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why does vitality starter work?


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#1 Zsasz

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 08:22 AM

vs just pitching that yeast directly into the wort.  let's assume a non-high-OG beer.  something around 1.050.  I know some around here will actually leave the wort with no pitched yeast to let their vitality starter take off.

 

I have to wonder:  why is this better than just pitching as is?  I thought the point of a starter was to reduce the number of times the yeast population has to double in the wort to ensure your desired yeast friends dominate but if you are leaving the wort uninoculated anyway doesn't that kind of work against you?

 

I'm not trying to cause a fight or anything here - just increase my own knowledge.


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#2 Bklmt2000

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 08:45 AM

The idea is to make sure the yeast is awake and ready to go to work, vs. pitching yeast of unknown viability.

 

I think of it as being like waking up and immediately having to get in the car and drive a long car trip, without the benefit of being fully awake first.  You might be able to get where you're going safely, but you'll be under extra stress, and possibly more likely to get into an accident.

 

But, if you have a chance to become fully awake, eat some breakfast, maybe have some coffee, and use the bathroom before leaving, you'll be in better shape to tackle the task ahead of you.


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#3 Zsasz

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 08:47 AM

The idea is to make sure the yeast is awake and ready to go to work, vs. pitching yeast of unknown viability.

 

I think of it as being like waking up and immediately having to get in the car and drive a long car trip, without the benefit of being fully awake first.  You might be able to get where you're going safely, but you'll be under extra stress, and possibly more likely to get into an accident.

 

But, if you have a chance to become fully awake, eat some breakfast, maybe have some coffee, and use the bathroom before leaving, you'll be in better shape to tackle the task ahead of you.

 

so let's assume the yeast is healthy enough to become active.  how is "waking up" in 2-3L of wort better than "waking up" in 5-10 gallons of wort?


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#4 LeftyMPfrmDE

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 09:00 AM

In my expirance, always noticed a shorter lag time with a starter/harvested slurry less then 2 weeks old then direct pitch from a smack pack/tube.

Direct pitch, it's a crap shoot on how well that yeast has traveled or stored; who knows how hot or cold it was on the truck to your house or LHBS. Call it a unknown veritable.

Useally, from a starter/fresh slurry, it takes off within 12 hours. With direct pitch, 24 hours max. The brewer knows how active/healthy the yeast is.

The best way i can explain is,in my expirance; from direct pitch, think you just woke up, and your sat down for a big meal that was planned- maybe you don't have the biggest appetite; but you plow thru, at a slower pace.

From a starter/harvest; you are awake, and ready and waiting for the same meal; you just had some appetizers, and ready for the main course!
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#5 Zsasz

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 09:07 AM

I get the insurance policy aspect of a starter - no question there.  assuming everything is fine though I don't see how the yeast "knows" it's in a 2L starter vs a full on batch of beer.  and with a vitality starter I'm pitching everything in so any byproducts the yeast produce while "waking up" in the starter are going into my batch of beer anyway.


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#6 Bklmt2000

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 09:26 AM

I get the insurance policy aspect of a starter - no question there.  assuming everything is fine though I don't see how the yeast "knows" it's in a 2L starter vs a full on batch of beer.  and with a vitality starter I'm pitching everything in so any byproducts the yeast produce while "waking up" in the starter are going into my batch of beer anyway.

 

What I do for wakeup starters (I use a stirplate) is, once the yeast is woken up and the starter wort is depleted, I crash-cool the starter for 24-48 hours before brewday, to let the yeast settle, then decant the spent wort off the yeast cake,  In my experience, this helps limit any potential impact due to byproducts of the starter itself. 

 

I can't comment on the effect of pitching the entire volume of wort from a starter on flavor since that's not part of my brew process.

 

I agree that the yeast has no idea what volume of wort it's being pitched into, but that's not really the issue at hand; making sure it's in prime fighting shape is, hence the idea of a vitality starter.

 

If you're making a vitality starter, you have the chance to see exactly how much slurry you're adding to the starter wort, so you have a better grasp of how much yeast is being pitched on brewday, so you can ensure you're not under-pitching.


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#7 Zsasz

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 09:29 AM

What I do for wakeup starters (I use a stirplate) is, once the yeast is woken up and the starter wort is depleted, I crash-cool the starter for 24-48 hours before brewday, to let the yeast settle, then decant the spent wort off the yeast cake,  In my experience, this helps limit any potential impact due to byproducts of the starter itself. 

 

I can't comment on the effect of pitching the entire volume of wort from a starter on flavor since that's not part of my brew process.

 

I agree that the yeast has no idea what volume of wort it's being pitched into, but that's not really the issue at hand; making sure it's in prime fighting shape is, hence the idea of a vitality starter.

 

If you're making a vitality starter, you have the chance to see exactly how much slurry you're adding to the starter wort, so you have a better grasp of how much yeast is being pitched on brewday, so you can ensure you're not under-pitching.

 

I used to do what you do but have since gone to what is sometimes called the 007 starter.  the idea is to pitch at high activity level which means it all goes in and I have no idea how much yeast is in there.  these starters are also probably 1/2 the size of what I used to make when I did it how you describe above.  so far the results have been great!


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#8 denny

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 10:29 AM

so let's assume the yeast is healthy enough to become active.  how is "waking up" in 2-3L of wort better than "waking up" in 5-10 gallons of wort?

 

becasue it's an appropriate amount of yeast for a qt., but not for 5 gal.


What I do for wakeup starters (I use a stirplate) is, once the yeast is woken up and the starter wort is depleted, I crash-cool the starter for 24-48 hours before brewday, to let the yeast settle, then decant the spent wort off the yeast cake,  In my experience, this helps limit any potential impact due to byproducts of the starter itself. 

 

I can't comment on the effect of pitching the entire volume of wort from a starter on flavor since that's not part of my brew process.

 

I agree that the yeast has no idea what volume of wort it's being pitched into, but that's not really the issue at hand; making sure it's in prime fighting shape is, hence the idea of a vitality starter.

 

If you're making a vitality starter, you have the chance to see exactly how much slurry you're adding to the starter wort, so you have a better grasp of how much yeast is being pitched on brewday, so you can ensure you're not under-pitching.

 

I used to think I could tell a difference between pitching the starter wort and not.  I have changed my mind on that.


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#9 denny

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 10:33 AM

I used to do what you do but have since gone to what is sometimes called the 007 starter.  the idea is to pitch at high activity level which means it all goes in and I have no idea how much yeast is in there.  these starters are also probably 1/2 the size of what I used to make when I did it how you describe above.  so far the results have been great!

 

I have done nothing but 007 for the last 2-3 years.  I don't even know where my stirplate is any more!  If it wasn't effective, I wouldn't have kept doing it.


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#10 Zsasz

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 10:42 AM

becasue it's an appropriate amount of yeast for a qt., but not for 5 gal.

 

is there something beyond the fact that the starter is more aerated than my full batch size?  since we aren't letting the starter ferment out what happens differently in the 2L starter vs 10 gallons of wort?  does the yeast change something about the wort before they get going and a certain minimum number of cells is required to do this?

 

or do yeast cells need a certain number of yeast cells around them to do their thing?


Edited by Zsasz, 03 July 2019 - 10:43 AM.

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#11 Bklmt2000

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 10:46 AM

I used to think I could tell a difference between pitching the starter wort and not.  I have changed my mind on that.

 

I've always decanted my starters since I began making starters; not saying it's any better than not decanting, (I have no idea if it is or not; my guess is not).

 

In college, I did a good bit of lab work involving stirplates, so to me, it's just a habit to break out the ol' stirplate when making a starter.


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#12 ER Pemberton

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 11:45 AM

I was under the impression that the vitality starter was yeast (whether it's too little yeast or yeast of questionable health) added to wort that was produced on brewday (boiled, cooled) and allowed to get a head start while you were brewing.  As opposed to the yeast sitting in whatever vessel it's in, it's now in wort and hopefully getting a start for 4-5 hours while you brew.  It's clearly not a long time so this is not suitable for a 2 year-old pack of White Labs yeast.



#13 Zsasz

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 11:50 AM

I was under the impression that the vitality starter was yeast (whether it's too little yeast or yeast of questionable health) added to wort that was produced on brewday (boiled, cooled) and allowed to get a head start while you were brewing.  As opposed to the yeast sitting in whatever vessel it's in, it's now in wort and hopefully getting a start for 4-5 hours while you brew.  It's clearly not a long time so this is not suitable for a 2 year-old pack of White Labs yeast.

 

I do mine 18-24 hours in advance because normally I'm starting with a smack pack or a vial of yeast that takes some time to get going.  this usually works out such that it's cranking pretty good when I dump it all into my 10 gallons of wort.

 

maybe I was using the wrong term.  I thought vitality starter = 007 type starter.  but really I'm talking about pretty much any starter because I don't understand exactly why the yeast couldn't get going just as well in a full batch.


Edited by Zsasz, 03 July 2019 - 11:53 AM.

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#14 denny

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 12:23 PM

is there something beyond the fact that the starter is more aerated than my full batch size?  since we aren't letting the starter ferment out what happens differently in the 2L starter vs 10 gallons of wort?  does the yeast change something about the wort before they get going and a certain minimum number of cells is required to do this?

 

or do yeast cells need a certain number of yeast cells around them to do their thing?

 

If your theory was correct, you could pitch a single cell and just wait...


I've always decanted my starters since I began making starters; not saying it's any better than not decanting, (I have no idea if it is or not; my guess is not).

 

In college, I did a good bit of lab work involving stirplates, so to me, it's just a habit to break out the ol' stirplate when making a starter.

 

To me., it's an unnecessary hassle.  Because then you have to start farther ahead so you can chill and decant.


I was under the impression that the vitality starter was yeast (whether it's too little yeast or yeast of questionable health) added to wort that was produced on brewday (boiled, cooled) and allowed to get a head start while you were brewing.  As opposed to the yeast sitting in whatever vessel it's in, it's now in wort and hopefully getting a start for 4-5 hours while you brew.  It's clearly not a long time so this is not suitable for a 2 year-old pack of White Labs yeast.

 

No, it's simply yeast that is actively fermented, no matter how you get there


I do mine 18-24 hours in advance because normally I'm starting with a smack pack or a vial of yeast that takes some time to get going.  this usually works out such that it's cranking pretty good when I dump it all into my 10 gallons of wort.

 

maybe I was using the wrong term.  I thought vitality starter = 007 type starter.  but really I'm talking about pretty much any starter because I don't understand exactly why the yeast couldn't get going just as well in a full batch.

 

I thought vitality starter = 007 type starter.  AFAIAC, it does


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#15 djinkc

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 12:31 PM

I do mine 18-24 hours in advance because normally I'm starting with a smack pack or a vial of yeast that takes some time to get going.  this usually works out such that it's cranking pretty good when I dump it all into my 10 gallons of wort.

 

maybe I was using the wrong term.  I thought vitality starter = 007 type starter.  but really I'm talking about pretty much any starter because I don't understand exactly why the yeast couldn't get going just as well in a full batch.

My understanding is the prolonged growth phase stresses the yeast and can lead to stuck ferments.  And excess diacetyl, fusels, esters and sulfur.  Not enough sterols are produces.  I've forgotten quite a bit of the specifics.


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#16 Bklmt2000

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 12:43 PM

To me., it's an unnecessary hassle.  Because then you have to start farther ahead so you can chill and decant.

 

Fair enough.  To each his own, I guess.

 

I plan my brewdays several days out when I know I need to propagate yeast, especially from a smackpack or from an older slurry.  If using dried yeast (US-05 or 34/70), obviously this is not an issue.

 

For example, if I want to brew on a Wednesday, I make my starter on Sunday, let it spin until Mon. night (24-36 hours total), throw in the lager fridge to crash, and it's ready to decant on Wednesday for pitching.

 

I don't see that as much of a hassle.


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#17 Zsasz

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 12:58 PM

My understanding is the prolonged growth phase stresses the yeast and can lead to stuck ferments. And excess diacetyl, fusels, esters and sulfur. Not enough sterols are produces. I've forgotten quite a bit of the specifics.


When does growth end? Is it already done when the starter looks really active?
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#18 Bklmt2000

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 01:14 PM

When does growth end? Is it already done when the starter looks really active?

 

From what I can recall, shortly after high krausen is when the main growth is essentially over.


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#19 Zsasz

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 04:13 PM

From what I can recall, shortly after high krausen is when the main growth is essentially over.

 

so apparently there is a way for the yeast to "know" how much wort it's in.  must be due to a change in chemical makeup during growth and whatever other phases there are.  I should probably read that yeast book ;)


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#20 djinkc

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 04:34 PM

When does growth end? Is it already done when the starter looks really active?

I think when a properly made starter slows down. Actively growing yeast, which I was talking about in another thread, IME takes off fast sometimes.  I had a bad harvest but it was from beer that was only a week into fermentation.  I probably kegged too early ( done that before) but I had active yeast and fresh wort so it took off before pitching.


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