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Yeast Starter Issues

I’m new to using yeast starters and ran into an issue today. I searched here for more info but that has led me to more questions about what I should do. Hopefully I can be steered in the right direction.

I have used yeast starter for my last 3 batches following the directions that came with the NB kit which makes a 1 pint starter using wyeast smack pack and .5 cup dme. There have been no problems and I definately saw faster and more vigorous yeast activity in my last 3 batches.

Last night I made the same starter in preparation to brew NBs Dead Ringer IPA, 1.064 OG, 5 gal batch. As I was getting ready to brew this morning I found out that the package of caramel malt grain was missing from the kit. I called NB and the rep was very nice and said he would send out a new bag of grains but will take 3 days to arrive. I’ll also be out of town for a few days so I won’t be ready to brew for about a week from today. The NB rep said no problem, just put your starter in the fridge until ready then wake it up with a little warm water when ready to pitch.

That sounded OK until I started searching here for more info/options. Do I chill the starter now (10 hours into fermentation) or wait until fermentation is complete then chill until ready? When is fermentation complete, a few days? After starter fermentation is complete then chilled do I pour out the wort and just pitch the slurry in the bottom? Do I need to warm up the slurry? Is this called ‘cold crashing’ the starter that I read about?

Another thing I found when searching this forum is the Mr malty calculator, according to it I need 222 billion cells in a 2.5 liter starter for this batch. The starter kit procedure makes about .7 liter. To make 2.5 liter, first I would need a bigger container since the kit came with a 1 liter flask. To make 2.5 liter do I just add about 2 cups dme to the water with 1 wyest pack?

Thanks for any help you can give me.

[quote=“jdon88”]

That sounded OK until I started searching here for more info/options. Do I chill the starter now (10 hours into fermentation) or wait until fermentation is complete then chill until ready? When is fermentation complete, a few days? After starter fermentation is complete then chilled do I pour out the wort and just pitch the slurry in the bottom? Do I need to warm up the slurry? Is this called ‘cold crashing’ the starter that I read about?

Another thing I found when searching this forum is the Mr malty calculator, according to it I need 222 billion cells in a 2.5 liter starter for this batch. The starter kit procedure makes about .7 liter. To make 2.5 liter, first I would need a bigger container since the kit came with a 1 liter flask. To make 2.5 liter do I just add about 2 cups dme to the water with 1 wyest pack?

Thanks for any help you can give me.[/quote]

let it ferment for a few days. then chill it. you want to wait till fermentation is done before you chill. (you can tell if its done by a slow in activity, yeast settleing on the bottom, and a more clear starter beer). If you choose the ‘intermediate shaking’ option on mr malty you only need 1.65 liters of starter (you just swirl the yeast around a few times a day, and this will increase your cell count, do this at room temperature, before you chill). I use 100grams DME per liter of starter

putting it in the fridge is called cold crashing. do it a couple, to a few days after you pitch the yeast. then you can dump the top beer and pitch the slurry (called the ‘decant’ method).

You should invest in a bigger starter vessel for future batches, and go by what mrmalty recommends. Im sure your beer will be fine with a smaller than optimal starter, a lot of people underpitch and make fine beers. but for the future, you might want to get a bigger starter vessel.

as far as i know, you don’t need to add warm water. I just take it out of the fridge while i’m chilling my batch. to let it get a little warmer from the room temperature. poor out the top beer (maybe leaving a little if it looks cloudy, swirling it to ‘dislodge’ the yeast cake from the bottom) then dump the slurry into my fermenter. (sometimes i will add some of the ‘real’ beer from my batch to the starter, to make sure i get all the yeast off the bottom)

hope that helps. let me know if you need me to elaborate on any of the above info. welcome to the forum

:cheers:

Yes, that helps. Thanks for the info. I will follow the mr malty reccomendations for future batches and go with what I have for the current batch.

The only thing I can think to add would be to purchase a kitchen scale in oz and grams. You can find them for under $50.

They come in handy for many things in the kitchen outside of brewing.

Look for a large jug of wine or anything in the grocery store made with glass. Some have even used flower vases.

I just kind of zoomed through the thread so I didn’t pay attention to specific amount past pint.
I think the goofball at NB was advocating to set the starter in warm water to “wake it up” which is not great advice as it is pretty much worthless advice and if he was truly advocating to add warm water to the slurry that’s a great way to go ahead and infect the pitch right of the bat. To wake up yeast from storage after 3-7 days you will need to feed the yeast another “step up” pitch of sterile wort which you want to do anyways in this case as you want a large pitch once you go much above 1.055-1.060.

So simply leave the current starter in the fridge, now is a good time to invest in a 2L vessel of any sort. But a 2L flask gives you ability to make up a liter and a half additional starter wort right on the stove and chill in the sink and then “decant” off the spent wort from your small starter and pitch just the slurry of cells into the fresh wort. Don’t worry about only making 750-1000ml of wort just make 1.5 or so that you can fit without boiling over as some cells die during the week storage so just overestimate the cells this ways.

Alright, Alright I thought I better run the numbers to make things have better sense as I thought more about it 1 pint is never correct as you barely make any extra cells with that volume.

IE: 1 wyeast pack if full viability = 100B
Using a production date of 5.1.12 just for reference. This would equate to 86% viability thus 86B cells. 86B pitched to 1 pint of wort=127B which is still less than ample for even a 1.040 beer.

Ok so lets say it sits in the fridge for 1 week, lets deduct at the very least 25% of cell count not viable when re pitched. So 127B-32B=95B to hit enough for 1.064 you will need a step now of 1700ml of fresh sterile wort to see a total of around 237B cells as 1.064 shows 233B is a target.
Edit* Btw these numbers are generated by shaking/ swirling the starter every once in a while this is psuedo-emulating what a stir plate does constantly. Also if not read elsewhere you want to vigorously shake the boiled and cooled wort to infuse it with O2 before adding a yeast pitch as the sterile wort is devoid/low in O2 after boiling and O2 is very important during yeast propagation.

I was close anyways guessing at 1500ml originally.

You never really want to be making less than a 1000ml starter for any beer just forward thinking.

When I used the calculator I didn’t know what to use for the viability % so I left it at the default value of 97. The wyeast pack I used shows mfg date of 3/26/12 so I assume the viability % will be lower.

Also, I just searched online and found out a homebrew supply store recently opened in my area so I’ll probably go there tomorrow and buy the grains I need then start brewing instead of waiting for NB to ship them.

At this point should I make a larger starter with what I already have fermenting? I have some .5 gallon mason jars I could use, I’d just have to drill a hole in the lid to fit the foam stopper or figure out something else.

Or I’ll just use the .7L starter I have going and use larger starters in future batches. Its worked just fine in previous batches.

Your thinking it worked fine, it got you close enough to shave with but to be right on top of the game and have a razor sharp tool you optimally want to hit the correct cells at pitch for a variety of reasons i am not going to get into. Also no worries about airlock you really dont want it. I always use a foam stopper, some large cotton balls or tinfoil to cover the starter from dust dropouts but allow gas to escape.

At this time wait for teh grains to arrive and prep a step up as stated as one saying in brewing is always true: you are not ready to brew if your yeast are not ready first.

Let me run some calcs and ill be right back with you also a half-full gallon growler or other glass vessel will work fine you just cant boil and cool in it.

Sorry, didn’t notice the foam stopper until I posted but I think you get the drift on that scene as contamination will only occur due to dust/ other actually falling in. OR and this is important flame or spray star san/ other on the lip/ surface of any vessels where yeast will contact the lip/edge/surface as this is the other main point of starter contamination. Think of a dirty lip of beaker/other and you fail to sanitize in some fashion and then pour the slurry into the beer right across that dirty edge etc…

OK So. 3.26.12 = 61% viability, 61B cells x 0.7L = 98B cells. So we are right where we were as before but without loss to a week storage. So find a suitable vessel and make up 1.5-2L of sterile wort as optimum for the second step is still 1700ml and step up the original and your primo my man. Without going into all the whys and where fors it is really in your best interest to have a correct pitch especially when vearing above 1.055 and your beer will show the difference in quality overall if you do this step up and wait until the grains arrive for this weekend.

Absolutely! Every time I hear of someone doing a starter of less than 1L I cringe! Not only do you not get enough cell growth, there’s not enough food for the yeast to rebuild their glycogen reserves before pitching it into your beer.

Wow - I have a lot to learn. I’ve been making beer off and on for 25 years but never knew how involved or important the yeast part can get. I just pitched whatever came with the kit whenever I got around to brewing. The beer always came out good but maybe it will be better now. So I’m going to take the good advice you all have given me and wait until next week to brew. So I assume I should take my small starter batch and put it in the fridge now. A day or two before ready to brew I should decant the spent wort and pour the yeast slurry into a 2L container with about 1.5L of fresh wort and cover loosly. Swirl it around every few hours until ready to pitch into main batch. Am I on the right track now? Thanks again.

You’re on the right track. If it was me, I’d make that bigger starter with enough lead time to let it ferment out and decant the spent wort, but some people just pitch the whole thing. Either way, you’ll be ahead of where you were before!

As I go back and read the first post I get a better idea on how you need to do this thing.
Definitely do not chill the starter now. You want it to goto completion which can be 24-48 hours.
Lets just say 48 today then put it in the fridge until 60-72 hours before the brewday and then cast off the spent wort in the older pitch leaving just enough liquid to get the pitch into a good slurry then cast the old pitch into the new sterile wort of 1.5-2L and let ferment out completely for 48-60 hours depending on your exact timing it should be fermented out in 48 typically. Then chill for a few hours or night before in order to drop the yeast again so you can decant off the spent wort and pitch only the pure slurry into the batch.

OK I got it now. The starter has been going 24 hours so far, I’ll wait another 24 then chill. I wish I checked out this forum a long time ago, I have a lot of reading up to do here.

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