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I know if you are adding the yeast directly to the wort you want to keep the temperature similar to that of your eventual fermentation temp to minimize shock to the yeast. However, I plan to make a starter, flocculate the yeast in the fridge, and then pitch the slurry. This being the case, I'm not worried about shocking the yeast with a temp change. Can I up the temp of my starter given this information to encourage faster yeast growth? Will off flavors get into the beer even if I only pitch the slurry and throw out the beer from the starter? Are there other potential problems, and what would be an ideal temp for the starter?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Pitching the slurry is key to your process here. The higher temp will put some less desirable flavors into the starter wort. So crash chilling and pitching the slurry is the best bet.

I think I remember hearing a podcast with Chris White from White Labs say they propagate most yeast (even lager yeasts) at 80F. Most yeast grows best at temps above normal ferment temps. You are on the money with your process.

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+1 for the temp! Ambient temps for me is 75F/24C, and with the vigorous yeast activity the wort temp is usually a few degrees higher. I find that to be sure the yeast can really fly, I use a good yeast nutrient and aerate well. –  mdma Aug 23 '11 at 21:13
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I'd keep it below 80, but other than that, yes, you can do it.

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