Yeast starter decision - high krausen or crash for 12 hours?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Curmudgeon, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Devotee (417) May 29, 2014 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    I made a starter (GY 054: Vermont Ale) from about 40ml of slurry I got from a previous batch on Sunday (4-5 days ago). It came from a 5% hoppy pale ale and is now going to be use for a 7% NEIPA. The starter is about 1700ml. I made the starter 24 hours ago and it took off this afternoon. It's still active but seems to be settling down. I am brewing tomorrow and will pitch this in about 12 hours. Should I let this ride and pitch the whole thing or throw in fridge and try to get some separation from the junky beer that was produced? I'm leaning on crashing tonight and hoping to get some separation by 10am tomorrow when I'm going to pitch but open to suggestions. I realize this is last minute. This was my first yeast washing experience and I didn't collect the amount of slurry I thought I would get. Was hoping for about 150ml but I must've dumped a bunch when transferring from the carboy. Anyway, thanks for any suggestions. Due to the time, there's a good chance I'll have to make this decision on my own anyway.
  2. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Disciple (384) May 2, 2006 Utah

    Pitch it all. My 2 cents. A recent Brulosophy experiment indicated that tasters couldn't tell the difference between (i) cold crashing and decanting or (ii) throwing the whole thing in the beer. I now go the route of doing my last stage for my yeast starters the day before brewing, and I pitch the whole thing (always 2000 ml or less as this is the size of my starter flask). The beer does start to ferment faster, even if I pitch after high krausen. Cheers!
  3. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Devotee (417) May 29, 2014 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    @utahbeerdude , thanks! I got lucky with your quick response; and I was just about to put it in the fridge. I'll let the starter ride overnight and toss those happy little buggers in late morning tomorrow. Thanks again!

    Side note: With this being my first re-use of yeast from a previous batch, I must've collected some of the hops I used because the starter smells delicious (hoppy). My starters are usually just DME so they smell malty/yeasty. This actually smells like nice beer. Citra & Huell Melon if curious.

    ETA: Brulosophy - I should've checked. I think I'm in some unique situation and 99% of the time there's already been some experiment done on it.
  4. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,139) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I have done both and never perceived off flavors either way. The only time I decant is when doing big starters. My lagers step up from 1500ml, then decant and pitch into a 4500ml starter. Pitching a half litre of starter beer concerns me.
  5. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,382) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I crash and decant always these days. But if I only had 12 hours to crash, I don't know that I'd expect any yeast strains to settle completely. Maybe Wyeast 1968/WLP002 would.

    My main (but not only) issue with pitching the whole starter is that the volume of starter "beer" being added was not a part of the carefully crafted recipe.

    A 2 quart (for example) starter added to 5 gallons of wort means 9% of the total wort/beer is not the recipe.
  6. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (824) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Good points, to be sure, but I've always thought that actively growing and metabolizing yeast are better suited to plow through the log phase than are yeast cells that are dormant due to them being finished with fermentation and/or decreased temperature.

    In the end, how much does it really matter? Probably very little.

    Have you done any side-by-side comparisons? Curious if anyone has, as I have not.

    Some cool exBEERiments on starters can be found here (the third one is on this exact subject):
  7. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Devotee (417) May 29, 2014 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    Thanks for the feedback guys. I went ahead and tossed the 1.7L starter into the wort. Vikeman, good point on that "beer" not being part of the recipe. I would have preferred to let it crash a couple of days so I could decant but I needed to brew today so I took the risk.

    This was the Sloop Juice Bomb clone recipe in the recent Zymurgy. We'll see. Thanks again.
  8. OldBrewer

    OldBrewer Aspirant (293) Jan 13, 2016 Ontario (Canada)

    I just recently made a starter of a Vermont yeast as well. However, I started with a 9 ml vial and built it up gradually. Today I brewed a Heady Topper taste-alike. But before I pitched the yeast, I put it in the fridge for three days to let the yeast settle. Today I took it out of the fridge, poured off the top clear layer, and let the rest warm up while I brewed (I would normally not do this in less than 3 days). This afternoon I added the yeast to the brew, and already it's bubbling about once per minute. I rarely toss the entire yeast + wort since I figure 2 liters of that wort could make a difference on the beer you're brewing, especially if it's a higher gravity beer. If the gravity is about the same as the gravity of the wort you're using for the yeast, then pitch the entire contents - it will make very little difference.
  9. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (736) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Depends...whether a stir plate was over-used :slight_smile:
  10. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,382) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I haven't. It's not even on my "I really should get around to it" list. If mixing 91% recipe beer with 9% unrelated beer were proven to be undetectable, I'd probably quit brewing, or at least quite tweaking recipes. What would be the point?
    EvenMoreJesus likes this.
  11. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (736) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    No reason for it to be unrelated other than gravity, imho
  12. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,382) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    So you make your stouts (say) with only two-row and carapils? And you hop your starters just like your beer?

    By unrelated, I mean different, not that one or two ingredients from the whole bill couldn't be the same. But even for those one or two ingredients, the proportions are changing.

    OTOH, if you're deliberately accounting for the starter contribution as part of the recipe design, well, okay, but I seriously doubt most people who pitch the whole starter are doing that. Like 99.9% not.
  13. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (736) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    No, I try to make similar beers back-to-back...only big difference is the gravity as the first beer/starter is always < 1.050
  14. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (736) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Missed this on the first read, but, yes :slight_smile:
  15. Applecrew135

    Applecrew135 Initiate (48) Jul 18, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Lucky me! Got a late start with my WLP002... pitched it 10PM last night. By 6AM it was already off and running!. I worked from home today, so I had the opportunity to shake it almost continuously most of the day. By 4 PM this afternoon, it was mostly done and had started to settle out. Put it in the fridge to crash at 8. Gonna be at least 12 hours before I need it.

    My second experience with WLP002; it has always worked hard and fast for me... :slight_smile:
  16. jeebeel

    jeebeel Initiate (165) Jun 17, 2003 Texas

    So lager brewers, is the consensus that up to a 2L starter pitch is fine w/o decanting? I generally don't do this particularly with pale lagers & kolsches, but I'm always open to other opinions.
  17. OldBrewer

    OldBrewer Aspirant (293) Jan 13, 2016 Ontario (Canada)

    I don't see what the problem is with decanting. I always decant my starters. What's a couple of extra days?
  18. jokelahoma

    jokelahoma Zealot (531) May 9, 2004 Missouri

    I always decant. I'm looking for yeast, not nasty, heavily oxidized wort that in no way matches the rest of my recipe. Cold crash, decant, swirl, pitch.
    VikeMan likes this.
  19. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Disciple (384) May 2, 2006 Utah

    My most recent lager is a Dortmunder Export style. I used Wy 2124 which was stepped up in two stages. The first stage I crashed and decanted before the second stage. I then pitched the whole starter (~ 1600 mL) into the beer. This beer is perhaps the best light-colored lager I've ever made. Definitely the cleanest, which I attribute to using 2124.

    I do my starters on a stir plate, and the starter beers are (for lack of a better term) disgusting with regards to aroma and flavor (I typically perceive tons of diacetyl). However, it seems (in my experience, at least) that the nastiness gets cleaned up in the fermentation/conditioning of the bigger batch of beer.

    LuskusDelph and JackHorzempa like this.
  20. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Devotee (417) May 29, 2014 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    @utahbeerdude - But if you have the time, wouldn't you prefer to decant before pitching? In my limited experience I would think the beer produced from a starter would not be desired in the beer that you're brewing. I'm just thinking if you do have the time, why not decant? Maybe you already answered this by stating that you feel the fermentation process cleans up any slight undesirables from the starter. This turned into a more interesting thread than I was expecting and appreciate all the candid feedback.

    I will say it was the most amazing take off of yeast I've seen in my 15 or so batches. I was getting visible activity in just a few hours.
  21. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Disciple (384) May 2, 2006 Utah

    Your last two sentences answer the question you pose at the beginning of your post.

    Indeed, it seems to make sense that one should pitch as little starter beer as possible owing to (i) it's generally poor taste and (ii) the fact that a typical starter beer and big batch of beer are not being the same recipe. For this second reason one certainly doesn't want to pitch too large a volume of starter beer into one's big batch of beer. In my experience, though, there are no detrimental effects of pitching up to ~2000 mL of starter beer into the big batch.

    I'd be happy to hear about evidence to the contrary. However, I cannot recall ever hearing about any deleterious effects of just pitching a whole starter beer.

  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,448) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member


    I have no contrary information to present; I regularly pitch my yeast starters at high krausen (about 18-24 hours after pitching the yeast into the starter wort) and I have never detected any deleterious effects. I also obtain very quick starts to fermentation via this method.

    I would not discourage others from cold crashing and decanting. I recently brewed batch number 398 and I will continue to pitch my entire yeast starters at high krausen.

    utahbeerdude likes this.
  23. OldBrewer

    OldBrewer Aspirant (293) Jan 13, 2016 Ontario (Canada)

    Another option, which I often do, is to decant the starter early in the brew day, let it get up to temperature, and once the wort has finished cooling, add a liter or two of the wort to the starter. let the starter sit for a couple of hours, and then pitch into the wort. Usually the starter already has a fair amount of krausen by this time, and I usually get a very fast and vigorous fermentation afterwards. Anyone else do this?
  24. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,382) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Previously discussed here...

    ETA: And no, I don't