Author Topic: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.  (Read 1196 times)

Offline Barbarian Brewer

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2019, 08:33:32 PM »
I usually put a starter on a stir plate the night before I brew because I can't shake or stir when I'm sleeping.  Once I'm up the next morning, I'll take it off the stir plate and begin the shaking and stirring.  So I guess my method is SP&SnS.  When I didn't put in on the stir plate overnight, and it just sat there for hours, I had a volcano with the first SnS in the morning.  It was fine after that.
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Offline denny

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2019, 08:35:21 PM »
I usually put a starter on a stir plate the night before I brew because I can't shake or stir when I'm sleeping.  Once I'm up the next morning, I'll take it off the stir plate and begin the shaking and stirring.  So I guess my method is SP&SnS.  When I didn't put in on the stir plate overnight, and it just sat there for hours, I had a volcano with the first SnS in the morning.  It was fine after that.

Shake before you start and there's no need for further shaking.
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Offline riceral

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2019, 10:22:12 PM »
Between dry yeast and slurry, I rarely make starters anymore. When I do, I usually use a stir-plate because it saves time (especially with old/expired liquid yeast). That said, I use a stir-plate maybe once every 20 batches.

I'm curious about the time saving.  A SNS starter takes 24 hours.

or less.
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Offline charlie

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2019, 12:14:47 AM »
I usually put a starter on a stir plate the night before I brew ...

I'm a fan of the crash and decant method.

I want my brews to start off at the exact post-boil gravity, so the first thing I do after flame-out is to put 1L of cooled wort in each decanted starter, and put them back on the stir plates. When I'm done futzing around with cooling and racking the wort into the fermentors then I oxygenate the wort and pitch the reconstituted starters. I usually have significant fermentation activity 3 or 4 hours later, so I'm going to stick with this system until something better comes along.

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Offline Stand

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2019, 01:16:28 PM »
There might not typically be much of an advantage to a stir plate (which I use) because yeast we get now is so much better/healthier than in the bad ol' days, but is there some advantage to NOT using a stir-plate?  I made one out of a computer fan that cost me nothing and used it with a 64oz growler.

My understanding is that stir plates greatly increase the growth-rate of cells, and as I'm typically growing up cultures from frozen to 10 gallon batches it's something I'm worried about.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2019, 01:25:43 PM »
There was a long thread on here a few years ago by a fellow named Mark (he went by the moniker “S. Cerevisae”.  Mark knew more about yeast than the rest of us and he advocated the Shaken not Stirred approach, because the yeast are pitched at their highest vitality point, which was more important than merely number of cells.  That has become accepted as a favorable approach, but the yeast are hardy critters and they will make beer with or without a stir plate or shaking vessel.  I like the SNS method when making a starter, but a stir plate clearly works, too.  However I prefer repitching slurry, frankly, when I have that option....
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Offline denny

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2019, 02:27:26 PM »
There might not typically be much of an advantage to a stir plate (which I use) because yeast we get now is so much better/healthier than in the bad ol' days, but is there some advantage to NOT using a stir-plate?  I made one out of a computer fan that cost me nothing and used it with a 64oz growler.

My understanding is that stir plates greatly increase the growth-rate of cells, and as I'm typically growing up cultures from frozen to 10 gallon batches it's something I'm worried about.

For me, the advantage of not using a stir plate is that it's faster and easier. 
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Offline Stand

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2019, 08:40:49 PM »
Mark knew more about yeast than the rest of us and he advocated the Shaken not Stirred approach, because the yeast are pitched at their highest vitality point, which was more important than merely number of cells. 

Would pitching at "highest vitality point" mean high krausen?  Would a stir-plate not also have that vitality point? Harder to see?

I'm still mostly cold-crashing and decanting.

Offline denny

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2019, 09:05:50 PM »
Mark knew more about yeast than the rest of us and he advocated the Shaken not Stirred approach, because the yeast are pitched at their highest vitality point, which was more important than merely number of cells. 

Would pitching at "highest vitality point" mean high krausen?  Would a stir-plate not also have that vitality point? Harder to see?

I'm still mostly cold-crashing and decanting.

The beauty of SNS is that you don't have to crash and decant.  Believe me, I did that for at least 15 years and hundreds of batches, and once I tried SNS I couldn't believe how much time I'd wasted with crash and decant.
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Offline Silver_Is_Money

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2019, 03:09:02 PM »
I've never used a stir plate, don't own one, and don't want one.  I try to use dried yeast as often as possible, and then starters are totally unnecessary.  And.... I'm a minimalist anyway.  Minimum equipment, minimum expenses, maximum shortcuts, that's me.  And I get away with it.  I recognize that this is not the norm.  But hell I'm still making pretty darn good beer... and mead, and cider.  Don't get me wrong... I do still tend to overthink a lot of topics... it's just, how to spend as much or more money than all my friends is NOT a goal of mine.  If I'm macho about anything, it's about how NOT macho I am.

:D

The minimalist description as seen above very much defines my approach to brewing.  Being retired and on a fixed income with a relatively tight budget, and having returned to brewing only after a roughly 17 year brewing hiatus and only after retirement, modern brewing luxuries are not something high on my priority list.  I'm still making it essentially the way I did from the mid-late 80's to ~1998, but I make generally good beer overall, and occasionally I make really good beer.  There is admittedly the occasional loser, but I've never had a batch that I've needed to toss out (yet).  The most trouble I ever got myself into was when I attempted to brew and bottle a heavily dry hopped ~70 IBU IPA, and it rapidly oxidized and devolved into something several SRM shades darker than it was early on in the bottles, along with rapidly becoming less than desirable taste-wise.  That one came quite close to being tossed.  As long as I stick to older beer styles and don't mess with dry hopping, things mostly turn out decent via my old school methods.

I actually made my own stir plate from a desktop computer fan with (as I recall, hard drive sourced) magnets glued to it, and it worked well, and (being a pack-rat) I may still have it around somewhere, but I soon decided that it didn't improve anything related to my liquid yeast starters (which I try to avoid by mostly using dry yeasts), and (until today) I had forgotten all about it.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 03:16:40 PM by Silver_Is_Money »

Offline a10t2

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #25 on: December 16, 2019, 04:14:55 PM »
There might not typically be much of an advantage to a stir plate (which I use) because yeast we get now is so much better/healthier than in the bad ol' days, but is there some advantage to NOT using a stir-plate?

The originating hypothesis for the SNS technique was that spinning the culture would induce enough shear stress to damage the cells. AFAIK there's no data available, at least not in the open literature (most large breweries use stirred propagators, so presumably there has been some work done).
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Offline stpug

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #26 on: December 16, 2019, 05:19:26 PM »
I use a variety of methods for providing sufficient yeast for an optimal fermentation.  Yeast propagation and revitalization methods I use are based on my yeast health, quantity on-hand, quantity needed, available time, desired effort, my current understanding of yeast knowledge and available tools in my toolbox with the ultimate goal of ensuring that my yeast handling process provides sufficient, healthy yeast for a fast start and complete fermentation with reasonably healthy yeast for cropping at the end of fermentation.  I'm far from perfect but I give it my best shot each and every time :D

There might not typically be much of an advantage to a stir plate (which I use) because yeast we get now is so much better/healthier than in the bad ol' days, but is there some advantage to NOT using a stir-plate?

The originating hypothesis for the SNS technique was that spinning the culture would induce enough shear stress to damage the cells. AFAIK there's no data available, at least not in the open literature (most large breweries use stirred propagators, so presumably there has been some work done).

Of the "large breweries" I've toured, most use orbital shakers (swirled propagators) which would indeed produce less shear forces than a spinning stir bar as well as having the effect of reducing yeast stress from carbon dioxide build-up.  For those that don't know the difference, it's more akin to swirling a flask using your hand as opposed to using a "blender-like" method.  Granted, a stir bar at very low speeds can have the result of (potentially acceptable) low shear forces while still keeping yeast well homogenized in the solution and helping to knock out carbon dioxide build-up (i.e. reducing yeast stress).

I haven't used a stir plate in over 5 years.  I don't even know where mine is any more.  I've discovered it's unnecessary for me to use one.  And ya know what....it's made absolutely no difference in the quality of my beer.

4 years (https://www.experimentalbrew.com/blogs/denny/old-dognew-tricks), but who's counting besides me  ;D

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #27 on: December 16, 2019, 06:31:01 PM »
When Sean is talking large brewery, he means big. They probably have shake tables for intermediate steps, but there are propagators I've seen that are in the 20+ barrel size. Think Bell's, Sierra Nevada.

This shows how they mix.

https://www.alfalaval.com.au/media/stories/beverage-processing/brewing-a-better-yeast-propagation-process/

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Offline denny

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #28 on: December 16, 2019, 06:38:28 PM »
I use a variety of methods for providing sufficient yeast for an optimal fermentation.  Yeast propagation and revitalization methods I use are based on my yeast health, quantity on-hand, quantity needed, available time, desired effort, my current understanding of yeast knowledge and available tools in my toolbox with the ultimate goal of ensuring that my yeast handling process provides sufficient, healthy yeast for a fast start and complete fermentation with reasonably healthy yeast for cropping at the end of fermentation.  I'm far from perfect but I give it my best shot each and every time :D

There might not typically be much of an advantage to a stir plate (which I use) because yeast we get now is so much better/healthier than in the bad ol' days, but is there some advantage to NOT using a stir-plate?

The originating hypothesis for the SNS technique was that spinning the culture would induce enough shear stress to damage the cells. AFAIK there's no data available, at least not in the open literature (most large breweries use stirred propagators, so presumably there has been some work done).

Of the "large breweries" I've toured, most use orbital shakers (swirled propagators) which would indeed produce less shear forces than a spinning stir bar as well as having the effect of reducing yeast stress from carbon dioxide build-up.  For those that don't know the difference, it's more akin to swirling a flask using your hand as opposed to using a "blender-like" method.  Granted, a stir bar at very low speeds can have the result of (potentially acceptable) low shear forces while still keeping yeast well homogenized in the solution and helping to knock out carbon dioxide build-up (i.e. reducing yeast stress).

I haven't used a stir plate in over 5 years.  I don't even know where mine is any more.  I've discovered it's unnecessary for me to use one.  And ya know what....it's made absolutely no difference in the quality of my beer.

4 years (https://www.experimentalbrew.com/blogs/denny/old-dognew-tricks), but who's counting besides me  ;D

Time flies!  Thanks for the correction.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline denny

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Re: Do you have to have a stir plate? Not really.
« Reply #29 on: December 16, 2019, 06:39:36 PM »
There might not typically be much of an advantage to a stir plate (which I use) because yeast we get now is so much better/healthier than in the bad ol' days, but is there some advantage to NOT using a stir-plate?

The originating hypothesis for the SNS technique was that spinning the culture would induce enough shear stress to damage the cells. AFAIK there's no data available, at least not in the open literature (most large breweries use stirred propagators, so presumably there has been some work done).

While there may or may not be an advantage in that respect the fact that it's faster, easier, and as effective is what sold me.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

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