Author Topic: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...  (Read 2346 times)

Offline Village Taphouse

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A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« on: July 29, 2020, 06:57:20 PM »
I know there is another thread here on this but I didn't want to hijack.  I have a stirplate and have been making starters this way for awhile with what I would call "excellent" results.  Denny had mentioned the SNS method on another board I'm on and I remember people saying that it worked well.  My question:  Is SNS better than a stirred starter or "just as good"?  Not only do I use the stirplate but I also send a bit of pure O2 into the starter as well and my starters always seem to take off and get active quickly even with older packages of yeast.  Many have said that O2 is not necessary (as well as saying stirring is not necessary) so some of this falls into the "old habits die hard" category.  On one hand, I would go with "if it ain't broken" but just curious if SNS and less O2 is actually better.  Cheers.
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2020, 07:40:23 PM »
With a SnS starter you actually shake the begeezies out of it until it’s foamy so you are supplying O2.


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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2020, 07:52:28 PM »
Ken, my assessment is that it's at least as good as the stir plate method.  I think the yeast is healthier because it doesnt spend days on a striplate and being crashed so you can decant.
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Offline TeeDubb

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2020, 08:21:09 PM »
I switched to this method 2 years ago and never looked back. Less equipment involved, yeast seems healthier by virtue of observing a somewhat shorter lag time after being pitched. I don't use any O2 besides what the intense shaking imparts.   Stir plate is collecting dust in my closet :)

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2020, 08:41:00 PM »
I switched to this method 2 years ago and never looked back. Less equipment involved, yeast seems healthier by virtue of observing a somewhat shorter lag time after being pitched. I don't use any O2 besides what the intense shaking imparts.   Stir plate is collecting dust in my closet :)

I can't even find mine any more!I
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2020, 08:49:37 PM »
I retired my stir plate the day I tried SNS; not sure if it is necessarily "better" from a vitality perspective (but I think it is).  It certainly seems easier to me, but if you are using a heavy jug, I suppose it might be more tiring.  I just use an apple cider jug - 1 gallon with screw cap; after shaking replace the screw cap with foil and watch for the magic.  I will usually pitch into the wort anywhere from 6-12 hours in on the starter, so there is a little advanced timing involved.
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Offline joe_meadmaker

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2020, 03:21:52 AM »
I use a stir plate, but I don't let it go for days or decant it.  I usually make my starters the night before.  Just drop it on the plate and let it go.  I usually have the starter on the stir plate for 15-18 hours by the time brewing is done and just pitch the whole thing.

I've used SNS and also think that method works perfectly well.  But for me, sanitizing a little stir bar and pressing a button is easier than shaking a starter for a period of time.  Although there is the cost of the stir plate.  I think you're good either way, they both work well.

Offline goose

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2020, 01:45:53 PM »
I use a stir plate, but I don't let it go for days or decant it.  I usually make my starters the night before.  Just drop it on the plate and let it go.  I usually have the starter on the stir plate for 15-18 hours by the time brewing is done and just pitch the whole thing.



I do the same thing.  The nice part is I can boil my starter wort in my erlenmeyer flask (with the stir bar in the flask to sterilize it), cool the flask and the wort in an ice bath (can't do that with a glass jug since the glass will not withstand the shock of rapid cooling from boiling temperatures), pitch the yeast, and put it on the stir plate.  That way I don't have to pour off the wort into a glass jug for the SNS method.  One thing to remember especially if you are using an open flame to boil the wort in the flask, buy a wire gauze square (yuou can get them from any scientific equipment supply house to prevent hot spots on the bottom of the flask from the open flame.  Hot spots weaken the borosilicate glass and could cause it to break.  I even use it on an electric range that has a coildd burner.

That said, either way will work well.
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Offline MNWayne

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2020, 03:12:38 PM »
I'm with Joe and Goose.  I spin my flask (starting the day before brewing) in a 50 degree fridge, so when my wort has cooled to ferment temp (50F), I pour off a pint for the next batch and pitch 4 liters.
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Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2020, 10:51:19 PM »
I'm with Joe and Goose.  I spin my flask (starting the day before brewing) in a 50 degree fridge, so when my wort has cooled to ferment temp (50F), I pour off a pint for the next batch and pitch 4 liters.

You do know that a stir plate does nothing to improve the quality of a yeast culture?  Have you ever seen what they use to start new cultures at White Labs?  I will give you a hint.  It is not a stir plate.  Stir plates were designed for stirring solutions, not culturing microorganisms. The proper device for culturing yeast is an orbital shaker. Whoever propagated the myth that stir plates are used for yeast culturing needs to atone for his/her sins.  You should try my method of making starters (a.k.a. Shaken, not Stirred). I guarantee that it will change your outlook with respect using a stir plate, a device which is one step above worthless when culturing yeast.

Offline joe_meadmaker

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2020, 12:58:59 AM »
The proper device for culturing yeast is an orbital shaker. Whoever propagated the myth that stir plates are used for yeast culturing needs to atone for his/her sins.  You should try my method of making starters (a.k.a. Shaken, not Stirred). I guarantee that it will change your outlook with respect using a stir plate, a device which is one step above worthless when culturing yeast.

Why is there such a big difference between the two?  I'm familiar with what an orbital shaker is.  But I'd never imagine that the effect on a yeast starter would have the orbital shaker in the 'proper device' category, but the stir plate as 'one step above worthless'.  What's happening inside the vessel just doesn't seem to be that much different.

I'm genuinely curious.  If you have any information or links to the different effects of an orbital shaker vs. a stir plate on the liquid inside the vessel, I'd love to learn more.

Offline MNWayne

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2020, 02:09:46 AM »
Doesn't the SNS method involve a few shakings?  I set up my plate and don't touch it until the next day when it's time to pitch. So for me it's a matter of simplicity.  Orbital shaker???  Nah, the stir plate works just fine.
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Offline TeeDubb

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2020, 03:17:45 AM »
I happened to save this post from another forum by YeastWhisperer / S. cerevisiae, the person that, I believe, takes the credit for the SNS terminology and introducing it to the homebrewing community.  I think it helps explain the main benefits of stirred vs. "shaken once until very foamy" starter approach.

https://www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=70926&start=30

"Gas is absorbed at the interface between a gas and a liquid; therefore, gas permeability is bounded by specific surface area. One liter of medium that is shaken until it is almost foam has a huge amount of amount specific surface compared an equal amount of medium in pure liquid form. A non-direct O2-infused, stirred 1L starter does not begin to approach providing the same level of dissolved O2 to a culture at the beginning of incubation as does a well-shaken starter. In fact, a non-direct O2-infused stirred starter does not come close to providing the same amount of dissolved O2 over the entire period that a culture is stirred because most stirred starters are made in conical flasks. The surface area of the gas-liquid interface is reduced as the volume of liquid is increased in a conical shaped vessel. Almost no O2 exchange occurs after the culture starts to outgas due to the fact that the culture is under positive pressure and that CO2 is heavier than air. The cells in a stirred culture also have to deal with continuous shear stress. I am not pulling the shear stress problem out of thin air. It is a well documented and researched problem that plagues designers of bioreactors, and bioreactors stir at very slow rates while injecting O2 (perform a Google search on the terms "bioreactors" and "shear stress"). New patents are applied for in this area on a regular basis.

I can go grow a pitchable culture from a 4mm loop of yeast cells in as little as 2 days using my method. Most home brewers are pitching a culture that contained 100 billion cells at the time of packing. A four month old culture that has not been abused contains approximately 1/4th of the number of viable cells that it contained when packaged; therefore, a four-month-old White Labs vial contains approximately 25 billion viable cells, which means that we are looking at log(200 / 25 ) / log(2) = 3 replication periods to reach maximum cell density if pitched into one liter of medium or 4 replication periods if pitched into two liters of medium. If the culture is held at at least 21C, a replication period should be approximately 90 minutes; hence, we are looking at a worse case scenario of 6 hours beyond the amount of time that it takes the cells to exit the lag phase.

Anyone who is making a one or two liter starter from a commercial yeast culture several days in an advance is pitching quiescent yeast cells. Quiescent yeast cells take longer to exit the lag phase because they have to reverse the morphological changes that they underwent in preparation for quiescence. Quiescent cells also place a higher O2 load on the batch of wort into which they are pitched because they have low ergosterol and unsaturated fatty acid reserves."

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2020, 03:30:21 AM »
I am not a scientist so I cannot claim any deep understanding of this subject.  I use a stirplate because many other homebrewers used them and suggested them.  I can take a Wyeast or White Labs pack and add it to the oxygenated starter wort that I made and the yeast will be active and ready to go exactly as joe_meadmaker described above.  If the SNS method is better somehow then I will gladly accept it but what happens when starter wort + oxygenation + liquid yeast + stirplate all get together is a beautiful thing and works exactly how I would want it.  Before the stirplate I suppose I used a variation of the SNS method and it worked... but the stirplate seemed to work better. 
Ken from Chicago

Offline TeeDubb

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Re: A question on the "shaken-not-stirred" starter...
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2020, 03:53:39 AM »
By virtue of people having success with both, they both work. So, to each his own. Many variables are involved and we would have to go after a careful scientific comparison to declare a winner or at least understand the trade-offs. This hobby is great at challenging us to find a balance between obsessing about details and choosing not to :)