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Thread: yeast starter

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Palm Harbor, Fl USA
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    Default yeast starter

    We brewed two batches of all grain beer this weekend- a porter and a Bell's two hearted clone; I did a yeast starter the night before and have questions about next time:

    Used 4oz of dried malt extract (Briess pilsner) to about 3/4 gallon of water, boiled it, cooled it, divided it between two containers, pitched yeast, let it rock over night. By the time pitching came around into fermentation buckets, a healthy cake had formed and settled in both jugs.

    I drained off the liquid from the yeast starter, and then swirled in some fresh wort onto the yeast cake, then pouring that mix into the respective fermentation buckets. I felt like pouring off the liquid from the starter was wasting a fair amount of yeast, but also that using only the yeast that had settled would create a fast ferment, with a fast settling yeast. Pouring off the liquid, I also thought would reduce the chance at contributing flavors to the beer that were unintended.

    Any thoughts?
    If I had dumped the entire yeast starter into the wort would that have been bad?

    The ale began fermentation (pitched about 2pm) within a couple hours-fastest I've seen occur- maybe a bubble every 8-10 seconds by nightfall. By morning it was a vigorous ferment, and by nightfall the next night it is slowing. The porter is a bit slower, but seems to be ok. I've only done a few batches (3 partial grain, and these 2 all grain), thus far, and feedback is appreciated.
    My wife says I have ADD, but, hey look- a chicken!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    3,046

    Default Re: yeast starter

    At that age, you may have discarded more yeast than you pitched since only the earliest-flocculating cells would have settled out, and mostly the cake would have been precipitated proteins from the malt. However since you got good results it doesn't matter a bit, you hit the target. By pitching only the cells that gave up first, you may have selected for a poor attenuation (completeness of fermentation), but it would take more than one generation for that to be significant. My guess, assuming 4 oz by weight not volume, is that your starter's gravity was about 1.015 which is fine.

    Typically you'll want to either pitch the entire starter at high krauesen (my practice) or, if you're REALLY worried about a 7% diluent (which truly won't affect your beer), let the starter completely ferment out. It'll have cleared, have a two-tone cake at the bottom (trub break and yeast), and have no airlock activity. Refrigerating it after a couple fermentation days can hurry up the floc. Then you can decant the spent beer off the flocced yeast cake, re-rouse it and pitch. The only difference between them is that the yeast are in different stages of life cycle: in one they're a short metabolic switch back to aerobic (respiration) and reproduction, and in the other they must re-awaken from hibernation and get going again. But they're well-suited to it; each practice has its adherents and detractors.

    Good on ya for doing a proper starter... it is (IMO) one of the single best things a brewer can do after sanitation to improve their beer/mead/wine.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Palm Harbor, Fl USA
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    Default Re: yeast starter

    Thank you.

    After three days the ale has slowed considerably. I'll probably check SG tomorrow. What would indicate poor attenuation/incomplete fermentation, and therefore justify repitching yeast?

    I am hoping to join a local brew club to assist in my learning curve...
    My wife says I have ADD, but, hey look- a chicken!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: yeast starter

    Incomplete fermentation. Depending on strain, ales usually ferment out 65 to 80% complete.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Hillsborough, Florida, USA
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    72

    Default Re: yeast starter

    Quote Originally Posted by Fl_Beak View Post
    Thank you.

    After three days the ale has slowed considerably. I'll probably check SG tomorrow. What would indicate poor attenuation/incomplete fermentation, and therefore justify repitching yeast?

    I am hoping to join a local brew club to assist in my learning curve...
    Airlock activity isn't an accurate measure of fermentation, but, that having been said, three days of active bubbling is pretty typical of ales. Don't even consider ANY conclusion about your fermentation without hydrometer readings.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,523

    Default Re: yeast starter

    Instead of making a yeast starter, I've simply been doubling up on the yeast. A little more expense, but saves on time. Yesterday I bottled an Imperial Pale Ale. Will be having this with egg rolls Christmas Eve.
    Regards, Barry

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Palm Harbor, Fl USA
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    463

    Default Re: yeast starter

    Ben- We used safale s-04 for the ale. Nottingham for the porter.

    Barry- I will toast to you Christmas eve. We are hoping for crab cakes with some Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone. This last cold front (our first good one) has sent them to places unknown though. Maybe it'll be fish cakes and candied green papaya...

    Pilgarlic- I figured once the airlock slowed down, SG SHOULD be toward the lower end, while it was rocking, I figured it would still be dropping and not worth opening my fermentation bucket to check.

    It's still going, so figuring I'm ok. Will probably transfer to a carboy tomorrow, and check SG then. Thinking all is good
    My wife says I have ADD, but, hey look- a chicken!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Hillsborough, Florida, USA
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    72

    Default Re: yeast starter

    [QUOTE=Fl_Beak;599930]Ben- We used safale s-04 for the ale. Nottingham for the porter.

    For reference, a starter isn't recommended for dry yeast. Just rehydration.

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