First Time Making a Starter

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by NTexBrewer, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. NTexBrewer

    NTexBrewer Member

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    I have built a stir-plate. I have a 2L Erlenmeyer Flask for 1L starters and a 1 gallon glass cider container for 2 or 3 liter starters. I understand how to use the pitch rate calculator to figure my yeast starter size. The thing I can't find good information on is how long to let the starter grow and logistics of making sure a starter is ready before brew day. Also if decanting how long do you typically need to refrigerate for the yeast to settle out. If decanting do you pour off the liquid on brew day and then let the yeast warm up to room temperature during the brew or do you let the entire starter warm up and then decant before pitching.

    I'm planning to make a Tripel that requires a 2L starter. If my brew day is a Saturday when should I start my yeast starter so that I can chill to decant before pitching.

    How would it be different for a 1L starter or something big like a 3L starter.
     
  2. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Good question!

    The bigger the starter the more time it takes. I would say 1-1.5 days per liter when stirred. Longer when not stirred.

    If the yeast starter is done, it will settle out its own without refrigeration. Just turn off the stir plate. You'll see it go from a fine haziness to a kind of chunky swirling. Settling out also depends on how flocculent the yeast is.

    For a Saturday brew, I'd make the starter Wednesday night or Thursday morning. You have some leeway, maybe up to 6 days, so it won't hurt to do it a little earlier.

    If I do need to refrigerate the starter, I take it out when I start my brew day. I decant right before I pitch.
     
  3. NTexBrewer

    NTexBrewer Member

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    Thanks for the reply.

    If refrigeration is not needed to settle out yeast how long does it typically take for the yeast to settle? In your example you said to make the starter on Wednesday. Do I then turn off the stir plate Friday to give it enough time to settle for a Saturday brew session.
     
  4. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    not all yeast will be ready at the same time so be patient, might be best to create a starter and watch it until it turns creamy to see how long it takes
     
  5. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Indeed it varies from yeast to yeast, but it should settle out in at least 12 hours if it is going to.
     
  6. 7 Slot Brewing

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    What about when doing a stepped starter? What is the timeline and procedures there?
     
  7. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    When it looks done step up, or step at high krausen. Small steps should be pretty quick (half day).
     
  8. NTexBrewer

    NTexBrewer Member

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    Larry can you elaborate on stepping up. If you start with a 1L starter and you want to step up what is the procedure? Just add another liter of DME wort to the first 1L starter? What are the advantages of stepping up compared to making a big starter from the beginning?
     
  9. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Stepping up is needed is you are starting with a small amount of yeast, like a slant. Somebody who has a yeast bank would know more. The idea is not to put too little yeast into the starter volume, but I don't have specifics.

    Yep just pour completed starter A into new starter B.

    I start with smack packs or vial, and have made 3L starters in one go for lagers. If you needed yeast for a 20+ gallon batch then stepping might be needed. That would be one huge starter.
     
  10. 7 Slot Brewing

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    Would you let yeast settle and decant before pitching to next step?
     
  11. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    thats what I do, make sure you have a good strong yeast before you try it, my 05 yeast dies every time I cold crash and let it settle to decant but the liquid works great
     
  12. MrBIP

    MrBIP Active Member

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    Have done several starters now, without stir plate, all worked great, the last one was US05.
    Brew day Saturday, starter make Tuesday evening, decant and re-feed it Thursday evening.
    Let it sit on the kitchen table, no cold crash/refrigeration to settle.
    Give a manual stir whenever I walk by; on Tues/Wed and Thurs evening/Friday; let it settle Thurs and Saturday.
    Maybe not the most efficient process without stir plate, but it's simple and it's working.
     
  13. Foster82

    Foster82 New Member

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    On the question of stepping up starters, I normally do mine every 24 hours, and the first step up is 10 times the volume of the first. So I start with a slant, which I use to inoculate a 50 ml starter. After 24 hours and if there is signs of fermentation I step up to a 500 ml starter. Within 12 hours if the yeast are healthy I normally see very active fermentation (once in awhile I have to warm the starter to jump start it). The second starter is then pitched directly into the final step which is normally 1 to 1.5 liters, and starts fermenting within hours. Once there is no longer any signs of active fermentation (normally 18-24 hours) I stop the stir plate to see if the yeast begin to settle within about an hour. If not turn plate back on for a few hours, but if they do the starter is placed in the fridge for at least 12 hours to form a good solid yeast pack. On the morning of brew day I decant the starter and let the yeast warm to room temp for pitching. Works like a charm every time. Right now I have a 1 liter starter on the stir plate that is from a slant made in early March (7 months old), and its doing great. My honest opinion is, the only to have truly fresh yeast is to start with a small starter and step it up. That why you know the yeast are young and at their peak.
     
  14. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    I'm doing a starter right now, started it last night. One liter in size, at 1.036. This is the new Wyeast 1217 west coast IPA strain.

    The stir bar was not set properly so it went over night without being stirred. This morning, about 12 hours later, I come to find it is already almost done. The yeast are flocculating nicely in the bottom and it is dropping clear. It is now in stir mode, but tonight I'll stop that so it settles out in prep for brew day tomorrow.

    So in this case, a 1L starter is easily ready in two days. 24 probably would be plenty, even partially unstirred.

    I've taken to growing yeast starters inside my fermentation chamber. That way the temp is totally stable.
     
  15. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    I agree, in the past Ive just done it right on the counter but realized the temperature changes in the room quite a bit throughout the day especially from 4 to 6 pm, gets very hot fast here
     
  16. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    At night we turn off the furnace, so it gets down to 60, sometimes 55 in the winter, and that is BAD for ale yeast. Plus the klink-klink-klink of the stir bar is out of earshot.
     
  17. NTexBrewer

    NTexBrewer Member

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    Thanks for all of the advice. My starter worked great. Made it on Monday (7th). Put the starter in Fridge on Thursday (10th). Removed and decanted on Friday (11th) for brew day. I must of done everything correctly because this was the first time I have had a fermentation blowout!! I guess that warning needs to be added to the making a starter page.
     
  18. MrBIP

    MrBIP Active Member

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    ^Like

    Install the fat blow off tube, no worries about blow out.
     
  19. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    So let's dredge up this old string for a silly question.....how do you sterilize your stir bar? I would think that boiling is common but aren't you killing the magnetic qualities of the bar at that point??
     
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  20. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    When I do make a starter which is rare, and even more rare to use my stir plate, I would clean and sanitize just like all my other brew equipment. Pbw for cleaning and star san for sanitizing. I always have a jug of star san so I just plop the stir bar in it and then to flask.
     
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