Author Topic: First Yeast Starter Ever  (Read 1530 times)

Offline toniogarces

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First Yeast Starter Ever
« on: August 28, 2011, 11:38:33 AM »
Last night I made my first yeast starter for a porter that I'm making today. I was pretty excited to get into starters but since I don't have an Erlenmeyer, it turned out to be a pain in the ass. I had to boil the starter wort in a saucepan, and then transfer it to a sanitized, narrow-opening one-gallon growler. For this I used a sanitized funnel. I cooled the wort by putting the sauce pan in an ice bath. I asked my buddy to wipe the outside of the pan so that no dirty water dripped in through the funnel when I poured the wort in. Turns out that didn't even matter because, as I was pouring, some wort dripped down the side of the pan. So I think it's contaminated... being the rookie that I am, I still went ahead and pitched the yeast... I covered it with a sanitized piece of aluminum foil and I stirred the starter every half hour or so for the first 6 hours to give the yeast enough oxygen. The yeast seems to be fermenting the wort, but I'm afraid it might still be contaminated.

Should I discard the starter, or use it for my brew today? I should also mention that the recipe called for a 1800 ml starter, but when I entered the recipe into BeerSmith, it said I needed a bigger starter...

Can anyone help me out?

Thanks!
Luis Garces

Offline majorvices

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2011, 12:30:01 PM »
I seriously think you are overreacting. The heat on the side of the pan sanitized it, so you have nothing to worry about. Congratulations on making your first starter. Don't ever look back. Pitching the appropriate amount of yeast for every beer is essential!

As far as starter size goes, check the pitching calc. at www.mrmalty.com to get an idea what size starter you need every time. Kepp your starter OG between 1.020 and 1.040.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2011, 12:32:53 PM by majorvices »
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Offline toniogarces

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2011, 12:41:40 PM »
Well, the reason I'm concerned is that the rag with which my buddy wiped the outside of the kettle was probably quite dirty. It was just the kitchen rag... Also, even if I sanitized the outside of the pan with heat from the stove, I then dunked it in iced water...in my dirty sink...

Do you still think I should go ahead and use it?
Luis Garces

Offline majorvices

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2011, 12:47:06 PM »
Ahh, I see what your concern is now. It may be OK but it also might not be worth the mental torture. Start over again just to be safe and sane.
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Offline toniogarces

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2011, 12:57:11 PM »
Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Cause there's the possibility that it could ruin the whole batch...

We made this starter at around 9:00 PM last night. So far there has only been a thin layer of bubbles on the surface from fermentation... if I were to pitch this starter, when should it be pitched? JZ suggests pitching the whole thing between the 12th and 18th hour...what do you think?
Luis Garces

Offline majorvices

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2011, 01:00:15 PM »
You want to either pitch it active or, if you want to actually grow yeast you need to ferment it to completion, decant spent starter beer and pitch only the yeast. Assuming you made the proper size starter.
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Offline toniogarces

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2011, 01:09:01 PM »
About the decanting option...the yeast cake is usually pretty dense. Do you decant most of the starter beer leaving only about a half inch, shake the yeast into suspension and then pitch it?
Luis Garces

Offline rightasrain

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2011, 01:11:49 PM »
I use an airlock on my starters, just so I can get a sence of how healthy the fermentation is. If its getting a healthy bubbling out of the airlock I would definetly use it. Even if you got a small infection it would more than likely be ok as the yeast would out compete any infection from a small mix of water.

Ahh, I see what your concern is now. It may be OK but it also might not be worth the mental torture. Start over again just to be safe and sane.

Of course majorvices makes a good point too. It may be worth it to you to play it safe so your not sorry later.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2011, 01:15:17 PM by rightasrain »
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Offline denny

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2011, 01:23:52 PM »
About the decanting option...the yeast cake is usually pretty dense. Do you decant most of the starter beer leaving only about a half inch, shake the yeast into suspension and then pitch it?

That's exactly what I do.
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Offline toniogarces

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2011, 06:21:58 PM »
Thanks to everyone for your advice. Just prepared a new starter and everything went splendid.

Cheers!
Luis Garces

Offline rightasrain

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2011, 06:49:09 PM »
About the decanting option...the yeast cake is usually pretty dense. Do you decant most of the starter beer leaving only about a half inch, shake the yeast into suspension and then pitch it?

That's exactly what I do.

Does anyone happen to know if you can get healthy yeast from this decanted beer instead of throwing it out?

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Offline bluesman

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2011, 06:55:57 PM »
About the decanting option...the yeast cake is usually pretty dense. Do you decant most of the starter beer leaving only about a half inch, shake the yeast into suspension and then pitch it?

That's exactly what I do.

Does anyone happen to know if you can get healthy yeast from this decanted beer instead of throwing it out?



I wouldn't waste the time and effort to try. The amount of yeast in suspension is insignificant in the big picture.
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Offline tygo

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2011, 06:58:18 PM »
Well, your objective with that technique is to get as much of the healthy yeast to floc out and precipitate to the bottom so you can pitch it into the beer.  There's going to be viable yeast in the wort you toss but who knows how much.  I guess the question is how much work do you want to do to grow that back up?

If you wanted to save some yeast to grow back up you'd be better off shaking up the starter and pouring out a small sample before you crashed it.
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Offline sparkleberry

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2011, 08:13:09 PM »
my beers got that much better with the addition of starters.  i'm really pleased i started using them.
cheers.

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Offline skyler

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Re: First Yeast Starter Ever
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2011, 04:52:58 PM »
Once you get used to starters and you start harvesting your slurry from previous batches, you will be SO glad you learned how to make starters because you will be able to store your old slurry and bring it back to life when you want - saving yourself a ton of money and trips to the LHBS. I buy yeast maybe 3-4 times a year now, and I brew about twice a month.