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Thread: Drinkable starter

  1. #1
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    Drinkable starter

    I know I'm not the first person to try this, but I thought it might be worthwhile to mention it...

    My buddy and I wanted to make a big Belgian-style ale. We decided, rather than making a starter, we'd make a lower-gravity ale first, then use the yeast cake from that for our larger beer. So a month ago, we made a Belgian Wit with a recipe we got found online ("SWMBO Slayer"). We made a couple small changes to the recipe (including using WLP 500 (Trappist) yeast), and left it a month.

    Yesterday we bottled our starter, it was really quite pleasant at bottling: it looks like we might have made a decent wit. Then we doughed in for our "main event" beer.

    We put the trub from our earlier batch into a sanitized jar, poured in our wort, topped it up, took some hydrometer readings, and added the trub back into the beer.

    Our beer is happily bubbling away now, and it looks like it's got quite a rocky Krausen on it. It's in a plastic bucket, so I can't get a very accurate visual.

    It appears to have worked great: we'll know more in the next month. Just for reference, our "starter beer" started at 1.058 and ended at 1.010. Our "main event" beer started at 1.093.

  2. #2
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    Some of the best beers you will brew can be pitched on yeast cakes. You don't have to put your yeast in a sanitized jar unless you plan to keep it for a later brew. You can just rack your fermented wort directly into the fermenter, yeast cake, trub, krausen, crud and all.

  3. #3
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    I've brewed 3 beers before opening the fermentor for the first time. I started with a mild, then a rye pale and finished with a porter. The 3 beers took about 2 months, then I cleaned the fermentor. There was a tiny spot of mold starting to form around the thermowell hole in the lid, otherwise there was nothing but trub and yeast left. That spot of mold never got close enough to the beer to affect the beer. Nowadays 'll do like clumsy suggest most times, especially if I don't have time for back to back brews.
    It's always time for a beer

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  4. #4
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    In fact, I generally just throw fresh wort on the yeast cake. I've scooped it out and added it back in twice: both times because I wanted to get a fairly accurate volume measurement. I figure the yeast, trub, and goo at the bottom will throw off my measurements, although it seems to be pretty consistently about a half-gallon from a five-gallon batch.

    On that note, I seem to recall reading in Brew Like a Monk that the yeast coming out of higher-gravity beers might not be the best to reuse. I can't check my memory on this, as I loaned out the book. Has anyone got experience with this? I'd prefer to get at least one more batch out of this yeast purchase.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by corkybstewart
    I've brewed 3 beers before opening the fermentor for the first time. I started with a mild, then a rye pale and finished with a porter. The 3 beers took about 2 months, then I cleaned the fermentor. There was a tiny spot of mold starting to form around the thermowell hole in the lid, otherwise there was nothing but trub and yeast left. That spot of mold never got close enough to the beer to affect the beer. Nowadays 'll do like clumsy suggest most times, especially if I don't have time for back to back brews.
    I got a bright blue mold around the top of my plastic fermenter once, but it never touched the beer. The beer was good (not great, I over-sparged it got a little astringent), but I threw out the yeast and scrubbed the fermenter really well before the next batch. As I recall, it really stank when I opened the fermenter.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by clumsy
    In fact, I generally just throw fresh wort on the yeast cake. I've scooped it out and added it back in twice: both times because I wanted to get a fairly accurate volume measurement. I figure the yeast, trub, and goo at the bottom will throw off my measurements, although it seems to be pretty consistently about a half-gallon from a five-gallon batch.

    On that note, I seem to recall reading in Brew Like a Monk that the yeast coming out of higher-gravity beers might not be the best to reuse. I can't check my memory on this, as I loaned out the book. Has anyone got experience with this? I'd prefer to get at least one more batch out of this yeast purchase.

    The general rule is start low and work up to higher gravity brews, your right you would not want to brew a 1.110 brew and then use the yeast on a 1.050 brew, but if your doing lower gravity brews you can do up to 10 batches or so on the same yeast, i have heard of people even doing 20 batches on the same yeast without problems.
    The mind is like a beer, it does the most good when it is opened.

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  7. #7
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    I can vouch for multiple batches off a yeast cake. I do recommend raining (carboy) or scooping out with a sanitized cup (bucket) some of the yeast cake each time, as that helps reduce the volume of older trub, and perhaps more critically, after batch 3 or so, the volume of the yeast cake will eat into the space you need for the krausen.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by vance71975
    The general rule is start low and work up to higher gravity brews, your right you would not want to brew a 1.110 brew and then use the yeast on a 1.050 brew, but if your doing lower gravity brews you can do up to 10 batches or so on the same yeast, i have heard of people even doing 20 batches on the same yeast without problems.
    I'm not completely sure I get what you're saying here. The batch that's on the cake right now started out at 1.093: that's not incredibly high, but I should think it's into the "high gravity" range. Should I not try and get another batch off that yeast? Or are you saying I should put something of similar gravity on it?

    I haven't been taking samples from the fermenter, so I have no idea what the gravity's looking like right now. I figure I'll wait until the one month mark before I mess with it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mill Rat
    I can vouch for multiple batches off a yeast cake. I do recommend raining (carboy) or scooping out with a sanitized cup (bucket) some of the yeast cake each time, as that helps reduce the volume of older trub, and perhaps more critically, after batch 3 or so, the volume of the yeast cake will eat into the space you need for the krausen.
    I hadn't thought about getting rid of some of the trub, but it makes sense. I've been scooping it out and adding it back in recently, mainly because I've no way to measure the volume of trub and I've been trying to keep careful records of my gravities and volumes. Since I'm going to the trouble of removing it and adding it back in anyway, I might as well do it more intelligently.

    I've had a lot of success with reusing yeast cakes, but y'all are making me want to up my game. I really, really appreciate everyone's chiming in.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by clumsy
    I'm not completely sure I get what you're saying here. The batch that's on the cake right now started out at 1.093: that's not incredibly high, but I should think it's into the "high gravity" range. Should I not try and get another batch off that yeast? Or are you saying I should put something of similar gravity on it?

    I haven't been taking samples from the fermenter, so I have no idea what the gravity's looking like right now. I figure I'll wait until the one month mark before I mess with it.
    You can reuse it, But the problem is that Higher abv beers like 1.093 are hard on yeast, they will stress it and the next batch pitched on it CAN throw off flavors, i cant say that it will for SURE throw off flavors, but it is a possibility.

    Now i have heard of people doing many many batches that are around 1.030 to 1.060, all the way up to twenty generations. Its just not normally recommended for they higher abv brews.
    The mind is like a beer, it does the most good when it is opened.

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  11. #11
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    Once you settle on a few yeast strains that you and your frequent imbibers like, it saves money as well. It's particularly good for lager brewing, where a big yeast addition really makes a difference.
    On deck: a clone of Carolina Beer Co's Rye Stout, clone of Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter,
    Primary: Schwarzbier
    Secondary: Dortmunder, Hopweizen
    Keg Conditioning: Dunkelweizen, Roggenbier, Okto, Ord. Bitter
    On tap: Alt, Hefeweizen, Cigar City Maduro clone, Mild
    Bottled: Mead, Quad Rajet, Granola Bar Braggot

    Too much of everything is just enough.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by vance71975
    You can reuse it, But the problem is that Higher abv beers like 1.093 are hard on yeast, they will stress it and the next batch pitched on it CAN throw off flavors, i cant say that it will for SURE throw off flavors, but it is a possibility.
    Thanks for the clarification!

    I'm thinking I might defy conventional wisdom and try it, mainly as an experiment. If I do, I'll be sure to come back with results.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by clumsy
    Thanks for the clarification!

    I'm thinking I might defy conventional wisdom and try it, mainly as an experiment. If I do, I'll be sure to come back with results.
    I do both of those a lot, defy conventional wisdom and experiment and i can honestly say most of the time, i am pleased with the results. For example, i love using Oat Malt as a Base malt for beer, most would disagree.
    The mind is like a beer, it does the most good when it is opened.

    Author of Bizarre Brews 101 Now for sale online!

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    Or Just Google Bizarre Brews 101!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by vance71975
    I do both of those a lot, defy conventional wisdom and experiment and i can honestly say most of the time, i am pleased with the results.
    On the one hand, I admire the care and fastidious attention to detail of the people who brew "to style". On the other hand, one reason I brew at home (rather than buying beer) is to make what I want, which might be something a little off. I won't be making a peanut butter bacon porter any time soon, it just doesn't sound good to me. But I do like to see what happens if...

    I spent a few months last year making pale ales, and I found they're probably the hardest things to get right. There's no place to hide mistakes in a clear, see-through beer. And you can't just hammer a bunch of specialty malts into them.

    My buddy and I bottled our beer this weekend: it started at 1.093 and ended at 1.011. The hydrometer sample tasted really good, but there was quite a bit of alcohol heat to it. I'm hoping that mellows in the bottle.

    We put a new wort on that beer, and it's bubbling merrily away. We deliberately backed off on gravity this go 'round, the new beer started at 1.076.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by clumsy
    On the one hand, I admire the care and fastidious attention to detail of the people who brew "to style". On the other hand, one reason I brew at home (rather than buying beer) is to make what I want, which might be something a little off. I won't be making a peanut butter bacon porter any time soon, it just doesn't sound good to me. But I do like to see what happens if...

    I spent a few months last year making pale ales, and I found they're probably the hardest things to get right. There's no place to hide mistakes in a clear, see-through beer. And you can't just hammer a bunch of specialty malts into them.

    My buddy and I bottled our beer this weekend: it started at 1.093 and ended at 1.011. The hydrometer sample tasted really good, but there was quite a bit of alcohol heat to it. I'm hoping that mellows in the bottle.

    We put a new wort on that beer, and it's bubbling merrily away. We deliberately backed off on gravity this go 'round, the new beer started at 1.076.
    Honestly, what is really fun to do is find a tried and true recipe, for a style, say for a porter, and change only one thing, the Base malt. For example instead of Pale Malt, Use Oat Malt, or Rye Malt, Or Wheat Malt. Its amazing how totally different the end beer will taste. Remember if you use rye or wheat malt make sure you add rice hulls to avoid a stuck mash. You can even change the type of barley malt, you can use all Marris Otter, or all Pearl, or all golden Promise, or all Hyclon. There are tons of base malt choices to play with.
    The mind is like a beer, it does the most good when it is opened.

    Author of Bizarre Brews 101 Now for sale online!

    http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000460972

    Or Just Google Bizarre Brews 101!

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