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When I brewed last night, my yeast starter had been in the refrigerator for 24 hours and it had "a lot" of yeast settled to the bottom.

I am brewing tonight, and my yeast starter has only been in the fridge for 12 hours, and it appears to have roughly half as much yeast as the previous yeast starter settled to the bottom.

I made both starters at the same time from the same DME. The only difference is the yeast and the fact that the yeast starter I'm doing tonight would have been spinning longer.

I've read on the internet that 12 hours in the fridge is more than enough.

My fridge is on the lowest temperature setting -- so cold that water would freeze up if I left it in there (but not cold enough to freeze beer).

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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Ideally, you want the liquid portion of the starter to be crystal clear, meaning no yeast is left in suspension. In this scenario, you carefully pour the liquid off the sediment, leaving a enough to swirl around, bringing the sediment up into suspension, and then pitch.

If the starter is small (1 or 2 quarts), and the yeast hasn't settled out completely, you can just swirl the whole thing and pitch the entire contents. It will increase your beer's volume slightly, but not enough to notice. If the starter is large (1 or 2 gallons, say), then you're better off waiting until all the yeast has settled out and following the procedure above.

You're doing the right thing keeping the starter at a very low temperature as the yeast will drop out quicker.

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I have my yeast starters in my living room (as there is no other space for them at the moment). The blinds allow a lot of light in. I open magazines and cover the starters from the direction of the sunlight. However, on advice of this forum, it was suggested that I decant the entirety of the liquid before pitching. Would you agree? I also do a hardcore ice bath and figure that pitching the yeast from a very cold refrigerator would do no harm -- thought? Thank you. –  Matthew Moisen Mar 13 at 4:52
    
Are you worried about skunking from sunlight? Skunking is caused by the interaction of hops and sunlight. IMO, people worry to much about it, as I take little care to avoid sunlight and have never made a skunked beer. Or perhaps I'm just less sensitive to that particular flavour. Anyway. if you don't add any hops to your starter, you don't need to worry about skunking. Or if you do add hops, you could always wrap the starter vessel with aluminum foil. –  Tobias Patton Mar 13 at 5:00
    
Crystal clear is a bit of a stretch I think. Starter wort without yeast in it isn't always crystal clear. Clearer for sure. If there is a significant amount of sediment on the bottom compared to the volume of yeast added originally, one can assume most of the yeast is now in the cake. Some of the unflocculated stuff is likely to be weak yeast or yeast that doesn't want to flocculate. –  brewchez Mar 13 at 13:03
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Sorry, Tobias, but I had to downvote for warming the yeast before pitching. You don't want to do that. As the yeast warms, it starts using its glycogen reserves. You want that to happen in your wort, not the starter. Cooler yeast into warmer wort is fine. The other way around is not. I have been doing it this way for 16 years and over 400 batches and it works great. –  Denny Conn Mar 13 at 15:15
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@DennyConn, I did a quick bit of research, and it turns out you're right -- I'd been misinformed. I've edited my answer accordingly. –  Tobias Patton Mar 13 at 17:41

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