Author Topic: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter  (Read 2115 times)

Offline NorthernIke

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Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« on: December 20, 2009, 12:20:47 PM »
I'm doing an experiment with pitching rates in mid-gravity lagers.  I recently made a 2L starter with 1 vial and pitched this into 5.5 gallons of 1.047 wort.

Based on some discussions I've had on forums, it seems that the consensus is that I am underpitching with the above.  I want to try making a bigger starter so that I have a larger pitch of yeast next time.

I'm a bit limited though, in that I only have a 2L flask for my stir plate.  I just finished building up a nice 2L starter on the stir plate, and I'm planning on doubling this starter again.  Here are my questions:

1.  Do I crash, decant and pitch the yeast from the first starter into another 2L starter on the stir plate?
2.  Do I pitch the WHOLE contents of the 2L starter into a gallon jug with 2 more liters of wort?  This will not be on a stir plate, so I will just have to shake intermittently.


Can someone give me some advice on how to build up my starters?  Buying a 4L flask is not an option right now.

Thanks.

Offline denny

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2009, 12:32:08 PM »
#1. 
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline BrewArk

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2009, 12:37:58 PM »
  ...This will not be on a stir plate, so I will just have to shake intermittently.

Why not?  Can't you put the stirbar into the gallon jug?  If you start the stirplate slowly, even if the bottom isn't flat, I would think you could get it stirring.
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Offline denny

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2009, 12:43:40 PM »
Using a stir bar in a gal. jug has never worked for me.  YMMV.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline NorthernIke

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2009, 01:03:36 PM »
Using a stir bar in a gal. jug has never worked for me.  YMMV.

+1

It's an old Martini Rossi wine jug.  It has a convex center that throws the stir bar every time.

Offline bluesman

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2009, 06:23:29 PM »
For a 1.050 lager, you'll need about a 5L starter for one vial of yeast. So I would step it up accordingly. In addition.... I would decant most of the wort before each addition. If you have the time, cold crashing would yield the most yeast as Denny has indicated. If time is a constraint...decanting and repitching will certainly work as well.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2009, 06:27:18 PM by bluesman »
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2009, 07:05:59 PM »
5 liter seems a bit much from my experience. Not that it wouldn't work but using a stir plate I have been able to use just 2 l starters sucessfully when brewing average gravity lagers.

If you are confident that your post chill wort handling is very sanitary, you can always give Drauflassen a try. This technique allows you to properly pitch with just half the yeast. I have used it abou 4-6 times so far and never had problems with esters or contamination. It's also my standard technique for higher gravity lagers (bocks). 

Kai

Offline corkybstewart

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2009, 02:09:49 PM »
I make my starters days in advance and chill/decant/refill a couple of times depending on the OG of the beer I'm about to brew.  On brewday I take some of the runoff, boil it a few minutes, cool and add it to my flask(After decanting) and set it aside.  By the time I've boiled and cooled the wort the starter is going wild with lots of krausen and my lag times are just a couple of hours.
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Offline hamiltont

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2009, 02:41:20 PM »
I use Mr. Malty to help me determine the pitching rate for the beer I'm brewing.  I like to use wort around 1.030 for my starters; either made from DME or runnings from a prior mash (freezing the runnings works great).  I'll start with a quart and keep doubling it until I have the right amount of yeast. 

For example, I will be brewing 10 gallons of Schwarzbier (it's a touch bigger than the style) around New Year's. A little over two weeks ago I made a quart starter with DME & pitched the Wyeast Propagator 2308.  The next day it went into the fridge for about 3 hours, decanted & pitched into a half gallon.  same thing again the next day into a gallon, then again into a 5 gallon lite lager that is fermenting nicely at 48F. It will be kegged while the Schwarzbier is boiling.  I'll add about 2 gallons of the cooled (44F) Schwarzbier wort to the yeast from the lite lager, mix it up well & pitch it back into the primary. I expect great things form this beer!  ;)
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Offline yugamrap

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2009, 09:05:24 AM »
Using a stir bar in a gal. jug has never worked for me.  YMMV.

+1

It's an old Martini Rossi wine jug.  It has a convex center that throws the stir bar every time.

I must have gotten lucky when my son saved me this Carlo Rossi jug after a house party at college.  It has a convex bottom, but works fine with a 2" stir bar.  I got REALLY lucky when I found the stir plate (Fisher "Flexa-Mix") at a local industrial salvage place for $5.00.



That's a 1.75 L starter - I have a 3 L starter stirring right now that's gone 36 hours without throwing the bar (it's time to put it in the fridge for tomorrow).  The trick seems to be to start with a slow speed and gradually increase - especially with larger starters.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2009, 09:09:41 AM by yugamrap »
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2009, 11:10:43 AM »
As far as making starters is concerned. There's three stages. There's the growth stage , the fermentation stage , and the flocculation stage. After talking with White Labs, I'm starting to rethink my process. WL is a proponent of the following process:

1. prepare 1 quart of 1.04/1.03 starter wort.
2. pitch yeast at proper pitching temp.
3. Allow yeast growth for 24 hrs.
4. Add a 2nd qt of starter wort
5. Allow yeast to grow 24 hrs.
6. Decant wort leaving yeast and add another quart and so on...

I use Mr Malty to calculate my yeast requirements.

Basically what WL is saying is that you don't want the yeast to enter the rapid fermentation stage, you want the yeast to remain in the growth stage. This will enable the yeast to be the most viable for it's battle ahead.

As quoted from White Labs:

"A "starter" can be any volume of wort that you add yeast to before using it to make your beer.  The yeast get active in this smaller volume, usually for 1-2 days, and then can be added to 5 gallons of beer, or 10 gallons, or whatever size your brewing.  This can be a good way to "proof" the yeast, and also when making high gravity beers. White Labs recommends on their label to make a starter "if the gravity is over 1.070, if the yeast is past its "best before" date, or if a faster start is desired." 
Procedure: 
Make up a 1-2 pint wort, gravity ~1.040, hopped as normal.  Boil for 30 minutes, cool to room temperature. Pitch one vial, shake well and let sit for 1-2 days.  Little to no activity will be seen in the starter, since this is a very small volume compared to the quantity of yeast pitched.  The yeast in a starter may be done within a couple of hours. But a layer of yeast should be at the bottom after 1-2 days. The wort on top of the yeast can be either decanted of the top, or left in and pitched with the whole volume. Most pitch the whole volume, but if the starter gets to the point of 2 liters for 5 gallons, then we recommend decanting the wort off the yeast.
Typical Starter Volumes for 5 gallons:
To activate the yeast: 1 pint
To regenerate expired yeast (there will be living yeast in the package for ~1 year): 2 pints
To brew a high gravity beer: 2 pints
To brew a lager beer, starting fermentation 50-55F: 4 pints"

« Last Edit: December 30, 2009, 11:12:16 AM by bluesman »
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Best Practices for Stepping Up a Starter
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2009, 12:18:42 PM »
The best time to pitch yeast is when it is in the logarithmic phase. In brewing wort with and without oxygen yeast is always fermenting, so there is not really a phase where it is growing but not fermenting. There is however a stationary phase when the yeast stops growing because it ran out of nutrients (generally amino acids and/or sterols).

Pitching during the log growth phase may not be the most practical for all brewers. I, for example, like to use left over wort and heavily aerate it to grow yeast. This means I have to decant the wort and the only way to settle out lager yeast is by letting them finish. This is not ideal but good enough since the yeast will be fairly fresh.

Extract brewers can make "starters" from part of the beer ingredients (2-3 qt of the water for the batch and some extract. Then they pitch that 1 day before brewing the rest and reuniting it with that starter.

Kai