Author Topic: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster  (Read 4852 times)

Online Saccharomyces

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Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« on: September 17, 2020, 10:59:59 pm »
Well, I posted my first blog entry in over four years. The blog entry is entitled "Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster" (https://www.experimentalbrew.com/blogs/saccharomyces/shaken-not-stirred-stir-plate-myth-buster).   I proofread it several times, but like any publication, it will more than likely get revised over time.

Offline Wilbur

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2020, 01:47:53 am »
It's an interesting read, but it have a few questions.

Do you have any sources I can read that support your arguments against stir plates?

Isn't intense shaking also going to induce shear stress?

If you pitch the whole starter, then don't you usually pitch the early flocculating yeast anyway? Isn't pitching early flocculating yeast an issue with yeast cropping/sourcing?

The last I feel often gets confounded, I feel I often read complaints against a particular method in hobbies when the method is independent of the end result. Is the primary issue using a stir plate, or pitching a starter that's fermented out? I typically use a stir plate but start my starter an hour or two before the brew day. When I'm done brewing, the starter is usually at high krausen and I pitch the whole thing.

Thanks for the good read.

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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2020, 04:16:42 pm »
I am planning on trying the SNS method shortly.  I am not scientific in any way but I am open-minded and will generally try just about anything.  One thing that peeves me is people who like to criticize something without ever trying it.  Two things:  Is there a link to the method of creating a SNS starter?  I thought someone mentioned it elsewhere but I have never seen it.  Also, I happen to own a stirplate and I use pure O2 (O2 canister and stone) in the starter and then place it on the stirplate and I get quick activity and I generally pitch the entire volume.  I do not understand the "foul-smelling" thing.  My stirplate starters do not smell foul.  Yes, I have made starters that appeared to be contaminated (clearly my fault) and that starter would be tossed out.  But generally my starters smell like fresh yeast.  Thanks for the link to the post.  Always good to stay on top of things. 
Ken from Chicago. 
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Offline denny

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2020, 05:07:30 pm »
I am planning on trying the SNS method shortly.  I am not scientific in any way but I am open-minded and will generally try just about anything.  One thing that peeves me is people who like to criticize something without ever trying it.  Two things:  Is there a link to the method of creating a SNS starter?  I thought someone mentioned it elsewhere but I have never seen it.  Also, I happen to own a stirplate and I use pure O2 (O2 canister and stone) in the starter and then place it on the stirplate and I get quick activity and I generally pitch the entire volume.  I do not understand the "foul-smelling" thing.  My stirplate starters do not smell foul.  Yes, I have made starters that appeared to be contaminated (clearly my fault) and that starter would be tossed out.  But generally my starters smell like fresh yeast.  Thanks for the link to the post.  Always good to stay on top of things.

The method couldn't be more straightforward.  Put 1 qt of 1.035 wort in a 1 gal. container.  Shake until it's full of foam.  Pitch yeast.  Pitch entire starter at high krauesen..or in my case, as close as possible.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2020, 05:42:57 pm »
I am planning on trying the SNS method shortly.  I am not scientific in any way but I am open-minded and will generally try just about anything.  One thing that peeves me is people who like to criticize something without ever trying it.  Two things:  Is there a link to the method of creating a SNS starter?  I thought someone mentioned it elsewhere but I have never seen it.  Also, I happen to own a stirplate and I use pure O2 (O2 canister and stone) in the starter and then place it on the stirplate and I get quick activity and I generally pitch the entire volume.  I do not understand the "foul-smelling" thing.  My stirplate starters do not smell foul.  Yes, I have made starters that appeared to be contaminated (clearly my fault) and that starter would be tossed out.  But generally my starters smell like fresh yeast.  Thanks for the link to the post.  Always good to stay on top of things.

The method couldn't be more straightforward.  Put 1 qt of 1.035 wort in a 1 gal. container.  Shake until it's full of foam.  Pitch yeast.  Pitch entire starter at high krauesen..or in my case, as close as possible.
Thank you.  I thought that was all there was to it but I wanted to make sure there were no other pieces.  So, step 1: get a gallon container with a lid.  I have a lot of ½ gallon glass growlers but I don't think I have anything gallon-sized with a lid on it.  I'll work on that.  I have some 838 waiting patiently to be woken up so I may employ the SNS method on it.  Cheers Denny. 

EDIT:  Also, I made a White Labs 01 starter recently on the stirplate.  I notice that [depending on the strain], the starter will have a faint "apple pie" kind of thing going on but other than the rare contaminated starter, my starters don't smell foul.  Maybe the OP can tell us what he's experiencing and maybe a theory as to what is causing it. 
« Last Edit: September 18, 2020, 05:45:06 pm by Village Taphouse »
Ken from Chicago. 
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Online narvin

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2020, 05:53:52 pm »
One question: I always shake my starters to aerate, but I noticed that the foam has little to no head retention unless I’m repitching yeast from a previous batch.  So when starting from a white labs pack, I can’t really get much foam in the jug.  I use canned starter wort (unhopped) that I make specifically for this, not DME.

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2020, 06:02:51 pm »
One question: I always shake my starters to aerate, but I noticed that the foam has little to no head retention unless I’m repitching yeast from a previous batch.  So when starting from a white labs pack, I can’t really get much foam in the jug.  I use canned starter wort (unhopped) that I make specifically for this, not DME.
Interesting.  I have never tried a SNS starter but I envision that my wort would be the same way... foam forms but quickly dissipates. 
Ken from Chicago. 
A day without beer is like... just kidding, I have no idea.

Offline denny

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2020, 06:24:05 pm »
I am planning on trying the SNS method shortly.  I am not scientific in any way but I am open-minded and will generally try just about anything.  One thing that peeves me is people who like to criticize something without ever trying it.  Two things:  Is there a link to the method of creating a SNS starter?  I thought someone mentioned it elsewhere but I have never seen it.  Also, I happen to own a stirplate and I use pure O2 (O2 canister and stone) in the starter and then place it on the stirplate and I get quick activity and I generally pitch the entire volume.  I do not understand the "foul-smelling" thing.  My stirplate starters do not smell foul.  Yes, I have made starters that appeared to be contaminated (clearly my fault) and that starter would be tossed out.  But generally my starters smell like fresh yeast.  Thanks for the link to the post.  Always good to stay on top of things.

The method couldn't be more straightforward.  Put 1 qt of 1.035 wort in a 1 gal. container.  Shake until it's full of foam.  Pitch yeast.  Pitch entire starter at high krauesen..or in my case, as close as possible.
Thank you.  I thought that was all there was to it but I wanted to make sure there were no other pieces.  So, step 1: get a gallon container with a lid.  I have a lot of ½ gallon glass growlers but I don't think I have anything gallon-sized with a lid on it.  I'll work on that.  I have some 838 waiting patiently to be woken up so I may employ the SNS method on it.  Cheers Denny. 

EDIT:  Also, I made a White Labs 01 starter recently on the stirplate.  I notice that [depending on the strain], the starter will have a faint "apple pie" kind of thing going on but other than the rare contaminated starter, my starters don't smell foul.  Maybe the OP can tell us what he's experiencing and maybe a theory as to what is causing it.

Ken, I used a gal. glass jug that had contained apple juice.
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Offline EnkAMania

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2020, 07:04:49 pm »
I've done the shaken and not stirred my last couple of batches.  I still do my vitality starter, 550 ml starter, pitched 4-5 hours after shaking. 
Some day we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny

Offline kramerog

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2020, 07:14:00 pm »
Has anyone figured out the limits to SNS method?  Such as good for SG up to 1.xxxx?  Between 1.xxx and 1.yyy, make a 1.5 qt SNS starter?  How fresh does the liquid yeast have to be?

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2020, 07:18:01 pm »
Has anyone figured out the limits to SNS method?  Such as good for SG up to 1.xxxx?  Between 1.xxx and 1.yyy, make a 1.5 qt SNS starter?  How fresh does the liquid yeast have to be?

I have used it on ales up to 1.075ish and lagers up to 1.065.  Might work on bigger beers, but those are the limits of what I've tried.  But your question seems to imply cel count, which is not the way SNS works.  I have not tracked the date of the yeast, but off the top of my head it's been anywhere from a couple weeks to many months.
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Online Saccharomyces

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2020, 08:10:36 pm »
Do you have any sources I can read that support your arguments against stir plates?

Here is a better question; namely, have you ever seen a stir plate mentioned in a published yeast research paper?  That is because a stir plate is not the correct device for cell culture.  The correct mechanical device is an orbital shaker.  That is what White Labs uses in the room where they grow seed cultures for propagation.   The use a stir plate in cell culture is an amateur brewer creation that is based on an incomplete understanding of brewing yeast strains.  As I mentioned in my blog entry, brewing yeast strains do not need to be stirred to remain in suspension because they belong to the NewFlo phenotype and the claim that they can exceed maximum cell density is nonsense. Brewing yeast strains do not truly respire in wort above the Crabtree threshold, which causes overflow metabolism.  What they do is shunt O2 and carbon from the fermentative metabolic pathway to the respirative metabolic pathway for the production of ergosterol and unsaturated fatty acids (UFA) during the lag phase, the spinning the culture continuously adds O2 to the culture is based on not only not understanding how brewing yeast strains operate, it is based on faulty information because very little O2 is entering the flask after CO2 production occurs due to CO2 being heavier than air.   About the only beneficial thing spinning does is help to drive off CO2 gas.  Other than that, the downsides of a stir plate outweigh the upsides.

As far as to references, I have pieced a lot information together from various publications I have read over the years.  I did not cherry pick my information.  I continuously check for new research.  If you use the search term "brewers yeast respiration Crabtree." you will be rewarded with links to many publications.   

Here is one such link:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4429655/

The abstract from that publication.

"The capability to ferment sugars into ethanol is a key metabolic trait of yeasts. Crabtree-positive yeasts use fermentation even in the presence of oxygen, where they could, in principle, rely on the respiration pathway. This is surprising because fermentation has a much lower ATP yield than respiration (2 ATP vs. approximately 18 ATP per glucose). While genetic events in the evolution of the Crabtree effect have been identified, the selective advantages provided by this trait remain controversial. In this review we analyse explanations for the emergence of the Crabtree effect from an evolutionary and game-theoretical perspective. We argue that an increased rate of ATP production is likely the most important factor behind the emergence of the Crabtree effect."

Who ever made the claim that stir plates produce more yeast because they continuously aerate the culture knew nothing about how the Crabtree effect.

Quote
Isn't intense shaking also going to induce shear stress?

Yes, it will, which I noted in the blog entry.  As I mentioned, the starter can be pitched before or after shaking. If one pitches after shaking, it is best to gently shake the culture a second time to disperse the cells.

Quote
If you pitch the whole starter, then don't you usually pitch the early flocculating yeast anyway? Isn't pitching early flocculating yeast an issue with yeast cropping/sourcing?

I think that you are misreading into what I wrote or reading into it.  Both methods result in early flocculators.  The difference is that they are not held in suspension with an SNS starter.  The whole argument that a yeast culture needs to be spun to remain in suspension demonstrates a lack of understanding of the NewFlo phenotype (you can Google that one too).

Quote
The last I feel often gets confounded, I feel I often read complaints against a particular method in hobbies when the method is independent of the end result. Is the primary issue using a stir plate, or pitching a starter that's fermented out? I typically use a stir plate but start my starter an hour or two before the brew day. When I'm done brewing, the starter is usually at high krausen and I pitch the whole thing.

It is primarily an issue of stir plates being promoted as the best way to make starters to new brewers, which is not based on peer-reviewed science.  It is based on amateur brewer dogma just a like the dogma of using a secondary fermentation vessel to avoid autolysis.  Luckily, the use of secondary fermentation vessels has died off.  My goal is to educate new and exiting brewers about the fallacy of promoting stir plates as the best way to make a starter because it is not backed up by science. The absolute best way to make a starter is to saturate the starter wort with an O2 bottle and a diffusion stone before the culture is pitched (pure O2 provides for a higher saturation level than air). However, that method imposes cost and the responsibility of keeping a diffusion stone sanitary.  As mentioned in the blog entry, my method of making a starter is not do all, be all method for making a starter.  What it is is simple, low cost, and highly effective.  The proof is in the pudding that few of the people who have tried SNS after using a stir plate went back to using a stir plate.  Why would a brewer work harder than he/she needed to in order to achieve a comparable result?

By the way, I am not targeting you.  I expect to get heavy blow back from the blog entry.  People do not like to feel like they have been taken for a ride based on faulty information.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2020, 12:22:44 pm by Saccharomyces »

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2020, 08:11:08 pm »
The method couldn't be more straightforward.  Put 1 qt of 1.035 wort in a 1 gal. container.  Shake until it's full of foam.  Pitch yeast.  Pitch entire starter at high krauesen..or in my case, as close as possible.

It's that simple! :)

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2020, 08:15:08 pm »
One question: I always shake my starters to aerate, but I noticed that the foam has little to no head retention unless I’m repitching yeast from a previous batch.  So when starting from a white labs pack, I can’t really get much foam in the jug.  I use canned starter wort (unhopped) that I make specifically for this, not DME.

The head falls fairly quickly due to the low gravity of the wort.  However, I can usually shake hard enough to transform around 500ml of wort into foam.  The starter in the photo in the blog entry contained 1L of starter wort before shaking. As one can see, the liquid line is near 500ml.

What I have noticed with British brewers is that they use ribbed 5L water bottles and get an amazing amount of foam.  The ribs are clearly causing turbulence that creates more foam that a straight-sided container.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2020, 12:23:28 pm by Saccharomyces »

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2020, 08:28:47 pm »
Has anyone figured out the limits to SNS method?  Such as good for SG up to 1.xxxx?  Between 1.xxx and 1.yyy, make a 1.5 qt SNS starter?  How fresh does the liquid yeast have to be?

I have used it on ales up to 1.075ish and lagers up to 1.065.  Might work on bigger beers, but those are the limits of what I've tried.  But your question seems to imply cel count, which is not the way SNS works.  I have not tracked the date of the yeast, but off the top of my head it's been anywhere from a couple weeks to many months.

Just casual observation, but I made a 10 gallon batch of lager (1.050 ish) that I pitched 2 separate SNS starters into.  A subsequent batch was pitched with just one 1 L SNS and it fermented out in roughly the same time frame as the 2 starter batch, certainly less than a days’ difference overall.  Just a couple data points and YMMV, of course.
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