How long to leave a starter for?

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How long to leave a starter for?

Postby Bad 'Ed » Sat Nov 26, 2016 13:18

How do people decide how long to leave starters for? I rarely use liquid yeast, but when I do the time of high krausen can vary quite a lot. Some of the english yeasts seem to get there pretty quickly (12 hours in 1l of 1.040), but last week I pitched WLP500 (Belgian) and it didn't seem to have even started much by 36 hours.

Is there a rule of thumb? I know the age / condition of yeast matters but some of them do seem pretty slow to get started anyway...

Never enough time....
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Re: How long to leave a starter for?

Postby Dennis King » Sat Nov 26, 2016 15:08

I tend to leave for 3 days to ferment out. On brew day I will take a litre of wort 15mins into boil and crash cool. Pour off spent wort from starter and add fresh wort. By the time the boil is finished and cooled the "new" starter is up and running and ready to go.
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Re: How long to leave a starter for?

Postby Saccharomyces » Sat Nov 26, 2016 17:38

There is no rule of thumb: how you handle the yeast, the culture volume and the viable cell count have major effects on the apparent lag time and time to high krausen.

Belgian yeast don't like temperature drops, did the temp fall between adding the vial/pack and putting the starter in for incubation (22-25C)?
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Re: How long to leave a starter for?

Postby duncans » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:16

For me it depends on what I am doing.

If I am reusing yeast saved from a previous batch, I would try to improve the condition of the yeast that is already there, so I would do 1-3 days in 1020 wort.
If I need more yeast, I would do 1 step starter in 1040 wort for 5 days or so. Less for fast flocclating yeast or if I was OK to pitch in the whole starter without decanting off the liquor. If I wanted to decant with poor floccing yeast I would pop it into the fridge for a day or two.
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Re: How long to leave a starter for?

Postby Bad 'Ed » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:11

Saccharomyces wrote:There is no rule of thumb: how you handle the yeast, the culture volume and the viable cell count have major effects on the apparent lag time and time to high krausen.

Belgian yeast don't like temperature drops, did the temp fall between adding the vial/pack and putting the starter in for incubation (22-25C)?


Vial was in the fridge until I made the starter, so went from room/outside temp (when posted) to fridge temp quickly. Before I made the starter I took the yeast out the fridge to acclimatise to room temp for about 6 hours, then pitched into 22c wort. Fermented at 22 for 36 hours.

Never enough time....
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Re: How long to leave a starter for?

Postby Saccharomyces » Sun Nov 27, 2016 15:01

Sounds like you have been unlucky with the WLP500 vial. If there is definitely no growth (either by microscopic examination or gravity reading) then you are within your rights to ask for a refund.

If it is just slow then perhaps it was low viability/vitality - I doubt popping it in the fridge when it was in the vial is going to do much damage because the yeast were not actively growing. Freezing it would kill some of the yeast, as would heating the vial to north of ~40C, independent of whether the cells were actively growing.

Unfortunately old/new/damaged yeast are usualy sold for the same price. It is not necessarily the retailers fault as they don't know the viability of every vial, but you wouldn't expect to pay the same for a new/damaged in transit or demo car, so maybe you could ask the retailer what they can do?
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Re: How long to leave a starter for?

Postby john luc » Sun Nov 27, 2016 15:13

Alot depends on the sample being used. I recently bought a liquid yeast that was listed as BBD 1/7/2016 and as it was a bit out of date decided to build it up for pitching. I first put it into a 1038 wort of 1 liter and using a stir plate it took about 4 days to fully kick in. Decanted it and repitched it to a 3 liter @1038 wort and it took off and was finished in 2 days just ready for pitching that evening into the brew I had done.
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Re: How long to leave a starter for?

Postby Bad 'Ed » Sun Nov 27, 2016 19:38

Saccharomyces wrote:Sounds like you have been unlucky with the WLP500 vial.


I don't think there was anything wrong with the yeast. I pitched the whole starter into the new wort on brewday and it's going fine now. I just thought this strain of yeast was slower to start.

It seems that most people put the lag times down to yeast health, so that's what I'll assume it is too until I read otherwise.

Never enough time....
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