General Category > Yeast and Fermentation

Minimum time needed for a starter

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I'm planning on brewing Northern Brewer's Winter Warmer this weekend fermented with Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale yeast.  Here's my problem - I just ordered it today (the 14th) - it should be here the 16th.  I meant to put my order in the end of last week, but forgot.  Plus, I didn't think I would be able to brew until the 25th.  Now, an opportunity has presented itself to brew Saturday (18th).  I dare not waste such opportunities - they are a rare commodity 'round these parts!  8)

So the question is - I was planning on making a 2.5 liter starter (per Mr. Malty, needed for the 1.069 OG).  My usually procedure has been to get my starter going 3-4 days to ferment completely, decant the starter liquid and pitch.  If I make my starter as soon as I get the yeast, the starter will only have two days.  Will that be enough time, or am I better off letting the opportunity pass me by this weekend and brew next weekend?  Thanks!

Brew it up.  Can't waste those opportunities.  Worst case scenario (and this is what I would probably plan on) is brew up and pitch the starter on Thursday evening.  Let it ferment out until Saturday evening, chill overnight, decant and pitch on Sunday.  That means letting the wort sit overnight but that shouldn't be a problem.

And who knows, maybe it'll be done by Saturday morning and you can chill it then.

I agree, I'd go ahead and get the starter going as soon as you are able. If it were me, I would probably make a slightly smaller starter and skip the chilling and decanting.  Then I'd pitch the whole starter into the chilled wort.

Yeah, if you make a 2.5 liter 1.030-1.040 starter with a smack pack, it should be done fermenting overnight, especially if you are using a stir plate.  So letting it go 36-48 hours is plenty of time, just cool it overnight (or during your brew day) and you should be good to go.  If you're not using a stir plate it will still go quickly, just give the starter a swirl whenever you walk by.

When my yeast hit the wort, I want a lot of hungry yeasties. From what I've gathered about the life cycle of yeast cells is that they go through a growing/multiplying stage before they get down to the buisness of converting sugars to CO2 and alchohal.  When you use a starter you are trying to wake the yeast up from their sleep/rest and get them to multiply which happens during the first 18-24 hours or so.  I let my starters go on a stir plate (You should get the same result bty swirling every time you walk by) for 24 hrs then chill, decant, and bring back to pitching temp when it's time to send them to the wort feast.  I don't always chill and decant, usually an ale starter is small enough to pitch directly so I start the 24 hrs the day before brewday and pitch them fresh and hungry.


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