Author Topic: Minimum time needed for a starter  (Read 2358 times)

Offline lazydog79

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Minimum time needed for a starter
« on: September 14, 2010, 09:07:58 PM »
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!

Offline tygo

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2010, 09:15:41 PM »
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.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 09:17:45 PM by tygo »
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Offline svejk

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2010, 09:39:08 PM »
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.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 10:18:53 PM »
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.
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Offline troy@uk

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2010, 10:36:00 PM »
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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Offline denny

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2010, 08:36:52 AM »
I'm gonna go the other direction from most of the advice.  For me, letting a starter ferment out takes at least 4-5 days before the yeast drops and I can decant.  Personally, I'd put off brewing until the yeast is ready.  If it's ready in 2 days, fine...if it's not, I'd rather not brew.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2010, 08:51:20 AM »
How do you make your starters Denny?  That's a really long time to finish fermenting, do you check the gravity?  It could be done before 4 days but just not flocculated yet.  I'm guessing you don't use a stirplate since you're talking about the yeast dropping?
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2010, 08:59:16 AM »
I think it depends on the yeast strain, starting gravity, temp, etc... My SOP is to ferment until they appear to be finished then cold crash until brew day which is typically about a week.  Then I'll slowly warm them to just below pitching temp, decant and pitch the slurry.  That being said,  I have also pitched an active starter 48hrs old with no problem.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2010, 10:03:20 AM »
I've always thought that pitching a start that is still "active" is the best way to go and that brewers let the starter finish so they don't have the bland starter wort/beer diluting the batch...

This summer, I made a starter on brewday with finished wort. Since I have to put the caroby into the keezer overnight to getdown to pitch temp, I'll put a gallon in my starter jug, cool to ~70-75F in the sink, and pitch. The next day, the starter will be active by the time I get home from work. I'll pitch the whole jug into the carboy and use a blowoff b/c its so full.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2010, 10:08:09 AM »
I've always thought that pitching a start that is still "active" is the best way to go and that brewers let the starter finish so they don't have the bland starter wort/beer diluting the batch...
Yes :)

That's why some people will save some of a batch for the next time they brew a similar beer, so they can use it to make a starter and then just add the whole thing to the beer.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline dak0415

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2010, 10:30:23 AM »
I've always thought that pitching a start that is still "active" is the best way to go and that brewers let the starter finish so they don't have the bland starter wort/beer diluting the batch...
Tom, is this the best method for yeast health and harvesting the yeast from the target batch?  Is the lag time important as the yeast go into growth phase, or will they just jump back to growth phase when they are introduced back into the target wort?
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2010, 10:37:08 AM »
I've always thought that pitching a start that is still "active" is the best way to go and that brewers let the starter finish so they don't have the bland starter wort/beer diluting the batch...
Tom, is this the best method for yeast health and harvesting the yeast from the target batch?  Is the lag time important as the yeast go into growth phase, or will they just jump back to growth phase when they are introduced back into the target wort?
It won't happen instantaneously, but they will start to grow as quickly as they can when the conditions are right for growth.

For harvesting, if you're using a top cropping yeast then top crop.  For other yeasts, just get it after it flocculates and the yeast will be plenty healthy.  Even from a high gravity wort when the yeast are a little beat up, you can baby them with low OG wort and nutrients and they'll generally recover pretty well.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline denny

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2010, 10:42:28 AM »
How do you make your starters Denny?  That's a really long time to finish fermenting, do you check the gravity?  It could be done before 4 days but just not flocculated yet.  I'm guessing you don't use a stirplate since you're talking about the yeast dropping?

Nope, no stirplate, usually 3 qt. starters, although sometimes only 2 qt.  Sometimes takes a day or so for it to get going, 2-3 days to ferment, so I plan on a minimum of 4 days before it's ready to go in the fridge to crash the yeast.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2010, 10:49:00 AM »
How do you make your starters Denny?  That's a really long time to finish fermenting, do you check the gravity?  It could be done before 4 days but just not flocculated yet.  I'm guessing you don't use a stirplate since you're talking about the yeast dropping?

Nope, no stirplate, usually 3 qt. starters, although sometimes only 2 qt.  Sometimes takes a day or so for it to get going, 2-3 days to ferment, so I plan on a minimum of 4 days before it's ready to go in the fridge to crash the yeast.
How much yeast are you using?  Liquid/dry?

A stirplate would speed things up if you were so inclined.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline denny

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Re: Minimum time needed for a starter
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2010, 10:52:00 AM »
How much yeast are you using?  Liquid/dry?

A stirplate would speed things up if you were so inclined.

I use a fully swollen Activator.  I've been given a couple stirplates by kind people, but they were both very old and died soon after I started using them.  I haven't felt like investing in a new one at this point, but I'm considering it.  If my brewery/garage renovation comes in under budget, that's a possible use for the "extra" money.
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