, covering hot wort can cause DMS to re-appear with the light pilsner based beers.  Myth, again?
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Offline denny

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2019, 06:57:57 PM »
I've cooled my flask in an ice bath, but I'm a little scared of repeatedly stressing the student grade glassware, so if I boil in flask I just cool it on the counter with foil on top.  But I usually just boil in a pot, chill in an ice bath, and get it into the flask and pitched quickly.  I think we've seem here that any of the methods we use can work equally well, so whatever is convenient for you!

I tend to worry about this as well, Rob.  But after many hours in the College of Wooster Chem lab, I have come to accept the fact that borosilicate glass can handle the stress. To put my mind further at ease, I set the flask on the counter with a sponge stopper in it (the sponge is kept in the neck of the flask during the boil of the starter wort to sterilize it) for about 5 minutes or so before immersing it into the water bath (which is usually about 60 degrees F) then add ice to it after a few minutes to minimize the possibility of stressing the glass a bit.

That said, I am intrigued about the "no chill" method mentioned here.  I am a bit anal to get things cooled down rather quickly so that I can pitch the yeast and giver it the advantage to win the race with any potential bacteria that might try to crawl its way into the wort, but it an interesting concept.

When I was in Australia, almost every beer I had was no chill.  Due to the acute water shortage almost all homebrewers there do no chill.  We were skeptical at first, but every beer we had was great and exhibited none of the flaws associated with slow chilling.  We were so impressed that Drew has been doing it.  He sent me a Saison he made no chill that was stunning.  Bottom line is that it works.

Derailing the OP a bit, but does no chill cause any DMS issues with a Pilsner wort?  I have heard and then simply assumed, that despite a reasonable boil, covering hot wort can cause DMS to re-appear with the light pilsner based beers.  Myth, again?

Maybe myth, more likely untested lore based on how things were in the past.  Not a trace of DMS in delicate beers made with pils malt.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2019, 07:07:38 PM »
I will have to give that a go - plus the hot wort can sanitize the no chill vessel, I would think (say in a stainless fermenter left overnight to cool?)
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Offline Robert

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Re: What About the Starter?
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2019, 07:08:01 PM »
I've cooled my flask in an ice bath, but I'm a little scared of repeatedly stressing the student grade glassware, so if I boil in flask I just cool it on the counter with foil on top.  But I usually just boil in a pot, chill in an ice bath, and get it into the flask and pitched quickly.  I think we've seem here that any of the methods we use can work equally well, so whatever is convenient for you!

I tend to worry about this as well, Rob.  But after many hours in the College of Wooster Chem lab, I have come to accept the fact that borosilicate glass can handle the stress. To put my mind further at ease, I set the flask on the counter with a sponge stopper in it (the sponge is kept in the neck of the flask during the boil of the starter wort to sterilize it) for about 5 minutes or so before immersing it into the water bath (which is usually about 60 degrees F) then add ice to it after a few minutes to minimize the possibility of stressing the glass a bit.

That said, I am intrigued about the "no chill" method mentioned here.  I am a bit anal to get things cooled down rather quickly so that I can pitch the yeast and giver it the advantage to win the race with any potential bacteria that might try to crawl its way into the wort, but it an interesting concept.

When I was in Australia, almost every beer I had was no chill.  Due to the acute water shortage almost all homebrewers there do no chill.  We were skeptical at first, but every beer we had was great and exhibited none of the flaws associated with slow chilling.  We were so impressed that Drew has been doing it.  He sent me a Saison he made no chill that was stunning.  Bottom line is that it works.

Derailing the OP a bit, but does no chill cause any DMS issues with a Pilsner wort?  I have heard and then simply assumed, that despite a reasonable boil, covering hot wort can cause DMS to re-appear with the light pilsner based beers.  Myth, again?
It will definitely do that since some unsplit SMM will remain in any Pilsner wort, and it also will allow what I'd consider fatal levels of HSO.  But these issues are simply not of concern to some brewers, and as to the second point, many conventional homebrew chilling methods will introduce significant oxygen, so there may indeed be little or no perceivable impact on the final beer using no chill  compared with some other methods.  Let's also remember, for most of history, beer was brewed "no chill," just left on coolship at best, so certainly there's legitimacy and precedent to the idea.  No chill is an option that may suit some brewers, but will not be acceptable to every brewer every time depending on process goals and priorities.  If it works for you, it works for you.
Rob Stein
Akron, Ohio

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