Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Yeast Starter Question

I’m stepping into all-grain brewing with my own recipe, and last week I purchased from NB their 2000ml yeast starter kit with stir plate. My target SG is to be around 1.089, and the yeast I’ll be using is Wyeast American Ale 1056. Forgive me if my acronyms aren’t correct… but the problem I’m going to have, is that I want and need to brew this coming Saturday, but I have to travel both this coming Thursday and travel back Friday. I don’t think I will make it back before 3pm on Friday with most starters needs at least 24 hours to be ready to pitch. Due to planned fantasy football draft/poker evening later on Brew Day, I need to start brewing around or before 8am. Would it be possible to make the starter before I leave this Thurday? Would it be safe to leave in the refrigerator till needed? And if so, how to ‘wake up’ the cells prior to pitching? Thanks to all who view and may answer. Beer me, please…

Not only is it possible, IMO it’s preferable. I like to make starters at least 5 days in advance so they can ferment out, be chilled to drop the yeast, and decanted before using.

Thanks Denny, but how do you wake it up prior to pitching?

If you wanted to, but not needed, you could put a small amount of your beer in the flask and put it back on the stir plate for an hour or so. Then pitch.

I do as Denny. Make the starter on Saturday or Sunday. Brew the next weekend. And I don’t worry about ‘waking them up’.

The same thing if you are using yeast out of the fermenter that is a week or more past active fermentation. Pour it into a mason jar. Then pitch 1/3- 1/2 in the new beer.

Let’s see if I understand this correctly. I cook up my starter… it’s on the stir plate for say 26 hrs due to the fact my approximate SG is around 1.090, if I understand the directions, I use the 2000ml size for the starter, and plus my stir bar is only 25ml since NB is sold out of 50ml at the moment… that’s why I said 26 hrs. After that, I put it in the frig at the time I’m ready to pitch it and decanter it prior to that…? Please tell me if I’m wrong here… lol

I would make your starter tonight, Monday.

Leave on the stir plate until Thursday morning. Take it off and let it sit on the counter.

When you get home home Friday, put it in the fridge.

After you have boiled the wort and transferred the wort to a fermenter, take the starter out of the fridge, decant the liquid out, swirl the remainder to get the yeast loose and toss it in the fermenter.

Let your beer/starter tell you when it’s done. Don’t go by a clock/calendar.

The size of the stir bar only effects if the stir plate can mix the liquid. It has no bearing on how long to run the stir plate.

Thanks Hawk… that makes sense. According to UPS, I may have all of the ingredients tomorrow, and couldn’t I leave it on the stir plate till the time I need to pitch it? Would there be any bad side effects?

It would be best to remove the beer from the flask. Because it fermented at a warm temp, with O2 being sucked into it, it may not taste very good.

You need to let it sit for a day or longer for the yeast to drop out of suspension. The colder you can get it, fridge temp, the faster things will settle out.

The reason I said to leave it out while you are gone is because it may not be fully done fermenting. The extra time on the counter will let it finish. Then start to settle out. The ~24hr in the fridge will help with the remainder.

You could leave it on the stir plate while you are gone. Then right to the fridge when you return on Friday.

If you don’t get the supplies tomorrow, I would put off brewing until the next week. Don’t rush it.

I don’t. I take it out of the fridge, decant, and pitch while it’s still cold. That way the yeast doesn’t wake up and start consuming its nutrient reserves before it’s in the wort. I’ve done it that way or hundreds of batches.

ive been looking into starters and this thread has confused me. up until now i was under the impression that leaving the starter on the stir plate for more than a day or so was unnecessary or even bad. I actually thought 24 hours was the standard time to make a starter

From the wyest website

“Because starters are inoculated at high cell densities, growth is usually maximized within 24-36 hours. The gravity of the starter should always be checked prior to inoculation into wort to assure proper cell growth . Cultures should be used immediately, or refrigerated for up to 1 week before using. Cell viability will decrease rapidly if culture are left at ambient temperatures for extended time”

once the starter is chilled and the yeast settles to the bottom the decant this right? we pour off the liquid and keep the solids right. Can i pitch before i chill it? Trying to understand the whole starter thing ?

See mrmalty.com

[quote=“beerme11”]ive been looking into starters and this thread has confused me. up until now i was under the impression that leaving the starter on the stir plate for more than a day or so was unnecessary or even bad. I actually thought 24 hours was the standard time to make a starter

From the wyest website

“Because starters are inoculated at high cell densities, growth is usually maximized within 24-36 hours. The gravity of the starter should always be checked prior to inoculation into wort to assure proper cell growth . Cultures should be used immediately, or refrigerated for up to 1 week before using. Cell viability will decrease rapidly if culture are left at ambient temperatures for extended time”[/quote]

I second this plea for help… I’m brand spanking new at brewing and every beer I want to make seems to call for a starter. Everyone here seems to stress how important a starter is. But the going consensus is absolutely the opposite of what the yeast company themselves say. There’s a video in the FAQ forum where a guy from Wyeast actually says the biggest two problems people have are making too small a starter and letting it go too long. I’m no expert, I am just really confused on whether the best time period for a starter is 18-24 hours or 150-175 hours.

[quote=“uberculture”]I’m no expert, I am just really confused on whether the best time period for a starter is 18-24 hours or 150-175 hours.[/quote]It depends on the amount of yeast pitched and the volume of the starter, as well as the method used (stirplate, agitation, set and forget, etc.), so you can’t state a specific time.

If you’re a totally new brewer, you might want to forgo the whole starter thing entirely and use dry yeast for at least your first couple of brews - US-05 makes great American ales - and concentrate on the basics of brewing first.

Give yourself a week to 10 days before you intend to brew, unless you have very fresh yeast. Make your starter and watch it. It acts just like beer and you will know when it has started fermenting, when it is at its peak and when it is done. After you think it is done, give it another day and put it in the fridge for 24-48 hours before you need to pitch it.

It is when you try to make a starter 36 hours before you need to pitch that you will run into issues.

For the new brewers, we are trying to make beer. Not go to the moon or mars. Yeast want to make alcohol. It’s relatively difficult the screw that up. :wink: Don’t stress over this.

There are TONS of differing opinions. Even on the WY/WL web sites. The both claim to be direct pitchable products. But both suggest starters.

With that said, they say you can just pitch the yeast out of the bag/vile with in the date on the package. 6 months.

I don’t trust the starter to be done in 2 days. So I give it 5-7 days, 4-6 days to ferment and 1-2 in the fridge. The yeast will go dormant in this time. And I will direct pitch it just as if I purchased the package from the store 45 days after it was manufactured.

RDWHAHB!!!

[quote=“560sdl”]Give yourself a week to 10 days before you intend to brew, unless you have very fresh yeast. Make your starter and watch it. It acts just like beer and you will know when it has started fermenting, when it is at its peak and when it is done. After you think it is done, give it another day and put it in the fridge for 24-48 hours before you need to pitch it.

It is when you try to make a starter 36 hours before you need to pitch that you will run into issues.[/quote]

Great advice.

[quote=“Nighthawk”]For the new brewers, we are trying to make beer. Not go to the moon or mars. Yeast want to make alcohol. It’s relatively difficult the screw that up. :wink: Don’t stress over this.

There are TONS of differing opinions. Even on the WY/WL web sites. The both claim to be direct pitchable products. But both suggest starters.

With that said, they say you can just pitch the yeast out of the bag/vile with in the date on the package. 6 months.

I don’t trust the starter to be done in 2 days. So I give it 5-7 days, 4-6 days to ferment and 1-2 in the fridge. The yeast will go dormant in this time. And I will direct pitch it just as if I purchased the package from the store 45 days after it was manufactured.

RDWHAHB!!!

  1. [/quote]

I totally get what you are saying, and I plan on doing extracts as instructed for a while until I get consistent results before experimenting too much. The frustration comes from:

1: “as instructed” calls for a starter
2: Forums say starter rules “all depend”
3: I don’t know if the baseline for a starter is two liters/24 hours or something different
4: As much as I want to play it by ear, I hate the idea of mistreating beer, glorious beer.

I am probably obsessing over forums way too much, but my admittedly Newby questions are:

a: if a recipe suggests a starter, how important is that?
b: How big of a difference is there between a 24 hour starter and a week long starter (IN GENERAL AS A STARTING OFF POINT FOR EXPERIMENTATION)
c: If mr. Malty tells me a number of cells for a particular OG, how much better is a starter over multiple packets of pre-made yeast?

Being brand new, I am concerned that a starter is just one more variable that I may screw up, but I am also hearing that it is an essential aspect to brewing.

a. VERY important
b. in my experience, a lot of difference.
c. starter will be cheaper. Might even be better becasue the cells will be fresher and healthier

Dude, my biggest piece of advice to you would be to collect info and then try things for yourself. Is a 1 week starter better than a 24 hour starter? YOU decide! Try both and see what you think. That’s true of every single thing in homebrewing. Collect info, think it through, then try things and decide for yourself.

I’ll throw in my $0.02 here, since hey, its the innernit!

In all seriousness, one of the problems introduced to a hobby such as this (or cycling, or weightlifting, or dog training) by the internet, is EVVVERYONE has an opinion.

What has given me some solace as I enter a new frontier of homebrewing (whether it be moving to all grain, YEAST STARTERS moving to kegging, decoction mashing, dry-hopping, secondary honey fermentations, etc. etc. etc. etc.!) is taking the word of the experts (like Denny!)

Both Ray Daniels and Chris White (of White Labs) say in their books that one of the biggest ‘issues’ with homebrewers’ methods is that typically, not enough yeast is pitched into a 5-5.5 gallons batch. I say ‘issues’ not CATASTROPHIC PROBLEMS, because if you underpitch (or leave your brew kettle lid on during the boil, or don’t whirlpool, or ferment ‘too warm’ etc., etc., etc.,), you WILL STILL MAKE BEER. Good beer. Sometimes even great beer!

I feel/have felt your pain on conflicting information. But based on your angst, you seem like you have a good deal of intellectual curiosity. Reading the advice/experience of experts will likely give you some solace.

Gordon Strong’s book essentially outlines his process. It is organized in somewhat of a strange fashion, as he literally just goes through his methods of homebrewing, step by step. Kind of a strange/dry read in that regard, and some people are turned off by his haughtiness (at one point he analogizes extract brewing to brewing as TV dinners are to cooking…the HEIGHT of beer snobbery), but reading the homebrewing classics would be my recommendation for you. Then read them again. Better than taking the word of some shmuck like me on the internet.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com