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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2009 * Archive through December 01, 2009 * Is a starter really necessary nowadays? < Previous Next >

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Miker
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Username: Miker

Post Number: 701
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 207.200.116.8
Posted on Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 11:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've been brewing a lot lately with dry yeast, mostly US05, since I live quite a ways from my LHBS and never know when I'll have time to brew. Keeping dry yeast in the fridge allows me to brew on short notice without driving for an hour to get liquid yeast, but I still like to use liquid when I can esp. for certain styles. When I do I usu. try to make a starter if possible but always wonder if its really necessary. Haven't really looked at the numbers lately on the liquid yeasts so I decided to check them.

Wyeast claims a minimum 100 billion cells in their Activator pack and White Labs says 70-140 billion in their pitchable tube.
Using the standard of 1 million/ml/degree Plato you need around 200-400 billion for an average 5 gallon batch.

So, these commercial packs provide close to half of this rate - far better than they used to.

What do you all think? Are these levels adequate. I have to say that I feel pretty safe using these products without a starter as long as I provide good oxygen esp. after reading the following from White Labs FAQ:

How can I pitch 1 million cells per ml per degree Plato?

Some homebrewers now want to pitch more yeast in 5 gallons then a pint starter. An often quoted number is to pitch 1 million cells/ml/degree Plato of beer, which equals about 250 billion cells for 5 gallons. That is okay, more cells are not detrimental until about 400 billion cells. For those that enjoy yeast culturing and want 250 billion cells, one vial can be added directly to 2 liters of wort starter, and after two days of incubation, will be equal to roughly 250 billion cells. Is this necessary? Every brewer will have a different opinion, but here is some information:

a. The source of the 1 million cells/ml/degree Plato figure: Professional brewery literature.
Most professional breweries re-pitch their yeast because they have the fermentor design and facilities to reuse yeast. So most brewery pitches are actually re-pitches, and only 2-10% of brewery pitchings are using freshly propagated yeast. One of the main sources of contamination in a brewery is the pitching yeast. So in order to out-compete other organisms, large quantities of yeast must be pitched. When propagated by a professional yeast laboratory, the yeast is grown under sterile conditions, sterileoxygen and special nutrients are used to improve cell construction and performance. This does not occur in a brewery, so numbers they use to "pitch" take into account the inadequacy of their brewers yeast. The yeast is also unhealthy due to prolonged growth without oxygen and nutrients. In addition, brewers yeast will always contain some contaminants that need to be out-grown, and 1 million cells per ml per degree Plato has been found to be the best marriage of high pitching rates and no negative flavor effects (Higher pitching rates can lead to unhealthy yeast and a "yeasty" off bite). Liquid yeast grown by a professional laboratory should have no contaminants, so out competing contaminants found in the pitching yeast is not a concern.

One thing that contributes to flavor contribution in beer is yeast growth. If less yeast is pitched into beer, more yeast growth takes place, so more flavor compounds such as esters are produced. Depending on the amount produced, this is how pitching rates can have a direct effect on flavor profile. If 5 to 10 billion cells are pitched into wort, this definitely has a negative flavor impact in terms of higher ester levels and potential for bacterial contamination. But does a pint starter worth of yeast (30-50 billion cells) pitched into beer tasted different then 2 liters worth of yeast (250 billion cells)? Sounds like more homebrew has to be made to get to the bottom of this! Your feedback is appreciated.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10844
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Friday, October 23, 2009 - 12:02 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There is a related question posted almost at the same time as yours: http://hbd.org/discus/messages/1/48497.html?1256253848

This subject is one of the great questions of homebrewing, at least in part because only the most dedicated homebrewer has the ability to count the yeast population. Indeed there is some truth in what White Labs has to say. Many (perhaps a majority of) homebrewers underpitch, some by a considerable margin, and they often achieve good results. As for ester production, it is partially dependent on the yeast population, and some very respected Belgian breweries pitch half the classic ale pitching rate for that very reason. Others don't feel it's worth the risk. As is frequently the case, there is a range of opinions.

My own carefully considered opinion is that the negative consequences of underpitching (stuck or sluggish fermentation, poor attenuation, bacterial contamination, off flavors) are more serious than the potential benefits. As I said in the other thread, I tend to be of the better safe than sorry school of thought. But even I have violated this policy on occasion and not had the beer suffer for it. Then again, I also admit to a couple of batches that were far less than ideal because of poor yeast management on my part.

It's up to you. The yeast gods are fickle, sometimes appeased and sometimes not.

(Message edited by BillPierce on October 23, 2009)
 

Graham Cox
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Username: T2driver

Post Number: 2270
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 72.15.96.251
Posted on Friday, October 23, 2009 - 02:42 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

As a very experienced BJCP judge, I can tell you without question that the biggest single problem homebrewers have is underpitching and/or related yeast management problems, such as underaerating. Probably 50% of the beers I sample exhibit some of the characteristics, such as fusels, esters, underattenuation, etc.

A Wyeast smack-pack that advertises 100 million cells is being truthful when it leaves the packaging facitility - after that, all bets are off. Even properly handled and refrigerated, the viability of the yeast is going to start to drop precipitiously after a very few weeks. A smack pack (or White Labs vial) that is more than a few weeks old very definitely requires a starter for best results.

Personally, I never make an average-strength ale with less than about a 1.5L starter, or a lager with less than 4L. YMMV
 

ChriSto
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Username: Christo

Post Number: 605
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 216.176.226.154
Posted on Friday, October 23, 2009 - 11:57 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Word.

It may be on the Mr. Malty site, or elsewhere, but discussions with the White Labs folks IIRC states that there is roughly a 10% die-off per month in their vials (its probably a logarithmic curve vs. linear but I guess that shows the trend). So a three month old vial (which I believe is roughly their "used by" date) would only have around 70-75% of live yeast cells at best at that point. So, yes I still think it very important to make a starter with liquid yeasts.

I am getting ready to teach our next BJCP class and was revising my notes on tasting/evaluating beers - it seems most of my "off-flavor" points to look for are on the yeast characteristics, and how important yeast health/management is in your brewing.
 

Ron Siddall
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Username: El_cid

Post Number: 790
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 69.225.88.226
Posted on Friday, October 23, 2009 - 04:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Graham, when you say a 1.5L are you talking actual yeast or are you including the liquor it was fermented in?
 

Denny Conn
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Username: Denny

Post Number: 7288
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 140.211.82.4
Posted on Friday, October 23, 2009 - 04:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I let my experience be my guide and every beer I've made a starter for has been better than any beer I haven't.
 

Graham Cox
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Username: T2driver

Post Number: 2271
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 173.25.24.227
Posted on Saturday, October 24, 2009 - 04:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Ron, that's the full volume. If, for example, I was making a porter where color wasn't an issue, so long as I could keep the starter temperature reasonable, I'd probably just pitch the whole volume. For a lighter-colored beer, or one with more delicate flavors, e.g. a Kolsch, I'd refrigerate and siphon away or decant the spent young "beer".
 

Steve Ruch
Member
Username: Rookie

Post Number: 198
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 65.55.67.171
Posted on Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 02:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I brew mostly three gallon batches. If the O.G. is around 1.040, or less, and the yeast is only a couple of weeks old I'll just pitch the tube or pouch and haven't noticed any problems with the end result. Higher or older I go with a starter.
 

David Curtis
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Username: Littledipper

Post Number: 504
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From: 69.221.245.21
Posted on Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 10:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yeah, I find that I don't have problems if I just pitch a vial or packet or whatever either.

But when I spend the extra time to build a big starter - maybe bigger than I really think it needs to be, and I get a huge slurry pitched into a well aerated batch of wort, something great happens. When you pitch that huge amount of yeast and watch your fermentation temperatures, then when you finally tap that beer, that's when you realize the secret to making GREAT beer. You'll get full attenuation, you'll minimize off flavors, and it'll be totally worth the extra effort.

In my opinion, every beer gets about double the size starter my traditional thinking taught me.
 

PaulK
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Username: Paulk

Post Number: 877
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 68.63.203.31
Posted on Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 10:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I didn't realize that starters had become passe.
 

Tim Polster
Intermediate Member
Username: Bassman

Post Number: 296
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.95.249.239
Posted on Monday, October 26, 2009 - 02:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Since this is a starter thread, any tips on how to reduce the time involved with making starters (outside of canning wort)?

The whole process take a while. Sterilize everything, boil the DME, cool the DME, wash up afterwords. Any step-up requires the same.

Making a starter really is a time issue with me as I own my own business but love to brew.

If it could be quick and less invloved I would do it more often.
 

Bill Pierce
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Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10862
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Monday, October 26, 2009 - 04:12 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It's not less involved, but I find using a stir plate cuts the time roughly in half for the starter to ferment out.
 

Andrew S. Webster
Intermediate Member
Username: Tacomabrewer

Post Number: 308
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 209.180.203.162
Posted on Monday, October 26, 2009 - 11:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I used a 2000ml Erlenmeyer flask for the starter I made last week. Only thing I had to sterilize was the rubber stopper for the top, and I sprayed a bit of santizer on the piece of foil I put over that, once it was done.

I boiled in one SS pot all the ingredients (okay, water and DME)...and boiled some water in the flask at the same time, to sterilize it.

Worked fairly quickly for me.
 

David Curtis
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Username: Littledipper

Post Number: 505
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From: 69.221.245.21
Posted on Monday, October 26, 2009 - 11:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Andrew, you can boil right in the flask itself. That's a big time saver there - no transfers. That's what I do and I don't have to sanitize anything. Throw the DME/water mix in the flask, boil it for 15 minutes and throw a piece of foil over the top for the last couple minutes. If you don't want to wait for it to chill in an ice bath, you can just leave it sit overnight until the morning and pitch your yeast.
 

Andrew S. Webster
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Username: Tacomabrewer

Post Number: 309
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 209.180.203.162
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 12:29 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have boiled in the flask before, but I find it difficult to pour the DME into it, through the semi-small hole. Also, the yeast I used called for a 2000ml starter, so boiling that much in there didn't sound like a good idea. It was too close to the top, and a boilover seemed likely.

If I do a smaller one in the future, I will certainly boil in it, though.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10867
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 01:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A standard brewing/winemaking funnel works well for pouring DME into most flasks. Use a piece of stiff wire such as a coat hanger to coax the powder through the opening if it cakes. A few drops of antifoam agent greatly reduce
the boilover risk, which is very real in a narrow-necked vessel such as an Erlenmeyer flask.
 

Joakim Ruud
Senior Member
Username: Joques

Post Number: 1624
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 80.86.210.114
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 08:44 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My 15 øre's (about 2 cents) worth: (for the linguistic geeks: "Øre" is not conjugated in the plural)

I recently started thinking along the same lines as Mike. And it just so happened that I was planning an ordinary bitter, which I always do to start off a yeast cycle. I pitch a starter into the ordinary bitter, then re-use that yeast for 3-5 generations.

Anyway, I smacked my pack of Wy1028, and it ballooned within 2 hours. Never had that happen to me before. It seems we are getting our yeast fresher and fresher this side of the Atlantic. So I figured, what the heck? My bitter starts out at 1.035, I don't need a starter when the yeast is this fresh.

So I brewed on that day, instead of waiting a few days for the starter. Lag time didn't seem to be affected. I felt good about the whole thing.

But when the beer was finished and kegged, I realized the beer was sub-par. It wasn't bad, infected, underattenuated, oxidized or anything like that. But there was noticeable diacetyl, and there was a different ester profile, one I didn't care for. Now, the differences were subtle, but they were definitely there. There may have been other factors at work, and of course I couldn't do a triangle test, so YMMV, but for my money there were problems with that beer. Those problems didn't crop up in my next batch, which was brewed with a starter. So I'll keep doing starters.

Edited for currency conversion goof...

(Message edited by joques on October 27, 2009)
 

Bob Boufford
Intermediate Member
Username: Bobb

Post Number: 446
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 96.52.216.245
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 12:27 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tim, The quickest way I have found to make a starter is open a bottle of malta (malta goya), dilute to 500 ml in the flask, aerate and pitch. If you search the forum, there has been some discussion several times in the past.
 

Patrick C.
Advanced Member
Username: Patrickc

Post Number: 930
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 70.43.202.222
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 12:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tim - to really simplify and speed things up, use Malta ( http://hbd.org/discus/messages/20001/26897.html ). The gravity is high (~1.060) so you should dilute it a bit, but you can use bottled water for that or just use it full strength if you don't think the bottled water is sanitary enough. It is dark, so you'll need to decant the liquid No need to boil it, but a drop of foam control really helps when pouring it into the flask (it is highly carbonated).

edit- Bob is stealing my lines!

(Message edited by patrickc on October 27, 2009)
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10868
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 12:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes, I use malta (Tiger Malt is the commonly available brand here) for my smaller starters. It's certainly convenient; as Bob says, all you really need to do is sanitize the mouth of the bottle and pour it into your starter vessel. Malta is rather dark (about 18 SRM), so you may want to crash cool and decant the liquid portion if you are pitching it into a lighter colored beer. Malta is also carbonated, but aeration of the starter removes the carbonation.

[I see that Patrick posted while I was typing. He mentions something I forgot: the O.G. of malta is about 1.060 so it can be diluted with 1/4 the volume of water to achieve about 1.040.

As for boiling the water, any water that is safe for drinking is safe for brewing. You might want to filter it to remove any chlorine. The reason to boil water added to beer is to remove the dissolved oxygen; this isn't a problem in a starter, where the dissolved O2 is desirable.]

(Message edited by BillPierce on October 27, 2009)
 

David Curtis
Advanced Member
Username: Littledipper

Post Number: 506
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From: 69.221.245.21
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 01:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here's a trick for getting DME into your flask:

Measure out the amount of liquid you need in your flask.
Measure out the amount of DME you need in a mixing bowl.
Pour the water you measured into the mixing bowl with the DME and mix it all up with a whisk until the DME is totally disolved.
Pour the mixed solution thru a funnel (that doesn't have to be sanitized at this point) back into the flask.
Now you're ready to boil.

Works like a charm.
 

Joakim Ruud
Senior Member
Username: Joques

Post Number: 1625
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 80.86.210.114
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 02:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yep, that's my method too. Works like a charm, and doesn't leave a mess.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2292
Registered: 02-2002
Posted From: 71.234.45.166
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 02:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My method is very different. I find it more convenient to pressure-can 6 or 12 quarts of wort (either DME and water or second runnings from a high-gravity mash) at one time. This doesn't require much time or effort or attention, so I can do it while I'm working or making dinner or whatever. Just a few minutes to get it set up and then it is on autopilot.

Later, when I want to make a starter, I grab a growler off the shelf (I have too many), sanitize that, and pour in some wort and yeast. 5 minutes at the most, maybe 8 if you include washing the funnel and canning jar afterward.

(Okay, I may have to mix up a fresh batch of iodophor first, adding 5 more minutes to the job. But if I'm making starters, I'll be brewing within a few days, so I'd be mixing that iodophor at some point soon anyway.)

I have to agree with the others that a starter really is necessary for making the best beer. I skipped that step a few times last spring when I wanted to brew on short notice. There was nothing really "wrong" with the beers produced, but they were not world-class. The ones which started with enough yeast were just more drinkable. Caveat: I'm not so great about aeration at pitching time and that may have a lot to do with it.
 

Tim Polster
Intermediate Member
Username: Bassman

Post Number: 297
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.95.249.239
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 03:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for your replies on your starter technique.

Canning seems like the best method but I have never canned before, don't have a canner and isn't there risk of botchulism if done incorrectly? I would do it if it is not that much of a setup. How long can you keep the canned wort?

Malta Goya. I have used this in the past. It just seems wrong to be putting this stuff in your beer. When you guys say decant, how do you get the liquid out without taking the yeast with it? Just pouring will pour yeast out as well. Do you siphen?

I can get a 2000ml Bomex beaker on amazon for $15, but I have an electric stove which is not good for putting glass onto. Any ideas how I can boil the DME in the 2000ml beaker? Maybe in the microwave? I have read the putting the glassware in a boiling pot of water does not work.

Thanks for your input in advance.
 

Chumley
Senior Member
Username: Chumley

Post Number: 5960
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 63.118.227.254
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 03:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Man...people spend a lot more time on starters than I do.

I soak a growler in a bucket of weak bleach solution, along with a growler lid, stopper, air lock and funnel.

Measure out 1.5 liters of water, and 5 oz. of DME. Put in a pot, boil for 15 min.

Place the pot in the kitchen sink filled with tap water. Cool for 30 minutes.

Triple rinse the soaking equipment. Pour chilled starter into growler via funnel. Seal with growler cap, and shake the bejeesus out of it. Remove cap, add yeast, affix air lock.

Wait three days or until the starter is clear, decant off spent fluid, and brew.

While the process to make a starter takes 1.5-2 hours, the actually time spent doing anything is about 10 minutes. You can make a starter while you're fixing dinner.

Oh, and I make starters like Graham does.....but skip starters for low gravity beers like Steve does. Unlike Joakim.....I actually like a little increased esters and diacetyl in a 1.040 bitter.
 

Patrick C.
Advanced Member
Username: Patrickc

Post Number: 931
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 99.170.160.145
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 04:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"It just seems wrong to be putting this stuff in your beer"

Why? Because it's too easy? Malta is made with malt, sugar, hops, and caramel coloring, and from what I've read is brewed just like beer. Fermented Malta tastes sort of like Amber Bock- there really isn't much flavor. I usually refrigerate the flask to get more yeast to drop out, then pour off the liquid. Depending on the yeast strain (how firm the slurry compacts), it is possible to pour off almost all of the liquid without losing much yeast.
 

Tim Polster
Intermediate Member
Username: Bassman

Post Number: 299
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.95.249.239
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 07:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I will look into Malta Goya again. Does seem simple.

But my reasoning is that this stuff seems a bit nasty!

On a side note, if one is brewing an ale, wouldn't refrigerating the starter to where the yeast falls out of solution shock the yeast and take them out of the phase you want them to be in when you pitch?

If you are pitching at 68deg and the fridge is at 45deg, that's over 20deg lower than you want.

Just wondering
 

Andrew S. Webster
Intermediate Member
Username: Tacomabrewer

Post Number: 314
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 209.180.203.162
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 09:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

When I worked at Redhook Brewery, we would pitch the yeast directly from other tanks, which had been cooled down to -0.5F. The wort would come down from the brewhouse sometimes very shortly after, and the yeast usually didn't have any time at all to warm up.

In fact, sometimes the hose we were using was just CIP'd, and then rinsed with fairly hot water. Didn't seem to have any effect on the yeast. Of course, it cooled down fairly quickly once yeast was going through it.

That's my 2 cents...
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2293
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Posted From: 71.234.45.166
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 10:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

> Canning seems like the best method but I have never canned before, don't have a canner and isn't there risk of botchulism if done incorrectly? I would do it if it is not that much of a setup. How long can you keep the canned wort?

I don't think much about my technique, so I suppose it is possible that I'll kill myself someday. I don't pre-boil anything or soak the jars. I just put the wort in them, or mix DME with water in them, plop them in the canner, and turn on the heat. I let it boil for a few minutes then turn the pressure valve to 15psi and let it hiss for 15 more. Turn it off and let it come to room temp before opening anything. That can take several hours but doesn't require any intervention on my part while it happens. Usually I just let it sit overnight.

I've used canned wort that is 8 months old without a problem. I don't know what the outer limit is.

I got my canner at a tag sale for something like $20. I think they cost like $250 new, so keep an eye on Craig's List. It holds 7 1-quart jars, which is enough to hold me for a while.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10873
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 10:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Pressure canning wort is recommended for the strictest safety, but I boiled, cooled and canned starter wort in a regular hot water bath canner for several years, practicing careful sanitation just as I do in all of my brewing. There has yet to be a reported case of botulism poisoning from home-canned wort.

I don't can wort anymore because I find malta more convenient for small starters.
 

dhacker
Senior Member
Username: Dhacker

Post Number: 1841
Registered: 11-2002
Posted From: 98.66.33.82
Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 11:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

David Logsdon of Wyeast Labs was quoted:

“I try to stay within 20% of my ideal pitch rate and I prefer to slightly under pitch rather than over pitch. This causes more cell growth, more esters, and better yeast health. Over pitching causes other problems with beer flavor, such as a lack of esters. Changes in the flavor profile are noticeable when the pitch rates are as little as 20% over the recommended amount.”
 

Tim Polster
Intermediate Member
Username: Bassman

Post Number: 300
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.95.249.239
Posted on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 03:14 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well I guess I will give Malta Goya a try again.

The little extra effort is worth it.
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 7297
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 75.145.77.185
Posted on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 07:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, Dave knows his stuff, but he's not the only yeast biologist who knows his stuff. Both Clayton Cone and Tobias Fischborn of Lallemenad have said that the enzyme acyl Co-A is responsible for both cell growth and ester production, and if it's doing one it won't be doing the other. Therefore, if you pitch smaller, there will be more cell growth and less ester production. Overpitching then would result in more esters and less cell growth.
 

Chumley
Senior Member
Username: Chumley

Post Number: 5969
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 63.118.227.254
Posted on Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 05:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Overpitching then would result in more esters and less cell growth.

That might be the theory....but my experience has been the exact opposite. When I overpitch I get better attenuation and cleaner beer.
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 7299
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 67.139.233.130
Posted on Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 05:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yeah, there seems to be a real difference of opinion and experience on this one.
 

Tim Polster
Intermediate Member
Username: Bassman

Post Number: 302
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.95.249.239
Posted on Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 07:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I looked at the price of Malta Goya in Wal-mart today and I do not think this is a viable route.

6 - 7oz bottle costs over $3.50.

This isn't even 1/2 of a gallon. At this price it make finacial sense to just buy another pack of yeast.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10879
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 08:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Are you sure that's the price, Tim? I'm paying 79 Canuckistan cents for a 341 ml (11.5 oz.) bottle. I can make a 2.13 liter starter by diluting 5 bottles with 25 percent water, which reduces the gravity to about 1.040.

The last DME I bought here was 3 lbs. for $12.95, and a 2 liter starter requires about half a pound of DME. So using DME is somewhat cheaper than malta, but there is something to be said for the convenience when making a starter of small to moderate size.

If you are really cheap about it, you can can or freeze your own all-grain starter wort.

(Message edited by BillPierce on October 29, 2009)
 

Tim Polster
Intermediate Member
Username: Bassman

Post Number: 303
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.95.249.239
Posted on Friday, October 30, 2009 - 12:14 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I just checked it today. A six pack of little mini 7oz bottles was $3.59 or so.

Back when I tried Malta Goya a few years ago, I thought it was quite cheap.

Your price is not that far off. $3.20 CDN gets you 44 oz

$3.59 US gets me 42 oz.

2 Liters is 67.6 ounces (as per the web), so I would have to buy over $6 worth of Malta Goya to get a 2 liter starter.

I think buying a second yeast package is a better deal.
 

Bob Boufford
Intermediate Member
Username: Bobb

Post Number: 448
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 68.150.62.67
Posted on Friday, October 30, 2009 - 12:30 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Tim,

On the western side of Canada, I pay $0.89 CAD and with the $0.10 bottle deposit here in Alberta, it's still "under a dollar" for a 341 ml bottle. (Canadian industry standard bottle).

Along the lines of Bill's comments, if you look at the concept "time is money", Malta is a cheap deal.

Liquid yeast (WYeast) is often $9.00 CAD, so malta is cheaper than a second yeast pack unless one goes with dry yeast.
 

Miker
Advanced Member
Username: Miker

Post Number: 703
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 207.200.116.8
Posted on Saturday, October 31, 2009 - 02:44 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The response was overwhelming that starters are still necessary, so I decided to buy a pressure canner off Craigs List so I can shorten the prep time for starters. Paid only $20. Our cooperative extension office no longer pressure tests them (budget cuts they said), but found a place that checked the pressure gauge for free and it was ok. I bought a new sealing ring gasket ($10) since the one it came with seemed a little loose and now the canner is set to go. We'll use it for canning other low-acid foods as well, I'm sure.

Sure wish the yeast companies would just offer the packs with 250 billion minimum cells instead of messing around with less. I know most folks would pay the cost for the convenience.
 

dhacker
Senior Member
Username: Dhacker

Post Number: 1843
Registered: 11-2002
Posted From: 98.66.33.82
Posted on Saturday, October 31, 2009 - 10:18 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sure wish the yeast companies would just offer the packs with 250 billion minimum cells instead of messing around with less. I know most folks would pay the cost for the convenience.

They're hoping you'll buy two or three packs or vials to get your count!
 

Tim Polster
Intermediate Member
Username: Bassman

Post Number: 304
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.95.249.239
Posted on Saturday, October 31, 2009 - 01:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't know what to think of the yeast counts in the vials/packs either.

I have heard both the companies' founders interviewed and they ho-heartedly stand by the belief that their product has plenty of yeast for a 5 gallon batch.

Then you visit hombrew forums and overwhelmingly people say there is not enough yeast in their products for a five gallon batch.

Seems to me they should offer a mega pack with 1 1/2 times the yeast count which might fit in the existing packaging.

I would disagree about the theory of them wanting you to buy two or three packs. That is just bad marketing. You can not expect consumers to buy multiple instances of a product when the product is billed as a one-step solution. Makes the product look like it does not work as intended.

I think they would be better served upping the cell count and giving people a better solution which would translate into better beer being made. - but they don't ask me!

(Message edited by Bassman on October 31, 2009)
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2299
Registered: 02-2002
Posted From: 71.234.45.166
Posted on Saturday, October 31, 2009 - 01:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree with Tim, especially when you consider what percentage of the per-package cost is probably the yeast itself. Most of the $6 you pay is package, transport, nutrient pouch (for Wyeast), marketing, profit margin, yadda yadda yadda. Fixed costs for running the production lines are the same no matter what you put in there. It probably wouldn't add US$0.15 to double the amount of actual yeast in the package, and maybe less. Seems like a no-brainer.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10883
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Saturday, October 31, 2009 - 08:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Even if the packages were twice as large, I would likely still make a starter for most of my beers. For one thing, I typically brew 10 gallon batches. And secondly, even if preparation or expiration dates are stamped on the packages, it's almost impossible to know the conditions under which they were transported and stored, and therefore the actual population that remains viable after a given time period.

In my mind it's much better to be safe than sorry.
 

dhacker
Senior Member
Username: Dhacker

Post Number: 1845
Registered: 11-2002
Posted From: 98.66.33.82
Posted on Sunday, November 01, 2009 - 01:46 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I was being sarcastic suggesting the multiple pack conspiracy theory . .

Again, I think the real issue is viability. Sure the packs/ vials might contain enough cell count to make a batch of 1.060 when they leave the factory . . what though, about when you pitch into your carboy a month or two later?? There's the crux . .
 

Andrew S. Webster
Intermediate Member
Username: Tacomabrewer

Post Number: 316
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 76.121.201.10
Posted on Sunday, November 01, 2009 - 06:43 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I recently made 10 gallons of porter, which I used a couple Wyeast smack packs for. The first one, which I ordered with the 2 kits, was the smaller version of London 1028, which requires a starter. The second one I bought, (after asking some questions about the dry yeast they included with the kits) was a larger size, but the package claimed you could pitch as-is for 5 gallons.

I made a 2l starter with the first one (I poured in the liquid and yeast, and just poured in the 2nd one.

This was on Saturday evening. I came back on Sunday night after bowling to check it, and it was going strong! By Tuesday, it was down to 1.014 (from 1.044), and fermentation seemed to be slowing. I checked it again on Friday evening, and it was still at 1.014, so I figured its done.

Seems like the yeast did its job well to me, and only stepping up the smaller pack one time.
 

Joakim Ruud
Senior Member
Username: Joques

Post Number: 1627
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 84.208.79.179
Posted on Sunday, November 01, 2009 - 12:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Whether or not a yeast kicks off and/or ferments fully, is not really relevant to the question. There's a whole host of flavour issues that can arise from (serious) underpitching.

That it ferments all the way out should be the absolute very least you should expect. The proof, however, is in how the finished beer tastes.
 

Andrew S. Webster
Intermediate Member
Username: Tacomabrewer

Post Number: 317
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 76.121.201.10
Posted on Sunday, November 01, 2009 - 03:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

From what I can taste so far, it tastes pretty good. Mind you, thats without carbonation, or chilling. The flavor is really smooth.

While you make good points, wouldn't underpitching result in a long lag time?
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10885
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Sunday, November 01, 2009 - 03:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes, one of the consequences of underpitching is long lag times, which in some cases can allow bacteria to outcompete the yeast.
 

Joakim Ruud
Senior Member
Username: Joques

Post Number: 1629
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 84.208.79.179
Posted on Sunday, November 01, 2009 - 05:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It might - but then I'm no microbiologist