Author Topic: Beer Made Like a Starter (almost)  (Read 522 times)

Offline skyler

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Beer Made Like a Starter (almost)
« on: January 28, 2011, 12:33:45 PM »
I noticed the strangest thing from my recent dry stout - easily twice the amount of slurry as I usually find in my beers - and dense, thick slurry at that. Then I thought for a second and realized that this beer, aside from its color and presumed acidity, was as close as I could get to brewing a 6 gal starter. The beer tastes fine so far - I haven't had a chance to taste it carbonated, though. My thinking is that, if someone did need to build up a TON of yeast for a club brew day or a giant batch - brewing a starter-ale could be a welcome alternative to building 10 different starters or buying ten packs of dry yeast.

The SG was 1.043
I pitched about a pint of week-old slurry (a lot, I know)
This beer was the first to utilize my drill-powered aeration device, and was thus far more aerated than my previous beers
This was the first beer I brewed to blow out of the bucket since I started using anti-foam

Oddly, fermentation began at 56F and rose to 60F. I ramped it up to 68 after fermentation had slowed down considerably. I don't build my starters cooler than ambient usually, but this particular yeast strain does seem to like it cold. If I were going to intentionally build a starter-beer (that could be consumed the day of a brew day if the beer was kegged and carbonated the night before), I think I would probably let it ferment slightly warmer than usual (66-68F for 1056, for example), but I am not sure this would be necessary. Thoughts?

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Beer Made Like a Starter (almost)
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2011, 12:44:29 PM »
A lot of people do what you're suggesting when they want to make a big beer.  Nothing like a healthy yeast cake from 5 gallons of low alcohol beer to kick off fermentation in your big beer :)

I don't know why you would ferment warmer, I would just make a low gravity beer and ferment it to be the best it can be.  The yeast will be fine either way.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline abraxas

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Re: Beer Made Like a Starter (almost)
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2011, 02:28:42 PM »
I do this pretty frequently, I'll brew a low gravity beer like a Mild, or light Pale (OG 1.035) for my first batch with a single vial/smackpack and then harvest the yeast for my next batch.  You can get it to ferment out pretty quickly and cold crash it in 3 or 4 days leaving you with enough yeast to do just about any OG beer. 

Some people think that the 3rd pitch or so of yeast is really the sweet spot anyways, though I haven't done a side by side on similar beers for comparison.

One thing I find is that a beer fermented cold seems to yield a batch of yeast that will get going quicker cold the second round compared with fermenting a similar estimated cell count of yeast packs.  I'm not doing cell counts or anything that accurate so maybe I am just pitching more yeast the 2nd round and not realizing it, so take it for what it's worth.

Offline skyler

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Re: Beer Made Like a Starter (almost)
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2011, 06:06:29 PM »
So I can still ferment cold, you say? Well, I just used some of that dry stout yeast (3 days since harvested from the stout), and pitched about 500mL of slurry into 6.5 gallons of IPA - pitched at 62F and it noticeable fermentation began within an hour. I likewise pitched a 3L stir-plate starter built up from a vial of a different strain into a different fermenter filled with 6 gal of the same wort and that one took about 8 hours to take off (and since it's Belgian, that one is fermenting at 68F).

Really, though, I have had consistently great results using slurry from beers as high as 1.065, but none of my beers ever had nearly as much slurry as that dry stout, and it got me thinking that maybe a highly oxygenated low-gravity beer will actually help the yeast reproduce so you get a higher yield of yeast. I am pretty sure if I had a 12 gal batch of that dry stout, there would have been enough yeast slurry for me to brew 40 gallons worth of a typical AIPA.