Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

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Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby Avispartner » Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:30 pm

Hi all,

Now that my first batch of Hefeweizen is bottled, all equipment is cleaned and ready again, I am trying to finalize my Winterbliss "clone" recipe https://forum.braumeisters.net/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=838.

I have planned to use Wyeast Labs 1056 (American Ale) and as the last batch took 72 hours until fermentation kicked in, I decided to go for a starter this time. BeerSmith 2 (which I am still fighting with...) shows me some 276 billion yeast cells needed for my recipe which roughly equals 3 packs of yeast without a starter or 1 pack for a 4.05 liter starter. Having never made or used a starter before, this quantity seems very big to me. So would I really pitch more than 4 liters (or about 20% of the wort amount)? Could this be correct?

Thanks once again for your help.

Cheers, Robbie :cheers:
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby Nesto » Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:43 pm

Seems a little high, but it should be in the ballpark. I don't like the BeerSmith yeast starter calculator for a couple of reasons, so I use this: http://www.yeastcalc.co/yeast-pitch-rat ... calculator.

So what's your batch size into the fermenter? I'm usually about 20.3 liters, which for an ale will need 203B cells according to yeastcalc.co. Make sure to plug in the production date of your yeast; BeerSmith will auto fill a date which might not be correct.

Do you have a stir plate? My guess is no if you came out with a 4l starter. A stir plate will greatly increase the propagation of the yeast.

Finally a tip for starters, it helps if you cold crash the starter for a day so the yeast settles on the bottom of your flask. When you're ready to pitch, let the starter warm back up to pitching temp. Decant off as much of the starter wort as you can without losing yeast. Then pour a little of your actual wort into your starter flask to swirl the yeast into suspension and pitch into your fermenter. If you do it this way, you won't be adding much (any?) of that horrid tasting starter wort to your beer :)
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby dinnerstick » Sun Feb 15, 2015 5:57 pm

the only caveat i will add to Nesto's excellent advice is that some yeasts, strains with goofy/odd personalities like some english ones, notably the popular fullers/1968/wlp002 strain, will jump up to the top of the flask as soon as they start to warm up. the fullers yeast will then do a lava-lamp trick for an hour or so before becoming bored and settling back down.
so for those strains i always decant the supernatant (ie the wort above the yeast cake) as soon as i take the flask out of the fridge.
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby Avispartner » Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:37 pm

Nesto wrote:Seems a little high, but it should be in the ballpark. I don't like the BeerSmith yeast starter calculator for a couple of reasons, so I use this: http://www.yeastcalc.co/yeast-pitch-rat ... calculator.

So what's your batch size into the fermenter? I'm usually about 20.3 liters, which for an ale will need 203B cells according to yeastcalc.co. Make sure to plug in the production date of your yeast; BeerSmith will auto fill a date which might not be correct.

Do you have a stir plate? My guess is no if you came out with a 4l starter. A stir plate will greatly increase the propagation of the yeast.

Finally a tip for starters, it helps if you cold crash the starter for a day so the yeast settles on the bottom of your flask. When you're ready to pitch, let the starter warm back up to pitching temp. Decant off as much of the starter wort as you can without losing yeast. Then pour a little of your actual wort into your starter flask to swirl the yeast into suspension and pitch into your fermenter. If you do it this way, you won't be adding much (any?) of that horrid tasting starter wort to your beer :)


Excellent advice, thank you very much, also for the link to yeastcalc.co, looks easy to use. And no, I do not (yet) have a stir plate, but might consider getting one. Any recommendations on this?

dinnerstick wrote:the only caveat i will add to Nesto's excellent advice is that some yeasts, strains with goofy/odd personalities like some english ones, notably the popular fullers/1968/wlp002 strain, will jump up to the top of the flask as soon as they start to warm up. the fullers yeast will then do a lava-lamp trick for an hour or so before becoming bored and settling back down.
so for those strains i always decant the supernatant (ie the wort above the yeast cake) as soon as i take the flask out of the fridge.


A yeast lava-lamp... this should look, uhm, interesting :D. Thanks for your hint!
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby Nesto » Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:41 pm

dinnerstick wrote:the only caveat i will add to Nesto's excellent advice is that some yeasts, strains with goofy/odd personalities like some english ones, notably the popular fullers/1968/wlp002 strain, will jump up to the top of the flask as soon as they start to warm up. the fullers yeast will then do a lava-lamp trick for an hour or so before becoming bored and settling back down.
so for those strains i always decant the supernatant (ie the wort above the yeast cake) as soon as i take the flask out of the fridge.

Ah yes, the Sam Smith's strain (WLP037) is crazy like that too. Def easier to decant while still cold.
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby Nesto » Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:49 pm

I have the Hanna-Instruments HI300N-1 stir plate. Fits up to a 5 liter flask comfortably. Not sure what suppliers in the EU have, but this one gets excellent reviews at a good price: http://stirstarters.com. The website also has DIY instructions.
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby McMullan » Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:27 am

In addition to Nesto and dinnerstick's sound advice, I'd recommend preparing starters several days before brew day. Up to 48h (depending on yeast strain) on a stir-plate, until krausen has dropped. Then without stirring for several hours, so the yeast can replenish their glycogen (energy) levels (needed to power sterol production for membrane maintenance during the reproductive phase after pitching and wort permeability thereafter). Then cold crash for up to a few days or more (again depending on the yeast strain/how flocculent it is). During this stationary phase the yeast build their trehalose ('emergency' energy) levels too, which allows them to adapt to stress more quickly than glycogen. Then do what Nesto and dinnerstick recommend. I do what dinnerstick suggests, decant the starter supernatant as soon as I pull it from the fridge, incubate it at pitching/room temperature for 2-3h then, like Nesto, resuspend the yeast in about 150ml of my oxygenated wort. Then pitch. You should get vigorous primary activity within about 12h or sooner; not an extended lag phase, inviting potentially unwanted infection. And you are less likely to get a stuck fermentation.
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby Avispartner » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:33 am

McMullan wrote:In addition to Nesto and dinnerstick's sound advice, I'd recommend preparing starters several days before brew day. Up to 48h (depending on yeast strain) on a stir-plate, until krausen has dropped. Then without stirring for several hours, so the yeast can replenish their glycogen (energy) levels (needed to power sterol production for membrane maintenance during the reproductive phase after pitching and wort permeability thereafter). Then cold crash for up to a few days or more (again depending on the yeast strain/how flocculent it is). During this stationary phase the yeast build their trehalose ('emergency' energy) levels too, which allows them to adapt to stress more quickly than glycogen. Then do what Nesto and dinnerstick recommend. I do what dinnerstick suggests, decant the starter supernatant as soon as I pull it from the fridge, incubate it at pitching/room temperature for 2-3h then, like Nesto, resuspend the yeast in about 150ml of my oxygenated wort. Then pitch. You should get vigorous primary activity within about 12h or sooner; not an extended lag phase, inviting potentially unwanted infection. And you are less likely to get a stuck fermentation.


Wow, what started as a simple fun hobby is getting more scientific. And even more fun. Thanks for all this great advice, really looking forward to my next batch. :drink:
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby Avispartner » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:04 pm

Nothing exciting, but this my first yeast starter ever, settling down after 48 hrs on the stir plate. Leaving it to rest until tomorrow morning then cold crashing until Saturday brew day.
IMG_1617.JPG

PS. How do I rotate pictures in this forum? The original is upright...
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby Nesto » Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:24 pm

Avispartner wrote:Nothing exciting, but this my first yeast starter ever, settling down after 48 hrs on the stir plate. Leaving it to rest until tomorrow morning then cold crashing until Saturday brew day...

I'm sorry, but I disagree... it is exciting to grow your first yeast starter! I bought my BM after brewing for 10 years on a friend's 3V system. So that meant he did all the yeast starters. I was like a student again researching all the stir plate options. Excited like a kid on christmas day getting my first erlenmeyer flask. And nervous like heck actually doing the starter... will it boil over, yeast nutrient???, decanting off the starter wort, oxygenating the wort... SWMBO giggles a little at how excited I get about the little pieces of science I get to do because I brew.

Congrats! And I'm sorry, but even as a mod here, I have no idea why your pic rotated.
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby Avispartner » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:26 am

Nesto wrote:
Avispartner wrote:Nothing exciting, but this my first yeast starter ever, settling down after 48 hrs on the stir plate. Leaving it to rest until tomorrow morning then cold crashing until Saturday brew day...

I'm sorry, but I disagree... it is exciting to grow your first yeast starter! I bought my BM after brewing for 10 years on a friend's 3V system. So that meant he did all the yeast starters. I was like a student again researching all the stir plate options. Excited like a kid on christmas day getting my first erlenmeyer flask. And nervous like heck actually doing the starter... will it boil over, yeast nutrient???, decanting off the starter wort, oxygenating the wort... SWMBO giggles a little at how excited I get about the little pieces of science I get to do because I brew.

Congrats! And I'm sorry, but even as a mod here, I have no idea why your pic rotated.


:lol: , you are exactly describing what I have been going through the last few days...

Strange, on my iPad the picture is displayed correctly, but not on my desktop or notebook computers...
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby dinnerstick » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:05 am

i assume you added the stopper and airlock after it was done fermenting? as you wouldn't want to restrict gas exchange when it's active.
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby Avispartner » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:34 am

dinnerstick wrote:i assume you added the stopper and airlock after it was done fermenting? as you wouldn't want to restrict gas exchange when it's active.


Yes, you assume correctly. Out of interest: What would have possibly happened if I had put the stopper/airlock on when active? Slowed down fermenting or a complete stop?
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby dinnerstick » Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:36 pm

you need that gas exchange in the initial growth phase, which usually happens pretty quickly in a healthy starter culture. so, i think you would get less yeast growth, but it would still work. then, just like a beer in a closed fermenter, the amount of yeast growth would depend on how much oxygen was dissolved in the wort at the beginning, and how many active cells per volume of wort you had.
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Re: Yeast Starter - Quantity right?

Unread postby stevodevo » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:02 pm

dinnerstick wrote:i assume you added the stopper and airlock after it was done fermenting? as you wouldn't want to restrict gas exchange when it's active.


I never knew this. I haven't done a yeast starter yet, but I've just bought all the gear to start making them for future brews. I've always seen people just covering the flask with aluminium foil, and assumed I was going a step better by getting myself a bung and air lock to do mine. So are we saying there is no risk of infecting the starter by leaving the container unsealed? I assume this is due to the very high concentration of good yeast present in the starter?
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