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Lazy Man's Starter

Something I have been doing for a while, espeially since I have never really bothered with starters, has been to brew batches one week apart and simply rack one beer out of the primary and pour the next batch directly into that same fermentor onto the yeast cake. Lately I have been always starting a Festa Brew wart kit the week before I brew all grain just for this purpose.

Though the results have worked out just fine, and it saves me some minor hastles, I know there have to be some theoretical downsides. I’m not washing the yeast etc. What would be the reasons against doing this? How would doing something else improve my beer?

I find the yeast a little cleaner when using Festa Brew than a fresh batch of all grain containing much more trub.

Also, since at least one batch had been taken over by a wild yeast without me noticing, my second brew on that yeast was also tainted (obviously). Since then I tend to stick my head right in there and give it the old smell test. Since then I have only detected a wild yeast once and did not reuse the cake.

Like I said before, I actually get really good results from this.

I am not familiar with Festbrew. What is that?

Washing the yeast is not really cleaning it, but getting rid of the trub. Lots of people don’t bother with that.

Are you using the same fermentor from batch to batch or removing the yeast cake and added to new wort in a clean fermentor. I know people do both.

Festa Brews.

Interesting. 5 gallons of wort ready for the yeast.

1st I was going to say you will still have hot/cold break in the yeast cake. But you are not boiling it. Not that transferring the break material from beer to beer is a bad thing.

I don’t see an issue with what you are doing. And I’ve done direct racking in the past also.

Direct racking is more than likely over pitching the yeast. You could pour the yeast into a mason jar and then add 1/2 of it back into the fermenter.

Festa Brew is a craft beer porduct produced at a microbrewery in Ontario called Magnotta. It is the same wort that they use for their commercial product sold in our beer stores only pasturized for homebrewing purposes. Honestly this is one of the greatest products out there for the home beer maker. 23 lt ready to go. Just add the yeast. Cradft beer quality(almost) I know they do export some to the States, but their production is not huge so it is harder to find outside of Ontario.

As for the yeast cake, I tent to just pour straight into the used fermentor. It should still be fairly sanitary, and I only rack out the previous beer minutes before pitching the new one. I know there would be some risks there, but remember, my motivation here is pure laziness…I just want to put off cleaning that primary for one more week.

If you’re using the entire cake, you’re over-pitching. Try removing 1/2 to 2/3 of the cake (and storing in sanitized Ball jars for later use if you wish), then pitching the remaining portion to the fresh, aerated wort - all things equal, you’ll make better beer this way.

I did imagine overpitching would be an issue. Exactly what negative effects would this have on the beer? Would “overpitching” be a way to go if I wanted to ferment at lower temperatures for a lager?

I likely would not keep any of the unused yeast around. Having just made two (46 lt) batches, I would not brew for a while.

Idea: What if I fermented one 23lt batch of Festa as a starter for a 46lt batch of all-grain?

Typically we want some yeast growth that produces desirable flavors in the beer and it’s also easier to keep the temp in control versus pitching on a huge cake and having fermentation erupt almost immediately versus ramping as the yeast come up to speed.

Making a 5-gal batch and then splitting the yeast cake between two new 5-gal batches would be a great way to go.

Yeast growth and ester production are both controlled by the same enzyme, acetyl co-A. When it’s not doing one of those, it’s doing the other. So, by pitching the entire slurry there is no need for yeast growth and the enzyme goes to work producing esters instead. I was pleased at how much cleaner my beers got when I started pitching only 1/3-1/2 the slurry as opposed to the whole thing.

That is actually really good to keep in mind. Thanks.

Cleaning my beers up a bit is what I’m looking to do at this point. My recipes have been solid and my basic process has improved, so now it is just the little details to worry about

Denny,
Is that for beers of close O Gs? How about for a barleywine going on an ordinary bitter yeast cake?

So all the trube from the previous batch does not effect the taste of the new batch or are they the same beer?

Denny,
Is that for beers of close O Gs? How about for a barleywine going on an ordinary bitter yeast cake?[/quote]

I’d say that would be perfect!

I’ve never had an issue with the trub affecting the next batch.

Great post and conversation. My local brew shop suggested this to me and I have made three batches this way. I think it is a great way to go, but you do pick up a lot of esters.

What I have been wondering is since the yeast and bacteria are fighting for the same territory, and this method gives the yeast such a head start, would it be less likely for infection?

Denny,
Is that for beers of close O Gs? How about for a barleywine going on an ordinary bitter yeast cake?[/quote]

I’d say that would be perfect![/quote]

I’m a bit slow some days, which would be perfect, 1/3-1/2 or the whole slurry?

[quote=“Rookie L A”][quote=“Denny”][quote="Rookie L A
Denny,
Is that for beers of close O Gs? How about for a barleywine going on an ordinary bitter yeast cake?[/quote]

I’d say that would be perfect![/quote]

I’m a bit slow some days, which would be perfect, 1/3-1/2 or the whole slurry?[/quote]

one third for ales, one half for lagers, but, really, unless you remove it all and have a graduated vessel, measurement is by the “eyeball”. I routinely start with a tube of lager yeast for a 2 gallon batch and build up from there to larger batch each time, ending with a 10 gallon batch.

[quote=“Rookie L A”]

I’m a bit slow some days, which would be perfect, 1/3-1/2 or the whole slurry?[/quote]

Sorry…the whole slurry. Something like a BW or a Belgian strong always gets the full slurry on my brews. But only for an OG like those have. For “normal” beer, it’s 1/2-1/3.

[quote=“Denny”][quote=“Rookie L A”]

I’m a bit slow some days, which would be perfect, 1/3-1/2 or the whole slurry?[/quote]

Sorry…the whole slurry. Something like a BW or a Belgian strong always gets the full slurry on my brews. But only for an OG like those have. For “normal” beer, it’s 1/2-1/3.[/quote]

Got it. I’m contemplating a BW or a wee heavy later in the year when my brew room is closer to 60 then it’s current 70-72.

[quote=“Brew Meister Smith”]
Also, since at least one batch had been taken over by a wild yeast without me noticing, my second brew on that yeast was also tainted (obviously). Since then I tend to stick my head right in there and give it the old smell test. Since then I have only detected a wild yeast once and did not reuse the cake.

Like I said before, I actually get really good results from this.[/quote]

I wouldn’t call those good results or anything even close to it. You have had multiple infections that occurred.

The infection mentioned happened with the original pitch. Did not pick up on it until after I reused the yeast cake - so it had nothing to do the meathod described here. Otherwise have not had any other infections.

Now on I will be removing 1/2 to 2/3 of the cake before repitching as recomended above. I have detected a little extra ester in the last batch I did like this and hopefully it will improve the results.

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