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  • "The New Starter"

    The latest BYO has a very interesting article on a new concept in using a starter. You may need to be a subscriber to read this--if so, I can post the guts of the article if you like.

    Here's the key point: "On brew day, while you are heating your strike water, make up a liter of 1.040 wort in a flask (about 115 grams of DME and 1 L of distilled water boiled for 15 minutes). Seal with a sterile filter that allows air to flow both ways. Cool. Pour the barm beer off your starter and add the fresh wort. Spin this pitch on the stirplate with a sterile filter until your brew day is ready for the yeast pitch. The spinning will keep adding oxygen to the wort. Ideally this should be 4 to 6 hours. DO NOT oxygenate the wort from the brew and pitch as normal. This is the magic part of the process.

    What we are hoping to do is to keep the yeast in its aerobic fermentation (more precisely respiro-fermentation) phase until it has maxed its sterol reserves."

    Do not oxygenate?? Bill Pierce's (and others') mantra was always pitch a large population of yeast and oxygenate well.

    What do you think of this? Dr. Pivo, I sense (and hope) that you will respond.
    Colin Kaminski wants homebrewers to re-think that approach, which also has implications to our standard wort aeration practices as well.

  • #2
    Is this something other than a 4 to 6 hour old starter? Then not oxygenating?

    Why is that better?

    Comment


    • #3
      That is exactly my question. He says oxygenating does not help.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Tex Brewer View Post
        That is exactly my question. He says oxygenating does not help.
        I haven't oxygenated/aerated in years. Think about why you do it...the yeast uses the O2 to synthesize sterols, which it uses to keep cell walls flexible to encourage budding. If you pitch a sufficient quantity of healhty, active yeast, than that isn't necessary. We've all been sold that it's all about cell count, when what really matters is yeast vitality. I talked to Chris White about my "Shaken, Not Stirred" starter method and he said "homebrewers are way too hung up on numbers".

        Comment


        • #5
          Isn't necessary...but does it help (or at least not hurt)? I have an O2 tank and a stone - it is very easy to oxygenate. If it doesn't hurt, why not do it?

          When you look at some of the recommendations for cell count and size of starters required, they talk about stepping up to several liters of starter in many cases. That's a big effort, and way bigger than oxygenating the wort, then pitching a smaller starter. I typically do a 1L or 1.5 L starter in my 2L flask.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Tex Brewer View Post
            Isn't necessary...but does it help (or at least not hurt)? I have an O2 tank and a stone - it is very easy to oxygenate. If it doesn't hurt, why not do it?

            When you look at some of the recommendations for cell count and size of starters required, they talk about stepping up to several liters of starter in many cases. That's a big effort, and way bigger than oxygenating the wort, then pitching a smaller starter. I typically do a 1L or 1.5 L starter in my 2L flask.
            If it doesn't help, why do it? An you're talking about cell count, which I believe is a canard. I do a 1 L. SNS starter for nearly every beer I make and get great results. No stir plate, no decanting, no aeration.

            Comment


            • #7
              Denny, I'm just having a hard time with the brainwashing I've received over the years. Mantra: Make a big starter, use a stir plate, oxygenate the wort, pitch a large amount of yeast. Here's what White Labs says about the starter: "
              Vigorously shake or swirl the container to get as much oxygen dissolved in the solution as possible. Keep the starter at room temperature for 12-18 hours on a magnetic stir plate, or occasionally shaking it to keep the solution aerated."

              As for oxygenating the wort, breweries all seem to do it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Tex. Thanks for asking for my opinion. I am afraid I would have to think about it a bit, before I could give a reasonable opinion on the matter. I, for the first, don't know what "barm wort" is.

                If they are simply trying to have a sufficient supply of healthy yeast for the fermentation, well yes... you can do that ahead if you like. Even if doing a traditional aerobic fermentation and oxygenating, those greedy buggers will most likely have consumed every speck of oxygen within about 30 minutes, and then with an appropriate pitching rate in those conditions, yes you will have a healthy yeast population for the ferment.

                Should you wish to raise your healthy yeast population ahead of time, and then pitch them into a virtually anaerobic environment, that would also seem to be a reasonable way to create a healthy yeast population, and have it do what it needs to do in anaerobic conditions.

                I suppose my initial reaction Tex, is why would you want to make work with stir plates and crap before you are actually brewing?

                I can see no immediate reason why it shouldn't work.

                I can neither see an immediate reason how it would improve my beer, nor how it would lessen my work load in making it.

                I'd say if that will make your brewing experience more expeditious (depending on what equipment and work habits you already have at hand) or enjoyable (you like trying new stuff), then I can't immediately see any problem with doing it that way.

                If someone has convinced you that you make "better" beer that way.... well, I think I'll have a bit more of a think about this, and need a more succinct description of how it is being done before I would be inclined to accept that as a premise, and some stringent triangle testing to show that it is (since its a fermenting thing, it is pretty easy to split wort and test stuff...so would be easy to pull off with reliable data without huge amounts of confounders sneaking in).

                In short Tex, I think the making of wort is sort of a mechanical thing, where surely it makes a difference with what you use and how you do it.... but it is pretty straightforward stuff.

                But once you add life? Well, then it gets really interesting. I am continually playing with different oxygenation rates, fermentation times, temperatures, strains, and basically any way I can make those clever little buggers jump through different hoops and teach me what they can do.

                My first impression is that that particular direction wouldn't add either ease of work or improvement in product.....

                But I'm perfectly willing to have you prove me wrong!

                Comment


                • #9
                  BTW... I did not read the linked article (too lazy or disinterested ?). If you should like me to do so I will. And the term was "barm beer" not "barm wort" that I didn't understand.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tex Brewer View Post
                    Denny, I'm just having a hard time with the brainwashing I've received over the years. Mantra: Make a big starter, use a stir plate, oxygenate the wort, pitch a large amount of yeast. Here's what White Labs says about the starter: "
                    Vigorously shake or swirl the container to get as much oxygen dissolved in the solution as possible. Keep the starter at room temperature for 12-18 hours on a magnetic stir plate, or occasionally shaking it to keep the solution aerated."

                    As for oxygenating the wort, breweries all seem to do it.
                    If you read this, you'll see I referred to a leap of faith...https://www.experimentalbrew.com/blo...-dognew-tricks . Chris White himself told me that it was a good method and that homebrewers are "too hung up on numbers". And just because breweries aerate, why does that mean it's always necessary for us? We're homebrewers and we should use the advantages we have over commercial brewers. Again, think of why people aerate. You'll see that if you pitch an appropriate quantity of healthy yeast there's no need. Think for yourself....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the SNS link Denny. For SNS an important step is to shake it into as much foam as possible, in a vessel of 4-5x the starter volume, and pitch at high krausen. Add yeast after shaking the starter wort to avoid shear stress (never knew I had to worry about that). This differs a bit from the BYO method from what I can tell (can't access that link), which has you adding fresh starter wort to an existing decanted starter on a stir plate, instead of fermenting just one shaken starter.

                      I'm curious enough to try SNS. Maybe I will like it better than my standard procedure.

                      I ferment my starters right in my primary, no need for a separate vessel, no stir plate (don't own one), no decanting, super easy. With the SNS method I think I'd need to sanitize a gallon jug to do the shaking, but it avoids adding O2 so I wouldn't need to sanitize my airstone and tubing, so on balance about the same amount of work. Will also need to time it to pitch at high krausen but that's basically the day before brewing so pretty easy.

                      I'm done brewing for the season so this will have to wait for the fall. That's when I'll also try out Doc Pivo's paint mixer approach to speed up chilling, which promises to save real time.

                      By the way Doc, I thought "barm" was a misspelling, then I googled it, and basically it means krausen.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        By "barm beer," they mean allow the yeast to crash/settle and decant off the liquid.

                        I'm finding this all rather confusing. No need to aerate/oxygenate the wort? Shake, don't stir? Shear stress?

                        Dr. P, "
                        make work with stir plates and crap" … well, a stir plate is not a lot of work. Making the starter is the main work, then putting it on a stir plate is easy. Greg, oxygenating the wort with a (sanitized) stone and tubing is also easy.

                        I previously pasted info from White Labs. Here is something similar from Wyeast on Making a Starter:
                        " Stirring and O₂:

                        Agitation aids in removing inhibitive CO₂ from suspension as well as possibly adding small amounts of oxygen. Stirring or shaking the starter periodically or using a stir plate will improve cell growth. The use of stir plates has been shown to increase cell growth 25-50% over a non-stirred starter.

                        Small additions of oxygen periodically throughout the growth of a starter will replenish sterols and improve cell yield."

                        Wyeast also has a section on Oxygenation. A few snippets:
                        "
                        Inadequate oxygenation will lead to inadequate yeast growth. … It is generally safe to assume that you need at least 10ppm of oxygen. … Homebrewers have several aeration/oxygenation methods available to them: siphon sprays, whipping, splashing, shaking, pumping air through a stone with an aquarium pump, and injecting pure oxygen through a sintered stone. We have tested all of these methods using a dissolved oxygen meter and have found that, when using air, 8 ppm of oxygen in solution is the best that you can achieve. Injecting oxygen through a stone will allow much higher dissolved oxygen levels. …
                        Method DO ppm Time
                        Siphon Spray 4 ppm 0 sec.
                        Splashing & Shaking 8 ppm 40 sec.
                        Aquarium Pump w/ stone 8 ppm 5 min
                        Pure Oxygen w/ stone 0-26ppm 60 sec (12ppm)
                        Traditional splashing and shaking, although laborious, is fairly efficient at dissolving up to 8 ppm oxygen. The easiest and most effective method remains injecting pure oxygen through a sintered stone."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tex Brewer View Post
                          By "barm beer," they mean allow the yeast to crash/settle and decant off the liquid.

                          I'm finding this all rather confusing. No need to aerate/oxygenate the wort? Shake, don't stir? Shear stress?

                          Dr. P, "
                          make work with stir plates and crap" … well, a stir plate is not a lot of work. Making the starter is the main work, then putting it on a stir plate is easy. Greg, oxygenating the wort with a (sanitized) stone and tubing is also easy.

                          I previously pasted info from White Labs. Here is something similar from Wyeast on Making a Starter:
                          " Stirring and O₂:

                          Agitation aids in removing inhibitive CO₂ from suspension as well as possibly adding small amounts of oxygen. Stirring or shaking the starter periodically or using a stir plate will improve cell growth. The use of stir plates has been shown to increase cell growth 25-50% over a non-stirred starter.

                          Small additions of oxygen periodically throughout the growth of a starter will replenish sterols and improve cell yield."

                          Wyeast also has a section on Oxygenation. A few snippets:
                          "
                          Inadequate oxygenation will lead to inadequate yeast growth. … It is generally safe to assume that you need at least 10ppm of oxygen. … Homebrewers have several aeration/oxygenation methods available to them: siphon sprays, whipping, splashing, shaking, pumping air through a stone with an aquarium pump, and injecting pure oxygen through a sintered stone. We have tested all of these methods using a dissolved oxygen meter and have found that, when using air, 8 ppm of oxygen in solution is the best that you can achieve. Injecting oxygen through a stone will allow much higher dissolved oxygen levels. …
                          Method DO ppm Time
                          Siphon Spray 4 ppm 0 sec.
                          Splashing & Shaking 8 ppm 40 sec.
                          Aquarium Pump w/ stone 8 ppm 5 min
                          Pure Oxygen w/ stone 0-26ppm 60 sec (12ppm)
                          Traditional splashing and shaking, although laborious, is fairly efficient at dissolving up to 8 ppm oxygen. The easiest and most effective method remains injecting pure oxygen through a sintered stone."
                          Inadequate oxygenation will lead to inadequate yeast growth...but what if you don't need much yeast growth? Think outside the box...don't blindly accept. Try it yourself.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Tex wrote:"By "barm beer," they mean allow the yeast to crash/settle and decant off the liquid."

                            Thanks for explaining. I didn't know it had a special name.... and neither have I ever decanted and thrown away that stuff. Unless you warm fermented your starter and wanted to avoid the addition of those flavours, I can't see why you would want to (it's life's
                            elixir- beer, after all).

                            and "Making the starter is the main work,"

                            I read the boiling up the DME stuff, and I can see how that might be a pain. I basically do the same as Greg.... everything happens in the primary- no stir plate, no stone, no O2 bottle. When I last made a "proper" starter (some 25 years ago), I simply always had a plastic container with a well fitting lid sanitised and ready to go at the end of brewing (empty ice-cream containers worked well), captured some fresh wort and stuck it in the freezer. The day before next brewing just pull it out and put it on the counter. Really hot days you may want to keep it in the fridge after the "wortcicle" has thawed.
                            It is such a proportionately small part of the final brew, that it can turn out an interesting result with say a splash of stout in a pilsner (hence my hesitancy to chuck out what might turn out to be an interesting twist on flavouring).

                            If you do this, you will note a curious thing; the wort "separates"when frozen and remains so upon thawing, but instead of having cream on top, you have water, and you see progressively concentrated wort down towards the bottom. This means you are going to have to shake things up. With a tight fitting lid, a couple of shakes and you are both mixed and oxygenated and ready to dump on to anxiously awaiting yeast. It's kind of a lot easier (and a more natural move within the confines of brewing beer than boiling up some malt extract). If that is enough to ensure a ferment without oxygenating the new wort in the final mix.... I don't know... but it would be really easy to find out!

                            The only danger if you got it wrong would be I'd guess either a stuck ferment, or the sulphurous smell of stressed yeast.... either one of which is cured by simply "dropping" (dumping into a new fermenter to re-oxygenate). So, sure, give it try! If it makes things easier for you, then that puts it in the plus column.

                            The whole oxygen exposure thing is quite fascinating. I recall an industrial research article of around 2000 where they were investigating higher oxygenation rates starting at 8 ppm (pretty standard) and going up to about 25. I think the whole hypothesis was that they might speed up the process.

                            It turned out that they had some flavour flaws at the higher oxygenation rates and found it not worthwhile to raise rates. The extremely curious (or absurd) comment they made, was that they didn't try exposure of less than 8 ppm because they "didn't want to compromise good beer quality". Can you imagine that? At their lower cut-off point they are getting the best results, and don't want to go any lower! I interpreted that as... if you are a research scientist at a commercial brewery, you do NOT publish a paper saying that if we use lower oxygenation rates we might be making better beer.... and tying up the fermenter for more time! Not if you want to keep your job, anyway!

                            I have done quite a bit of playing with "late primary" oxidising, either by "dropping" or by running a pump, and regenerating generations one after another to try and induce "petite mutantes", of reason which I would happily explain at a later date if people are interested. I have no drawn conclusions as yet, and different strains react differently to the particular taste arms I am trying to twist. The REAL point being that, my friends, fermentation is where the holy grail of brewing lies, in my belief. Some of my best stuff has come from serendipitous discovery.... so I think we would all benefit from trying different things.

                            On the overnight cooling thing I mentioned that I pulled a bit the night before to Jack-up yeast that I am re-pitching. I believe Greg also spoke of "juicing his starter". This is in principle the same thing. I do always have a split ferment, and I could try and rack half anaerobically.... though I can't see any immediate reason why I would want to. But nearly anything is worth a try once... and as I said, whatever could possibly go wrong is likely correctable.

                            If I am trying to make a guess about any possible reason why I would want to do this, it would be that it could theoretically prevent some development of oxidation tastes (i.e. "staling" or "old barrel" flavours).

                            My beer? It usually doesn't get to stay around long enough to develop such problems (even when it is only me tippling at the tap... I am a bit of a lush), but it could be important information for the general public.

                            In short Tex, (when have I ever been "in short"?!), I would not worry too much about any mantras that you have been enticed to learn. They are only the teachings of what one person (or a collective) has found has worked well for them.

                            What I do, you don't have to. What other people do, ditto.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hey. Up in the Strathbogie Mountains (Vic. Aus.) where I just tasted an entertaining pale ale brewed here. Rain and a cold snap, keeping me indoors and bored, so I re-read the above. A bit of pedantic minutiae perhaps, but in the original article you cited, it was written:

                              " The spinning will keep adding oxygen to the wort."

                              And in the advice from Wyeast:

                              "Agitation aids in removing inhibitive CO₂ from suspension as well as possibly adding small amounts of oxygen."

                              Two seemingly contradictory statements, of which I think the second is the more correct one. Stirring will make dissolved CO2 leave suspension, but should provide very little extra introduction of gaseous 02 into the liquid. Get a glass of water, a stir plate, and a DO meter and you can easily see if I'm just making this up. You could start by heating up the liquid (about 85C is usually considered 02 free), so you emulate the conditions after the yeast have gobbled whatever 02 is already in solution , cooling it, and then compare just letting it stand there, or spinning it. If you don't do the de-oxygenating first, I doubt if you would see any difference at all... they should both be at equilibrium to the atmosphere. If starting at 0 ppm, it should improve uptake... but not by mountainous amounts... not compared to one simple shake. The whole idea of stirring is akin to the mechanical "rousing" of yeast or the "riddling" of champaign bottles... you free the yeast from living in an environment of their own excrement (CO2 amongst other byproducts), which is a fate I would wish on very few (I could think of a few political figures that might show improvement after serving time in a "their own poop" bubble).

                              A bit of nit-picking perhaps, but I was planning on sitting out and watching the parrots having their morning feed around the hill while picking up kindling, and have been chased inside by the cold, which I suppose has put me into "editorial mode".

                              I think the take home message is, Tex: "don't believe everything you read"... particularly if it's written by me!

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