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First time making a yeast starter

I bought a brown ale beer kit online back in late March, but due to a ton of “reasons”(including putting in a new kitchen) I wasn’t able to brew until now (6/1). I refrigerated the yeast and hops as soon as I received the kit.

Yesterday I made my first yeast starter, using the White Labs British Ale yeast WLP005 from the kit. The “best before” date on the yeast is June 8, 2012 (one week from now). I took it out of the fridge about 4-5 hours prior to pitching to bring it down to room (fermentation) temp.

I used a yeast starter kit from Northern Brewer. Followed the directions, using 650ml of water and 1/2 cup DME. Boiled about 17 min, cooled wort down to about 76-77 degrees (slightly higher than the temp I will ferment at, hoping this 6-8 degree difference won’t have any affect), then pitched the yeast, which seemed slightly “clumpy”. And I unfortunately forgot to add yeast nutrient.

Stirred the starter frequently last night, as well as this AM. When I first checked this AM, there was no krausen at all, and about a 1/4-3/8 inch layer of yeast on the bottom. I would assume that that is a significant amount of growth… correct?

Is the fact that there is no krausen reason to be concerned?

Thanks for any feedback!

The temp deal is of no concern, yeast would actually like to have 80-100f for optimal growth which is what you are seeking with a starter. So room temp is perfect, during the actual ferment is where you are concerned about temp because if you ever taste the wort decanted from a room temp or higher starter you will see why temp makes a diff for the “true” wort you will drink.

The 650ml is a number somebody dreamed up in their sleep. I have no idea why they quote that method(well sold with a 1000ml flask that’s all you can make really(650-800ml maybe) if that’s what they are speaking to here in said instructions) But ultimately you would rather make 1000ml or bigger depending on the beer gravity. Now if using a stir plate this volume needed game changes considerably.

If no one has introduced you to mrmalty.com, check it out…Many good facts to gather about starters and the yeast pitching rate calculator is what you want to seek out.

*Edit: http://www.mrmalty.com/yeast-tools.php
Also while I’m at it a starter wort calculator: http://brew.stderr.net/starter_wort_calc.html

At this time you have yeast that was produced on/around Feb 8th 2012. So the viability is 16% which isn’t bad, but you need a starter size geared to make up this deficiency now. So 650ml wort added to a 16b cell count = 57B cells much too low for even a 2% ABV beer. The way to increase the count further is to employ a second stage step up. I will just use 1.055 as a typical brown ale SG just for demonstration. 1.055SG will require an optimal cell count of 202B for rounded performance.
57B cells added to 2L will hit 192B which is much closer to the mark and in range.
A simple 1 gallon glass jar with a large cotton ball for stopper or tinfoil covering the opening is all you need for now. 2.2L second stage will hit 202B cells, but anything approaching 2L is desired right now.

The best way to add started yeast to the “true” wort is to first decant the spent wort. This is also done with staged starters 1,2,3 step etc… You briefly put the vessel in cold storage a few minutes (10-30) and this effectively crashes the yeast to the bottom, sanitize lip of vessel, then pour off the spent wort leaving just enough to swirl up just the slurry left on the bottom and pitch.
Now with doing steps you would just sanitize before opening the starter vessel, decant, add new sterile wort(sanitize all transfer funnels/tools)or simply “pitch” the slurry into the new sterile wort vessel, make sure to sanitize the lip & stopper of choice again(sanitize: flame/starsan sprayer etc…) and replace. It cannot be repeated enough, but sanitize everything in sight that is involved in yeast handling. Repeat or pitch as nessecary.

[quote=“BeerEngineer1”]Stirred the starter frequently last night, as well as this AM. When I first checked this AM, there was no krausen at all, and about a 1/4-3/8 inch layer of yeast on the bottom. I would assume that that is a significant amount of growth… correct?

Is the fact that there is no krausen reason to be concerned?[/quote]

When you say stir, you mean just swirling the closed-covered flask/vessel right? You aren’t actually using a implement every time to stir and opening the vessel each time to accomplish this task?

No, krausen is something you may/may not see in starters depending on many factors including yeast strain. It is also quite possible they munched through that small amount of wort in a short period and also if the whole solution was cloudy for 12-48 hours and then the yeast “fell” out. It is probably a good certainty they are just fine.

+1 to swirling the starter periodically. BUT - if the liquid is taking up the majority of the flask, be careful. I use gallon jugs for making starters. Generally I have about a third of the jug as liquid and about 2/3 head space. A while back I was making a starter for a barleywine. I made a starter as usual. Then, I stepped it up to a bigger starter after a few days. It was about a half gallon in a gallon jug. Gave it a real good swirl the next morning and it foamed straight out the top and all over the counter.

If you don’t have a lot of head space, you want to do this rather gently to start - just in case.

Ideally, “stirring” would involve a magnetic bar and a stir plate.

Also, in general, I don’t see the same “krauesen” that you might see in a regular ferment of a beer. It is usually more subdued, and also, because I am swirling the wort for a minute or so every few hours, I don’t think it has as much chance to build up.

Sounds to me like you are ok - just that maybe the starter could have been a little bigger. If you have time, step it up again, if not, you are going to be much better off than you would have been had you just pitched the yeast straight from the pack.

WOW! What a difference using a yeast starter and aerating the wort makes!

I had some infrequent bubbling within one hour after pitching! 9 hours after it was bubbling steadily. 15 hours after pitching and it was bubbling through the airlock!!!

I replaced the airlock with a blow off hose. And that is bubbling like crazy!

The only “problem” have is that the blow off hose isn’t a perfect fit in the carboy. I noticed VERY slight bubbling coming out of the carboy. I pulled out the hose and wrapped it with (folded) sanitized aluminum foil. Now the bubbling has ALMOST stopped.

I would ASSUME that this “leak” isn’t a problem as long as the pressure of the CO2 keeps everything else out. When the vigorous bubbling stops I’ll put the airlock back in.

Will this be ok?

This is my first time using a carboy for primary (always used buckets). I noticed a LOT of sediment at the bottom within the first hour. Is that normal?

Thanks.

The layer of CO2 will protect your beer even if you leave the blowoff in the whole fermentation. Replacing the airlock is a good idea though, once things slow down. The beer temp will fall possibly causing a vacuum that will suck blowoff (that sounds dirty) back into the beer.

No need for alarm from the sediment. Lots of stuff can make into the carboy from the boil kettle, especially if you don’t strain and use pellet hops. Just be sure to rack carefully and avoid bringing it over into secondary or bottling bucket (or keg).

:cheers:

i use mrmalty all the time but I also use http://www.yeastcalc.com/

seems I can fiddle with the number more here…

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