how long will starter last?

Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:54 am

I kegged up some beer Saturday evening and made a last minute decision to brew today(Monday). I rushed out and grabbed a couple packs of yeast and got a starter going. I realized yesterday (Sunday) that I had somewhere I had to be this afternoon and I won't be able to brew today. If I don't get to brew for another 4-5 days will my starter be ok? I usually chill my starters overnight to decant anyway, but I really don't know how long after that they will last.
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bazookazilla
 
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Re: how long will starter last?

Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:41 pm

I think you're pushing it with that many days. But pitch it and see what happens. If you don't get any activity, you can just re-pitch a new starter.
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BleedingSaynt
 
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Re: how long will starter last?

Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:12 pm

I have easily left my starters cold crashing for over 48 hrs with no ill effects upon pitching. I think a week might be pushing it, but I bet the yeast will be okay. Keep in mind that when yeast are cold crashed they go into quiescence (a dormant stage) where they slowly use up their reserves which are needed to get them going for fermentation. The longer they sit, the more reserves they use up, the harder it is for them to tackle the wort when they start fermenting which can lead to off flavors and other fermentation issues.

If you have to wait 5 days before brewing, then here is an option for you...

At the start of your brew day, whip up a small amount of fresh starter wort to add to your chilled yeast. For example, if you brewed a 2 qt starter, then you might want to add 500 mL to 1 qt of fresh wort to help wake up the yeast. Be sure to decant the original spent wort off of the yeast prior to adding your fresh wort. Be sure to give it a good shake to add some oxygen for the yeast and pitch it at high krausen (the whole shebang) into your overall batch.

Another option that others have used with good results (I have not yet tried this) is to runoff some of your wort from your main batch, cool it quickly, then add that to your yeast starter (after decanting of course). Allow that to reach high krausen and pitch the whole thing back into your main batch.

Both of these are options for you to consider when working with "older" stepped up yeast. Good luck and let us know what route you decide to go with.

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Re: how long will starter last?

Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:57 pm

Don't listen to Brewinhard, even if he does have some good ideas. :unicornrainbow:

I would use his 1st idea since the yeasties might not be able to hit a good krausen by the time you're ready to pitch if you're using wort off the batch you're going to pitch back into.

Honestly though, you'd be fine to pitch the decanted starter directly (after letting it come up to temp during the brew day). The biggest reason for doing a starter is to build cell count, which you've already done. The only concern would be the amount of lag due to the yeasties being dormant for a while. In my opinion, a week isn't long enough to do any significant degradation to their reserves in such a (relatively) small pitch.

However, reducing lag is better than not, so back to Brewinhard's 1st suggestion to whip up a little wort to get them back churning is for the best. I'd even do it the afternoon/night before if time allowed.
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Re: how long will starter last?

Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:12 pm

If he does the second option, he would have to slightly delay his pitching time, but not by much (probably a few hours after chilling his wort down to pitching temps). The benefit of this route is that you are using the same wort with the same hopping rate and you will not be diluting your main batch wort.

I feel that if you make the starter the night before you will miss high krausen as it will easily occur during the night time hours while you are fast asleep especially if you already have a decent amount of yeast built up. If you miss high krausen (or close enough to it), then you will also be missing out on pitching your yeast at their most active stage which will give them a good head start on fermenting your beer.

The beauty of this is that there are lots of ways to "skin this cat".
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Re: how long will starter last?

Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:06 pm

Show-offs. Lol. My stupid advice was "see what happens". Ha ha ha ha. Sorry, Bazookazilla. Listen to the other guys. Please.
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Re: how long will starter last?

Tue Jan 05, 2016 3:42 pm

I have been in this exact situation several time (kids will do that). I always have just take 1L of wort from the batch and added it to the decanted starter (option 2) and then just waited the 3 hours or so for it to wake up and show activity before tossing it in. I haven't ever had any issues with it, that isn't to say that it wouldn't have been fine if I just tossed it in without the PicoStarter (yeah, that seems like a good name for it). I always like to pitch with the yeast active though so I only have one side of the argument.

What yeast are you working with?
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Re: how long will starter last?

Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:41 am

brewinhard wrote:If he does the second option, he would have to slightly delay his pitching time, but not by much (probably a few hours after chilling his wort down to pitching temps). The benefit of this route is that you are using the same wort with the same hopping rate and you will not be diluting your main batch wort.

I feel that if you make the starter the night before you will miss high krausen as it will easily occur during the night time hours while you are fast asleep especially if you already have a decent amount of yeast built up. If you miss high krausen (or close enough to it), then you will also be missing out on pitching your yeast at their most active stage which will give them a good head start on fermenting your beer.

The beauty of this is that there are lots of ways to "skin this cat".


I would much rather pitch late in the high krausen window than have wort sitting at 60-70F for a few hours.

And kitties are to be petted, not skinned.

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