Here is a curious thing. I made a batch of Witte on Friday night. It was sort of a last minute thing, so I didn’t make a starter the night before. My plan was to make a starter while I was brewing the beer, let the starter go over night, then pitch the next day. Pitching late would also let me leave the wort I made in the fermentation fridge overnight to continue to chill down to pitching temps. The ground water here is about 60F so it really takes some time to get an immersion chiller to carry the wort down to 65-68F, which is where I like to pitch.
As I was cleaning up at 1AM after the session, I realized I still hadn’t made a starter. So I had to chose and stay up later and make a starter wort, or just pitch the yeast and hope for the best. But as I was draining the kettle into my fermentor I realized I was going to have plenty of wort left over. So I grabbed my sanitized starter flask and drew a liter of the wort into it.
Conventional starter wisdom advises against this. First of all, most starter wisdom suggests your starter shouldn’t be above 1.040. My wort was 1.053. Second, your starters shouldn’t contain hops. My wort had a 35IBU bitterness rating. To top all that off the wort also had a couple ounces of orange peel and some coriander in it. Definitely not things you typically seen added to starter wort. Despite these “detriments” I broke from conventional wisdom and said SCREW IT. I pitched my yeast into that 1L, put it on the stir plate and went to bed.
The next morning the wort was creamier in color suggesting good yeast growth had happened. There was even foam on top of the starter, which I never see with normal 1.040 wort on a stir plate… so clearly the yeast were chugging along. I pitched the whole slurry into the awaiting beer around 11AM. By 9PM, the beer was starting to chug along.I haven’t tasted the beer yet, but so far things are progressing along normally.
What have I learned here? I am wondering if I shouldn’t just save my DME dollars and be doing this normally for most starters. I wonder what the real harm is in using the same beer wort for my starter and pitching the next day. (Hold your concerns over the wort getting infected overnight for a different conversation.) If the beer comes out great I’ll definitely make my starter this way again, to collect more data. But it was very easy and cost effective.Only time will tell.