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Old 09-02-2008, 08:33 PM   #1
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Default Making starter w/ Wyeast

Hey, well my yeast and ingredients finally got here after the long delay of labor day weekend (effing UPS). I want to make a starter to make sure my yeast isnt dead, but im not sure if I just pour in the yeast from the Wyeast packets or if I smack them first then pour?

BTW - this is my first time making a starter and im a bit nervous about it. There seems to be many techniques and nobody agrees on one set way. Im confused mainly on when to swirl, whether to use an air lock or aluminum foil, or whether or not to decant or just throw all the stuff in when its pitching time? Also some people use more than 1 cup DME and some use less, and some swear by letting them sit for a week or so, and here I am left very confused as to when I can even pitch the stuff!

I guess im looking for help from the big guys here, but really any help would be awesome

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Old 09-02-2008, 08:43 PM   #2
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Starters are like primary vs secondary. We never agree.

The general rule of thumb is 1 cup of DME per quart or so of starter, I think, at least that is what I do and that gives me a reasonable gravity wort. I use a growler and cover with sanitized foil so it has access to oxygen, refrigerate and decant most of the liquid so I don't get unhopped oxidized starter beer flavor.

Oh and smack the pack but you don't need to wait just pitch it in. The pack has yeast nutrients so you don't have to add any to the starter wort.

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Old 09-02-2008, 08:44 PM   #3
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Smack it. Your standard starter wort should be about 1.040. I make my starters with about 3 cups of water and 1/2 cup of DME. Easy peazy.

Bring your water to a boil, add DME. Boil for another 5 or so minutes and keep stirring. Scorched DME is no fun. Get the wort down to pitching temp, and pitch your yeast. If you have a rubber stopper & airlock that fits your container, use that. If not, a piece of sanitized aluminum foil or even a santized dixie cup over the opening will work. Swirl well to oxygenate the starter. I don't use a stir plate- I just swirl the container occasionally while I'm propagating my yeast.

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Old 09-02-2008, 08:49 PM   #4
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I don't use a stir plate- I just swirl the container occasionally while I'm propagating my yeast.
heh my parts to build my stir plate are still sitting in a box.

When I'm sitting at my desk working I keep my starter near by so I can give it a swirl whenever I think of it. Swirling during the fermentation helps get the more flocculant cells back to where they can access nutrients and bud, and it helps to add more oxygen to the wort if you don't have an airlock on the container which also aids the yeast growth.

If you don't use the airlock you will have no visible krausen but be careful swirling, it can foam up big time on you and go right over the sides of the container.
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Old 09-02-2008, 09:26 PM   #5
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heh my parts to build my stir plate are still sitting in a box.

When I'm sitting at my desk working I keep my starter near by so I can give it a swirl whenever I think of it. Swirling during the fermentation helps get the more flocculant cells back to where they can access nutrients and bud, and it helps to add more oxygen to the wort if you don't have an airlock on the container which also aids the yeast growth.

If you don't use the airlock you will have no visible krausen but be careful swirling, it can foam up big time on you and go right over the sides of the container.
Okay, so airlock yes? And how do I decide how much starter to make as far as quarts? And I heard somewhere that swirling your yeast starter before fermentation begins that its really bad, so are you guys saying swirl before or after or both?

Sorry for the newb q's but I just want to get this right at $7 a packet of yeast.

Also, decanting? whats the best way?
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Old 09-02-2008, 09:34 PM   #6
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Dude use the stir plate and one of
http://morebeer.com/view_product/16797//Sanitary_Filter instead of the airlock. This will let more oxygen into the wort for yeast production. After a day or so let it settle in the fridge, pour off the "beer" and pitch.

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Old 09-02-2008, 09:40 PM   #7
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If you don't use the airlock you will have no visible krausen .
Well I wouldn't bet my last dollar on that.

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Old 09-02-2008, 09:44 PM   #8
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As far as volume goes: use mrmalty.com Jamil has a starter calculator that is very handy.

I would use aluminum foil because you want the oxygen exchange to build a large quantity of yeast.

If you want to decant I have heard (and it makes the most sense to me) that you should let the starter ferment to completion (i.e. one week) then refrigerate and decant. So far I haven't had time for that so I have just pitched the whole starter.... we'll see how that turns out.

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Old 09-02-2008, 10:23 PM   #9
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So if I use the foil how am I supposed to tell if my yeast is going to work? Im mostly using the starter just to make sure my yeast isnt dead. So as soon as I see activity is it okay to pitch right away? Or should I wait for activity to die down?

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Old 09-02-2008, 10:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
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So if I use the foil how am I supposed to tell if my yeast is going to work? Im mostly using the starter just to make sure my yeast isnt dead. So as soon as I see activity is it okay to pitch right away? Or should I wait for activity to die down?

If you are doing it only to see if the yeast is viable, then just smack the pack. The swelling will tell you it's ok.

BUT, you should always pitch enough yeast to do the job with and making a starter gets the job done.
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